Book Review: Bayonets of the First World War

Bayonets of the First World War by Claude Bera

Bayonets of the First World War by Claude Bera and Bernard Aubry was originally written in French and translated by Schiffer Publishing. This short book provides an outstanding collection for photographs of museum quality bayonets used in the Great War. The most surprising difference is the length of the weapon. The M7 bayonet used in the Marines, when I served, had a comparably small eight inch blade when compared to the nearly twenty inch bayonets carried by the forces in World War I. 

German sawtooth blades were particularly intimidating. The double rows of teeth on the eighteen inch blade were intended to put fear into an enemy as his trench was being invaded. With bayonets fixed to the rifle, many stood taller than the solder holding them. The Japanese solved the problem of an overly cumbersome long weapon with a folding bayonet. The bayonet stayed attached to the rifle, but folded under the barrel. 

Bayonets gives a short history of the war and year by year updates to bayonets as the rifles changed during the war. It is interesting to note in 1914 that many of the bayonets dated back to the 1870s. This seems to demonstrate what many have believed. In 1914, no one was prepared for war. A basic infantryman’s tool was not improved upon in forty years. Likewise that would also have meant rifles were not updated either. Bayonets includes many nations involved directly in the war and includes China and Latin America. 

The pictures in the book are incredible in PDF format and without doubt even more so in print. There are detailed pictures of the engravings and more than enough information to help in identifying bayonets. The basic history of the war provides a chronological outline of the development and evolution of the bayonet. A remarkable picture book of the most basic infantry weapon. Well worth the read and look for the World War I historian or military historian.

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