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The 'Pig Sticker' bayonets for Lee Enfield rifles

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This is a presentation delivered by Graham Priest to a monthly meeting of the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association (HBSA) of Great Britain in London, UK. Website: www.hbsa-uk.org
Since the writer’s first contact with the No.4 bayonet as a school boy in 1957 its disparagement as a ‘pig sticker’ has continued. Despite a design foundation based on scientific research & economic reality the weapon never gained the affection of the British ‘Tommy’. Although a
slim volume called ‘The British Spike Bayonet’ Skennerton, I.D., Margate, Australia, 1982) refocused attention, it was during some seven years of study for ‘The Spirit of the Pike. British Socket Bayonets of the Twentieth Century’ (Priest, G., Uppem Publications, Wiltshire, 2003) that the real significance of the concept was highlighted.

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The 'Pig Sticker' bayonets for Lee Enfield rifles

  1. 1. The Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association Lecture at the Imperial War Museum, London 18th June 2012 The ‘Pig Sticker’ Bayonet by Graham Priest Common No.4 Bayonets. Marks I, II, II* & III Since the writer’s first contact with the No.4 bayonet as a school boy in 1957 its disparagement as a ‘pig sticker’ has continued. Despite a design foundation based on scientific research & economic reality the weapon never gained the affection of the British ‘Tommy’. Although a slim volume called ‘The British Spike Bayonet’ (Skennerton, I.D., Margate, Australia, 1982) refocused attention, it was during some seven years of study for ‘The Spirit of the Pike. British Socket Bayonets of the Twentieth Century’ (Priest, G., Uppem Publications, Wiltshire, 2003) that the real significance of the concept was highlighted.
  2. 2. The wider range of ‘No.4’ style bayonets with the Rifle, No.4 Mk I From its inception based on the experiences of ‘The Great War’ (1914-1918) until the demise of the final version as an adjunct to the ill-fated ‘EM2’ automatic rifle in the 1950s no real recognition of the ‘Britishness’ of the spike has taken place. Most bayonet innovations until the adoption of the Rigby nose-cap on the Lee-Metford Magazine Rifle from December 1888 were copied from France. Even this type was short lived when it was replaced in 1903 by the Watkin version that utilised a Germanic hilt. Even the blade form was copied from the Japanese Arisaka M.1897 (Type 30) in 1907. When military theorists advocated ‘reach’ as the most important aspect of bayonet fighting the long sword ruled supreme. Rifle, No.4 Mk I above a Rifle, S.M.L.E., .303” ‘mock up’ for bayonet deployment in 1925
  3. 3. Drawing No. D.D. (E) 340A with Bayonet, No. 1 Mk II Pattn. ‘26 By the 1920s the British Government had embarked on a leisurely plan to equip a modern professional army with better firepower, improved mechanisation and updated tactics. A whole raft of committees and design teams examined ideas for a better rifle & bayonet. Calibre size, automatic systems and the pros & cons of the existing bayonet were analysed. Between 1925 and 1933 numerous trials and proposals received attention. The result was an ‘improved S.M.L.E.’ the ‘No.4 Mk I rifle & bayonet’. However world events, particularly the ‘Peace Movement’ and the rise of Fascism interfered with plans. Prevarication meant that no modern mass-production rifle plant had been established when war was declared in September 1939.
  4. 4. Rifle, S.M.L.E, .303”, Mk VI of 1926 & Rifle, No.1 Mk VI of 1930 Both the Royal Small Arms Factory, Enfield Lock & Birmingham Small Arms Factory were focused on different projects or the S.M.L.E. Trials Bayonets, No.1 Mk II Pattn. ‘26 & Scabbard, Bayonet, No.1 Mk I Pattn. ‘26 The No.4 bayonet, its parent firearm and numerous other items then became part of an amazing ‘emergency’ process. Factories normally associated with domestic products, civilians employed within them, sources of raw materials and the national transport system were adapted to fight an all out conflict. Despite hunger, fatigue, danger from aerial bombardment and the early battering of morale the islands ‘did not panic’ and ‘carried on’.
