Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
Swords of the British Army – The Regulation Patterns 1788 to 1914
By Brian Robson
Naval and Military Press (
In association with the National Army Museum ( )
ISBN 9781845749170
Revised Edition RRP £49.95

This book was originally published some twenty years ago and it then broke new ground by setting out to trace the development of British military swords from 1788 onwards. It aimed to identify and describe all the regulation patterns introduced after that date. Material such as official documents, contemporary paintings and drawings, and specimens of swords were sought to present a scholarly work.

The initial edition of this book was well received by both collectors and serious researchers. Undoubtedly this edition will also be very well received and will stand the test of time. The author has sought wherever possible to trace the background and origins of each pattern of sword and to give some evaluation as the effectiveness of them as weapons. In doing this some digression into the origins and organisation of the various formations of the British Army such as the different Regiments and Corps etc has become unavoidable. This digression puts the development of the swords into its correct historical context.

The book covers the period 1788 to 1914. The upper cut-off date has been applied because no new distinct patterns have been introduced since that date and to partly avoid the tedious complications of the numerous Regimental amalgamations since that date. It considers the swords used by the Regular Army and excludes those swords used by units such as the Yeomanry, the Fencibles and the Volunteers. The reasons behind this are (1) the non-Regulars is a very complex subject and often the records for these units do not exist and (2) although there are many exceptions most of the swords used by these formations conformed to the patterns used by the Regular Army.

The author presents a detailed explanation of sword terminology, sword points and the background to the development of British Army swords. There are principal chapters on Cavalry swords for both troopers’ and officers’, Household Cavalry troopers’ and officers’ patterns, Infantry officers’ and Scottish Infantry swords. Patterns for General and Staff Officers’ swords are described and so too are Sergeants’ swords, Corps and Departmental Swords and Drummers, Band and Pioneer Swords. The last chapter concerns Practice Swords and the book concludes with Appendices on Sword Knots, markings on swords and a listing of changes.

British Army swords are very collectable and they are an exceptionally interesting subject to research. No doubt any visitor to the National Army Museum cannot marvel at their outstanding collection of swords and this book serves to illustrate and discuss them. The scholarly nature of this work cannot be over stressed and I am confident that it will be the “Bible” to British Army Swords for many years to come.

March 2011