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Old 9th July 2016, 06:42 PM   #1
mrcjgscott
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Default “Ring Grip” Kukris, A Fresh Perspective.

The main purpose of this article is to address the current and rather dangerous trend which assumes that:

“Any kukri found with either brass or steel rings around the grip is a WW2 Indian Army Issue Kukri.”


The majority of serious collectors already regard the above statement as a fallacy, but there is one ardent “enthusiast” who is the main proponent of the case for such kukri being described as genuine issue items.

I will examine the main arguments as to why these kukri are so hotly contested, and try to show that the “evidence” so far presented in favour of the above, cannot, in fact, be substantiated.

I believe the danger is mainly to new and inexperienced collectors who may read such posts and actually believe they're getting a genuine Second World War issue kukri when buying a ring handle piece, when the probability is infact extremely remote.

Many unscrupulous sellers already bank on such remarks, in order to try and artificially inflate the prices of these otherwise common kukri. Whilst there can be no debate that such kukris were available to purchase privately by individual officers and men, the dispute here is whether or not they were issued by the Indian Army to Gurkha forces.

Wartime produced examples are found more commonly with steel rings around the hilt, and a steel pommel cap. The most obvious distinguishing feature from the post war “tourist” style pieces are the lack of a chromed blade. Most post war examples either have brass or a thin white metal rings to the hilt. They have been accurately compared to the post war lionshead tourist kukri, which are almost exclusively poor quality.

From the start, I wish it to be known that whilst I have no particular stake in the argument, either for or against. I am in favour of truth, and factual historical evidence, as opposed to false and altered statements, distorted photographs, and in some cases, outright lies. My aim is to further our knowledge through informed study.

Now, it must be remembered that I am only interested in what can be proven, with a reasonable amount of certainty, by either first hand historical accounts of the men involved, period photographs, and/or documents and paperwork from the period detailing such items (eg. Design plans, Stores chits, purchases orders, etc)

So, modern interviews are to be treated with a healthy amount of scepticism, not only because of the conduit used to bring us the information, which has proved itself “faulty” in the past, but also due to the natural passing of time bringing on a certain amount of distortion.

The crux of the argument for these ring gripped kukris having been issued seems to focus on two images, and some post war testimony of a gurkha officer, which was transcribed from a letter.

There is also, allegedly, some footage of a gurkha using a ring grip kukri during Operation Thursday, which was a Chindit operation. Despite several requests as to where this footage was seen, where it is kept, and how I can view/obtain it, information is yet to materialise. It is hard to pin down evidence for examination when details are not forthcoming, but I for one would love to see it, should it exist.

The person in question also has a tendency to name drop lots of authoritative people, and ascribe butchered quotes from them to support his point of view. This seems to be done in an effort to impress and bamboozle the reader. However, reading between the lines, and looking a little more closely the majority of such quotes have little to no bearing on the item under scrutiny.
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Old 9th July 2016, 06:44 PM   #2
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I will deal with the photographs first, as they are the easiest to dismiss, being “visual” evidence.

This is the first photograph from the “for” case. A photograph entitled “Gurkhas of 4th Indian Division keep watch on enemy positions in Alpi di Catenaia from high ground on Monte Castiglione, 29 July 1944.” This rather distorted image does seem to show a kukri with rings on the grip being carried in a theatre of war.



However, the undistorted image (which can be found and viewed here: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204677) at the Imperial War Museum, tells a rather different story.

So that is pretty clear cut. No rings, just a standard regimental or battalion purchase kukri of the type commonly associated with the period.

We won’t enter into whether the image was deliberately distorted or not, although I will say that I have only ever seen the distorted image being pedalled by the author of the theory “for” these kukri having been issued.
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Old 9th July 2016, 06:46 PM   #3
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The second image is a little more mystical, in that for years we have been told of it’s existence, and that it quite clearly shows a kurki with rings on the grip, but it has never actually been posted in support of the “For” argument.

