1874 Gras Bayonet Conversions
During 1914 large consignments of weapons were being smuggled illegally into Ireland by both the Ulster Volunteer Force (pro-British) and the IRA (anti-British).
Many of these guns and bayonets were from the stores of Benny Spiro in Hamburg.
The most common bayonets imported were the M1874 Gras, 10,000 modified to fit the Italian Vetterli-Vitali M1870-87 army rifle and 5,000 to fit the German army Gew88 rifle.
The top bayonet is the Gew88 conversion while the bottom bayonet is the Vetterli.
This modification only required alterations to the pommel as a lot of the characteristics of the M1874 matched those of the Italian M1870. The chamfered sides of the bar attachment groove were widened and lengthened to 49mm and the end of the steel blade tang was ground down into a slope of 9mm. This modification matches the slot of an Italian M1870 sword bayonet.
No modification was made to the press stud or catch. All French markings remain on the bayonet quillon, as does the manufacturer inscription on the back of the blade.
Due to the conversion work carried out, there are no UVF bayonets with matching numbers.
This was a more extensive modification with the brass pommel filed down to remove the original chamfered edges of the bar attachment groove. The press stud was altered by inserting a small steel extension piece. The same concept was used by the Germans during the First war but theirs was a more robust workmanship.
Only some of the wooden grips were lightly stamped with the distinctive UVF cartouche “For God and Ulster” and this can be found on both sides or only one side.