"Un engin de torture, une baïonnette à crochets; une arme blanche déshonorée": an historicalarchaeological evaluation of the Sawback bayonets of the Deutsches Heer
Journal of Conflict Archaeology
99 - 125
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The Imperial German Army (Deutsches Herr) was unique among the combatants in World War One (WW1) in issuing to a proportion of its soldiers a bayonet whose blade back was fashioned as a saw. A common belief developed quickly among the Allies that these sawback bayonets were weapons specifically intended to inflict a particularly vicious type of wound. After setting out the origins of this class of weapon and explaining their real purpose, the two main types of sawback bayonet available to the Deutsches Heer during WW1 are then concisely described. Its reputation as a weapon of especial barbarity is outlined, along with an overview of bayonet use in combat between the mid-nineteenth century and 1918, as evidenced by official sources, highlighting the lack of any specific contemporary references to the use of or the wounds caused by sawback bayonets. The article concludes by detailing the contemporary German sources relevant to its withdrawal from service use in 1917.