Researched and written By Anthony Mitchell
Back in 1907, the British Army adopted the Short, Magazine, Lee-Enfield (SMLE) rifle as standard issue for all branches of the armed forces. Previously, there were different styles of rifles and carbines for different branches of the service. The new rifle was shorter and handier than the long Lee-Enfield it replaced.
The military doctrine of the day placed emphasis on the combat use of the bayonet, and the feeling was that the shorter rifle required a longer bayonet to place the British infantryman on an equal footing with the enemy.
Various designs were contemplated, but the pattern selected was based on the bayonet used by the Imperial Japanese Army with the Arisaka rifle.
Over 5 million P1907 bayonets were made during World War 1 alone, with many manufactured by Wilkinson Sword. The P1907 bayonet coupled with the SMLE was used by British and Commonwealth forces during both world wars.
The photo below shows the bayonet in its leather scabbard
During the 1920’s, the SMLE was designated the “Rifle No. 1 Mk III*”. The Pattern 1907 bayonet stayed the same.
Australia manufactured the SMLE and Pattern 1907 bayonet until the 1950’s, so the Pattern 1907 bayonet is relatively common out here. The photograph below is a display in the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum. The display shows SMLE‘s and P1907 bayonets from every year of manufacture.
Until next time, have a happy shoot
References: The Lee-Enfield by Ian Skennerton and various internet sources