The bayonet was originally developed in the 17th century in its early 'plug' form, probably as a hunting ancillary. From this starting point, it became a military success, helping to abolish the pike as a British Army weapon. Invative techlogies were used to allow both bayonet and musket to be used together, by adoption of a socket, and the use of this weapon in many European wars during the early eighteenth century influenced its international prestige. In the nineteenth century mass-produced, interchangeable and breech-loaded firearms appeared, but the bayonet lived on. Methods of attachment were improved, and single-shot firearms and traditional warfare tactics required its issue in most countries until the 1880s, and in Russia and Great Britain into the twentieth century. Designers at this time attempted to expand the role of the bayonet as a digging tool or sidearm, and produced unusual and decorative examples. Even during the First World War the socket bayonet was Imperial Russia's primary issue, and Austria, Germany and Finland used captured examples. The remainder of the twentieth century saw further development of the bayonet in many countries, such as Soviet Russia, Britain (miniature 'pig-sticker' and later variants), Belgium (tubular version), Switzerland ('luxury' model). Today, Britain's armed forces remain the latest exponents of the socket bayonet. In this book, Graham Priest uses clear, detailed images to guide the reader through the history of the bayonet, showing common examples and rarer versions, to provide a rounded introduction to the topic.
Graham Priest is a retired headmaster. He has been collecting bayonets since 1957, specialising in socket bayonets since 1972. His previous publications include 'The Brown Bess Bayonet 1720-1860' (1986), 'The Spirit of the Pike: British Socket Bayonets of the Twentieth Century' (2003), 'The Bayonets of the Grand Master's Palace, Malta', (200), 'Biddestone: A Peaceful Wiltshire Village ' (2013), and more than 200 specialist articles. He lectures at the Tower of London and Imperial War Museum.