Wednesday, July 27, 2016

19th and 20th Century British Cavalry Lances and their Markings

Although not of substantially ranked interest, there have been some requests for further knowledge about the markings appearing on British cavalry lances, both the lancehead and foot (shoe). This interest apparently was developed as a result of a relatively early article in this blog; ; The British Pattern 1868 Cavalry Lance at Arnhem? Obviously a rather esoteric subject, it requires a significant search to come up with reliable authoritative information. Most of the reference data is on the Lance, Cavalry, Pattern 1868, as it represents to this author’s best understanding the largest population of lances still in existence, and actual use, albeit in ceremonies only.

The following photographs first appeared in the above referenced blog article, and are shown again here for the convenience of the reader.

British Cavalry Lance Patterns 1885 and 1868 from
 LOCs (List of Changes)

British Pattern 1868 Lancehead and Foot manufactured by
Wilkinson Sword Co. Ltd circa 1936    

Wilkinson Sword Co. Ltd etched trademark
on lancehead; no other markings on head or

Standard British Army Lance Pennon circa 1900   

Pattern for Lance "Flag" (pennon) for British1868 Pattern
 Cavalry Lance

The Ordnance List of Changes (LoCs) pertaining to the Pattern 1868 are §4451, §8366 and §9065. These were introduced  6 June 1868. There are several references that this author is aware of, the first being “BRITISH SERVICE SWORD & LANCE PATTERNS”, Pattern Identification, Descriptions & Lists, Official References & Drawings, Accessories & Fittings, I. Skennerton, S.A.I.S. No.6 (Small Arms Identification Series), Published by the author,1994, ISBN 0 646190 36 9.

In another book "THE BROAD ARROW", BRITISH AND EMPIRE Factory Production, Proof, Inspection, Armourers, Unit & Issue Markings, I.D. Skennerton, Published by the author, 2001, ISBN 0 949749 43 5, he states; "Lances were marked with the same indicators (Broad Arrows) on the shoe (foot) above the collar, the marks to be in an upright position. The four patterns of lances had ash or bamboo staves but any unit markings were made on the shoe. Inspector's marks are found on the metal head as well as the shoe." Elsewhere he states, "Lances: Lances were stamped with unit designations and stand numbers on the shoe, above the collar, with the marks in the upright position."

Another reference is the Internet web site; The Sword Forum, . Which includes the knowledge, database and participation of Robert Wilkinson-Latham, of Wilkinson Sword Ltd. The visitor has to dig a bit in the forum’s discussions to find data on the subject of lances.

Other references on the Internet include;

None of these references provide any further knowledge regarding a standard marking of lances beyond what has been stated. To the best of the author’s knowledge any further marking was the prerogative of the individual regiment/unit. The following being an example courtesy of Ashoka Arts (believed to be in Udaipur India). With full acknowledgement and expressed gratitude, the firm sold the following pair of Pattern 1868 Lances, attributed to the 13th Bengal Cavalry (Watsons Horse). Note the difference in pennons, the first being the newer pattern. While an older pattern, because of its apparent physical condition, the second pattern pennon shown may well be a reproduction. 

From a gentleman named Nick in Australia the author received information in the comments on four lanceheads he has in a collection. Unfortunately photographs weren’t provided. The first one is marked with [5th”[(possibly 5th Royal Irish Lancers, 5th (Princess Charlotte of Wale’s) Dragoon Guards (ceremonial use) 5th Bengal Cavalry or Probyn’s Horse (5th King Edward’s Own Lancers). Not too definitive, but narrows the “ownership” to four regiments. The second is marked [No. I I.P co ILG 1917 and below 47]. Not much to go on there. The third is marked [5 2], and the fourth marked [No. I I.P] below a Broad Arrow, then M&amp:C1917]. Other than the date, again not much to go on. The "I.P" stands for Indian Pattern. Some readers may be able to discern additional information from these markings, but at this time the author cannot. These lanceheads however, may have come from the same regiment/unit as some shown in the following photographs, based on the similarity of markings.


In summary a lance will normally have a set of markings on the lancehead comprised of (but not necessarily all);
A manufacturer’s or arsenal name, mark, or logo (Etched or stamped, i.e., ENFIELD)
            • The Mark and Pattern designation (i.e., No. I I.P)
            • A form of Broad Arrow (Various styles, some with letters WD)
            • An individual inspector’s stamp (Current monarch's crown, letter and number)
            • A year of manufacture (i.e., 1915)
            • A set of numbers and letter(s) designating regiment/unit (i.e., 17 L.)

The shoe may have the following stamped markings (again not necessarily all, perhaps nothing)
            • A manufacturer’s or arsenal name
            • A form of Broad Arrow
            • An individual inspector’s stamp
            • A set of numbers and letter(s) designating regiment/unit
            • A stand/rack number