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Old 11th February 2009, 09:03 PM   #2
spiral
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The 20th Century British Military Pattern Gurkha Issue Kukri.

Perhaps this little article will help answear some of the most frequant questians I see & hear about the main British Gurkha military pattern kukri.

Here are the 4 Mark patterns. In number order Mk.1 at top. {2 mark IIIs are shown one bieng the rare Wilkinson sword version.}




Many kukris have been used by the Nepali Gurkhas of the British army, with small purchases, orders & even on occasion manufacture by various, units, regiments, & of course many many private purchases by individual officers & men.

Many traditional kukris are seen in photos from WW1 & WW2 and these can be either early or more unofficial{non pattern.} kukri or private purchase or even family heirloom kukri, as according to the Brigade of Gurkhas most Gurkhas returned from thir first leave with a traditional kukri rather than a military issue variant. Judging from photos many still carried issue pattern kukri though. Of course at that time their leave was more often in India rather than Nepal so many private purchase Indian made kukri were also carried. Historical Family hierloom kukris from Gurkha forebears were sometimes even brought along by the new recruits, but according to various testimonies from WW2 veterans, those that did would often only use those as their weapons while using the issue kukri for utility work.

Here are two regimentaly marked kukri to the 2/8 th Gurkha rifles from WW1 era. The top one was favoured by many Gurkhas & it was still carried in ww2 by many of them. I have seen authenticated versions carried by the 6th,8th & 10 Gurkha regiments.






But carefull x10 magnification by an experienced researcher is needed to authenticate these marks as original as over the last couple of years fakes of these "Regimental" kukri have been coming onto the market on occasion from 2 main sources, most sadly the new marks have been added on some occasions to genuine old kukri.

But despite the many kukri carried there have only ever been 4 military pattern number kukris in official British Gurkha issue.






The First official numbered British Indian Gurkha military kukri the mk.1 was in production by 1903 up until 1915.



It was a break from the traditional hidden partial tangs to a full length rat tail tang culminating in turn nut similar in design to a rifle stock recessed into the walnut butt. This system is seen in 19th century Afghan army kukri & many historical swords.

The identifying mk.1 nuts..




Many of them are unmarked although some later 1915 models carry manufactures armoury stamp Co. For Cossipore Armoury. Often FW marks on the spine occur which are the inspection & or issue marks from Fort William in Calcutta, The rarer QA & RP inspection marks also show up for Rawlpindi & Queta respectivly. Some pieces carry more than one inspection or issue mark. Many of these kukri were subcontracted to local civilian workshops. One of which was E.Boota Singh &sons, based at Rawlpindi.

The Co 1915 models seem to be heavy & clumsy although well made, I have often wondered if that last batch of Co. kukris was the nail in the coffin for that design as a military piece.


There weights vary from 24oz to 33 oz {On those I have examined.} Blade lengths typicaly in the 13 1/4 to 14 inch range.

Although all mk.1s are rare most are short handled.As always variants do occur the lighter weight longer handled one is a one of the rarer variants. It may be a private purchase or regimentaly produced piece as it bears no inspection marks but it still comes with the rarest Official issue mk.I scabbard, equipped with pockets loops & buttons.







.


The mk.2 was in production by 1915 & was to stay in manufacture for the British army until at least 1944 so certainly they ran into production figures of many thousands.

All the issue pieces have steel bolster & buttcap, brass was a restricted metal only to be used wear superior. {Such as arguably rivet surrounds & chapes.} Private purchase pieces may have brass fittings as do the many fake Co. 1917 35 marked kukri,with 2 brass rings round the grip.



The issue mk.II kukri has been produced by many manufactures & armories over the years.



Commercial private purchase version production continued after the war & fakes & replicas are still made today.

There weights can vary from 21oz to 28oz .{On those I have examined.} WW2 era issue ones tend to be heavier most of the time than WW1 era pieces.



The 3 WW1 manufactures most often seen are {with years of production runs that I know off so far.}




CO. 1915,1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, The predominant maker by far, made at Cossipore arsenal more famous for its artilary pieces.



DHW 1918, 1919



GDB & Co. 1917, 1918


Rarer manufactures include,


E.Boota Singh &sons, {Rawlpindi} 1917



AS & Sons Ltd. A model of which only one very high quality piece is known dating from 1916.



RFI {Rifle Factory Ishapore.} are also known to have made a small high quality batch in 1927.



In WW2 well known manufactures include.



ATD, {Army Traders Dharan} 1942, 1943, 1944,

M or MIL, {Military industries Ltd.} 1941, 1942,

Pioneer, {Calcutta} 1942,1943,1944

Queera Bros. 1942,1943, 1944

JNB 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944



One variant mk.2 often called the M.43 after the manufactures stamp found on it is identifiable by the mark, & sunken rivets combined with an integrally welded tang , bolster join, but as these 2 later features can be found on other mk.2s the mark is the real key. {Although some occasionally appear to have escaped marking.}

Some people refer to this as a separate model in my opinion it is just a particular manufacturers interpretation of the design as none of the differences sited only occur on m.43s other than the stamp.]

I have an early m.43 which has the original style handle of the early mk.2s, which helps show its ancestry.

There has been suggestions in the past that the M.43 mark proves manufacture by the English firm, Broadway Engineering Co. Ltd. who appear on lists as the user of the m.43 markbut to date research shows the company was just contracted to make small component parts for machine guns etc. & were not caple of all the manufacturing processes used in the manufacture of the m.43

It seems most likley to me have examined many of them that M43 was the mk.2 as manufactured by Military industries Ltd possibly based in Lahore.


Here 3 mk. 2s a typical Co. made 1917 , at top, a Queeta Bros. mk.2 in the middle, and a m.43 at the bottom.







Heers typical Co. & m.43 stamps.







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