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WWI Greek bayonets


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#1 TRAJAN

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 03:58 PM

I am aware that the early 20th century Greek army began to replace its Steyr-made M 1874 Gras bayonets with at first the Steyr-made M 1903 and then the Steyr-made M 1914 bayonet. I also know that thanks to the Greek decision (at first) to stay neutral the supply of Steyr M 1914's dried up sharpish.

What I don't understand is this. Apart from a single M 1903, the only Greek bayonets I have ever seen for sale in Turkey in the last 10 months or so have all been 1874 Gras-types (I have recorded over 6 to date [and bought two], the latest dated 1885). I think it is reasonable to assume that the Greek bayonets on the market here are likely to be left-overs/captures from the Greek invasion and the (Turkish) War of Independence 1921-1922. So, a very small sample, I know, of no real statistical value, BUT it seems to me from this 'evidence' that during WWI and after, the Greek army was still dominated by the use of the Gras rifle. Anyone out there know if this is true or not?

Thanks in advance for any guidance,

Trajan

#2 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 06:56 PM

Trajan, how are they marked? I don't know the answer to your question but I have never seen bayonets used in Greek service (or any kit come to that).

#3 TRAJAN

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 11:43 PM

... Trajan, how are they marked?


The ones made by Steyr specifically for the Greeks and their Gras have 'WAFFENFABRIK STEYR' and the date in script on the spine. I have also seen two with the letters 'AD' between the rivets on the crossguard left side, and the ones I have examined have serial numbers between the crossguard rivets on the right side. They do not have any of the usual French markings on the blade, but I read somewhere that France diverted some of their own Gras bayonets to Greece after the Lebel was introduced, and these apparently have the regular French markings (including factory name on the spine) but the serial numbers are between the crossguard rivets on the left side.

The 1903 and 1914 Mannlicher-Schoenauer ones have the St.George and the Dragon symbol on the pommel.

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#4 Garron

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 02:30 AM

Alright mate,
according to http://greek-war-equ...gras-rifle.html

They ordered 129,000 in total (various types)
1886 was the last recorded order from Steyr with 1000 rifles ordered (I'd guess bayonets too), which tallies with the latest date you have found.
In 1923 after the Treaty of Lausanne it accounted for 25% of the Greek rifle total
and it was still in service in 1940 accounting for 13% of the Greeks total number of rifles

Hope thats of some use to you.

Gaz

#5 TRAJAN

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 04:33 AM

... http://greek-war-equ...gras-rifle.html ...in 1923 after the Treaty of Lausanne it accounted for 25% of the Greek rifle total...


Thanks Gaz - that's a lot of them Gras' hanging around after WWI then. But still rather odd at first sight that M 1903's are so rare. But, there again, thinking about it (morning cuppa time :thumbsup: ), I guess that any captured examples of these could easily have been 'turked' while any captured Gras bayonets were simply disposed off as to much hassle to modify!!!???

After all, the M 1903 is basically a standard Mannlicher 1895 blade with a higher muzzle ring, and a bit of fiddling would get the crosss-guard off and a new 'Mauser'-type one added. Having done that, scrub the St.George and Dragon off the pommel, and hey presto, you have to all intents and purposes a 'Turked' bayonet with an OEWG marked M95 blade. Mind you, I or someone will have to check if the mortice slots need changing also.

Two points follow. Did the Turks ever use Mannlicher-type rifles/bayonets? Don't know about the first but I do have a plain (i.e., unmarked) bayonetless Mannlicher 1895 scabbard with a Turkish-marked frog that came from over here.

How to identify a modified M 1903 blade? Forgot to add in replying to auchonvillerssomme: the example of an M 1903 I have has the standard OEWG mark on the right ricasso and the single Roman alphabet letter 'G' on the left ricasso. I have interpreted this 'G' as a control mark standing for 'Graechische' to allow the Steyr inspectors to identify a blade intended for the Greek M 1903, but I have no evidence for this. But there again, I have never seen or heard off any standard M 1895's with a single letter of any kind stamped on the ricasso, so it is a possibility
.

Trajan


#6 shippingsteel

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 05:15 AM

Trajan, I find it is important to first get an understanding of the various rifles that a certain country used, before trying to get your head around all of their bayonets.
In many cases there were a variety of types of bayonets used for each single model rifle, and then even more versions as the rifles were continued to be reworked.

