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Old February 11th, 2013, 10:28 PM
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Default Some Interesting Military Data

Generally, I would not post historical accounts here, but I thought that this account might have relevance to the Forum at large, as it would pertain to Skills chosen or acquired. The information comes from the book by Winston Churchill, The Story of the Malakand Field Force. The book was written at the close of 1897, and the events occurred in the summer of 1897.

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Then suddenly, as matters were approaching a crisis, the cavalry of the relieving column appeared over the Amandara ridge. The strong horsemen mercilessly pursued and cut down all who opposed them. When they reached the Bridgehead on the side of the river remote from the fort, the enemy began to turn and run. The garrison had held out stubbornly and desperately throughout the siege. Now that relief was at hand, Lieutenant Rattray flung open the gate, and followed by half a dozen men charged the Civil Hospital. Captain Baker and Lieutenant Wheatley followed with a few more. The hospital was recaptured. The enemy occupying it, some thirty in number, were bayoneted. It was a finish in style. Returning, the sallying party found the cavalry—the 11th Bengal Lancers—checked by a sungar full of tribesmen. This they charged in flank, killing most of its occupants, and driving the rest after their comrades in rout and ruin. The last man to leave the sungar shot Lieutenant Rattray in the neck, but that officer, as distinguished for physical prowess as for military conduct, cut him down. This ended the fighting. It is not possible to think of a more fitting conclusion.
I have highlighted the comment on the use of the bayonet, as throughout the account so far, the use of the bayonet has shown up repeatedly, along with the use of the lance by the 11th Bengal Lancers on routed infantry. As generally, the use of the bayonet is viewed as extremely rare, that does not appear to be the case so far here. The same thing shows up in the account of the British intervention in Egypt in 1882, leading up to the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir. Also, in his account of the fighting on Guadalcanal, which appears in Shots Fired in Anger, Lt. Col. John George, then a First Lieutenant, continually mentions the important of the knife or bayonet for use against Japanese night infiltrators. This does tend to fly in the face of conventional wisdom, so I thought it of interest.
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Old February 11th, 2013, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by timerover51 View Post

The hospital was recaptured. The enemy occupying it, some thirty in number, were bayoneted.

Also, in his account of the fighting on Guadalcanal, which appears in Shots Fired in Anger, Lt. Col. John George, then a First Lieutenant, continually mentions the important of the knife or bayonet for use against Japanese night infiltrators. This does tend to fly in the face of conventional wisdom, so I thought it of interest.
In neither example did one side stand a bayonet charge. If you research the topic critically you will find that almost never has a military unit actually stood to receive such a charge.

In the hospital example there was nowhere for an exhausted defender to run to. In the infiltration example it was isolated individuals or small groups involved.

The wounded, captured and infirm or fleeing are the only ones likely to be bayoneted.

The US Army pathologists keep excellent records of wounds and death from all causes. You will find very few such reports there either.
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Old February 11th, 2013, 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Vladika View Post
In neither example did one side stand a bayonet charge. If you research the topic critically you will find that almost never has a military unit actually stood to receive such a charge.

In the hospital example there was nowhere for an exhausted defender to run to. In the infiltration example it was isolated individuals or small groups involved.

The wounded, captured and infirm or fleeing are the only ones likely to be bayoneted.

The US Army pathologists keep excellent records of wounds and death from all causes. You will find very few such reports there either.
Actually, I have looked at the pathology reports. And I have been reading military history for about over 50 years, as my degree is in history.

As for standing a bayonet charge, I would suggest you read about the Bloody Angle at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in the American Civll War. Then S. L. A. Marshall has a detailed account of a company bayonet charge during the Korean War, by a US infantry company on a North Korean position in, if I remember correctly, the spring of 1951.
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Last edited by Timerover51; February 12th, 2013 at 12:08 AM.. Reason: Added Material
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Old February 12th, 2013, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vladika View Post
In neither example did one side stand a bayonet charge. If you research the topic critically you will find that almost never has a military unit actually stood to receive such a charge.
I don't believe that timerover51 mentioned a bayonet charge in his post. He did mention its use against routed infantry. His examples are all pre-WWI.

Quote:
In the hospital example there was nowhere for an exhausted defender to run to. In the infiltration example it was isolated individuals or small groups involved.

The wounded, captured and infirm or fleeing are the only ones likely to be bayoneted.

The US Army pathologists keep excellent records of wounds and death from all causes. You will find very few such reports there either.
Again, timerover51 doesn't say that modern soldiers commonly use bayonets.

I remember my dad talking about his basic training (between WWII and Korea - Navy, but he might have been talking about the SEAL training he took toward the end of his enlistment). He was taught that if the bayonet was stuck in a body, he should fire a round to help release it.

I (very young at the time) asked why anybody would use a bayonet when he had ammunition to shoot... There are, of course, very many reasons.
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Old February 12th, 2013, 09:07 AM
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A good book on the subject is The Last Full Measure - How Soldiers Die in Battle
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Old February 12th, 2013, 12:20 PM
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I don't believe that timerover51 mentioned a bayonet charge in his post. He did mention its use against routed infantry. His examples are all pre-WWI.

Again, timerover51 doesn't say that modern soldiers commonly use bayonets.

I remember my dad talking about his basic training (between WWII and Korea - Navy, but he might have been talking about the SEAL training he took toward the end of his enlistment). He was taught that if the bayonet was stuck in a body, he should fire a round to help release it.
As I understood his point, it was that the bayonet was underrated based on the examples given vs "conventional wisdom". Overwhelmingly conventional wisdom is correct.

His quote was:

Quote:
This does tend to fly in the face of conventional wisdom, so I thought it of interest.
I did basic in 1979 at Fort Knox (admittedly an armor post) and bayonet training was not given. At AIT at Fort Benning it was also unheard of at that time. I was never issued a bayonet in 12 years at any posting. Most of that time I was an Army Engineer (Engineers do NOT probe for mines with a bayonet! Perfect way to blow yourself to perdition.)

The only blade weapon I ever used was a self purchased Fairbairn–Sykes fighting knife. (Against Regulations but handy on rare occasion.) Gigged several times for "being out of uniform." All by REMFs

If you've got to do it quiet, use a bladed weapon. Whatever you do, get proper training and forget what you saw in the movies. If getting it right, and fast, is important to you, use a firearm.

Your father was certainly correct about the difficulty of extracting a bayonet from a human body. as an aside, cavalry sabers used to be straight bladed. It was soon found that a pronounced curve was needed to extract the blade as well as preventing broken arms of the wielder.
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Old February 12th, 2013, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vladika View Post
as an aside, cavalry sabers used to be straight bladed. It was soon found that a pronounced curve was needed to extract the blade as well as preventing broken arms of the wielder.
The curve also assists in changing the mechanical motion from a chop to a more effective slice by inducing a drag through the cut.

I received bayonet training in the NZ army in the mid '80s. It was quite entertaining and certainly improved your confidence. "Doctrine" (used loosely), was to fix bayonets before assaults on positions, which we did a lot of (assaults that is, we weren't often issued with bayonets for exercises). I've read accounts since criticising the practise, but don't buy into it. When preparing to get up close & personal, I'll take every edge I can including a full mag mounted, spare mags, machette, grenades and a blade already mounted on the end of my M16/Steyr. And they would get used in that order, which is likely the real reason why bayonet wounds are relatively rare. In hindsight I can honestly say I am very glad I never had to put that training into practise.
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Old February 12th, 2013, 09:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vladika View Post
As I understood his point, it was that the bayonet was underrated based on the examples given vs "conventional wisdom". Overwhelmingly conventional wisdom is correct.
Yes, he was. And, he is right in saying so.

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I did basic in 1979 at Fort Knox (admittedly an armor post) and bayonet training was not given.
Perhaps not, but I received it in 1984.

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If getting it right, and fast, is important to you, use a firearm.
Unless, of course, you want it quiet.

I seem to recall a night bayonet attack in modern history. It was used so as not to alert the enemy until they had penetrated their defenses. (I could be wrong.) I seem to recall BlackFive (a military group blog) reacting with examples when bayonets were derisively dismissed in the most recent US presidential election (in one of the debates).
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Old February 12th, 2013, 09:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vladika
If getting it right, and fast, is important to you, use a firearm.
Unless, of course, you want it quiet.
More likely because bayonets don't run out of ammunition.



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Old February 12th, 2013, 10:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Fritz_Brown View Post
I seem to recall a night bayonet attack in modern history. It was used so as not to alert the enemy until they had penetrated their defenses. (I could be wrong.) I seem to recall BlackFive (a military group blog) reacting with examples when bayonets were derisively dismissed in the most recent US presidential election (in one of the debates).
The 1st Ranger Battalion, a.k.a. Darby's Rangers, pulled it off a couple of times in the Tunisian Campaign in early 1943. James Altieri, in his book, The Spearheaders, talks about bayoneting an Italian soldier in the stomach and getting his target's blood all over his uniform. For information on those operations, I would recommend the Altieri book, and also the Leavenworth Combat Study done on Rangers: Selected Combat
Operations in World War 2
, which can be downloaded in PDF format from the Combat Studies Institute website. There is quite a lot of good information on the Combat Studies Institute site, covering a wide range of military history. There is a very good study on the Russo-Japanese border action at Nomonhan in 1939.
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