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Attributed Boer War pattern knife #2 (Update)

The classic pattern of knife issued to troops during (and before) the Boer War consists of a clasp knife with a single blade, a marlin spike and cow horn scales. This example is stamped HUNTER SHEFFIELD on one side of the tang and W /|\ D 4 on the other (*). The blade retains its original profile, and it’s ’snap’ is still (very) strong. Overall length (closed): 4⅞”/12.5cm.

One scale is impressed with the owner’s service number (23399) and his unit (RGA). I mentioned previously that I would update this post if the owner’s identity was discovered, and I’m pleased to report success.

I found three Boer War soldiers with the service number 23399 but none was an artilleryman. I posted a comment online and that’s when it got interesting.

A well known U.K. military historian replied that the owner of the knife was probably a World War 1 (not Boer War) soldier (I had overlooked the fact that old but serviceable kit might be issued well after its initial introduction) 23399 Gunner Peter Dunne, 110 Heavy Battery, RGA (Jersey), who landed in France 20th September 1914 (thereby qualifying as an ‘Old Contemptible’) and who served at some point in the Labour Corps.

Jersey – there’s a massive coincidence (it’s where I live!).

Medal card for 23399 Gunner Peter DUNNE

Jersey military historian, Ian Ronayne, took up the story from there: “Upon passing the Military Service Act in February 1917 [which introduced conscription to Jersey] the Army formed two units: Royal Jersey Garrison Battalion and 110 Heavy Battery. They crewed the coastal artillery guns at South Hill [a prominence overlooking Jersey’s St. Helier harbour] and some of the Militia’s (**) mobile weapons. Not sure about personnel in 110 but the Garrison Battalion was initially formed from local men not fit for active service. Gunner Dunne may have been posted to 110 Heavy Battery after active service in France. Some men were later recategorised and sent overseas with lower category men sent as replacements from UK. The same process presumably happened with 110 Battery”.

I can’t find Peter Dunne in the 1891, 1901 or 1911 Jersey census, so he was presumably not originally for the island.

Source: bought at auction.

Boer War pattern knife by HUNTER of Sheffield
Boer War pattern knife by HUNTER of Sheffield
Boer War pattern knife by HUNTER of Sheffield

(*) WD=War Department
/|\ = ‘Broad arrow’ government ownership mark
4= Inspector’s ID number

(**) For more information regarding Jersey Miltia, see: