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_Reprinted from
May, 1917_





Training in the use of the bayonet is receiving much attention from all
the combatant nations in Europe. The aim of the instruction is twofold:

1. To develop great alertness of mind, readiness of muscle, and habit
of quick obedience to command.

2. To develop fighting spirit.

Physical drill and bayonet training go hand in hand and their drill
periods follow each other. The physical drill consists of calisthenic
exercises for fifteen or twenty minutes, followed by some game or
exercise requiring great quickness of movement. To accomplish the aims
of this training, especially the first named above, it is necessary to
execute with snap the movements in the physical drill.

The following is from the latest British Training Manual (1916), which
is based on their experience, and the forces are now being trained in
accordance therewith.












To attack with the bayonet effectively requires _good direction,
strength and quickness_ during a state of wild excitement and probably
physical exhaustion. The limit of the range of a bayonet is about five
feet (measured from the opponent’s eyes), but more often the killing
is at close quarters, at a range of two feet or less, when troops are
struggling _corps à corps_ in trenches or darkness.

The bayonet is essentially an offensive weapon - go straight at an
opponent with the point threatening his throat and deliver a thrust
wherever an opening presents itself. If no opening is obvious, then
create one by beating off the opponent’s weapon or making a “feint
thrust” in order to make him uncover himself.

Hand-to-hand fighting with the bayonet is individual, which means that
a man must think and act for himself and rely on his own resources
and skill; but, as in games, he must play as one of a team and not
for himself alone. _In a bayonet assault all ranks go forward to kill
or be killed, and only those who have developed skill and strength by
constant training will be able to kill._

The spirit of the bayonet must be inculcated into all ranks, so that
they go forward with that aggressive determination and confidence
of superiority, born of continual practice, without which a bayonet
assault will not be effective.

The technical points of bayonet fighting are extremely few and simple:
the essence of bayonet training, and continuity of practice.

An important point to be kept in mind in bayonet training is the
development of the individual by teaching him to think and act for
himself. The simplest means of attaining this is to make men use their
brains and eyes to the fullest extent by carrying out the practices,
so far as possible, without words of command. This procedure develops
individuality and confidence. Alertness and rapidity are qualities to
be developed also.

As technique of bayonet fighting is so simple, long detail is quite
unnecessary and makes the work monotonous. All instructions should
be carried out on common-sense lines. It should seldom be necessary
to give the detail of a “thrust” or “parry” more than two or three
times, after which the classes should acquire the correct positions by
practice. For this reason, a drill should rarely last more than thirty
minutes. It should be remembered that nothing kills interest so easily
as monotony.

The spirit of the bayonet is to be inculcated by describing the special
features of bayonet and hand-to-hand fighting. The men must learn to
practise bayonet fighting in the spirit and with the enthusiasm which
animate them when training for their games, and to look upon their
instructor as a trainer and helper.

Interest in the work is to be created by explaining the reasons for the
various positions, the method of handling the rifle and bayonet, and
the uses of the thrusts. Questions should be put to the men to find out
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 regulated by obtaining: first,
correct positions and good direction; then, quickness. Strength is the
outcome of continual practice.

In order to encourage dash and gradually to strengthen the leg muscles,
from the commencement of their training, classes should be frequently
practised in charging short distances.


All company officers and noncommissioned officers should be taught how
to instruct in bayonet fighting, in order that they may be able to
teach their men in this very important part of a soldier’s training. It
should have place in all training schedules, and in all rest periods in
war time.

Sacks for dummies should be filled with vertical layers of straw
and thin sods, leaves, shavings, etc., in such a way as to give the
greatest resistance without injury to the bayonet. A realistic effect,
necessitating a strong withdrawal, as if gripped by a bone, is obtained
by inserting pieces of hard wood, 1/4 inch thick (pieces of crating
or boxes), between the stuffing and the sack on the side facing the
attacker, and the grain must be vertical.

These sack dummies can be made to stand on end by fixing a wooden cross
or star (two or three pieces of wood about two inches broad and 3/4
inch thick nailed across one another) in the base of the sack before
filling it. They can also be placed with good effect on rough tripods
or tied to improvised stools. Dummy sacks should be suspended from
gallows and weighted or tethered to the ground from the bottom corners.

By the use of a little ingenuity an officer can readily represent the
torso of an opponent in positions simulating actual conditions.

