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Gurkha Rifles - A George V Miniature Kukri Letter Opener, 1914
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Gurkha Rifles - A George V Miniature Kukri Letter Opener, 1914

Measurements: Length overall; 12.5cm (5in)

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Silver with wooden (walnut) handle. A George V miniature kukri modelled on the Mark I 1903-15 official issue kukri. Maker’s Mark of Henry Wigfull of Sheffield. Hallmarked Sheffield 1914.

Reports of Gurkhas hacking off the heads of Prussian Guardsmen during a counter-attack south of the Lys River reached Sheffield via the local newspaper in early December 1914, and perhaps inspired silversmith Henry Wigfull to produce this letter opener. Accounts of kukris being wielded in close combat by the Gurkhas of the Meerut and Lahore Divisions were likewise lapped up around the Empire, as the following from a 1914 New South Wales daily demonstrates: ‘The Gurkhas serving in Europe are, of course, armed with the latest pattern rifle and bayonet, but in addition, they are allowed to carry the national weapon, in which they always seem to place more reliance than the bayonet. When it comes to fighting at close quarters and it has always been a source of anxiety to their officers that in their moment of excitement the men not in frequently throw away the whole of their modern arms and equipment and trust solely to the kukri. As, however, they do very effective work with it, the danger of their best bested is small, particularly as there are very few who care to face a Gurkha maddened with the lust of war.’
 

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