The 1907 Pattern Bayonet was the British Army’s standard-issue bayonet for the duration of the First World War and remained in service until 1945. Developed after the Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) replaced the much-longer Magazine Lee-Enfield (MLE) rifle in 1903, the 1907 pattern bayonet was 5 inches longer than the previous issue weapon and was designed to compensate the new disadvantage faced by the British soldier when engaged in close combat with the enemy.
Measuring 17 inches in total, the 1907 pattern bayonet was developed following trials with the Japanese Arisaka rifle and its Type 30 bayonet, and was initially manufactured with a hooked quillon that was eventually removed in 1915. The bayonet was attached to the SMLE by using a boss on the rifle’s nose cap, located beneath the muzzle, and a bayonet bar, connecting with a mortise groove on its pommel. It was then removed by lifting it off the rifle with one hand while pressing its release spring with the other. The bayonet was sheathed in a leather scabbard that hung from the belt of a soldier’s webbing.
It is estimated that more than five million 1907 pattern bayonets with produced in Britain during the First World War and the ‘spirit of the bayonet’ was an key part of the British infantryman’s training. Soldiers were instructed on how to conduct themselves when faced with the brutality of close quarters combat and were taught about the importance of stance, and how to parry and counter-attack, when engaged in bayonet fighting with an enemy. For the British High Command, aggressive bayonet fighting was the very essence of the Army’s offensive spirit.