rorkesdriftvc.com Forum Index


rorkesdriftvc.com
Discussions related to the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879
Reply to topic
bayonets
marko


Joined: 23 Feb 2006
Posts: 5
Location: Derby U.K.
Reply with quote
the nickname for the 24inch bayonets of the time was the "lunger" now only having seen the written word does this mean lunger as in the human lung or lunger as in to lunge? also having read quite a few books on the zw I've only come across one ref to bayonets bending in combat, leading to a scandal regarding poor quality steel,is this what actually happened?
View user's profileSend private message
mike snook 2


Joined: 04 Jan 2006
Posts: 920
Reply with quote
Marko

It's as in to lunge.

The lunger did bend in significant quantities in the Sudan, but not as far as I can establish in the Zulu War. The reason was that later batches of the bayonets were manufactured badly - something to do with the quality of the metal/alloy. Adrian Whiting is the expert on this and I'm sure will come on and give you a bit more.

By the way in the specific context of Isandlwana where there was obviously a lot of bayonet play, I have not yet been able to establish with absolute certainty whether, (having been in Africa since New Year 1875), the 1/24th had been issued with the new 22" lunger (Pattern 1876) at some later point or fought the battle with the old 17 inch (Pattern 1853) bayonet. The 2/24th did have the lunger, having only recently come out from home. If anybody can put me out of my misery on this with some definitive reference, please do so!!

The Pattern 1860 sword-bayonet used by the Camel Corps at Abu Klea was particularly naughty when it came to bending, but not as bad as the Naval sword bayonet which was meant to double as a cutlass. Lord Charles Beresford RN makes particular reference to his ratings swopping their sword-bayonets for army ones whenever army casualties occurred. Count Gleichen (it was a very 'smart' column with lots of aristocratic officers) who was in the Grenadier Guards Coy of the Guards Camel Regiment talked about sword-bayonets bending double. But it was an inferior batch and not an inherent flaw.

I think with one or two exceptions the bayonets of 1879 stood up well.

Regards

Mike
View user's profileSend private message
Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 76
Location: Dorset, England
Reply with quote
Marko,

I fear Mike may be overly generous to me in his kind remark in his reply, but I will try and add some more information to try and help!

The "Lunger", or Martini Henry Long Common Bayonet, was made in a relatively straightforward process. Initially this involved forging work utilising sections of steel and mild steel bar. The product of these stages was then machined and next (the stage most relevant here) hardening & tempering.

In the Hargening & Tempering shop the blade was heated to a blood red colour by immersion in molten lead. Once at that colour the blade was immersed in sperm oil to harden it. It was then reheated and tempered before returning to the grinding process to grind two of the fullers.

The testing of the blade was done by catching the point under a lip of wood on a specially formed jig, and then bending the blade a measured degree over a fulcrum. The test was intended remove blades that were too hard - they would snap, and those that were too soft - they would not spring back straight.

Problems arose from two main areas. One batch, made by the trade, showed certain minor flaws, called "water reins". The company, BSA, appealed against the Inspectors on the basis that they had been too harsh, and in quite a few cases were successful. In fact BSA sold a large amount of the still rejected bayonets to Colonial Governments. Both routed led to the previously rejected bayonets entering service, which did not assist confidence in them generally.

The other, more significant, problem was that with the grinding of two of the fullers taking place after hardening, the outer layers of hardest metal were ground away. The spring test then really only tested the blade at the single point where the blade rested on the fulcrum. Hardening flaws elsewhere along the length of the blade may have escaped notice. As has been referred to elsewhere on this forum, one of the major factors of the bayonet was the morale effect it had on the enemy when they saw it fixed and glinting in the sun. Quite rightly bayonets were kept polished. There is some thought that where hardening flaws existed then the polishing would only serve to wear down the harder metal even more, and thus not help the potential for blade failure. Whatever the truth behind this, a batch in service in the Sudan, in 1884, had a very high reported failure rate. Even though some of the ensuing "scandal" might be attributed to media hype at the time (if such a thing were ever to exist of course!!!) nonetheless the manufacturing processes were significantly changed.

In November 1884 a new jig was introduced to test the blade along its length, and in 1886 the hardening process was changed from the molten lead method to one involving heating in an oven.

In summary, the manufacturing process and the inspection process had gaps which allowed a batch to pass into service with apparent flaws, and as a result of failures in the field the processes were changed. I am not aware of anything like the Sudan failure experience happening in the AZW. Doubtless there will be examples, but I expect they are rather more isolated.