Until recently however, when it was shown in two images. One was too far away to be seen clearly, and the other was a close up, but which, for some inexplicable reason, had a rather immaculately coiffered man’s finger held over the exact spot where a hilt may have been discerned.

The image in question depicts of Rifleman Pun, 1/4th Gurkha Rifles, taken in Burma in 1944.

Luckily, and unlike the previous images published by the author in question, I have been given official access to the image in question by the Gurkha Museum, Winchester, in order to examine it more closely.

I informed them, on my latest visit, of the online debate which their image had caused. They were more than a little perplexed when I explained that they had been quoted as confirming the kukri had rings, and rather infuriated that their images had been published online without their express permission.

I wish to thank the Gurkha Museum for allowing me to take clear, and unobscured photographs of this image, and to further express my gratitude to them for granting me express permission to publish those images in this article*.

(*I would kindly request that these images not be copied and used elsewhere, as the image belongs to, and is the sole copyright of, the Gurkha Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.)

Below are the images in question, and as can quite clearly be seen, the hilt of the kukri, where these rings are to be found, this “lynchpin of evidence” cannot actually be seen in the photograph. It is obscured behind the shadow cast by Rifleman Pun’s right elbow.
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Old 9th July 2016, 06:47 PM   #4
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So, the two main photographic sources have to be discounted. One by the absence of rings, the other by the absence of a visible hilt to examine.

Another image, of lesser importance, is a photograph which sometimes is attributed as being a Mess Orderly in WW2. I have never found a solid date attribution for the image, although in one very old thread it is described as being taken in 1948. Whilst this may be a Mess orderly, it could equally be a soldier in leave attire. Mess orderlies wear kukris privately purchased by the regiment, specifically for the task, and are usually highly decorated kothimora style examples. I am yet to see an image of a Mess orderly attire equipped with his issue or fighting kukri.

If he is in leave attire, then it is unlikely that he would be taking his issue kukri home with him! Much more likely that it is a bazaar bought example, taken home as a gift or souvenir. Who knows, it may even be a staged image for a book or magazine? Without a firm attribution, it is impossible to verify with any certainty.
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Old 9th July 2016, 06:48 PM   #5
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There is one other photograph, which shows a Captain Holmes of the Royal Engineers, proudly wearing a ring grip kukri on his hip. This photograph dates to 1945, and goes some way to prove that whilst these kukri were in existence by late WW2, it is likely that they were available only as private purchase. This image also helps go some way to explaining why so many which are passed off as WW2 bring backs acquire that label. After all, the kukri is an iconic knife, and it would seem most servicemen wanted one to bring home as a souvenir, or as a gift.

Such kukris were readily available, being produced in Derha Dun, India from mid to late 1944 onwards, and were inexpensive, especially once hostilities were concluded. Remember that there is no dispute that such kukri were available and carried unofficially by some during the War, but rather that they were issued to Gurkha forces by the Indian Government.
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Old 9th July 2016, 06:50 PM   #6
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I also have a copy of a letter, addressed to a lady in Derbyshire, a Mrs Stone, who ordered two ring grip kukris sets from a company in Dehra Dun. This letter is dated to 1955, so still popular souvenirs ten years after the end of the war.

Some ring grip kukri may be found with “Military Supply Syndicate” stamped at the ricasso. No details of this company have yet been uncovered, but their name doesn’t appear on any known Issue kukris, and it is likely this mark was applied as a marketing tool, when being sold after the war.

This brings us neatly onto the last major piece of evidence, cited by the Ring Grip Kukri Appreciation Society. A letter, often quoted but never actually seen, from one Major General Michael Callan. A former Gurkha officer, who served in WW2 from late 1944 with the 1st Gurkha Rifles. He was approached and asked about his kukri, which he later forwarded with a packaging note to the author in question.

