WWI - WWII Entrenching tools


November 7, 2012, 12:05 PM
While not weapons as such, I hope you will indulge me for posting this here.

There is no doubt in my military mind both these were used occasionally as weapons of last resort during fighting in WWI, WWII, and Korea.
And either of them would be devastating if you got smacked upside the head with one.

M-1910 Shovel
Every WWII infantryman was issued one and carried it strapped to his M-1928 Haversack.
It weighs about 1 pounds and is 21 ” long.
The blade was reasonably sharp for a shovel when issued, but could be sharpened to a knife edge with just a little effort.
The blade and handle are U.S. marked, but there is no manufactures stamp on this one.

M-1910 Pick-Mattock
It was generally carried on the web pistol belt, one to three per rifle squad, depending on battlefield conditions.
And shared with other squad members for fending off those pesky rocks, tree roots, and frozen ground when you were ordered, or forced to dig in.

It weighs about 2 pounds, the head is 13”, and when assembled is 17” OAL.
This one is handle & head marked U.S. 1944 Diamond Calk Horseshoe Company.



Both the T-handle shovel and pick-mattock was replaced by the M1951 folding Entrenching Tool, which featured a pick blade on the opposite side of the shovel head, and folded for carrying on the web belt.

As a weapon, a desperate Doughboy in WWI, or a GI in WWII or Korea could have made good use of either of them in hand-to-hand combat I betcha!
And I am confident they did.

But the pick-mattock especially, makes todays Tactical Tomahawk seem like a child’s toy!


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November 7, 2012, 12:12 PM
I love old web-gear.. thanks so much for these posts! (my favorite entrenching tool has the shovel and pick.. keep one in each vehicle :)

November 7, 2012, 01:34 PM
I wish I had an E tool.. gave my old one away. They double as a pretty good weapon too.

November 7, 2012, 01:41 PM

Just looked in the pump house on my way out to hook up the horse trailer....my folder ( shovel only) which can be locked as a shovel or a hoe is marked "Ames 1945" as were many of the ones I was sharpening. We also had the M 1951, but issue was luck of the draw and most prefered the lighter 1945. I found that niether was very effective on a huge stone monolith of a hill we once laggered over night on............

In the early and mid 1970's my unit wore our e-tool upside down on either the pistol belt or butt pack (depending on how much belt space one had)and the handle was secured to the suspender strap with an elastic boot blouser. This kept the handle out of the way when getting in and out of vehicles from Mutts to Huey and allowed us to quickly take up a squat without driving the handle into the ground and the head into a kidney. Why the Army never adopted that type of carry for the floding shovel for everyone is beyond me.

When we were doing security for the Pershing system and patrolling outside the outer wire we generally were lightly armed, but on occassion for reasons arcane word came down from theator that no ammo was to be issued for a night or two.....sometimes this was explained to us a a political manuever of sorts, but later I learned that the SF guys down at Bad Tolz came up on occassion and did training recons around the Combat Alert Sites where the missles were ready to launch. Seems they had no desire to be shot by dirty leg Infantry while training. Anyway some guys, like the poor typist here, refused to carry an empty rifle and so carried an open e-tool either in hand or stuffed through a belt. It was felt that this was better than a shout and a wish or an empty M16A1 if we bumped into anything in the dark. Naturally I carried a sheath knife as well but the e-tool seemed to trump it.

I found the 1945 to be a much better shovel than the tri-folder and a much better battle axe as well.


November 7, 2012, 01:57 PM
Good info kBob!


November 7, 2012, 06:24 PM
Sad to say, my original E-tool was stolen. I looked about for quite some time for a replacement. They seem to have dried up and blown away.

However, a few years back I came across a surplus German E-tool that was a pretty good copy (post war Germany). I picked up a couple and can say that they are well made. But I do miss the made in the USA one.

Brian Williams
November 9, 2012, 08:07 AM
I would love to have my Marine Haversack from 1976 made in nylon. I have an old one made in Canvas but would love a nylon one like I had. I had a straight E tool like the shovel above and everything in Nylon, the haversack, lower knapsack, shoulder straps and the webbelt. Sadly it was stolen moving from Okinawa.

November 9, 2012, 08:15 AM
Always wished the folding e-tool had that T-Handle. You can dig like a demented woodchuck with a short T-Handle.

November 10, 2012, 09:33 AM
I had a good e-tool when I was in boy scouts years ago. I bought it at a surplus store for $10 I think. It was probably the best tool I ever had, sadly it broke when I was being a little "over-zealous" and trying to hack past a stubborn root/rock. The locking portion of the head broke, and it was more of a hassle to fix than it was worth. I have never been able to find another one like it, the only ones out there now all sheet metal from overseas and don't hold up.

November 10, 2012, 01:12 PM
In some books and articles in the Librarys you can read about all those tools being used in dire times during WW1-WW2. Some of the WWI trench Warfare stories are quiet violent and not for the weak stomached. The Pick on that Pick ax will go right though a German helmet.

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