Mike's final point about the pattern of bayonet in use by the 24th still remains very elusive! If memory and notes serve me right, there is one example of the earlier pattern 17" bayoner in the RRW museum reputedly recovered from Isadlwana, though it has curious markings, perhaps even Arabic in form, around the nose of the socket, which struck me as inconsistent with a British Service bayonet, and the other reputedly recovered bayonet is a lunger. But of course soldiers from both battalions were present so the lunger recovered from the field itself is still not conclusive proof the 1st Battalion had them.

_________________
Hope this assists,
Adrian
View user's profileSend private message
Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
Reply with quote
"The Bayonet Scandal", which also included swords, did occur somewhat after 1879, but its early stages were certainly occuring during the AZW. The particulars are that the production of many regular issue British bayonets were being "farmed out" to German companies in and around Solingen. As to whether this activity was a result of unscrupulous behavior or merely the need to meet production by exploiting other sources, I can't say,but when these bayonets failed to meet the standards expected of them by the British public and, more importantly, the British Soldier, things began to hit the fan. Tommy was becoming a casualty because the tools of his trade were being made in a foriegn country whose sole interest seemed to be the unpatriotic quest for the almighty pound! Shame! We're the most industialized nation in the World, and we're arming "our boys" with bayonets and swords made "over there" by workers who don't even speak English? And those same blades are causing the loss of British lives?
One contemporary apologist points out (possibly correctly) that these Solingen bayonets were just fine when they arrived in England, but that the grinding and sharpening necessitated by shipping abuse removed the temper from the European case hardened blades, and that's why German made bayonets and swords were liable to bending in the field. The British outcry was almost xenophobic, although both sides in The American Civil War were happy to acquire these same Solingen bayonets and didn't complain about bending. The time frame might appear different, but we are, in fact, talking about some of the same bayonets-- that is, the '53 Enfield. This is the "short" bayonet which was rebushed for use on the Martini-Henry until the '76 bayonet went into production and distribution.
The other point about what bayonets were carried by the 1/24th is fascinating and one that I'd never even considered. But without photographs of the 1/24 in the field prior to and during the AZW and/or shipping manifests proclaiming the issue of the '76 pattern, conjecture and study of available pictures is the only option. The bushed Enfield bayonet is not only five inches shorter, but it has a distinctly different profile what with its abrupt downward bend at the tip. Fripps painting of Isandlwana shows '76''s as does that well know sketch of two privates of the 1/24 in the last Frontier War against the Xhosa, made before England began eyeing the Zulu as the next incursion. As bayonets seem to have been considered all the more important against less civilized opponents, that six feet was the optimum "reach" of the rifle and bayonet combination, and that the Enfield bayonet is five inches too short of that optimum, then I've got to conclude that the 1/24 carried the same bayonets as the 2/24! That is to say, the 1876 Pattern Martini-Henry bayonet, with all of it's 21 inches of cold steel.
I'd be curious to know if the 17 inch battlefield pickup bayonet from Isandlwana mentioned above is bushed down to the MRD of a .45 caliber MH or is still in its original .577 Enfield form, since Snider-Enfields were common enough among the colonial troops and also probably among the Zulu to a much lesser degree. But the cyrilic script (possiblly) does make me wonder just whose rifle this came off.
I
View user's profileSend private message
Keith Smith


Joined: 30 Aug 2005
Posts: 540
Location: Northern NSW, Australia
Reply with quote
On another thread, I quoted an extract from Hook's account of Rorke's Drift. My extract is followed by a few further sentences about the bayonet:

"We used the old three sided bayonet, and the long thin blade we called the ‘lung’ bayonet. They were very fine weapons too, but some were very poor in quality, and either twisted or bent badly. Several were like that after the fight; but some terrible thrusts were given, and I saw dead Zulus who had been pinned to the ground by the bayonets going through them."

Not sure if that throws a little more light, or obscurity, on ther matter!

KIS
View user's profileSend private message
Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
Reply with quote
Kieth,
I hope that this forum never loses sight of the fact that all of us have something to contribute, not just those self-proclaimed experts who seem to forget the meaning of the word "forum"! You've got a personal thanks from me, a guy who thinks he knows bayonets inside and out! And thank you for pointing out that he uses the wording "old three sided" bayonet. Curious choice of words that! Why did he say "old"? Maybe just a common soldier questioning the issue of a bayonet that hadn't changed dramatically in 150 years, or at least since that issued for the Brown Bess? But maybe he forsaw that the future belonged to the more knife-like bayonets like the '87 and '88 and ultimately the 1907 Pattern? Either way, my guess is that soldiers didn't care a rat's A for the "official" designation of the steel attached to their MH's and that their only real and immediate concern was whether it could do the work it was designed and manufactured to do!
View user's profileSend private message
it's not that old is it?
Tom516


Joined: 08 Feb 2006
Posts: 136
Reply with quote
Perhaps it could be old, as in 'old reliable' or 'old friend', a term of familiarity?

