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WWI – Vietnam – The Deadliest U.S. Fighting Knife??

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by rcmodel, Nov 10, 2012.

  1. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    If I had to guess?
    Considering every GI in every war was issued a mess kit, and every mess kit contained a Fork, Spoon, and a Knife like this one?

    My vote would for the deadliest would go to the U.S. Mess Kit Knife!

    The first thing they did in the Basic Training reception center was take your wimpy little 2” pocket knife away from you.
    And then issue you a Mess Kit with one of these in it!


    This one is handle marked U. S. - A. C. Co. - 1918 (American Cutlery Co., Chicago & New York) and it probably saw the end of WWI, and maybe all of WWII.

    The blade is 3 5/8”, 7 ¼” OAL, made of high-carbon steel.
    They could be easily sharpened, well enough to shave with, and solders did.

    Later ones had a stainless steel blade, and all the utensils had a hole in the handle for dipping them in a pot of boiling water & lye soap to clean & sterilize them.

    I have seen firsthand the results of their use in barracks & bar fights, and it’s not pretty.
    Even had a guy in my Basic Training company slice his wrests with one so he could try to get a Section 8 discharge.

    I would bet in fact, that during the 20th. century, more solders, friend & foe, were killed or wounded with the lowly Mess Kit Knife then all the other G.I. issue fighting knives combined.

    Last edited: Nov 10, 2012
  2. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Well-Known Member

    My Dad still got a WW2 one he got at a garage sale back in the 1970's! It takes a razor edge and is momma favorite parning knife.
  3. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    I'm skeptical.

    When you look at the WWI, WWII and Korean and Vietnam era bayonets and fighting knives and the fact that most mess kit utensils were packed away I find it difficult to consider the miss kit knife would have taken more lives than the Garand bayonet or the USN Mk II or the M3 knife or the M4 bayonet.
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    But you have to consider GI's didn't get to keep all those bayonets and such in garrison with their field gear 24/7 during peace time, or often in the rear non-combat zones.

    They were locked up in the arms room most of the time.

    The mess kit knife wasn't packed away, or secured.

    It was close at hand in your mess kit, boot, or fatigue pocket as the case may be.

    Last edited: Nov 10, 2012
  5. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    You think more troops killed each other with knives than they did enemy soldiers?
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    I said killed, or wounded.

    I have personally seen more guys cut or wounded with Mess Kit knives in barricks and bar fights then I have with bayonets or fighting knives was all I was saying.

    I knew a lot of solders that carried one or slept with one 24/7.

    And unlike dedicated fighting knives, everybody had one.

  7. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

    IMHO the stainless one I was issued sucked to get a sharp edge on and would not hold it, PLUS it was bendy very easily. The carbon steel earlier ones I have run across are much more stout and no doubt sharpen nicely.
    I was only a "barracks" soldier in Basic, AIT and Jump schools for about 6 quick months and was far too tired to go into town and blow off steam. Most scuffles ended in grappling on the floor, as do most fights IMHO.
    I won't bore you guys yet again with the one knife fight I was in in VN with a crazed GI who attacked a group of us NCOs with a weapon while we were seated but I had a large Randall #1 and cut his arm badly and the fight stopped right then. Doubt the soup knife could do that, but your point well taken for GIs.
  8. bubba in ca

    bubba in ca Well-Known Member

    In my year in Vietnam I never saw a mess kit nor the knife you picture ( nor a rifle cleaning kit for that matter). In fact, I only had a boonie cap because I bought one at a road side stand (genuine US issue). Did have fair access to Black Label beer and orange soda.

    We were categorically not allowed to have knives or bayonets on base or in the field for fear we might kill somebody. I did have a swiss army knife until it was stolen, probably by a junkie who was on arms cleaning detail with us one day.
  9. jeepnik

    jeepnik Well-Known Member

    There's a joke about WAF's and the "flat cap", but I'd be banned in a heartbeat if I tried to post it.

    Though I must admit, some of those WAF's wore them well.
  10. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member

    I know that other term. Good thing you're not using it.
  11. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

    Or even "implied " it with phantom wording, nicht wahr?:rolleyes:
  12. lemaymiami

    lemaymiami Well-Known Member

    Where I was in country (101Abn, 1971) I wish that bad things involved blades, cheap or fancy.... Instead disputes were generally settled with M16 or pistol (and you haven't lived until you're in your hooch reading or letter writing and two idiots begin shooting it out in front of the EM club just 100 yards away...). Worse yet we had more than our share of fraggings or actually assasinations (either an HE ball rolled into someone's hooch or a claymore set up where it would give you a heart attack -if you were lucky enough to find it before it was popped.... In the rear areas where I was, north and south of Hue it was just plain ugly with serious racial incidents and terrible drug use. I tried to describe it to my Dad, who did two tours there, and he didn't even want to hear about it... Most wouldn't believe that where I was we actually had to submit to a urinalysis to be able to leave and go back stateside....

