Object Title

Knuckleduster knife

Knuckleduster knife


The British Empire did not issue a purpose-made trench dagger, so cutlery companies offered a wide range for private purchase.  As such, the British were amongst the most enthusiastic producers of knuckleduster knives, and designs exist from before the War.  It seems that this type of weapon, with its emphasis on the knuckleduster element rather than the knife blade, appealed to British sensibilities.   Colonel the Rt. Hon. Sir John Macdonald wrote a series of articles during the War imploring the issue of a trench dagger to British troops in an attempt to overcome the pervasive feeling that the use of the knife or dagger in warfare was somehow unsoldierly and un-British.  His pleas went unanswered, but the popularity of this compact design seems to suggest the British serviceman's aversion to pure daggers was at least partially true.

Use and effect

British weapons of this type were trialled by the American Expeditionary Force in 1918, resulting in their heavy, brass knuckleduster knife Model of 1918 Mark I Trench Knife.

This British knuckleduster knife also inspired the BC 41 Commando knuckleduster knife of the Second World War.  This weapon was almost identical to its predecessor, save for having pointed, rather than rounded metal 'knuckles.  It was issued as a fighting knife of the British army until superseded by the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife. Knuckleduster knives later fell out of favour in military circles as more sophisticated dagger-style fighting techniques were developed.


Blade length 12.2 cm (4.8 in) - broken
Country of manufacture Britain
Date entered service 1915
Manufacturer Sutherland & Rhoden
Overall length 29.2 cm (8.5 in)
Primary operator Britain
Weight 178 g (6.3 oz) (without sheath)


Henry Yallop