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Thread: Royal artillery conundrum

  1. #1
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    Royal artillery conundrum

    Hi all,

    I'm puzzled and looking for help.

    I have a Wilkinson marked blade with a hexagonal proof slug.

    It has a blank entry in the Wilkinson ledger.

    The 1845 blade is inscribed for Royal Artillery.

    The blade has a 1897 infantry officers hilt, suggesting a repurposed blade rehilted for later use.

    First, on a general note why do artillery swords use the motto "Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense" rather than "Ubique Quo Fas Et Gloria Ducunt"? Does this denote a specific time period?

    Secondly this is numbered 54,000's for 1918 and so shouldn't be an 1845 blade at all.

    Finally it is stamped on the true edge at the ricasso. Possibly W.O. but its unclear. Is this stamp common? The only other blade I own stamped there has the regimental number.

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    Edited with clearer image. What I thought was an O ends with clean cut-off on the left so perhaps it's a J rather than a badly stamped O.

    I think to the right is just corrosion although I could be wrong.


    And another:

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    Thanks in advance
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    Last edited by james.elstob; 07-08-2018 at 09:34 AM.

  2. #2
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    Hi James, the 1845 pattern blade has not stopped being used for artillery officers' swords (or naval officers) - it's still regulation today

  3. #3
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    Thanks Matt,

    Just reviewed Robson again and I was confused by a comment about a change of grip size "along with all other infantry officers' swords". I thought it was taking about the blade.

    Any opinions on the initials W. J.? have you ever seen officer's initials stamped there?

  4. #4
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    I'm afraid I haven't seen initials there, but I'd assume that they relate to something other than an individual.

  5. #5
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    I love this forum. There is no end of information to be gleaned from reading and re-reading everything in here.

    Tonight i feel like I've solved a minor mystery relating to the W. J. markings on this sword with a late night browse thanks to previous posts in the Wilkinson sword characteristics sticky (#213 & 214)


    Quote Originally Posted by Will Mathieson View Post
    For interest I have a 1897p infantry sword made WW1 era and marked opposite the serial number "WJ" for Walter Johnson who worked for Wilkinsons for 60 years.


    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Wilkinson-Latham View Post
    Walter (and his son Ernie) were fitters/sword assemblers NOT bladesmiths!

    I have edited this post to add a photo of Ernie and Walter taken in 1934 (Both joined Wilkinson in 1884)
    Also in the photo is the legendary etcher Campbell Argyle (Joined 1885) and Tom Beasley. (Joined 1884)

    Although Robert does go on to suggest caution over this explantion in a later post #271
    Last edited by james.elstob; 09-19-2019 at 04:28 PM.

  6. #6
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    Years before that post I had correspondence with Robert he said the initials were for Walter Johnson. All I can say is that the Wilkinson staff at the time, WJ was the only match to Walter Johnson.

  7. #7
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    Well, I'll revise my initial over exuberance and suggest that on the balance of probability it seems a credible explanation, more so given Robert's comment to you, Will.

    There are a couple of other swords detailed in various threads with the initials E.B. or possibly E.R. One of which Robert is referring to in his post #271 copied below for clarity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Wilkinson-Latham View Post
    Perhaps(Big Perhaps ??????????) they are the initials of the Fitter who put the sword together?????? I say this because most if not all WW1 production of Government Contracts (Bayonets, swords etc) and Private swords was paid for by Wilkinsons under the piecework system. I have some Piecework cards from WW1 but these are easy to operate as they are for 1908 sword parts being finished, polished, etc, 1907 bayonet parts and the foreman would count up the numbers in the tray at the end of the shift and sign the card off. For swords, I think this piecework system also operated and perhaps(?????????) the blade was marked when assembled with the hilt. Having said that, I would have expected over the years to see lots more swords from 1914-1918 with this type of marking BUT HAVE NOT!!!!
    So perhaps this was marked by an outworker?
    Or the forged only blade was bought in from the Birmingham Trade where it had been marked for payment and also identification in case of problems with the blade. (The forging plant at Wilkinsons was very busy with 1907 bayonets and 1908 Troopers swords - They only had two blade rolling machines!)

    Having said all the above, THE IS NO evidence but just supposition.

    As of today, all one can say with certainty is "Don't Know!"

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