Featured Bayonet - German ersatz bayonets with British blades

An area of bayonet collecting often overlooked until recently is the German ersatz period of the Great War. Seminal reference works by Anthony Carter, and more recently Roy Williams (‘The Collectors Book of German Bayonets’ Part Two) have gone a long way in providing valuable information.

The enormous effort of mobilizing German troops following the declaration of war resulted in a scramble to arm them. Whilst the arms industry in Germany was getting up to speed, a temporary solution was found to fill the gap in bayonet production.

When Germany overran Belgium, vast quantities of weapons became available to them. Along with weapons captured and retained at the conclusion of the Franco-Prussian war, it provided Germany with a readymade source of arms.

These weapons generally found their way into the hands of rear echelon troops, whilst new made rifles and bayonets went to the front line.

Socket bayonets in particular lent themselves to ready conversion. With wellmade blades, it was simply a case of removing the socket, straightening the shank and fitting an appropriate hilt. Many thousands were modified accordingly, utilizing socket blades originally manufactured and intended for the USA, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland and Great Britain.

British P1853 socket bayonets blades were subject to ersatz modification in this manner.

A variety of hilts were utilized, falling into two general catagories, pressed steel with flat grips :

and cast steel, with either nine, or seven grooved grips :

Blades will often display traces of their original British markings. Two of these three bayonets made with pressed steel hilts and socket blades shown on the left still retain legible maker marks. All have deeply struck German inspection stamps.

With blades set a different angle into the cast steel hilt, the blade on the left has a British Ordnance Crown inspectors mark and the blade in the centre shows traces of the original makers name.

Very few German ersatz bayonets with socket blades display other markings. This example of a pressed steel hilt with a British P1853 blade shows the maker, or possibly assemply stamp C.T.S

German ersatz bayonets with socket blades should be considered the scarce.

Many found their way into the hands of Turkey, Germany’s Great War ally. Subsequent arms deals saw many of them ending up in Afghanistan, retrieved in recent years by American and allied troops. This scource has now dried to a trickle, and availability on the collector market has again become a rarity.

The ‘ersoc’ scene contains an almost endless stream of variations. If it holds your interest, obtaining a copy of ‘The Collectors Book of German Bayonets’ Part Two is well worth the investment.

Knowledge is everything!

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