_The greatest care should be taken that the object representing the
opponent and its support should be incapable of injuring the bayonet or
butt. Only light sticks (the parrying stick here referred to is shown
in plates) must be used for parrying practice._

_The chief causes of injury to the bayonet are: insufficient
instruction in the bayonet training lessons; failure to withdraw the
bayonet clear of the dummy before advancing; and placing the dummies on
hard, unprepared ground._

For practising direction, there must always be an aiming mark on the
dummy. Cardboard discs for this purpose are desirable. By continually
changing the position of the mark, the “life” of the dummies is
considerably prolonged.

In the absence of discs, five or six spots or numbers can be painted on
the dummies as marks.



Intervals and distances will be taken as in Infantry Drill Regulations,
except that in formations for bayonet exercises the men should be at
least six paces apart in every direction. Classes should always work
with bayonets fixed.

Before requiring soldiers to take a position or execute a movement for
the first time, the instructor shows them the position, explaining
essential points, and giving the reasons for them. Then show the
position a second time, making the class observe each movement, so that
from the very commencement of the bayonet training, a man is taught
to use his eyes and brain. The class is then ordered to assume the
position explained and shown. Pick out the man who shows the best
position and let the class look at and copy him. Remember that his
position may not be ideal, but it is more correct than those assumed by
the remainder, who, being beginners, cannot distinguish the difference
between a good position and an ideal one. Many instructors err by
trying to get a class of beginners to idealize at once.

The recruit course consists of five lessons and the Final Assault

The men should be accustomed to wear the cartridge belt in the
training, and packs may be required to be worn in efficiency tests. For
the “thrust” and “parrying” exercises a light stick, 5 feet to 5 feet 6
inches long and 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter, must be provided for every
two men.


Half an hour a day, at least five days a week, should be devoted to
the daily practice in bayonet fighting for trained soldiers. By this
daily practice accuracy of direction, quickness, and strength are
developed, and a soldier is accustomed to using the bayonet under
conditions which approximate to actual fighting. This half-hour should
be apportioned to (1) thrusting at the body; (2) thrusting at paper
balls on light sticks at varying distances and directions; (3) parrying
light sticks; (4) dummy work; and, when sufficiently proficient, (5)
the final assault practice.


Point of the bayonet directed at the base of the opponent’s throat, the
rifle held easily and naturally with both hands, the barrel inclined
slightly (about 30 degrees) to the left, the right hand at the height
of the belt grasping the small of the stock, the left hand holding the
rifle at the most convenient position in front of the rear sight, so
that the left arm is only slightly bent; _i.e._, making an angle of
about 150 degrees. The legs well separated in a natural position, such
as a man walking might adopt on meeting with resistance; _i.e._, left
knee slightly bent, right foot flat on the ground, with toe inclined to
the right front.

The position should not be constrained in any way, but be one of
aggression, alertness, and readiness to go forward for immediate attack
(see Plate I).


1. Leaning body back.

2. Left arm too much bent.

3. Right hand held too low and too far back.

4. Rifle grasped too rigidly, restraining all freedom of movement.

Assume the “order” in the easiest way without moving the feet.

“High port.” In this position the hands hold the rifle as in guard; the
left wrist level with, and directly in front of, the left shoulder; the
right hand above the right groin and on level with the belt.

When jumping ditches, surmounting obstacles, etc., this position of
the rifle should be approximately maintained with the left hand alone,
leaving the right hand free.

[Illustration: PLATE I. - “GUARD.”]

Being in the position of _guard_, to execute “long thrust,” grasp the
rifle firmly, vigorously deliver the thrust to the full extent of the
left arm, butt running alongside and kept close to the right forearm;
body inclined forward; left knee well bent; right leg braced, and
weight of the body pressed well forward, with the fore part of the
right foot, heel raised.

The chief power in a thrust is derived from the right arm with the
weight of the body behind it, the left arm being used more to direct
the point of the bayonet. The eye must be fixed on the object thrust
at. In making thrusts other than straight to the front, the left foot
should move in the same direction as that in which the thrust is made.
During the later stages of this lesson the men should be practised in
stepping forward with the rear foot when delivering the thrust.


1. Rifle drawn back before delivering the thrust.

2. Butt of the rifle held as high as or against the right shoulder.

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 an opponent at a range of about four
to five feet from the attacker’s eye.

To withdraw the bayonet after a long thrust has been delivered, draw
the rifle straight back until the right hand is well behind the hip
and immediately resume the guard. If the leverage or proximity to the
object transfixed renders it necessary, the left hand must first be
slipped up close to the stacking swivel and, when a pupil has reached
that stage of delivering a thrust while advancing on a dummy, he will
adopt this method.

After every thrust a rapid “withdrawal,” essential to quick work with
the bayonet, should be practised before returning to the guard.


First Practice:

[Illustration: PLATE II. - “LONG THRUST.”]

