For good value this book combines two excellent instructional pieces on the art of close quarter combat with edged weapons and staves. The first book deals comprehensively with the use of the short sword, bayonet, staves and various other clubs and even gives instruction on personal defence using everyday items such as umbrellas. The second book is a classic monograph on fighting—not necessarily according to the rules of modern sport—when both opponents are armed with sharp edged weapons, this provides an interesting insight into a time when combat was invariably fought ‘eye to eye.’ Re-enactors and all those interested in the history of warfare before the domination of the bullet and explosive shell will find these two books in a single volume to be an invaluable source of information on one-to-one combat techniques. Available in softcover and hardcover with dust jacket.
The British bayonet in the hands of our soldiers has over and over again carried victory into the serried ranks of our adversaries, but, now that arms of precision have reached such a pitch of perfection, and are still on the advance in the matter of rapid firing, it is to be doubted whether hand-to-hand conflicts will play a very prominent part in the battles of the future.<br>
A distinction must be drawn between the ordinary weapon with which the Guards and army generally were till recently provided (I refer to the triangular-fluted bayonet, used exclusively for thrusting purposes), and the sword-bayonet, which serves both for cutting and thrusting. The advantage of the former was evidently its lightness and handiness; but it must be remembered that, save for thrusting, spiking a gun, or boring a hole in a leather strap, it was practically useless, whereas the sharp edge of the sword-bayonet makes it an excellent companion to Tommy Atkins on all sorts of occasions, too numerous to mention.<br>
In the early months of the present year the new rifle and bayonet placed in the hands of the Guards caused a good deal of comment. As my readers are aware, the new arm is a magazine small-bore rifle, carrying a long conical ball. It is not a pretty-looking weapon, and its serviceable qualities have yet to be tested in actual warfare. But it is with the bayonet we are now chiefly concerned. At first sight it reminds one of an extra strong sardine-box opener, but on closer inspection it is evident that, though quite capable of dealing with tinned-meat cans, etc., it has very many merits which are wanting in all the other bayonets which have gone before it. It is a strong double-edged, sharp-pointed knife, twelve inches long, rather more than an inch wide, and about a fifth of an inch deep through the strong ridge which runs down the centre of the blade from point to hilt. The handle is of wood, and it is fastened to the muzzle of the rifle by means of a ring and strong spring catch or clip. Altogether it is almost a model of the early Roman sword.<br>
From this short description it will be seen that, though the soldier loses a good many inches in reach, he is provided with an excellent hunting-knife, which can be turned to any of the uses of a knife—from slaughtering a foe to cutting up tobacco.<br>
Then, again, it is possible that the loss in actual reach may be more than compensated for at very close quarters by the greater ease with which a man can “shorten arms” effectively as well as by the double edge. Every ounce saved in the weight of a soldier’s accoutrements is a great gain, and these new bayonets are light and, as I have hinted, are likely to be extremely useful for the every-day work of a long march. <br>
It is not my intention to deal with the bayonet-exercise as practised by squads of infantry, but, before proceeding to deal with some of the more important situations in attack and defence, I would advise those who wish to become proficient to learn the drill. The best way to do this is to join the Volunteers, and get all the squad work possible as a means of gaining a command over the weapon—the continued use of which for any length of time is extremely fatiguing. When the rudiments are mastered, and you know fairly well how to respond to the reiterated words of command: “High Guard”—“Point;” “Low Guard”—“Point,” etc., and can form the “pints” and guards in a respectable manner, it will be well to join some school of arms with a proficient and painstaking military instructor who is also an expert swordsman. I say swordsman advisedly, because I am convinced that it is only one who is a fencer who can be really qualified to impart knowledge on the subject of weapons chiefly used for pointing.<br>
No man can be said to use the bayonet efficiently who is not able to tackle another man similarly armed—a swordsman on foot or a mounted man armed with the cavalry sabre.