Bayonet Training Manual Used by the British Forces
USED BY THE BRITISH FORCES
D. VAN NOSTRAND COMPANY
25 Park Place
U. S. INFANTRY ASSOCIATION
Training in the use of the bayonet isreceiving much attention from all the combatantnations in Europe. The aim of theinstruction is twofold:
1. To develop great alertness of mind,readiness of muscle, and habit of quickobedience to command.
2. To develop fighting spirit.
Physical drill and bayonet training gohand in hand and their drill periods followeach other. The physical drill consistsof calisthenic exercises for fifteen ortwenty minutes, followed by some game orexercise requiring great quickness of movement.To accomplish the aims of thistraining, especially the first named above,it is necessary to execute with snap themovements in the physical drill.
[Pg iv]The following is from the latest BritishTraining Manual (1916), which is basedon their experience, and the forces are nowbeing trained in accordance therewith.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
|II||Preliminary Bayonet Lessons||9|
|III||The Tactical Application of the Bayonet||35|
|IV||Tactical Principles to be Observed during Bayonet Training||45|
|V||General Instructions for Bayonet Training Practice||53|
|VI||Progressive Program of Instruction||57|
|VII||A Guide for the Trained Soldier’s Daily Practice||65|
To attack with the bayonet effectivelyrequires good direction, strength andquickness during a state of wild excitementand probably physical exhaustion.The limit of the range of a bayonet isabout five feet (measured from the opponent’seyes), but more often the killingis at close quarters, at a range of two feetor less, when troops are struggling corpsŗ corps in trenches or darkness.
The bayonet is essentially an offensiveweapon—go straight at an opponent withthe point threatening his throat and delivera thrust wherever an opening presents itself.If no opening is obvious, then create[Pg 2]one by beating off the opponent’s weaponor making a “feint thrust” in order to makehim uncover himself.
Hand-to-hand fighting with the bayonetis individual, which means that a man mustthink and act for himself and rely on hisown resources and skill; but, as in games,he must play as one of a team and not forhimself alone. In a bayonet assault allranks go forward to kill or be killed, andonly those who have developed skill andstrength by constant training will be able tokill.
The spirit of the bayonet must be inculcatedinto all ranks, so that they go forwardwith that aggressive determinationand confidence of superiority, born of continualpractice, without which a bayonetassault will not be effective.
The technical points of bayonet fightingare extremely few and simple: the essenceof bayonet training, and continuity of practice.
An important point to be kept in mind[Pg 3]in bayonet training is the development ofthe individual by teaching him to think andact for himself. The simplest means ofattaining this is to make men use theirbrains and eyes to the fullest extent bycarrying out the practices, so far as possible,without words of command. Thisprocedure develops individuality and confidence.Alertness and rapidity are qualitiesto be developed also.
As technique of bayonet fighting is sosimple, long detail is quite unnecessary andmakes the work monotonous. All instructionsshould be carried out on common-senselines. It should seldom be necessaryto give the detail of a “thrust” or “parry”more than two or three times, after whichthe classes should acquire the correct positionsby practice. For this reason, a drillshould rarely last more than thirty minutes.It should be remembered that nothingkills interest so easily as monotony.
The spirit of the bayonet is to be inculcatedby describing the special features[Pg 4]of bayonet and hand-to-hand fighting.The men must learn to practise bayonetfighting in the spirit and with the enthusiasmwhich animate them when trainingfor their games, and to look upon theirinstructor as a trainer and helper.
Interest in the work is to be created byexplaining the reasons for the various positions,the method of handling the rifle andbayonet, and the uses of the thrusts.Questions should be put to the men to findout whether they understand these reasons.When men realize the object of their work,they naturally take a greater interest in it.
Progression in bayonet training is regulatedby obtaining: first, correct positionsand good direction; then, quickness.Strength is the outcome of continual practice.
In order to encourage dash and graduallyto strengthen the leg muscles, from thecommencement of their training, classesshould be frequently practised in chargingshort distances.
[Pg 6]All company officers and noncommissionedofficers should be taught how to instructin bayonet fighting, in order that theymay be able to teach their men in this veryimportant part of a soldier’s training. Itshould have place in all training schedules,and in all rest periods in war time.
Sacks for dummies should be filled withvertical layers of straw and thin sods,leaves, shavings, etc., in such a way as togive the greatest resistance without injuryto the bayonet. A realistic effect, necessitatinga strong withdrawal, as if grippedby a bone, is obtained by inserting piecesof hard wood, ¼ inch thick (pieces ofcrating or boxes), between the stuffing andthe sack on the side facing the attacker,and the grain must be vertical.
These sack dummies can be made tostand on end by fixing a wooden cross orstar (two or three pieces of wood abouttwo inches broad and ¾ inch thick nailedacross one another) in the base of the sackbefore filling it. They can also be placed[Pg 7]with good effect on rough tripods or tiedto improvised stools. Dummy sacks shouldbe suspended from gallows and weighted ortethered to the ground from the bottomcorners.
By the use of a little ingenuity an officercan readily represent the torso of an opponentin positions simulating actual conditions.
The greatest care should be taken thatthe object representing the opponent andits support should be incapable of injuringthe bayonet or butt. Only light sticks (theparrying stick here referred to is shown inplates) must be used for parrying practice.
