Canadian Army Edged Tools
Artifacts and photos courtesy of Ed
Throughout the 20th
Century, Canadian soldiers were issued (or purchased) a variety of
pocket knives and tools to assist them in such various tasks as small
cutting jobs, tying and untying rope, minor weapons repairs, etc. The
tool issued in the first half of the century was officially called a
"clasp knife" and was a small, hand-sized pocket knife with folding
blade(s), as well as the famous "Marlin Spike." The spike is subject of
some controversy among collectors; various descriptions tell us that is
was used by sailors to assist with knots, others say it was used to
clean horses' hooves.
The clasp knife was
eventually replaced by other patterns of folding knife (and deleting the
marginally useful Marlin Spike), and in the 1990s - perhaps in response
to the number of soldiers purchasing Leatherman tools and other
implements which featured a wide range of devices beyond a mere cutting
blade - the Gerber combination tool was made official issue.
It should be noted that the
cleaning kits of weapons such as the Bren Gun and FN C1 also had what
was called a "combination tool" with which to perform specific
maintenance tasks on those particular weapons.
Other edged tools were used in
the field; machetes were commonly used in the World War Two and after,
and were as widely issued as axes/hatchets. They could be used for
cutting underbrush to clear fields of fire or bed down for the night, as
well as cutting snow and ice when operating in arctic conditions.
This listing does not include
Commando and other "fighting" knives which are properly a seperate
Unless otherwise indicated,
all photos and artifacts are from Ed Storey.
Issue Pocket Knives
Clasp Knife -
The clasp knife was a standard issue item from the early
days of the century. By World War Two, it was commonly
carried in a uniform pocket, often suspended from a lanyard
(when coloured lanyards were introduced for the Battle Dress
uniform, the official purpose for Other Ranks was to
secure the clasp knife while officers attached whistles to
theirs). A metal D ring with web loop can be seen in many
period photos as well, attached to the 1937 Pattern
waistbelt when in the field, to which a clasp knife is
RCN clasp knife.
Second World War dated
knives as used by the Army
RCN clasp knife
Second World War Canadian clasp knives as used by the
Canadian Army (left) and Royal Canadian Navy.
Second World War
British clasp knives; these would not have
been uncommon among Canadian troops as well.
Post-1945 Canadian Army clasp knife.
Canadian Signalman's Knife -
The use of special knives by signalmen goes
back to before the Second World War; the knives were used to strip wire and
were carried in the leather Signalman's Belt Pouch.
Ed Storey adds:
is known as the TL-29 which stands for Tool for Linemean 29
which is probably the year that it was introduced. This
knife is part of the TE-33 Tool Equipment 33 and consists of
leather Pouch CS-34 in which Pliers Tl-13A and TL-29 Knife
C5 - The
standard utility tool issued beginning in the 1980s and
continuing through to 1998 was the C5. Sturdily
constructed, the C5 had a ring for attachment to a lanyard
as well as two separate blades. A pouch was added on the
1982 Pattern web gear Knife-Fork-Spoon carrier specifically
for tools of this size. Private purchase Swiss Army knives
could also be carried in this pouch.
Gerber - The
Gerber replaced the C5 knife in 1998; several useful tools
were contained in one single unit, including a screwdriver
and pliers. Show also is the black web carrier for the
tool, usually worn on the waistbelt of the combat trousers
and secured closed by velcro. A foldout lanyard attachment
is provided with the Gerber that can be used when
of 3 PPCLI passes on some other info: Leatherman tools were
commonly used as private purchase items (in fact, the
webmaster himself also carried one in the early 1990s) by
many troops and may have been a special
issue to some small numbers such as Pioneer platoons. The
tools were apparently commonly used in 2 PPCLI's pioneer
platoon, for example, in 1991. The use (official or
unofficial) of the Leatherman was before the introduction of
the Gerber to replace the C5.
See above under
notes for the Gerber; while not an official
issue item (though it may have been issued in
limited numbers to some subunits), the
Leatherman was a popular tool carried and used
by many soldiers throughout the Canadian Forces
in the early 1990s.
Russell Belt Knife -
a variety of larger knives have been
popular among Canadian soldiers, especially towards the last
decades of the 20th century. The Russell belt knife at
right is one example; this knife was actually standard issue
to the Special Service Force of the 1970s and remained on
inventory up into the 1980s. Other "Rambo" style knives and
other similar items have also been carried as private
purchase items throughout the Canadian military.
of 3 PPCLI further informs the webmaster that the knife is
(as of 2002) still issued to all members of his battalion
(at least) as part of "light infantry kit" by the Regimental
Quarter Master Stores. Ed Storey also points out that the
knife is also issued (again, as of 2002) to field engineers
and para-trained soldiers.
Machete - a
variety of machetes have been used by the Canadian Army; the
examples below include (from top to bottom) a British Second
era machete, a Canadian Second World War machete, and at bottom a US
manufactured machete dating from 1968. Throughout the
1970s, '80s and '90s the Canadian Army relied to a
considerable extent on Vietnam era US equipment (though much
of it was actually manufactured much later than the end of
the Vietnam War), from M35 trucks and M113 personnel
carriers, to field radios and their backpacks, to jungle
boots. This machete is a fine example of that trend.
Vehicle collectors have noted that
photographs of Canadian jeeps rarely show axes or hatchets
mounted in the pioneer rack of such vehicles and have
inferred that greater reliance on machetes is the cause.