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 iSandlwana battlefield sword

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John Young

John Young

Posts : 2244
Join date : 2013-09-08
Age : 65
Location : Lower Sheering, Essex

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptyMon Jan 04, 2021 10:52 am

Rather than have this lost in another topic, the following photographs are of the sword mentioned by J. C. van Rooyen as been found on the battlefield of iSandlwana, and handed down through John’s family.

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The sword was manufactured in Birmingham by Robert Mole & Sons, who had a Government contract for producing swords, bayonets and lance-points.

I make no claim to being an expert or a collector of swords, so here is John’s inherited sword for the forum’s input.

John states the sword, belt and slings are as found.  Given that I wonder if it might be a non-commissioned officer’s sword, as opposed to an officer’s sword.  Just my thoughts.

JY
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

Posts : 7742
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 74
Location : Cape Town South Africa

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptyMon Jan 04, 2021 11:45 am

Could very easily be the 1861 pattern Staff sergeants. What is the blade length JayCee ?
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John Young

John Young

Posts : 2244
Join date : 2013-09-08
Age : 65
Location : Lower Sheering, Essex

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PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptyMon Jan 04, 2021 12:24 pm

Frank,

I’m happy to be corrected here, but I thought the 1861 Pattern Staff-Serjeant’s Sword was a cyphered Infantry Pattern sword. John’s sword appears to me to be of a Light Cavalry design.

As you state on the other topic, Robert Wilkinson-Latham be of great help in identifying the sword, especially as he authored a work on Robert Mole & Sons swords.

JY
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90th

90th

Posts : 10263
Join date : 2009-04-07
Age : 64
Location : Melbourne, Australia

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Isandlwana battlefield Sword    iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptyMon Jan 04, 2021 1:23 pm

Outstanding pics , Thanks to those responsible for sharing them , excellent work those men .
90th Salute
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Frank Allewell

Frank Allewell

Posts : 7742
Join date : 2009-09-21
Age : 74
Location : Cape Town South Africa

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PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptyMon Jan 04, 2021 1:36 pm

I chatted to Robert a number of years ago, very knowledgable man.
swordforum.com
Well worth a visit
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SRB1965

SRB1965

Posts : 879
Join date : 2017-05-13
Age : 56
Location : Uttoxeter - the last place God made and he couldn't be bothered to finish it.....

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptyMon Jan 04, 2021 5:51 pm

Is that the original belt and sling that was found with the sword?

If so, would the colour of the leather be a clue - would some units have had pipe clayed slings?

ta

Simon
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timothylrose



Posts : 86
Join date : 2013-09-07

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PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptyMon Jan 04, 2021 6:35 pm

The belt looks like it has been made up from parts of a Sam Brown belt added to a cavalry pattern set of fittings - I would have expected Regulars to be using buff leather belts but happy to be proved wrong
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barry

barry

Posts : 935
Join date : 2011-10-21
Location : Algoa Bay

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: The sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptyMon Jan 04, 2021 7:46 pm

Hi All,

Some observations;
1) The leatherwork attached to the sword looks very much as if it was a DIY modification involving, inter alia,  a piece of Sam Brown etc.
2) I would further speculate that it could have been used by a Boer officer at a later time.
3) post the AZW some of the regiments garrisoned in Pietermaritzburg were not too good at securing their peacetime armouries in the city. As a consequence there were  shocked reactions when some were found emptied and many of the missing weapons were recovered  between the wars over the southern border, in Pondoland and some in Zululand too.
4)We should not discount, because of its pattern, that the sword in question was not used by an officer in one of the Colonial units in the AZW. Many of these units tended to equip with what they could lay their hands on, at good prices.
Early pictures  of NMP officers show a similar sword in use by this unit.
So, given the multiplicity of possible sources for this weapon, attempts to identify a rightful owner may be an exercise in futility.

regards

barry
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nitro450

nitro450

Posts : 152
Join date : 2015-01-21
Age : 76
Location : Sydney, Australia

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptySun Jan 17, 2021 1:00 am

A really great piece of history, wonderful to see. Thanks for posting.
Nitro450 Salute
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markbergin



Posts : 1
Join date : 2017-07-20

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PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptySun Jan 17, 2021 1:20 am

I agree with Nitro450, wonderful photos.

Does the story or history of how and when this sword was found exist on this site?

Thank you all for your contributions.
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ausbryant



Posts : 8
Join date : 2016-03-06

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Similar Sword to this one, and Henry Greenwood (Service # 1733)    iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptySun Jan 17, 2021 5:10 am

As a kid, my father had posession of a very similar sword to this one, but in very good condition with almost no rust.
But that one was in a leather scabbard, and there was no evidence of a belt of any kind as far as I can recall 50 years later.
As was only too common practice in the 'sixties, he diposed of it and a lot of other stuff when his mother died in 1968.
I suspect it was a souvenir brought back to the UK by my GreatGrandFather Henry Greenwood (Service No. 1733) who was in the 2nd Btn. 24th Regt. of Foot (South Wales Borderers).
Henry went on to serve in India and Burma before returning to the UK in 1890, by which time he'd married my GGMother in Madras in 1885 and they'd produced three children all of whom presumably accompamied Henry's Btn. through all of it.
I'd really appreciate any information that might relate to Henry's service, as I didn't even know he existed until recent years, thanks to online genealogy resources.
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Kenny