  5. 5. Drawing No. D.D.(E) 340 B/1 with the Bayonet, No.4 Mk I of 10th December 1930 Rifle, Magazine, Experimental, .276inch, High Velocity marked ‘3’ The more sophisticated drop-forged ‘No.4 Mk I’ bayonet became ‘Mk II’ when the flutes were eliminated to speed manufacture. In 1941 when invasion or bombing may have eliminated the single supplier at Kilbowie in Scotland new plants were negotiated by a British Purchasing Commission at Small Arms Ltd., Long Branch, Canada & Savage Arms Corporation, Chicopee Falls, USA. Eventually when funds ran out these were part of a Lend-Lease arrangement.
  6. 6. Long & standard versions of Bayonet, No.4 Mk II Simultaneously a dispersal system required items of manufacture to be spread to avoid bombing loss at a single location. The ‘No.4 Mk II*’ bayonet was created so as to be assembled from a blade & socket. Four plants at Accrington, Belfast, Keighley & Lewisham gathered components from other sub-contractors. Other firms made scabbards & frogs. Companies received a ‘dispersal code’ prefixed ‘S’ (South), ‘M’ (Midlands) or ‘N’ (North) to baffle the enemy. When the invasion of Europe was envisaged in late 1942 pessimists anticipated a long drawn-out campaign. An even more ‘ersatz’ ‘No.4 Mk III’ bayonet was commissioned from Joseph Lucas Ltd. in Birmingham. Jack Orme used his sheet-metal working experience to ‘fabricate’ a design that also incorporated parts from other suppliers. A rush order of 60,000 was completed for D-Day on 6th June 1944.
  7. 7. Drawing No. D.D.(E). 3453/1 with the Bayonet Head Assembly of the No.4 Mk III Ball tipped No.4 Mk II & III used for drill & ceremonial duties
  8. 8. The Second World War ended more rapidly than anticipated so most spike bayonet suppliers did not finish their contracts. It was also noted in the Pacific Theatre that the psychological impact of the diminutive No.4 when versus the Japanese Arisaka sword-bayonet was not high! A lightened version of the rifle named the ‘No.5’ or ‘Jungle Carbine’ reverted to a bowie-bladed knife bayonet in December 1943. A ‘mock up’ No.7 bayonet intended for the machine carbine, 9mm, Sten Mk V The idea was continued with the upgraded ‘Sten Mk V machine-carbine’ in April 1944 (adopted 1946) when Wilkinson Sword Company evolved the ‘No.7 Mk.1/L’ bayonet. After fixed pommel versions failed to be approved a complex (and very expensive) swivel-socket knife appeared. As the more showy blade was visible during ceremonial occasions the Guards regiments highjacked this for their No.4 rifles. Eventually a user received a faulty example that bounced a round off the cross-guard so this arrangement was proscribed. The ‘No.9 Mk.1/L’ with its socketed bowie-blade was created to provide a replacement in 1948.
  9. 9. The final ’No.4’ style bayonets. No.7 Mk.1/L, No.10 Mk.1 (X1 E1) & cut-away No.9 Mk.1/L When Britain made an attempt to interest the world in an automatic weapon during deliberations from 1949 to 1951 the modified ‘No.7 Mk.1/L’ went with it. The ill-fated ‘EM’ series fell foul of international politics so, although a version was adopted briefly in Britain as ‘Bayonet, No.10 Mk.1’, this was the end of the line. Sir Winston Churchill has the distinction of killing the last manifestation of the ‘No.4’ bayonet when the FN FAL was accepted on 1st February 1954.
  10. 10. The final ’No.4’ style bayonets. No.7 Mk.1/L, No.10 Mk.1 (X1 E1) & cut-away No.9 Mk.1/L When Britain made an attempt to interest the world in an automatic weapon during deliberations from 1949 to 1951 the modified ‘No.7 Mk.1/L’ went with it. The ill-fated ‘EM’ series fell foul of international politics so, although a version was adopted briefly in Britain as ‘Bayonet, No.10 Mk.1’, this was the end of the line. Sir Winston Churchill has the distinction of killing the last manifestation of the ‘No.4’ bayonet when the FN FAL was accepted on 1st February 1954.

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