    Just plain ugly, to this day I don't belong to any veteran's groups (and I was an Army brat who never saw anything other than than an Army to be proud of growing up...).
  13. Sebastian the Ibis

    Sebastian the Ibis Well-Known Member

    If you are counting shaving cuts, I am sure you are right.
  14. kBob

    kBob Well-Known Member

    Some of the Blacks in my unit used a dipilitory instead of shaving and several used the back of their mess kit knives to scape off the goo after it had set on their faces a bit.

    One of the zinc handled ones like shown is in my pencil holder on this desk. Mine has no markings but I liked it enough that I bought one of the onepiece stamped out ones to turn in and kept it.

    When a "turk" was murdered down town in Ulm one night by a crowd of GIs that had chased him some blocks before he fell, jumped or was pushed off of one of the city walls to fall 25 or 30 feet to his death on the sidewalk below one of my German police friends was on the case. The guy had multiple slash cuts on his back, arms and buttocks and a few stab wounds. When my friend commented that some wounds were made by a knife about 25mm across I introduced him to the mess kit knife. He immediatly expressed belief that such a knife had made the wounds. Yes the initial dispute was in a bar and involved a girl, yes the turk was first to escalate to blades and yes a crowd chasing someone trying to just get away while they slash and stab at him is a bad thing.

  15. kBob

    kBob Well-Known Member

    When I went through basic I reported in with a Demo kit knife (let's not get into the name arguement yet again, it was what the troops called them) the Stainles steel US marked one.

    We were made to face tables aranged in a U shape against the walls and told to empty our pockets on the table and then any of us that had "Contraband" ( and they read a list that included knives) were to be allowed a few moments to surrender such before the inspection started by just going to the center of the room and dropping it in a wash bucket no questions asked (yeah, right). I emptied my pockets except for the knife then approaced the bucket, pulled the knife out so the thre Drill Sargeants running the show saw it. Then put it back in my pocket. One of them nodded at me and pointed back to the tables and I had the knife right through basic and the first week of AIT. I guess they thought me prior service or just appreciated hutzpah.

    Our third CO in europe hated sheath knives and barelly tollerated folding bucks in belt sheaths (which were almost uniform in my unit and could be seen decorated with jump and skeeter wings, the small closina ranger pin and the round EM Infantry coller insignia and for a bit one LT had his crossed rifles on a flap as well) This made us giggle as we stored our sharpened e-tools on top of our wall lokers and easily accessable as per unit SOP. So no small sheath knives but a veritable battle axe was OK. During this time the Mess kit knife wearers continued to marh by just carrying their 100mph tape and shirt boar sheaths for the mess knife in a pocket.

    He did manage to get one of my sheath knives (and I made PFC the second time) and sent it to the arms room to be "destroyed". Remeber I worked in the arms room on behalf of my platoon when necessary. The armoror had me take apart my German Kampfmesser and seperate the blade from the grip and remove the cross guard, wrote a note saying "knife blade and cross guard removed from grip as destruction and disposed of as common trash" (or words to that effect), dropped my parts in the circular file then announced he was taking the note upstairs and would I take out the trash and please not get caught with it again. It made it home and then out to Ft. Sill before my car was broken into.

  16. jdh

    jdh Well-Known Member

    Everybody but me carried Buck 110s. I had a 112. I bore the brunt of the mine is bigger that yours jokes until one day the battalion sergeant major showed up at morning formation with his ruler. The 110 was 1/2" longer than the regs allowed and the 112 was 1/16" under the limit. There were a few of us who knew how to read the regs and work a ruler. All the bigger than yours guys bucks went in a bucket and off to the welding shop. Mine was handed back to me with a disgusted look.
  17. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

    I never saw a mess kit utensil that didn't have a huge loop on the back of the handle so you could put the hinged bar that held the two halves of the mess kit together through them and dip the entire kit including the utensils in the garbage can with the immersion heater in it boiling the water to sanitize them after a meal.

    I wonder when they changed the design?
  18. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    The one pictured was made in 1918 for WWI.

    They changed the design so they could be dipped to clean & sterlize them during WWII.

  19. Sox

    Sox Well-Known Member

    I can't remember where, perhaps old late 70's SOF, had an article where someone modified this knife into more of a "fighting" configuration. The blade was thinned somewhat and the edge(s) sharpened. It was pretty cool.
  20. weaponhead

    weaponhead Well-Known Member

    I remember that article as a kid....I finally came across one in a consignment store for only a quarter and got the grinder out! Still have it and use it in the kitchen....stainless blade with aluminum handle - LFC 1945 (maybe I should have left it original).
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2012

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