Joubert’s Welsh trench sword
Thomas Scott-Ellis, 8th Lord Howard de Walden, was a polymath who had ridden with the 10th Hussars in the Boer War and was always ready for a fight.
From the National Trust
Tommy’s enormous range of interests included: documenting heraldry as a medieval historian, editing Burke’s Peerage, competing in the 1908 Olympics at speed boat racing (the only time this has ever been an Olympic event), horse racing, sailing, hawking, golfing, flying, model-boating, writing libretti for operas (with music by his friend Joseph Holbrooke) and writing both pageants and pantomimes for his six children and their friends – he did the lot!
When the Great War came, Lord Walden became involved with the 9th Batt., Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and as can be expected, began searching for a blade that set his Welshmen apart.
That’s where antiques dealer, arms collector and scholar Felix Joubert of Chelsea came in. The so-called Welsh sword was a trench dagger that Joubert said was based on the traditional “Welsh cleddyd” (or cledd), but this has been ruled out as just so much window dressing to appeal to Lord Walden.
The pommel is heavy and pointed, the hand guard folds flat against the blade for sheathing and the ricasso is inscribed “Dros Urddas Cymru”, Welsh for “For the honour of Wales”
The blade was some 17.6-inches long, leading to a two-foot long, 36-ounce weapon.
He patented the blade in 1916 (GB108741) and it was produced by both Wilkinson (who apparently made 200) and locally in France by firm(s) unknown. Originally only for use by bombers (grenadiers), trench-pirates and machine gun crew, it was later issued to most officers and ranks of 9th RWF.
They were reportedly “used with great effect in a raid at Messines Ridge, 5 June 1917.”
As noted by the Royal Armories, “The ‘Welsh knife’ inspired the design of the Smatchet fighting knife of The Second World War by the renowned hand-to-hand combat expert and innovator, Lieutenant-Colonel William E. Fairbairn.”
The Welsh trench swords are widely reproduced by Windlass in India as well as others, while the Smatchet is even more common.