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Thread: Wilkinson mounted infantry

  1. #1
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    Wilkinson mounted infantry

    Just thought I'd mention my new acquisition as an illustration of the difficulties of identifying an officer from initials.

    1895 infantry pattern Wilkinson with initials "C h H".

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    The 35" blade is numbered for 1892, (around September if the numbers were spread evenly throughout the year) has an 1895 hilt.

    First glance through the army list for 1893 found a surprising 10 possibilies even discounting Militia officers or the possibility that the initials were in a different order.

    Discounting the artillery, engineer and cavalry officers left me with 6 candidates.

    Discounting officers who were gone from the lists in 1895 (when i presumed the 1892 blade must have been refitted with the 1895 hilt) left me with 4 candidates.

    Of these, 3 had 10 years plus service already and only one was commissioned in 1892 but in January, so before the date of the blade.

    So when the Wilkinson ledger arrived was it any of the 10 possible candidates? No, of course it wasn't.

    It turns out the blade proof was dated July 1892 but the buyer, Claude Henry Haig (no relation to Doug!) was not commissioned until March 1894 and doesn't appear in the lists until 1895. What chance of identifying him without his name on the Wilkinson proof slip!

    On the plus side he had an admirable career.

    Hart's records the following:

    Captain Haig served in the South African war with Gough's Mounted Infantry from August 1900 to May 1901 (with General Hildyard's Division in the South Eastern Transvaal and with General Dartnell's Column in the Transvaal). Acted as Adjutant of Gough's Mounted Infantry from November 1900 to May 1901. Served also with the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment and was present at the engagement at Talana; the march from Dundee to Ladysmith, the engagement at Lombard's Kop, and the Siege of Ladysmith. Commanded 5th Warwick Squadron Imperial Yeomanry with Colonel Byng's Column from May 1901 till end of war (twice mentioned in despatches, Medal with five Clasps, King's Medal with two Clasps).

    He later served on the front line in WW1 going 'over the top'.Collected a D.S.O. for remaining with his men after being wounded, mentioned in despatches again.

    Picked up a C.B.E for suppressing a mutiny of the 11th Sudanese Battalion in Khartoum in 1924.

    Served during WW2 in the home guard.

    Described as a ‘lovable character ... fearless and outspoken’, and a ‘really fine soldier and outstanding C.O.’, who was blessed with a ‘keen sense of humour’.
    Last edited by james.elstob; 04-21-2018 at 06:36 AM.

  2. #2
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    Monograms, though pretty, can be a right annoyance! Glad you found your man, James.

  3. #3
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    Fortunate that the Wilkinson proof book rescued your new sword from anonymity. Unless the sword is a screaming good bargain I've learned to avoid initials/monograms and crests on their own unless there is some type of regimental association somewhere. Even the Wilkinson proof book entries can sometimes be a bit of a crapshoot with missing names, etc. Earlier in the year I got what turned out to be a nice Wilkinson light cavalry sword (9429), no special etching, but the proof book entry came back with a name that matches an officer. However it led to more unanswered questions than answers, which in this hobby is usually the rule not the exception Once in awhile though, like in your circumstance now, everything is good news. Did Mr.Haig get his sword sharpened?
    Last edited by MikeShowers; 04-21-2018 at 07:04 PM.

  4. #4
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    James have you been able to put a face to the name? These things should not be too easy or the suspense ends too quickly.

  5. #5
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    Yes Mike, he did have it sharpened. There are grind marks for a full 20 inches of the blade, all the way to the square section. The back edge is also sharpened.

    Will,

    Here he is. There is also a photo of him in an album referenced in the National Army Museum collection but I don't know if its the same image.

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  6. #6
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    Excellent! A face to go with the sword and good active service history. Now you can spend a few hours digging up every last detail of his career and life, or at least that's what I do. You never know, if your luck holds you might stumble upon a picture of him wearing a sword.

  7. #7
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    A few pictures of the sword.

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    What does the x17x on the opposite edge to the serial number signify?

    P. S. just had a thought, it's probably the 17th foot, perhaps in case the sword became lost. Is this a common practice?
    Last edited by james.elstob; 04-22-2018 at 04:32 PM.

  8. #8
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    Usually you find the blade makers mark in this location if it is marked.

  9. #9
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    Fantastic! I don't think I've ever seen an 1892 pattern blade of this length before. Lovely piece.
    Matt

  10. #10
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    It looks like this sword owner C. H. Haig was a keen swordsman.

    He finished third in the annual German Gymnastic Society fencing tournament in December 1907 which was interestingly judged by Captain A. Hutton. I wonder if it was the famous Alfred Hutton; he would have been 68, 3 years before his death.

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  11. #11
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    James. It is undoubtedly Alfred Hutton as the name before his in the article is Egerton Castle, Victorian era fencer, author and partner of Alfred Hutton.
    "Ancora imparo - Michelangelo Buonarotti"

  12. #12
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    Thanks Rob, that lined up a fun Wikipedia chain

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