Trench Raids – Tools of the Trade

Today we continue our series on Trench Raids. (See last week’s post here).

In this brutal environment, a number of factors led to the development of improvised weaponry for use in trench raiding. Economically, the wartime industry was already overwhelmed with maintaining pace in weapon and munitions production. The thought of adding to that workload was simply inconceivable. Additionally, the nature of trench raids required the ability for stealth, but also sheer viciousness once engaged in close quarters combat. Consequently, long, unwieldy and loud rifles simply were not practical.

The Push Dagger – Used in trench raids when soldiers might experience hand-to-hand combat, the handle was placed perpendicular to the double edged blade to allow maximum force in a thrusting attack.
Credit: CWM 20060208-001.
The Spiked Trench Club – The head of this trench club is formed from wound steel cable, studded with nails. The nail heads have been cut off to form blunt spikes.
© IWM (WEA 3069).
The Trench Club – This club was fashioned from the handle of an entrenching tool, modified with an eight-pointed cast-iron ring, similar to a cogwheel.
Credit: CWM 19620071-013.

In response, raiding parties had battalion carpenters and armourers begin fashioning improvised weaponry that suited their needs. Many of these crude weapons drew frightening inspiration from medieval warfare. The trench club was one such example – variously fitted with nails, cogwheels or iron studs. The French Nail was a stabbing weapon fabricated from its namesake, an iron nail, bent round into a handle with its point sharpened. Other knives and push daggers were fashioned from discarded bayonets.