By Michael F. Szczepaniak
One of my favorite finds is my father’s bayonet. When I was a 12-year-old boy, my WWII veteran father gave me his war souvenirs from Europe.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my Father enlisted and was sent to Camp Ben Harrison. He was issued everything for basic training — including along 16” bayonet for the M1903 Springfield rifle.
After Basic, he volunteered for armored service and went to Fort Knox. He took all the issued equipment with him.
On his first day at Knox, the training NCO told everyone to get rid of their bayonets! Their new weapons would be the .45-caliber sidearm and the carbine. They were told to either throw away their issued bayonets or send them home. My father sent his home as a keepsake.
The bayonet he gave me is a real beauty — it never saw combat or much service. It is an M1905 bayonet with a dark, parkerized and blued 16” blade. It was never sharpened.
The canvas scabbard cover is soiled from training, but the leather tip is soft and supple. The canvas cover easily slides off to reveal the rawhide leather cover. It is formed, sewn, and wax-hardened over the metal scabbard and attached with a metal throat cap.
The bayonet’s grips are made from dark walnut and are undamaged. The markings on the ricasso include “RIA” (Rock Island Arsenal) over the Ordnance Department’s flaming bomb. and “1918.” The opposite side is stamped with “U.S.” over the serial number, 325663. Research revealed that Rock Island production for 1918 included the serial range.
In 1943, the War Department decided to cut existing 16” bayonets down to 10”. All new bayonets came with a metal scabbard.
Not only is this bayonet a “favorite find” — it is a family heirloom.