Men should always be made to thrust at a target, _e.g._, at a named
part of the body of the opposite man - “At the right eye; thrust,
withdraw.” Oblique thrust should be practised by thrusting at the men
to the right or left fronts.

[Illustration: PLATE III. - “WITHDRAWAL.”]

As progress is attained, the pause between the thrust and the
withdrawal should be shortened, until the men reach the stage when they
withdraw and come to guard directly after making the thrust, judging
their own time. They should be taught to thrust at two or more parts of
the body.

To practise action against a retreating foe, first show the position of
the kidneys (small of back, either side of the spine).

If possible, the point of the bayonet should be directed against
an opponent’s throat, especially in hand-to-hand fighting. Other
vulnerable and usually exposed parts are on the face, chest, lower
abdomen, and thighs, and the region of the kidneys when the back is

Four or six inches penetration is sufficient to incapacitate and allow
for a quick withdrawal, whereas if a bayonet is driven home too far, it
is often impossible to withdraw it. In such cases, a round should be
fired to break the obstruction.

Second Practice:

The class working in pairs, with the instructor supervising, should be
practised in thrusting in various directions: (1) at the opposite man’s
hand, which he places in various positions on and off his body; (2)
at thrusting rings, or balls of paper, tied to the end of sticks (see
Plates VI, VII, VIII). This practice should be done without the word of
command, so that the eye and brain may be trained.

Third Practice:

The men will be taught to transfix a disc or number painted on a
dummy; first at a distance of about five feet from the dummy, _i.e._,
the extreme range of the bayonet; then, after advancing three or more
paces. The advance must be made in the most practical and natural way,
and should be practised with either foot to the front when the thrust
is delivered. The rifle must never be drawn back when making a long
thrust in a forward movement. The impetus of the body and the forward
stretching of the arms supply sufficient force.

The bayonet must be withdrawn immediately after the thrust has been
delivered, and a forward threatening attitude be assumed to the side or
beyond the dummy.

Unless the rifle is firmly gripped, it is liable to injure the hand.

To guard against accidents, the men must be at least five feet apart
when the practice is carried out collectively.

The principles of this practice will be observed when thrusting at
dummies in trenches, standing upright on the ground or suspended on
gallows. They should be applied at first slowly and deliberately,
for _no attempt must be made to carry out the final assault practice
before the men have been carefully instructed in, and have thoroughly
mastered, the preliminary lessons_.



From the position of guard, vigorously straighten the left arm,
without bending the wrist or twisting the rifle in the hand, and force
the rifle forward far enough to the right (left) to ward off the
adversary’s weapon.

The eyes must be kept on the weapon which is being parried.


1. Wide sweeping parry with no forward movement in it.

2. Eyes taken off the weapon to be parried.

Men must be taught to regard the parry as part of an offensive
movement; namely, of the thrust which would immediately follow it in
actual combat. For this reason, as soon as the movements of the parries
have been learned, they should always be accompanied with a slight
forward movement of the body.

Parries will be practised with right, as well as with the left, foot
forward, preparatory to the practice of parrying when advancing.

First Practice:

Men learning the parries should be made to observe the movements of the
rifle carefully, and should not be kept longer at this practice than
is necessary for them to understand what is required - that is, vigorous
yet controlled action.

Second Practice:

The class works in pairs with scabbards on the bayonets, one man
thrusting with a stick and the other parrying; the guard is resumed
after each parry. At first, this practice must be slow and deliberate,
without being allowed to become mechanical, and will be progressively
increased in rapidity and vigor. Later a thrust at that part of the
body indicated by the opposite man’s hand should immediately follow the
parry, and, finally, sticks long enough to represent the opponent’s
weapon in the position of guard should be attached to the dummies and
parried before delivering the thrust.

The men must be taught also to parry thrusts made at them: (1) by an
opponent in a trench, when they are themselves on the parapet; (2) by
an opponent on the parapet, when they are in the trench; and (3) when
both are on the same level fighting at close quarters in a deep trench.



Shift the left hand quickly towards the muzzle and draw the rifle
back to the full extent of the right arm, the butt either upwards or
downwards as a low or a high thrust is to be made, then deliver the
thrust vigorously to the full extent of the left arm.

The short thrust is used at a range of about three feet, and, in
close fighting, it is the natural thrust to make when the bayonet has
just been withdrawn after a long thrust. If a strong withdrawal is
necessary, the right hand should be slipped above the rear sight after
the short thrust has been made.


[Illustration: PLATE IV. - “SHORT THRUST.”]

