It has been very interesting to catch up with the BBC’s series Decisive Weapons. Series 1 is now available on BBC iPlayer. Episode 4 is about the bayonet
We were told that the bayonet was first produced in Bayonne in France (now the home of the elite French unit the 1er RPIMa) – luckily it wasn’t invented in Lille.
The story of the use of this weapon is a fascinating tale. As well as looking at the weapon’s early days in the Napoleonic era, this episode featured interviews with bayonet users from WWII through to the Falklands War. The original idea was a ‘plug bayonet’ so called because weapon was fixed by inserting into the barrel. This had obvious drawbacks in that it was not possible to load/fire the weapon until the plug was removed. This idea, however, was soon refined and replaced by the ring bayonet which leaves the barrel clear for use.
Ultimately apart from this early and fundamental design change, the conclusion was that the attitude of the individual user has proven far more important than either the detail of the design or the tactical theory devised for its use.
Footage of soldiers marching across no-man’s land (with bayonets fixed) through a hail of machine gun fire during WWI made for depressing viewing. Yet stories of soldiers from more recent battles showed that when deployed appropriately the bayonet still remains a potentially battle-changing device.
Not mentioned in the programme was another use for the bayonet which is reported by those involved in peacekeeping duties. The cold steel blade when fixed to weapons carried by a military peacekeeping force is very intimidating and acts as a strong deterrent for individuals thinking of causing trouble in crowd situations. It also enables a solider to maintain a comfortable distance from civilians without making an overt threat.
It will not surprise readers to know that FWS has specifically designed components for storage of bayonets allowing them to be stored in groups, fixed or alongside each weapon. Please contact us for more details.