There are several themes to consider here:

1) The correspondence took place 65 years after the end of the war. After such a lapse of time, how much trust can we have that this eminent, yet elderly gentleman has his facts straight?

2) In my experience, a Gurkha officer almost always has more than one kukri. Was the kukri sent the one he carried during the war?

3) Can we trust that the kukri pictured is indeed the one which was sent by Major General Callan?

4) Can we assume that officers were issued kukri, as the rank and file were, or is it reasonable to assume that kukri were made and purchased privately, just as the rest of an officers kit would have been?

5) If they were issued kukri, were they of the same type as the enlisted men? Most gurkha regiments seem to have a distinctive style of kukri carried by officers.

Such evidence, which raises more questions, rather than providing answers, can at best only be described as “anecdotal” and cannot be deemed proof positive of ring gripped kukri being issued during WW2, or indeed, ever.

Some further points to consider, for those who may be interested.

Some officer’s kukri, notably the 4th and 10th Gurkha Rifles, especially from the period 1890-1940 can be seen to have silver rings on the grips, as a form of decoration. The rings on the kukri in question are not fixed in such a way as to serve as anything other than decoration.

Most enlisted mens kit is not decorated, especially with brass, which would still have been a restricted material at this point, being used for cartridge cases amongst other things. Also, why would you advertise your presence, by adding a highly reflective metal such as brass or steel to the hilt of your sidearm?

Another point, much overlooked, is that 95% of the ring gripped kukri I have ever handled are awful, useless mass produced rubbish. One or two good swings, especially if one made contact with, say, a branch, and the thing would have a split handle, or worse, the blade would be flying off through the air.

By the time these ring gripped examples can be proved to exist, i.e. late 1944 at the earliest, the tide was turning, and the war was being won. Would we really be equipping our famed gurkha regiments with kukris not fit for purpose?

The quality of bayonets and machetes remained good, so why would the production quality of kukris take a nosedive?

There is also the absence of markings to be considered. No makers markings, no issue markings, and no inspection markings. Sure, not all battalion and regimental issue kukri are marked, but lots are. Many carry a serial or soldiers (usually partial) service number to the spine or ricasso. Others have markings of one type or another carved to the hilt or scabbard.

I must have handled hundreds of these kukri, and never once have I seen, or been told about, an example which was marked up. One or two with spurious broad arrows certainly, just like many other kukri, but none with genuine period markings.

As I said at the start, I have no stake in this argument. If anything, it would be extremely beneficial to have these kukri vindicated as being issued during WW2, I would be sitting on a small fortune.

Were these kukri Indian Army Issue? At this moment in time, there is simply no primary sources to substantiate such a theory.

Were these kukri issued at a battalion or regimental level to new officers? Possibly, but seemingly unlikely, given the quality involved, and the lack of provenanced examples.

Were these kukri bought privately by officers and men? Certainly, from late 1944 onwards, there is evidence to show these kukris being carried. Although the vast majority are post war, and purchased as souvenirs and trophys.

Unfortunately, until some hard, academically acceptable historical evidence comes along to prove that they were issued, (and I think we will be waiting a very, very long time) then these kukri can only ever be considered as private purchase at best. And at the very most, I think only a fraction of a percent can be considered to be even that.

To conclude:

Buyer beware, do not accept any story revolving around ring gripped kukri at face value. If all the stories are to be believed, dying Gurkha’s bequeathed armfuls of these things! Avoid paying large sums for such pieces, they are plentiful, and can be found easily for less than the price of a crate of beer. Are they good quality? With some exceptions, most likely those produced earlier, NO! If you want a decent one, shop around. Handle a few, to get the feel of them, just as you would with any kukri. If you are one of those people who just wants one for display, there is nothing wrong with that, it looks fine on the wall as a representative example. Avoid the crudely chromed examples, find one with a plain steel blade.