The principles of the three practices of Lesson I should be observed
so far as they apply. By placing two discs on a dummy, the short thrust
should be taught in conjunction with the long thrust, the first disc
being transfixed with the latter, the second disc with the former.
On delivery of the long thrust, if the left foot is forward, the short
thrust would take place with the right foot forward, and _vice versa_.

[Illustration: PLATE V. - “JAB.”]

Parries will be practised from the position of the short thrust.



From the position of short thrust shift the right hand up the rifle and
grasp it above the rear sight, at same time bringing the rifle to an
almost vertical position close to the body, and, from this position,
bend the knees and jab the point of the bayonet upwards into the throat
or under the chin of the opponent.


1. Rifle drawn backward and not held vertically enough.

2. Rifle grasped too low with the right hand.

From the jab position men will be practised in fending off an attack
made on any part of them by an opponent.

[Illustration: PLATE VI. - “JAB” AT THRUSTING RING.]

When making a jab from the guard, the right, being in the thrusting
hand, will be brought up first.

The jab can be employed successfully in close-quarter fighting in
narrow trenches and when embraced by an opponent.



It should be impressed upon the class that, although a man’s thrust has
missed or has been parried or his bayonet has been broken, he can, as
attacker, still maintain his advantage by injuring his opponent in one
of the following ways:

Butt Stroke I:

Swing the butt up at the opponent’s crotch, ribs, forearm, etc., using
a half-arm blow or advancing the rear foot.

Butt Stroke II:

If the opponent jumps back so that the first butt stroke misses, the
rifle will come into horizontal position over the left shoulder, butt
leading; the attacker will then step in with the rear foot and dash the
butt into his opponent’s face.

Butt Stroke III:

If the opponent retires still farther out of distance, the attacker
again closes up and slashes his bayonet down on his opponent’s head or

[Illustration: PLATE VII. - “BUTT STROKE I.”]

Butt Stroke IV:

If the thrust has been parried, the butt can be used effectively
by crashing it down on the opponent’s head with an over-arm blow,
advancing the rear foot. When the opponent is out of distance, Butt
Stroke III can again be used.

In individual fighting, the butt can also be used horizontally against
the opponent’s ribs, forearm, etc. This method is impossible in trench
fighting or in an attack, owing to the horizontal sweep of the bayonet
to the attacker’s left.

It should be clearly understood that the butt must not be employed when
it is possible to use the bayonet effectively.

Butt Stroke I is essentially a half-arm blow from the shoulder, keeping
the elbow rigid, and it can therefore be successfully employed only
when the right hand is grasping the rifle at the small of the butt.

[Illustration: PLATE VIII. - “BUTT STROKE IV.”]

Butt strokes can be used only in certain circumstances and positions,
but if men acquire absolute control of their weapons under these
conditions they will be able to adapt themselves to all other phases
of in-fighting. For instance, when a man is gripped by an opponent so
that neither the thrust nor the butt can be used, the knee brought up
against the crotch or the heel stamped on the instep may momentarily
disable him and make him release his hold.

When wrestling, the opponent can be tripped by forcing his weight on
to one leg and kicking that leg away from under him, or any other
wrestler’s trip; _e.g._, “back heel.”

The above methods will only temporarily disable an enemy, who must be
killed with the bayonet, etc.


When the classes have been shown the methods of using the butt and
the knees, they should be practised on the padded stick; _e.g._,
fix several discs on a dummy; make a thrust at one; use the knee on
another, low down; jab a third, and so on.

Light but still sufficiently-strong dummies should be used for practice
with the butt, in order to avoid damage to it.

It is apparent that bayonet fighting as taught for trench warfare
abroad lacks all the niceties of the art of bayonet fencing prescribed
in our manual. _In bayonet fighting no “fouls” are known. The only
rule to follow is: “Get after your man, put him out of action by any
means at your command.”_



A bayonet assault should preferably be made under cover of fire,
surprise, or darkness. In these circumstances, the prospect of success
is greatest, for a bayonet is useless at any range except hand-to-hand.

At night, all these covers can be utilized.

On the other hand, confusion is inherent in fighting by night,
consequently the execution of a successful night attack with the
bayonet requires considerable and lengthy training. Units should be
frequently practised in night work with the bayonet.

The bayonet is essentially a weapon of offense, which must be used
with skill and vigor, otherwise it has but little effect. To await
passively an opportunity of using the bayonet entails defeat, since an
approaching enemy will merely stand out of bayonet range and shoot down
the defenders.


It is attacked both ways, and the positions of the trench sack dummies
are varied.]

In an assault, the enemy should be killed with the bayonet. Firing
should be avoided, for in the mix-up a bullet, after passing through
an opponent’s body, may kill a friend who happens to be in the line of

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