Posts : 441
Join date : 2013-05-07
Location : Brecon

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptySun Jan 17, 2021 8:15 am

Henry Greenwood arrived in South Africa in June 1879. He may have been involved in the burial of the dead when the soldiers from 2/24th were involved in June/July 1879 and in August 1879.
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Brin

Brin

Posts : 5
Join date : 2020-05-16
Location : Where the Wildlings roam

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptySun Jan 17, 2021 9:44 am

Morning All,

Really nice images of the sword above.  One of my areas of interest, as a collector.  From the images above able to determine:-
a) The Proof slug is correct for a Robert Mole sword of the 1850 to 1881 period.
b) Mole traded and marked his swords as Robert Mole & Son from 1856 to 1874, then as Robert Mole & Sons from some point in 1875 through to 1881.  The main office was in Islington, London although most of his surviving sword examples are marked with Birmingham on the riccasso.  From the images, believe this one is marked Robert Mole & Sons so is from the appropriate period.
c) The limited section of etching shown confirms the monogram for the monarch at it's time of being etched as Queen Victoria.
d) Three bar hilted swords of this period were used by Light Cavalry, some Reserve/Independent units, a limited number of infantry units eg: flag officers of the Cameron Highlanders and 71st Highlanders in the latter Crimea and by Artillery Officers, plus some Quartermasters and Regimental Riding Masters.
e) Further images of the etching pattern would determine if an Artillery Officer's sword or not, whereas Light Cavalry Officers tended to have only the standard etching patterned swords.  Staff Sergeants swords (if an individual could afford such and if privately purchased) tended to be unetched more like what collectors called 'campaign swords'. Campaign swords are where an officer was being deployed and needed a sword urgently and so picked one from off the shelf hence often unetched. The likelihood is of this one once belonging to an officer of some description rather than a Staff Sergeant, but this is not an absolute.  
f) The scabbard is steel (now rusted) which is period correct for a junior officer up to an including Captain rank. The lack of wear to the grip is also consistent with it once belonging to a junior officer as there are no notable wear marks to the skin and all the coarse and fine silver wires appear present. The tang button also appears intact together with the positioning of the grip to the back-piece are both suggestive of the sword having never being taken apart and so original.  
g) Unless there are any further distinctive etching patterns/marks etc to the blade which are not included in the photographs above it is unlikely the original owner can be identified with any absolute certainty.  The webbing arrangement I have no idea as not my area, but from my own military service - when on campaign/deployed dress regulations were ignored and if something worked it was used.

Hope the above helps a little.  
If anyone has any contact details for Robert Wilkinson-Latham I'd be happy to receive such as have not spoken to him for over 10 to 15 years.  Had assumed he has retired from Pooley's Swords and was hoping his is still around as his previous email addresses and mobile phone number are both not in use.
All the best
Brin
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jaycee



Posts : 3
Join date : 2020-11-26

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptySun Jan 17, 2021 10:04 am

Good Morning Gentlemen

the sword i have is supposed to be in its original picked up / captured / stolen ? state as found
minutes after the Battle of Isandlwana - initially hidden under a bed in a Zulu hut for about 50 years
then sold / bartered to my paternal grandmother's cousin during the depression ( 1929 + ) then sold
on to my grandmother in the late 1950's - our family story is that this sword has never been used ,
cleaned , tampered with etc for 130 years - this is of course not possible to verify , and i'm a tad
embarrassed to admit we never imagined the leather work to be of importance ! this is why i decided
to post on this site populated with many Zulu War experts - i'm finding your input very enlightening .

the sword is 874 mm from tip to handle + 146 mm handle = 1020 mm overall
width across the blade where the gold " proof " inset is = 28 mm
weight of blade only without sheath or leather work = 892 grams

regards
john ( jaycee )
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Brin

Brin

Posts : 5
Join date : 2020-05-16
Location : Where the Wildlings roam

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptySun Jan 17, 2021 10:12 am

Hi Jaycee,
If you could post further images of the etching to the blade (both sides) it might, only might give some further information, or at least exclude some possible options.
Nice item to have in your possession. Cleaning of antique swords is very subjective amongst collectors - as your to own and pass on to the next generation cleaning and stabilising any rust to the sword might be something to consider even if sending it to an expert.
All the best
Brin
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ADMIN

ADMIN

Posts : 4175
Join date : 2008-11-01
Age : 62
Location : KENT

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptySun Jan 17, 2021 10:52 am

Similar Swords. Most descriptions of these swords as "Brin" says were Artillery Officer's sword

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Last edited by ADMIN on Sun Jan 17, 2021 11:23 am; edited 3 times in total
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Brin

Brin

Posts : 5
Join date : 2020-05-16
Location : Where the Wildlings roam

iSandlwana battlefield sword Empty
PostSubject: Re: iSandlwana battlefield sword   iSandlwana battlefield sword EmptySun Jan 17, 2021 11:18 am

Hi Admin,

The sword noted on Matt Easton's website appears to be a standard Pillin made Officer's Light Cavalry example, complete with some excessive wear (or over cleaning) to the blade hence most of the standard etching pattern is worn (almost gone). What is interesting is the service sharpening to the blade (from the images) appears limited to the spear-point area, whereas infantry and naval officers who had theirs sharpened had it along most of the edge of the blade.
All the best
Brin
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