Object Title

Trench pike

Trench pike


The war in the trenches saw the reintroduction of many weapons long thought obsolete.  Staff weapons had not been a serious battlefield arm of the infantry since the development of the bayonet in the 17th century. However, the nature of warfare on the Western Front saw all types of ancient weapons revived.

The pike had survived in naval warfare however and new patterns British of boarding pikes were being created as late as 1894.  Much like repelling hostile boarders of an enemy ship, trench pikes fulfilled a similar function.  Of a handy length, they could have been used for defending trenches from enemy raids or assaults, perhaps left at strategic points so they could be quickly grabbed by defenders. The broad disc-like shoe on the bottom would have prevented the weapon from sinking into the mud of a trench and its blade covering would have protected it from the elements.  A simple pike would be much better suited, and less dangerous, to being left exposed and readily to hand like this than a rifle.  Lighter and more manoverable in the cramped conditions of a trench than a rifle fitted with bayonet, its simplicity and total lack of working parts meant it could function in all conditions.

Use and effect

The pike has a thick, flattened diamond-sectioned blade that is well suited for thrusting.  On some versions the blade is detachable; thus the quillons serve as both a hand guard when used as a dagger, or as a stop to prevent over-penetration when used as a spear.

It is possible this kind of pike was an issue version of weapons that had been at first improvised in the trenches. Frank Richards of the Royal Welch Fusiliers commented on seeing two soldiers preparing for a raid by 'fixing knives on to a couple of broomsticks with some sticking plaster'.

The infamous wire cutting or 'death companies' of the Italian Army sometimes made rudimentary pikes of their long hafted wire cutters, by affixing bayonets onto the ends of the device. Heavily armoured to protect themselves in their dangerous task, such armoured pikemen were a sight that had not been seen in war for three hundred years.

And yet this was not to be the last time pikes were issued by the British military.  In the Second World War the threat of invasion in 1942 saw the pike once again reinstated as a weapon of war, as a temporary weapon for the Home Guard.  Many of these were produced by welding the large stores of, the now obsolete, Pattern 1907 bayonets onto metal pipes.


Blade length 20.9 cm (8.2 in.)
Country of manufacture Britain
Date entered service 1914
Manufacturer Unknown
Overall length 1.58 m (62.1 in.)
Primary operator Britain
Weight 1.21 kg (2 lb. 10.6 oz) (without sheath)


Henry Yallop