At the beginning of the Great War France had a tradition of
narrow cruciform blades. This was relevant for both bayonets
and knives. This type of blade is perfect for penetration
thick and heavy military uniforms. These ideas were the
reason for these blades.
The Great War was dominated by a new weapon the Machine gun
which stopped the open field fighting and cavalry attacks.
It became a war in the trenches. The demand for close
quarter weapons became eminent.
Long bayonets and rifles became clumsy and shorter weapons
were requested. Sometimes bayonets were converted to knives.
This happened on both sides. Still we find the narrow
bayonets transformed to knives. First bayonets to become
transformed were the long thin bayonets like the French
Mle1886 bayonet converted to a trench knife.
France was one of the first countries which supplied it
troops with fighting knives. The first knives had cruciform
1915 France had Military knives designated No 1 and No 2.
These knives had cruciform cross sectioned blades. Even the
US Military liked these types of “pig stickers” like US
knuckle knife 1917.
US1917 with triangular cross section blades
Double edge blade
In France during October 1915 a new design was proposed. The
new knife should have an ordinary double edged blade with
marked ricasso, a wide straight cross guard and wooden grip
of Walnut. Later produced Mle1916 knives have a ferule made
of steel close to the cross guard strengthening the wooden
The blade of this knife is also found on
M1918 knuckle knife,
first produced by the French company AuLion and also other
companies in USA like Landers, Frary & Clark (LF&C).
Blades of Mle1916 type - left US1918
and right Mle1916
Ricasso of US1918 made by Au Lion
US1918 fighting knife made by Landers, Frary & Clark
The grip of Mle1916 has full tang topped
of with a locked nut.
The scabbard is made of steel. It has a
wide belt loop made by 4mm thick steel thread. The blade is
secured to scabbard by a dent at the top of the scabbard.
The scabbard is of similar construction like the US1918
knife but the thread shackle is complete and not divided
On the cross guard there is inspection
stamps in form of a star and the letter B.
The first known official acceptance
documentation of the knife is issued by Ministry of War
dated as late as 6th of August 1924. There are
however documents from 1917 mentioning repairing of these
knives ordered by the General of the Infantry. This was six
years after the Great War ended. The knife model is Mle 1916
with the nickname “Le Vengeur de 1870” or simply “Le Vengeur”.
The nick name refers to the lost war against Prussia
1870-71. It is common that one side of the ricasso is
engraved “Le Vengeur de 1870” while the other is marked with
the mark of the manufacturer.
France kept on producing these knives in
large quantities between the wars until 1939.
In June 1940, when Germany attacked and
occupied parts of France, the German forces captured large
quantities of this knife and it got the German designation
“Dolch116(f)”. It was never accepted by the German test
authority Wehrmachtsabnameamt (WaA). For this reason
you will not find these knives with the WaA-stamp like other
arms which were booties of war. First all the fighting
knives were stored but as the war passed on they were issued
to the German soldiers. Non German volunteers from different
nations even French were equipped with these knives and the
last services at war for these knives were in April 1945 at
Reichskanzlei in Berlin.
This knife was captured from the Germans
in Norway in quantities. Some of these knives came to Sweden
and were tested as fighting knives for the new Paratrooper
force, but it was rejected in favour of the US fighting
Length over all
Length of blade