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Fixing Bayonets

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Fixing Bayonets

The Army stopped teaching bayonet in 2009 or 2010, but the Marines still include it in Boot Camp.

In my post on the P-17 Enfield, I mentioned the practice of fixing that rifle with a 16-inch-bladed bayonet, thereby rendering the gun nearly useless in the confines of a World War I trench.

“Why?” I asked myself, “had the army taken leave of all sense?”

So I did some research, and found that prior to the War to End All Wars there was an “outreach” theory among Deep Thinkers of the Bayonet that if what you had was longer than what the other guy had, and you thrust it at him one-handed for maximum reach, you could put his lights out without being within sticking distance of his bayonet.

The weakness in this theory, soldiers eventually discovered, was that you needed enormous strength in your thrusting hand and forearm, and that if you missed, it was very easy to parry your stroke and very difficult to recover, leaving you wide open for a counter thrust.

I have a certain fondness for the bayonet. I have a relative, now long departed, who actually faced a bayonet charge in World War I. Great Uncle Oskar fought in the Kaiser’s army, and was not much impressed by the French, Americans, or English, but the Scots scared the hell out of him. You’ll have to imagine the following spoken in a heavy German accent, since Spellcheck will not let me write Teutonic dialog:

“The Scots were devils. When you heard the bagpipes warming up on the other side of No Man’s land you looked for a way to retreat. We killed them and we killed them and we killed them, but they never stopped coming AND THEY DID NOT TAKE PRISONERS!”

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