The chief causes of injury to the bayonetare: insufficient instruction in the bayonettraining lessons; failure to withdraw thebayonet clear of the dummy before advancing;and placing the dummies on hard,unprepared ground.
For practising direction, there must alwaysbe an aiming mark on the dummy.Cardboard discs for this purpose are desirable.[Pg 8]By continually changing the positionof the mark, the “life” of the dummiesis considerably prolonged.
In the absence of discs, five or six spotsor numbers can be painted on the dummiesas marks.
Preliminary Bayonet Lessons.
Intervals and distances will be taken asin Infantry Drill Regulations, except thatin formations for bayonet exercises themen should be at least six paces apart inevery direction. Classes should alwayswork with bayonets fixed.
Before requiring soldiers to take a positionor execute a movement for the firsttime, the instructor shows them the position,explaining essential points, and givingthe reasons for them. Then show the positiona second time, making the class observeeach movement, so that from the very commencementof the bayonet training, a manis taught to use his eyes and brain. Theclass is then ordered to assume the positionexplained and shown. Pick out the man[Pg 10]who shows the best position and let theclass look at and copy him. Rememberthat his position may not be ideal, but it ismore correct than those assumed by theremainder, who, being beginners, cannotdistinguish the difference between a goodposition and an ideal one. Many instructorserr by trying to get a class of beginners toidealize at once.
The recruit course consists of five lessonsand the Final Assault Practice.
The men should be accustomed to wearthe cartridge belt in the training, and packsmay be required to be worn in efficiencytests. For the “thrust” and “parrying” exercisesa light stick, 5 feet to 5 feet 6inches long and ¾ to 1 inch in diameter,must be provided for every two men.
Half an hour a day, at least five daysa week, should be devoted to the dailypractice in bayonet fighting for trainedsoldiers. By this daily practice accuracy ofdirection, quickness, and strength are developed,and a soldier is accustomed to[Pg 12]using the bayonet under conditions whichapproximate to actual fighting. This half-hourshould be apportioned to (1) thrustingat the body; (2) thrusting at paper ballson light sticks at varying distances anddirections; (3) parrying light sticks; (4)dummy work; and, when sufficiently proficient,(5) the final assault practice.
Point of the bayonet directed at the baseof the opponent’s throat, the rifle heldeasily and naturally with both hands, thebarrel inclined slightly (about 30 degrees)to the left, the right hand at the heightof the belt grasping the small of the stock,the left hand holding the rifle at the mostconvenient position in front of the rearsight, so that the left arm is only slightlybent; i.e., making an angle of about 150degrees. The legs well separated in anatural position, such as a man walkingmight adopt on meeting with resistance;[Pg 13]i.e., left knee slightly bent, right foot flaton the ground, with toe inclined to theright front.
The position should not be constrainedin any way, but be one of aggression,alertness, and readiness to go forward forimmediate attack (see Plate I).
1. Leaning body back.
2. Left arm too much bent.
3. Right hand held too low and too farback.
4. Rifle grasped too rigidly, restrainingall freedom of movement.
Assume the “order” in the easiest waywithout moving the feet.
“High port.” In this position the handshold the rifle as in guard; the left wristlevel with, and directly in front of, the leftshoulder; the right hand above the rightgroin and on level with the belt.
When jumping ditches, surmounting obstacles,[Pg 14]etc., this position of the rifle shouldbe approximately maintained with the lefthand alone, leaving the right hand free.
Being in the position of guard, to execute“long thrust,” grasp the rifle firmly,vigorously deliver the thrust to the full[Pg 15]extent of the left arm, butt running alongsideand kept close to the right forearm;body inclined forward; left knee well bent;right leg braced, and weight of the bodypressed well forward, with the fore partof the right foot, heel raised.
The chief power in a thrust is derivedfrom the right arm with the weight ofthe body behind it, the left arm being usedmore to direct the point of the bayonet.The eye must be fixed on the object thrustat. In making thrusts other than straightto the front, the left foot should move inthe same direction as that in which thethrust is made. During the later stagesof this lesson the men should be practisedin stepping forward with the rear footwhen delivering the thrust.
1. Rifle drawn back before delivering thethrust.
2. Butt of the rifle held as high as oragainst the right shoulder.
[Pg 16]3. The eyes not directed on the object.
4. Left knee not sufficiently bent.
5. Body not thrust sufficiently forward.
The “long thrust” is made against anopponent at a range of about four to fivefeet from the attacker’s eye.
To withdraw the bayonet after a longthrust has been delivered, draw the riflestraight back until the right hand is wellbehind the hip and immediately resume theguard. If the leverage or proximity to theobject transfixed renders it necessary, theleft hand must first be slipped up close tothe stacking swivel and, when a pupil hasreached that stage of delivering a thrustwhile advancing on a dummy, he will adoptthis method.
After every thrust a rapid “withdrawal,”essential to quick work with the bayonet,should be practised before returning to theguard.
Men should always be made to thrust ata target, e.g., at a named part of the bodyof the opposite man—“At the right eye;thrust, withdraw.” Oblique thrust should[Pg 18]be practised by thrusting at the men to theright or left fronts.
As progress is attained, the pause betweenthe thrust and the withdrawal shouldbe shortened, until the men reach the