Kitchener’s New Armies were a total success, their establishments being filled almost as soon as each New Army was formed. The problem was not so much finding men, but finding the wherewithal with which to equip them. The stop-gap Pattern 1914 Leather Infantry Equipment is described elsewhere, but the shortages included weapons. Japan, one of Britain's allies in The Great War, helped to solve this problem. Supplies of Japan’s 6.5 mm Arisaka Type 30 (Meiji calendar equivalent for 1897) Rifles, Type 38 (1905) Rifles and Type 38 Carbines were secured in early 1915.

Many were used in training the New Armies and in his semi-autobiographical series of 15 books, A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight, Henry Williamson comments on the “…yellow wood…” of these rifles.  In order to release S.M.L.E.s for land forces, a number were used by the Royal Navy and in British service, the Type 30 and 38 were respectively the Rifle, magazine, .256-in., Pattern 1900 and Rifle, magazine, .256-in., Pattern 1907. Of the 130,000 weapons procured, 60,000 were shipped to Russia in 1916, as supplies of the U.S. manufactured Rifle, magazine, .303-in., Pattern 1914, the famous P. ’14, were by then coming into service.


With the rifles came a bayonet, which one unkind KWRT keeps reminding me had been the inspiration for my favourite Patt. ’07 Bayonet. The M1897’s steel scabbard had a transverse loop, in place of a frog stud, so compatible frogs were made in the U.K.  The drawing is a crop from Malcolm McDonald’s painting in Army Uniforms of World War 2 by Andrew Mollo (Blandford, 1973, ISBN 0 7137 0644 9) Evidently Japanese manufactured frogs were also procured, in addition to waist belts, rifle slings and ammunition pouches. The Japanese Pattern saw no front-line service with the Army. However, the Royal Navy also used the Arisaka rifles and some of their sailors still had them in 1920, in Batoum, South Russia (See Chris Pollendine photo), the accoutrements being Patt. ’01 Naval Accoutrements. The rifle was made obsolete in 1921, but no LoC has been yet been noted that made the accoutrements obsolete.

In the group photo of Essex Regiment soldiers are wearing Pattern 1914 accoutrements, but are armed with Arisaka rifles and bayonets. The soldier, third from right, has twisted the horizontal Patt. ’14 Frog securing strap up through the strap loop of the scabbard, before buckling it. This has depressed the top edge of the Front, frog, its stud slot being unable to accommodate the strap loop. This photo forms the endpapers in KWRT Chris Pollendine’s first book, CAMPAIGN Volume 1 1914 Uniforms Equipment of the British Servicemen in the First World War (Military Mode Publishing Ltd., 2013. ISBN 9781628475920) Its 170 A4 pages are extensively illustrated in full-colour. This and the subsequent volumes, one for each year of the War, will form an excellent reference for that gap on your bookshelf!

                                                                                               Rog Dennis, 2013

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