I hope this has been of some use, and if you have questions, ask them here before buying, I will try to help you if I can.
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Old 10th July 2016, 01:34 AM   #7
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mrcjgscott on the article “Ring Grip” Kukris, A Fresh Perspective you have used pictures of mine without permission, please remove them from here, IKRHS and on Blade Forums, regards Simon
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Old 10th July 2016, 01:43 AM   #8
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For other evidence regarding Ring Handled kukri please go to the links blow
Gurkha Museum Visit Feb 2016
Clarrification Mess Orderly kukri
Major-General Mike Callan’s sent details of his kukri, and they are as follows;
“I have dug out my old issue kukri from the garden shed. It has been used as a utility tool in the garden, just as a Gurkha would. (You know of course that the common belief that kukris can only be drawn to shed blood is complete nonsense). Mine is now very battered and rusty, but after reading your notes I took a closer look at it. The first thing is that it has no maker's mark, and seems to differ from the ones you described.
The dimensions are: Length from tip of blade to tip of handle - 42 cm. From the tip of blade to the start of the angle (approx. 15 degrees) on back of blade - 19.5 cm, and from there to the join at handle - 12.5 cm. Depth of blade at widest part - 5.3 cm, and thickness of blade at back before it tapers down towards the point - 7 mm.
The hardwood handle is 10.5 cm long, with a steel plate on the end, and has two steel bands round (to prevent splitting) and is secured to the blade by *two rivets. The center of the handle is carved to provide the grip. It is a nicely balanced weapon with a good "feel”. The weight is 548 gms.”
Since the correspondence Major-General Mike Callan kindly sent me down his kukri so I could handle it and document it for myself. It is very similar to one in the GM, which has a different Kaudi and brass rings and butt plate.
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Old 10th July 2016, 01:57 AM   #9
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I then asked the Curator about the kukri worn by the 3 GR Mess Orderly in WW2, as a follow up to the query of the 10 GR Orderlies in 1948.
Me; "So would it be fairly safe to say that the 3 GR Orderly (WW2) in the attached picture is also wearing an issued kukri?

Kind regards Simon"

Curator; "Probably!"
(It must be noted that the GM doesn't have the records of 3GR, they are in India)
Probably = almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

Also keep in mind what Lt. Col. Cross said; "mess NCOs and mess orderlies, were sent from rifle companies for a spell - quite how long I can't remember"
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Old 10th July 2016, 02:06 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirupate
mrcjgscott on the article “Ring Grip” Kukris, A Fresh Perspective you have used pictures of mine without permission, please remove them from here, IKRHS and on Blade Forums, regards Simon


Simon,

With respect, from previous correspondence, the above remark must be in jest as you have previously advised that anyone using any of your images or information is, I quote "is free to take it and use it". Perhaps this is where any misunderstanding may lay?


Gavin

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Old 10th July 2016, 04:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirupate
mrcjgscott on the article “Ring Grip” Kukris, A Fresh Perspective you have used pictures of mine without permission


Simon Hengle,

Exactly which images are you alleging that you hold copyright to?

Every image used has been published on this forum previously, and is therefore open to debate.

You have already published images from the Gurkha Museum without their permission, so I would suggest you are very careful about making any accusations against me.

You have also attributed statements to the Curator which he has denied making. They are rather dismayed at being "quoted" and by your conduct in general.

It would also seem that you have copied and pasted the same old material here from old threads. If you had actually stopped and read my article, you would see that each and every point you have raised has been refuted, using evidence, truth, and common sense.

I see no need for further interaction, my article represents my views, and this illustrious forum is no place for verbal brawling.

