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Above the Pattern 1908 Cavalry Trooper's sword of Col. Taylor

Below the Pattern 1899 Cavalry Trooper's sword it replaced because it received poor reviews during the Boer War

Named Swords

The finest memorabilia of any kind is when you can tie it to a particular person, time, and place.

These two swords that belonged to two of Canada's finest soldiers of the Victorian/Edwardian/Georgian period, are fine examples, and far superior to random swords. Both men also won the Distinguished Service Order the British Empire's second highest honour for valour in battle.

Both men also illustrate Canada's finest tradition, ordinary men, civilians - one a druggist, the other a banker - rising to do extraordinary things, as military men, when necessary, in the service of their country, and returning to their civy jobs when the danger is past.

That happened numerous times in Canada's past, when Americans malevolently attacked Canada - as they have recently attacked Iraq and Afghanistan - and Canadians rallied to throw them out. Exactly like the Afghans are doing.


Below
the Fred Taylor DSO cavalry sword (the 1908 pattern featuring the new evolution towards thin and straight thrusting blades) above the James Mason DSO, infantry officer's sword (the 1845 Pattern compromise blade, slightly curved for slashing rather than piercing).

The infantry officer's new style straight blades had been issued to them as the 1897 pattern, but many preferred to go to war, in 1899, carrying the old style, dashing and curved, 1845 pattern swords, as did James Mason.

Go to the Paardeberg Sword

Note the more robust construction of a working trooper's sword, with its far larger bowl to protect the hand, and the extra length to match lance and rifle bayonet reach.



Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

The fabulous presentation sword awarded to one of Canada's great soldiers of World War I, by the First Hussars.

It is a trooper's pattern 1908 cavalry sword given to Col. FA Taylor DSO, VD. The DSO is second only to the Victoria Cross in the hierarchy of military honours.

The British 1908 pattern cavalry trooper's sword, replaced a bad sword, the 1899 cavalry trooper's sword, and is the last pattern to be issued. (In 1912 the cavalry officer's pattern was produced so ending the evolution of British fighting swords.)

The blade is dated June 1918.

It has the leather wrist strap of a working weapon. During heavy sword action, if you dropped it, you could pull it back with the strap.

The engraving, to Col. FA Taylor DSO, VD, can be seen on the scabbard, starting just to the right of the loops.

The scabbard and bowl are brightly nickel plated to make it a spiffy presentation piece.


Pattern 1908 Cavalry Trooper's Sword, Presented to Col. FA Taylor DSO, VD by the First Hussars - 1918
Orig. sword - Size - oa 1m 8 cm - blade 89 cm
Found - London, ON

The Presentation Sword of Col. Frederick Arthur Taylor DSO, VD - 1919

Copyright Goldi Productions Ltd. 1996-1999-2005

TAYLOR, Frederick Arthur, Lieutenant, B Squadron Canadian Light Horse - Distinguished Service Order - awarded as per London Gazette dated 11 January 1919 and Canada Gazette dated 29 March 1919, p 8 Sup.

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. With a patrol of four men he cut off an enemy convoy of four ammunition wagons and 35 enemy soldiers under an officer.

The enemy machine guns and infantry prevented him bringing the convoy back to our lines, but he disabled the convoy and it was taken possession of next morning when our line advanced. He displayed great courage and presence of mind in particularly difficult circumstances.

An oddity of this presentation sword is that it is a trooper's pattern 1908 sword, not its successor for cavalry officers, the 1912 pattern, which had a sharkskin and wire wrapped grip, instead of the rubber pistol grip which Taylor's sword has.

Its rolled steel plate bowl also has no etched floral pattern on the front.

Why the First Hussars chose to present Col. Taylor with this pattern sword is an interesting question.

Perhaps they wanted to show the respect they had for him as "a working" soldier, instead of a parade ground dandy, which an officer's sword might imply. He won his DSO sharing the danger of the men he led.

The semi-pistol grip of the 1908 pattern sword is a great innovation. It is a sort of squarish shape and made of heavy ribbed rubber. It gives the best feel of any sword grip we've ever held.

This sword was designed for thrusting, not for slashing or cutting. To that end the pistol grip had a fore-finger stop underneath, and a recessed thumb stop on top. Both would aid, substantially, in pushing the weapon home, against any obstacle.

The Slasher vs the Pointer - The age old debate among cavalrymen about whether a sword should be primarily used for slashing or stabbing resulted in compromise swords during the 19th century. They did neither very well.

Go to the Paardeberg Sword

This cavalry sword ended the debate. The blade was made straight and thin for piercing power. It was designed entirely for stabbing and so completely unsuitable for cutting and slashing.

It is not swashbuckling pretty, like the curved slashers of old. When King Edward VII saw it he blanched and called it "hideous."

At an overall length of 43" (blade 35") its designers claimed that, with the trooper's arm extended, its reach could match a lancer's thrusting distance, and that of a bayonet wielding rifleman. We have no anecdotal accounts of survivors of such encounters to testify if this turned out to be true...

Another problem surely also must have been, that when it was thrust into a body at the gallop - and World War I did not offer much opportunity - and penetrated to the hilt, the cavalryman, hoping to sweep by an enemy he just pierced, might very well dislocate his shoulder trying to withdraw it, or break his wrist. Or he might lose the sword entirely, or get unhorsed. A slashing sword did not present this problem. So back to the drawing board.

So, its outstanding reputation as a sword design rests on precious little practical experience and also on the fact that the sword as a tool came to an end in World War I.

Some of the more prominent markings on the spine of the blade is P 08 for the sword pattern 1908.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Swords that are left in their scabbards or are neglected, for decades, can acquire rust. A preliminary cleaning with lemon juice and vinegar cleaned off a lot of the surface rust.

The marking include
- the broad arrow, showing it is a military issue
- the manufacturer SB & N
- crown 3H
- crown 35 E
- 29

On the other side of the blade are:
- crown D4E
- 30
- crown 3H E
- crown 1D E
- 6 '18 for June 1918, when it was manufactured

On the front lip of the bowl, visible in the "grip picture" above are:
- 5.1.D.G (perhaps 5IDG - 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
- 170
- 235

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The scabbard is also marked with a broad arrow and DG 40.

The sword may have originated with the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards.

Right how British cavalrymen carried the 1908 pattern sword, strapped alongside the carbine boot.

Few of them ever got to use it.

Go to Other Mounted Men

Go to Lancers

The First Hussars, who presented Col. Taylor with this sword, have a museum in London, Ontario, Canada.

Below Fred's attestation papers showing he signed up as a Lieutenant with considerable military experience into a mounted unit.

But his birth date is wrong. He was born in 1883, not 1915.