This US Model 1918 Trench Knife just came out of an old collection of US military items. It's a pure unaltered Model 1918 complete with original 1918 dated scabbard. It was manufactured by Landers, Frary, and Clark better known as "LF&C". The US also had foreign knife makers under contract to build these in France...which are marked "Au Lion" with a lion symbol. In my experience, the LF&C's are usually superior to the Au Lion knives in terms of quality but both are historically important. The 1918 was basically three weapons in one...it had a double edged blade, a set of spike-tipped brass handles, and a hex nut to secure the shaft of the blade to the handle that had a sinister looking point on the end called a "skull crusher". With the exception of where your hand rests, there isn't a soft side or end on this weapon.
Overall condition is NRA Antique Very Good with nice unpolished brass handles that retain what looks to be original black finish in the protected areas. Blade still has dried cosmoline on it, never sharpened, and appears to have some of its original blackened finish remaining. The scabbard is in nice shape with no dents and both belt hook prongs still intact. These are getting tough to find unaltered, complete, and still in good shape. This one has all three of those characteristics.
Not only was the Model 1918 popular with soldiers during WW1, but many went on to see service during WW2. My step-grandfather was just a teenager when he joined the Army during WW2. Being a Quaker from North Carolina, he became a medic after finishing his basic training at Fort Hood, TX in 1944. From there, he was shipped off to the Pacific where he served in the battles of Leyte Gulf and in the final battle of WW2 on Okinawa. He never talked much about the war until he reached his mid-60's but I was with him for a couple days years ago and he opened up about his experiences during that last battle. I was in my early 20's at the time and can recall whatever ideas I had in my young mind about combat in WW2 were soon to be shattered with a cold hard dose of reality and replaced with the notion that war was Hell On Earth. That must have been especially true on Okinawa back in 1945 where US casualties skyrocketed and dozens of ships were sunk by last-ditch kamikaze suicide attacks from the air. His recon unit were some of the first American soldiers to land before the main invasion on the island...where the fight came inland...not on the beaches. As a medic, he patched up wounded soldiers wherever he found them...sometimes in areas so hot with fighting that he had to hide his patients before moving on for fear of them being killed by the Japanese. Combat was not a 9-to-5 job...it often meant staying up for days without sleep, fighting through heat, humidity, and rain. Over time, casualties weren't just from physical wounds but medics also had to deal with men breaking down mentally under the strain. "Under those tough conditions, did anybody ever go crazy?", I asked. "Yes, but in the 1940's, it wasn't called that...instead it was called combat fatigue" was his reply. One of the most astounding comments he made to me was that it was often the toughest men in his unit that were the first to crack under the strain. The remedy was usually sleep...but if that didn't work, they were pulled from combat. I remember asking him if the medics wore red crosses on their helmets to identify them as non-combatants...and he wryly noted that the only thing that meant to the enemy was that they made nice targets. He talked about many GIs being struck by artillery shrapnel...I remember seeing an incredible statistic about how many soldiers were struck by shrapnel and/or wounded being over 50%...someone please correct me on that if I'm mistaken. If a soldier was struck by burning fragments of phosphorus, everyone was supposed to carry a can of grease to seal the wound from oxygen which would temporarily halt the burning. Not acting quickly against these phosphorus wounds could turn superficial wounds into fatalities if the burning fragments weren't put out. At night, on the front lines of the fighting, he mentioned he could hear the enemy filing down their bullets to make "dum dums" just a few yards away in their foxholes. Lighting a cigarette at night was forbidden as the light and smell identified your position to the Japanese. If the enemy didn't get you...your own men would. To counter night attacks, his unit would sight in a Browning machine gun slightly above or below the levels of their their pre-strung trip wires. They'd put rocks in their empty used ration cans and attach them every few feet along the wire as alarms. If the cans rattled during the night, that meant the enemy had either stepped or crawled into the wire. A quick burst of the pre-sighted Browning up and down the wire would usually neutralize any enemy activities coming their way. "If they were standing up, you got them in the shins and if they were crawling, you hit them in the face." He said, "in combat, there is no walking...you're either running or you're crawling all the time."
The Trench Knife. One of his friends in George's recon unit, also from NC had brought with him a Model 1918 trench knife that had been sent/given to him by his father. Word was that his father had become quite handy at using one during the First World War so he found one and either gave it or shipped it to his son. My step-grandfather (George) was quite fond of his friend's trench knife but in spite of his efforts to talk him out of the knife, his friend refused to part with it. However, George had a fancy watch with numbers and hands that glowed in the dark that his friend was also wanted. Neither soldier wanted to part with their prized possession so they came up with a pact which was spread through their unit. If George died, his friend was to be given George's watch and if the other fellow died, George was to get his trench knife. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for their pact to take effect as one day, another GI from their unit walked up and handed George his friend's knife...who had been bayoneted by a Japanese soldier hiding in a sugar cane field. For the rest of his life, George kept that knife as a remembrance of his friend and that long ago battle. I can remember him showing it to me about ten years ago...no scabbard and it looked well worn but still in remarkably good shape considering what it had been through.
This one has no story to tell but it's a great example and for what I see these going for at shows, we believe fairly priced as well.