_________________
Tom "Harlechman"
Zulu Total War Team,
a Rome TW: BI mod.
View user's profileSend private message
Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
Reply with quote
I have an article written in 1982 in respect to a P1853 Bushed for MH bayonet, collected from the debris of Isandlwana by Drury Lowe was the scabbard and frog for the pattern 1853 and was 24th regimentally marked on the scabbard brass.

The evidence that the 1/24th had the pattern P1876 is scarce, I remember myself and Adrian agreeing on this last year. The bushed Martini bayonet was issued from 1874 with the Mk1 Martini and its subsequent upgrades, I do not have a copy of the treatise to hand but I know the cost to adapt was quite an issue.

For those who do not know their bayonets, apart from being shorter, the P1853 bent outwards, this due to the fact is was designed for a muzzle loader, if not it was quite a problem in loading with a ramrod.

If the 24th received their martinis in 1875, no doubt the bayonet supplied was the P1853.

An interesting minor observation, look at Fripps painting... they actually have both, did our Mr Fripp know more?

_________________
Neil
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mailVisit poster's website
Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 76
Location: Dorset, England
Reply with quote
Sawubona,

I would be very interested in any other details you have in relation to the Bayonet Scandal of 1884.

My understanding is that the Select Committee that considered the situation reviewed the failures of Yataghan pattern bayonets for the Snider & the MHR, the P53 socket bayonet being used on the Snider and the P76 bayonet being used on the MHR. The main failures had been with the sword bayonets, which had had an unusually high scale of issue in that war (bearing in mind that ordinarily these would be issued to Sergeants of Line Infantry and ORs of the Rifles more or less only). A number of these had, as you say, been made by German manufacturers and then converted by RSAF Enfield (and a few at Birmingham).

I had understood that the P53 bayonets had either been made in England (the majority of those involved) or in Belgium, and that all of the P76s had been made in England (in fact I think all P76s were made by RSAF, with the exception of the contract to BSA that I mentioned above). This was as a result of the earlier outcry against German manufacture of British bayonets when large contracts for naval sword bayonets were placed with the German trade.

The committee expanded its remit, to take in cutlass and sword cutless bayonets, and in conclusion found that whilst the problems with the yataghan and common socket bayonets were not as bad as at first reported (easy for them to say I expect!) the cutlass bayonets and conversions had been a poor idea and were to be replaced.

In respect of your question about the MRD of the P53 bayonet I mentioned, I cannot assist - perhaps Martin Everett could? The only other P53 bayonet I have seen reputedly recovered from the Isandlwana battlefield was bushed for the MHR.

_________________
Hope this assists,
Adrian
View user's profileSend private message
Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
Reply with quote
Neil,
I stand corrected about the "downward" phrase. When I hold one of these things, the point invariably dips down, but on a MH... (is there a word "rightward"?). More info on the Fripp painting, please. I studied it and saw no '53's, but then maybe I only wanted to see 76's.
Still, I'm not convinced that bayonets issued in 1875 weren't replaced with the new, improved model by 1879. After all, England shipped the entire 2/24 to Southern Africa, she could certainly ship several hundred '76 pattern bayonets when they became available. That is if she had wanted to and maybe that's the key point I'm missing!
But might I take a moment to expound on what we're talking about here in sympathy for those not versed in this arcane discussion? I'll try to keep it short! The venerable .577 muzzle-loading Enfield served the British infantryman for decades and it was issued with one of two bayonets. Being a fairly long rifle, the most common bayonet was a 17 inch triangular item that gave the demanded "reach" of six feet (spike bayonets were simple, cheap and effective!) There was also a sword bayonet issued in the "yataghan" style, so called in deference to its similarity to a turkish yataghan sword. In the evolution towards breech loading firearms, many of these Enfields were converted to Snider-Enfields, all in all a cheap and effective rifle that served its time well in Africa. The Snider-Enfield was basically the same Enfield rifle with a breech-loadable adaptation. And as it had the same barrel , the same bayonets fit just fine; that is, the '53 Enfield and the Enfield Yataghan sword bayonet. With the introduction of the Martini-Henry, with its smaller .45 caliber, many of the available .577 bayonets were "bushed" down (that is, the MRD or Muzzle Ring Diameter was decreased with a sleeve) to fit on the slimmer Martini barrel. In time, it was decided that the shorter Martini would be better served by a longer bayonet (to get that sacred six foot reach), so the '76 pattern was adopted-- a shorter rifle calls for a longer bayonet was the logic!
View user's profileSend private message
Neil Aspinshaw


Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Posts: 289
Location: Loughborough
Reply with quote
Sawumbona
If you look at the soldier in the front with his bayonet at 45 degrees you will see the curve away to the right if the blade.

The fact is that in the British army of the time the term...if it aint broke don't fix it! stands true. The 1/24th, being armed with the Mk1 Martini and its bayonet would have not really had the chance to change it, OK the armourer in the barracks had time to change their Martinis und upgrade them to Mk2 with the LOC of Aug 1877, would the supply of P1876 bayonets even get to them?, the issue of release in 1876 meant real time production would not take place in any particular volume until say late 1877, by that time the 1/24th would be on service agianst the Khosa in the Cape with no real time to return and refit

The second battalion is another issue, being later arrivals they most likely were upgraded at home barracks.

Mike isn't it true even today that the modern army returns for rest and refit well away from the front?.

_________________
Neil
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mailVisit poster's website
Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
Reply with quote
Neil,
Well I be hornswaggled, that does appear to be an Enfield bayonet, if you're talking about the one "in front" that's canted 45 degrees down! Sadly, my Fripp print is lost in the wreckage of the wagon park that passes for my research room, but there are a couple of sites that have posted pretty good sized reproductions and I do agree that one bayonet painted at least has the distinct profile of a '53. Oddly, many of the rest seem distinctly to be '76's! Was Charles hedging his bets on this conundrum because he wasn't sure himself? Or was it his understanding that both models were represented at Isandlwana? Or does the painting just depict more of the 2/24 than the 1/24?
Paranthetically, isn't the Fripp painting as much a collection of portraits as it is that of a landscape in conflict? I seem to recall that several of the individuals depicted are identifiable. Can anyone lend some help with this?
View user's profileSend private message
Adrian Whiting


Joined: 31 Aug 2005
Posts: 76
Location: Dorset, England
Reply with quote
Sawubona,

I think you are right with "if she had wanted to". The equipping priority appears to have been driven by the defence of UK as the highest priority - the battalions on Home Service appear to have received new equipment before those on Foreign Service (with the exception of depots). This was the case for the 24th in being equipped with the Martini, the 2nd Battalion receiving theirs a couple of years before the 1st Battalion did.

We had had a discussion previously, on the old forum site as I recall, which included the production figures for the P76. As I recall there had been more than sufficient made by 1879 to equip the Home Army, if not the entire army, but there has not been any definitive record to show the 1st Battalion had them by 1879, and there have been a couple of the P53s (bushed) reputedly recovered.

I guess the shooting term for the "rightward" effect would be "a right cant".

_________________
Hope this assists,
Adrian
View user's profileSend private message
Sawubona


Joined: 09 Nov 2005
Posts: 1179
Reply with quote
More study is needed, but I just acquired (this afternoon) what I thought to be a '53 pattern Enfield bayonet dated 1874 that has no evidence of having been bushed down for a Martini. The MRD looked a bit small, so on a whim I put it on a Martini and lo and behold it fits like the proverbial glove. In the mundane world of my bayonet collecting, it's a given that any '53 that fits a 'teenie" has be bushed, but there was that five years between the introduction of the Martini-Henry and the adoption of the "'76" pattern bayonet that we all know and love! Skennerton, here I come! More later, if anyone is the least bit interested in this arcane addition to the thread. Saw
View user's profileSend private message
private barley


Joined: 28 Sep 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Tamworth, England
Reply with quote
this kind of bayonet is a lunging weapon ( to throw yourself forward to lunge) this is because they were only able to be used at the point and not to slash. the 21 inch bayonet from my experience of using the rifle which ain't much is that it is a good bayonet but can overbalance the weapon but for someone who works out can be easily controlled. the reason for the assegai as some maybe aware is that Shaka saw our bayonets at Sandhurst and decided to copy us.

private michael barley

_________________
michael barley
View user's profileSend private messageSend e-mailMSN Messenger
bayonets
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
All times are GMT  
Page 1 of 2  

  
  
 Reply to topic