I bid you good day, and wish you every success with your future research.
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Old 10th July 2016, 04:33 PM   #12
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Unfortunately for you I have the emails with the correspondence
PS from IKRHS, my wife decided to intervene regarding Major General Mike Callan
Leanne Hengle Hello, as if it's not obvious from my surname..... I am Simon Hengle's wife. I gather that people on here and in the past on other forums are questioning the authenticity that Major General Mike Callan sent his WW2 ring handled Kukri to Simon.
I can verify that this was received along with the compliment slip written by Mike to Simon. I also sent back the said same Kukri to Major General Mike Callan. Simon has been in contact with Mike on several occasions in recent years and I have also had the pleasure of speaking with him.
Before anyone tries to insinuate this is Simon writing under my FB profile, you are welcome to call me and check!!!
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Old 10th July 2016, 04:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirupate
Unfortunately for you I have the emails with the correspondence


I am not too concerned with an email which say's "Probably"!!

I also hope your email contain's permission to use the photographs you took?

No apologies for misrepresenting the photographs you published?

You really have no shame, do you?
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Old 10th July 2016, 04:59 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirupate
PS from IKRHS, my wife decided to intervene regarding Major General Mike Callan
Leanne Hengle Hello, as if it's not obvious from my surname..... I am Simon Hengle's wife. I gather that people on here and in the past on other forums are questioning the authenticity that Major General Mike Callan sent his WW2 ring handled Kukri to Simon.
I can verify that this was received along with the compliment slip written by Mike to Simon. I also sent back the said same Kukri to Major General Mike Callan. Simon has been in contact with Mike on several occasions in recent years and I have also had the pleasure of speaking with him.
Before anyone tries to insinuate this is Simon writing under my FB profile, you are welcome to call me and check!!!


Unfortunately Simon Hengle, you do have previous form when it comes to pretending to be other people on internet forums, don't you?


Simon is banned from bladeforums for using 3 different identities on the same day to make it look like people agreed with his posts, see post 9 on this banning thread:


http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/s...ate#post3191806


For those interested, this link will give you more idea about the circumstances:


http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/s...851#post3191851


He was then banned again:

http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/s...ate#post8229184


You have also been banned from Sword Forum International, and www.britishblades.com for conduct unbecoming.

You see why nobody can take you or your "research" seriously, or believe anything you type?

As I said, shameful behaviour.
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Old 10th July 2016, 05:12 PM   #15
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Chris, no misrepresentation of the pictures at all, and I don't have so called 'previous' lol!! and to insinuate I pretended to be my wife is laughable, and I think to try and discredit Major General Mike Callan is shameful, next you will be telling me that alloy handles kukri weren't issued!
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Old 10th July 2016, 05:20 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sirupate
Chris, no misrepresentation of the pictures at all, and I don't have so called 'previous' lol!! and to insinuate I pretended to be my wife is laughable, and I think to try and discredit Major General Mike Callan is shameful, next you will be telling me that alloy handles kukri weren't issued!


How can there be no misrepresentation when the pictures clearly do not show what you claim them to?

Are you saying you were not banned for creating fake profiles in order to back up your own arguments? The evidence is there on the internet for all to see!

Nobody has attempted to discredit Major General Callan, but rather the conduit (I.E. You!) used to transcribe his words. His account must be viewed with scepticism owing to the vast amount of time elapsed between the giving of the account, and the event described. Pretty basic stuff Simon!

That's it from me, I have said all I need to say. I shall let you have the last word, as people like you always seem to need it!
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Old 10th July 2016, 05:50 PM   #17
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Regarding the so called fake profiles, I believe you are talking about that time when on Blade forums that there was a debate, in which I two other friends and and another individual were having a debate, Bish and Nigel were at my house using my computer at that time, hence the same IP address, which has previously been explained.
As to the information supplied with the pictures that information is 100% correct.
Regarding the transcript about Major General Mike Callan, the correspondence shows his mind was all there, and not full of waffle, like your article

Last edited by sirupate : 10th July 2016 at 06:07 PM.
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Old 10th July 2016, 06:40 PM   #18
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As this thread has degenerated into nothing more than bickering and argument, with any chance of getting back on track being long past it will now be closed. I now leave warning that if this spills over anywhere else on this forum the ones responsible will be dealt with quickly and harshly.

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