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  1. #1
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    Rare boer war wire cutters (1901)

    DSC06791.jpgDSC06792.jpgDSC06789.jpgDSC06788.jpgDSC06790.jpg

    Does anybody know ANYTHING about these rare Broad Arrow marked, 1901 dated barbed wire cutters?
    It seems that they weren't standard issue equipment and were probably carried by small numbers of scouts or cavalry to make way for cavalry charges. They were made by Herbert Plumpton of Warrington. The Broad Arrow is on the left hand side of the last picture. I haven't cleaned them properly yet so it's a bit tricky to see - but it's definitely there !! There seems to be no photos, descriptions or diagrams anywhere on the internet so I would really appreciate ANY information....

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    The 1915 edition of stores is on this site, items like this will be listed there, have a look.
    But are they barbed wire cutters ? I think the exact purpose needs to be established.
    Telegraph lines were a big deal and this could be related to that in some way.
    Last edited by Gspragge; 4th October 2018 at 01:10 AM.

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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gspragge View Post
    The 1915 edition of stores is on this site, items like this will be listed there, have a look.
    But are they barbed wire cutters ? I think the exact purpose needs to be established.
    Telegraph lines were a big deal and this could be related to that in some way.
    It's definitely one of the theories I'm already exploring.....in doing so, I have consulted my original copy of Baden Powell's 1900 edition of "Aids to Scouting" to see if I could find any reference to cutting wires. I haven't scoured it thoroughly yet, but on page 120, he advises army scouts that..."If you find yourself covered in rear of a civilized enemy cut any telegraph or field telegraph lines you may come across"....this at least suggests that scouts would have been equipped with cutters of some kind.

    I certainly haven't ruled out them being barbed wire cutters at this stage though as they are quite heavy duty and the hooked 'beak' looks more appropriate to the user being lay flat and hooking into a tangle of wires rather than cutting one or two communication wires. Just have a look at some designs of WW1 USA wire cutters and some later WW2 German examples - they feature this same 'beak' design. It's tricky to draw any conclusions at this stage, but there's no reason why they wouldn't have commissioned a tool that was capable of both (or indeed ANY number of) functions. I presume that WW1 soldiers weren't discouraged from using their barbed wire cutters to cut communications wires !!

    The only information out there broadly relating to BARBED wire cutters states that they only became standard issue in WW1, and that during the Boer War cavalry charges were prepared in advance by the cutting of enemy barbed wire. This would presumably have been done in advance by scouts and possibly even a handful of cavalry troops as they encountered entanglements. I'm still on the hunt for clues though....

 

 

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