"Un engin de torture, une baïonnette à crochets; une arme blanche déshonorée": an historicalarchaeological evaluation of the Sawback bayonets of the Deutsches Heer

Date
2019
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Source Title
Journal of Conflict Archaeology
Print ISSN
1574-0773
Electronic ISSN
1574-0781
Publisher
Taylor&Francis
Volume
14
Issue
2-3
Pages
99 - 125
Language
English
Type
Article
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Abstract

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.

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Keywords
Sawback bayonets, Seitengewehre mit Säge, German Imperial Army, Deutsches Heer, Bayonet wounds
Citation
Published Version (Please cite this version)