I haven't looked that far into the Greek bayonets as such, but do know they liked to modify and reuse where possible, which was all too common during that period.
HERE is a useful link which gives some detail into the M-S rifle in Greek use. And don't confuse the M1903 T-back bayonet with your much shorter prize possession.! :thumbsup:

Cheers, S>S

#7 TRAJAN

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 06:35 AM

Trajan, I find it is important to first get an understanding of the various rifles that a certain country used, before trying to get your head around all of their bayonets...


Too true, too true - but I can't (well, not legally anyway!) get my hands on any of the relevant rifles to study the fittings properly... :angry2:

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#8 TRAJAN

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 08:09 AM

S>S: forgot to say 'Ta' for the link re: MS rifles. And don't worry, the M 1903 is being seriously looked after!

Auchonvilliers: this page -
http://christian.mery.pagesperso-orange.fr/1874gras.htm has some info regarding the ones made by Steyr for Greece. Also explains the ones with the 'USINE DE STEYR' mark on the spine

Trajan


#9 auchonvillerssomme

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:03 PM

Trajan, thank you. I found the notes in Les Baionnettes, Reglementaires Francaises de 1840 a 1918, the above article was taken from it.

Mick

#10 TRAJAN

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 04:09 PM

OK, kids and wife out visiting - so a chance to get back! Thanks to a member of the pointy-things sub-group (and yes, I DO mean you canny lad, and thanks again!) I was able to check the hitherto semi-mythological Otto on Turkish Bayonets re: possible Turkish re-use of Mannlicher blades. He notes that the Turks re-used captured Mannlicher rifles and bayonets from various conflicts and some bayonets were kept as before but others modified for Turkish use e.g., his 49:10.

BUT, note that - back to original post - Otto has no Gras bayonets listed for Turkish use.

Trajan

#11 TRAJAN

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 04:13 PM

Thought I'd revive this one to go a little further with Greek WWI bayonets! I have still not managed to find a single Steyr-made long Y(M) 1903 bayonet since the first one I saw on the market and stupidly did not buy, not knowing how uncommon they are. However, I have managed to get two more of the much rarer (uncoverted) Steyr-made Y(M) 1914 bayonets, so mustn't grumble really!

 

I am now in the process of extending my collection of Greek - shall we just say, for the sake of argument - '1874/1903' bayonets. These are the ones converted to fit the Greek Mannlicher-Schoenaur 1903 rifle, most usually from the Waffenfabrik Steyr made bayonets that were supplied to the Greeks from 1881 to fit their Gras rifles, although some I have seen (and have) were actually converted from French-made Gras bayonets supplied to the Greeks at a later date (after the Lebel was introduced into French service) and so have the usual French engraving on their spine. I assume that the ones I have (and my Y 1914 bayonets) were 'left behind' here after the Turkish War of Independence, but trotzdem (a very useful German expression!), they are essentially WWI bayonets. I guess that most were converted after 1914, when the Greek decision (at first) to stay neutral halted the supply of any more Steyr-made Y 1914's...

 

Be that as it may, they are rather odd bayonets, and I have not yet heard of any UK collector having one (Aleck?), and so it might be useful to put them on wider record. Briefly speaking, the Greek armourers did a great job in spreading and adapting the original Gras muzzle ring to fit in a lovely piece of very carefully machined metal to raise the muzzle ring to the required height with the appropriate diameter. Attached are photographs showing the distinctive filled/raised muzzle ring of these '1874/1903' bayonets and also one (courtesy of a friend Rusnak, on another forum) showing how they fit the Mannlicher-Schoenauer rifle.

 

PS: should have added that the conversion did involve shaving a little of the hump-back on the Gras pommel - visible in the last photograph!

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#12 TRAJAN

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 04:16 PM

Here's another photograph, posted by a friend Nick, on another forum, which shows much better the lovely job the armourers did in adapting that original Gras muzzle ring.

 

Trajan

 

PS: I am shocked :excl: Nobody has yet spotted and commented on the deliberate mistake in my previous post -set there to see how many of you knew your Greek WWI bayonets! A test to see what GWF bayonet enthusiasts knew on the subject! :whistle: Now pay attention out there! Don't be so occidentally oriented -if you see what I mean -as those of you who are collectors might miss bargains out there among the uninitiated!

 

Attached File  Nick GrasMle1874-6.jpg   77.26KB   1 downloads



#13 TRAJAN

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 02:52 PM

Here are some nicer photographs from my mate Giannis, of what he thinks is a production prototype for these modified Gras bayonets. But I am still wondering why nobody took up the challenge earlier? Am I the only GWF 'arms' member who looks beyond the Western front? Nobody else have any Greek WWI bayonets?

Attached Files