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Attributed Boer War pattern knife #1

Linking an object to its previous owner is always rewarding. In the case of ex-military items, the usual marking is a service number and if you are lucky, a unit abbreviation. As soon as I saw this knife in an online U.K. auction, complete with both unit and service number markings, bidding was a foregone conclusion and, yes, I was successful.

Boer War pattern knife by Brookes & Crookes, Sheffield.

The knife is a typical Boer War pattern folder manufactured by Brookes & Crookes, a well-known Sheffield cutler, 4¾”/12cm closed, with a marlin spike and 3¾”/9.5cm blade, grip scales of horn and a steel bolster. At some point the pin on which the blade swivels has been the subject of amateur replacement and blade movement (‘walk & talk’) is very loose.

Maker’s stamp (BROOKES & CROOKES) with Bell trademark.

in addition to the maker’s stamp and trademark, the blade is stamped with the broad arrow denoting government property, together with WD for War Department and the number of the government inspector who passed the knife for service.

Government ownership stamp (/|\) and inspector’s stamp (1).

The really interesting feature of the knife, of course, is the stamp on the grip: 2D 4983

Unit/serial number marking (see text for explanation).

2D is almost certainly 2nd Dragoons, but at that point you have a choice: 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) or 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays). Both units were involved in the Boer War and both units contained a soldier with the number 4983.

So, the owner of this knife was either: 4983 Private G. McMillan, 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys) or 4983 Private W. G. Prescott, 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen’s Bays). Given that the stamp is 2D rather than 2DG, I suspect that the owner was Private McMillan of 2nd Dragoons.

Source of knife: online auction
Service information: