All photos Chris Eger, except where noted
The folding clasp knife, aka jackknife, aka pocketknife, aka penknife, aka peasant knife, et. al, in military ancillary use dates back to the Roman Legions as early as 200~ AD. Fast forward to the 19th Century and the level of inexpensive standardization that was brought about by the Industrial Revolution, and good folders became available on the cheap. By 1905, the British Army started to standardize the basic issue clasp knife (the Pattern 6353/1905), used for opening tins, working ropes, and other basic non-fighting tasks.
For help in opening and processig stuff like this:
Typically made in Sheffield by a myriad of firms, they were marked with a Broad Arrow acceptance mark on the blade, included a sheepsfoot main and can opener secondary auxiliary blade with a tertiary marlinspike in some cases. By the 1930s, shell and bone handled knives fell by the wayside and scales were commonly made from “chequered black bexoid (plastic).” This was the standard Commonwealth jack used through WWII and Korea, with surplus stocks in wide circulation for decades after.
A vintage multitool, the blade ends could be used as screwdrivers as could the center scale insert and the canopener as a fork when hungry enough.
Here is my British Army WWII era clasp knife. Marked SSP 1943 with a Broad Arrow, it is a hoss at 5.1-ounces and is built like a tank.
The two blades are 2.75-inches long overall and the knife itself, when closed, is 3.75-inches.
The strong shackle on the heel enabled the knife to be used as an ersatz plumb in field construction and in use as a slungshot to throw lines.
army issue clasp knife (WEA 4120) Clasp knife with chequered black bexoid (plastic) grips secured by three rivets. Pivoting at one end of the knife are a sheepsfoot style blade and a tin opener. At one end of the knife is a flat screwdriver head and at the other is a pivoting steel shackle. Tied to the shackle is a buff cord lanyard with a large loop at the opposite end. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30003938
A more pointed “dagger jackknife” was commonly issued to commando, paratrooper and Marine units as well as the gentlemen of the SOE.
Carried on a lanyard attached to the camouflaged jumpsuit for cutting parachute shrouds lines if required while the blade was to be of sufficient length for stabbing…(Photo by Range Days in France)
In a form of flattery, this 1960s follow-up was made by Bianchi in Italy for the Italian military and is marked, Campobasso. It is lighter than the preceding Anglo-Saxon model, tipping the scales at 3.7-ounces. The two blades are 2.5-inches and the knife itself, closed, is 3.5-inches.
Post-war, the Brits themselves moved to adopt a slimmer version with metal scales. Today they are still made in Sheffield and, taking a key to the marketing behind Swiss Army knifes, Joseph Rodgers/George Wostenholm make “Genuine British Army” knives for the market in various models, with the below being one of the more svelte models, a single blade that weighs just 2.2-ounces.
I quite like it while the other ones see time in the safe.
As for the revolver, of course, it is a .38/200 Enfield No.2, 1943 production, the same date as the Bren gun brass cleaning kit.