Object Title

Trench dagger

Trench dagger


Germany, with its strong tradition of blade manufacturing, was the first nation to issue specifically designed trench daggers.  Produced by a variety of manufacturers, the basic blade and grip remained similar whilst a variety of guard types were used.  Most had a symmetrical cross guard or a down turned quillon, like the Mauser 98/05 bayonet. Those issued by the war departments are often stamped with a government acceptance mark on the back of the blade.

Even before the trench dagger was developed, German troops were better equipped than their opponents with regard to knives.  All soldiers were issued with a utility clasp-knife (Tasschenmesser), the locking blade of which made it a viable fighting weapon.  As early as October 1914, German Dragoons were using this knife in combat when assaulting, on foot, the town of Richebourgh St. Vaast.  In 'furious street fighting' the Dragoons 'employed pocket-knives as a substitute for the bayonet which they lacked'.  However, a clasp-knife cannot be drawn and used quickly, and hence the fixed bladed sheath dagger was soon issued as a dedicated fighting weapon.

Use and effect

Although the sheath came with a belt loop, the dagger was often worn tucked into the boot, and these daggers were known by some as jackboot knives for this reason.  Unlike in the Allied armies, there was no aversion to dagger carrying amongst the German military. With the decline of the infantry sword officers in the British and French armies had turned to canes and sticks for substitute badges of rank. Whereas German officers and NCOs wore daggers or bayonets, often decorated with sword knots instead.  Hence with this and its strong tradition of hunting knives, knives and daggers were much more readily accepted by German soldiers as appropriate weapons, rather than those of assassins.

This distinctive form of trench dagger continued to be used by German soldiers until the end of the Second World War.


Blade length 15.2 cm (6 in)
Country of manufacture Germany
Date entered service 1915
Manufacturer Ernst Busch, Solingen
Overall length 22.5 cm (8.8 in)
Primary operator Germany
Weight 201 g (10 oz) (without sheath)


Henry Yallop