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Squaddies prepare for meeting Gordon Brown

In the Beginning

Early combat was done often with a wooden pole with a sharp pointy metal bit on the end. Then came gats. To make sure that the knobs on horses couldn't run you down while you were reloading, a sharp pointy metal bit was made to attach to the end of the gat to turn it into a spear. This pointy bit was named a 'bayonet'.

The first bayonets plugged up the end of the gat thus rendering it F'in useless as a gat. If other nations hadn't made the same bonehead mistake this could well be another in the great line of British Military Procurement Mysteries.

The next step forward was the ring bayonet. So called since it used two rings to attach it to your firearm and it could still be used as a gat (as long as you didn't mind sliced fingers). It had nothing to do with ring interference, rimming or hoops... but anything that gets the squaddie interested is useful I guess. Despite, or perhaps because, there being no connection to any anatomical orifice on a bint, the ring bayonet was was replaced shortly after by the socket bayonet - a pattern which would last until after WWII, and sounds more as if alludes to a wizard's sleeve.

WW1 and WW2

WW1 Cold Steel

When on active service the command "Fix Bayonets!" usually means you are in deep doggy do do's or about to be. When the enemy hear the Brits fix bayonets they know that they are fucked... big time - although having a fixed bayonet didn't do 60,000 soldiers much good on the first day of the Somme offensive.

WW2 saw the bayonet back in the thick of it, and they really do not like it up 'em! Nothing strikes fear in to the heart of a foe like the moonlight gleaming off serried ranks of approaching bayonets - even more so when accompanied by bagpipes. Thus was the scene at El Alamein - probably the British Army's last major frontal assault with bayonets fixed (and certainly with pipes playing).

Modern Day

The bayonet is now no longer viewed as quite the anachronistic throwback as it was just a few years ago - despite it being used to great effect during the Falklands War - when, despite all the technological advances of modern warfare, it boiled down to a screaming bloke stabbing the opposition with a sharp, pointy thing in a soggy trench.

The bayonet has been undergoing something of a renaissance of late, partly due to the amount of rounds that are being put down in sunnier climes. Today's bayonet little resembles the fearsome blades of old, it being more akin to a pointy bottle opener. However, it's always handy to have that extra insurance policy and they've been used with much gusto in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Generally the Army doesn't like to let its soldiers have access to bayonets because it normally ends in tears for someone, specifically the QM, who has to replace all those broken bayonets made from melted down matchbox cars.

Nasty Note: Although the bayonet is intended to kill the opponent anyway during close combat, dipping it in excrement(If you want) can make it slightly more lethal as it will spread infection into the opponents body. Just dont cut your finger putting it back in scabbard or its the MO for you me boy.

Anoraks enlarged here