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Old 02-23-2016, 11:14 PM   #1
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Interesting photos of a custom prototype M1 Carbine bayonet

I was digging around online today, and came across some photos that I found interesting. I figured I'd share.

The M1 Carbine was adopted in October 1941, and was first issued in mid-1942 to units in the European Theater. The first combat users of the M1 Carbine were some of the men participating in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942. Included in that group were the men of the 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, who would become the first US paratroopers to perform a combat jump when they were dropped to seize two Algerian airfields on November 8th, 1942.

I found some photos taken in England during fall 1942, just prior to Torch, in which members of the 2nd Battalion, 509th PIR are showing off their equipment for visiting dignitaries, including Eleanor Roosevelt. What's especially interesting is the M1 Carbine shown being carried by the 2-509th's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Edson D. Raff.

The M1 Carbine originally had no provisions for a bayonet. Raff apparently found that to be unacceptable, and had a local English machine shop custom-make a handful of spike bayonets and barrel fittings for his personal M1 Carbine and a few of those carried by his subordinates. Reports are that less than 6 total custom spike bayonets were produced.

Above is another photo of Raff with his custom bayonet peeking over his shoulder, while being decorated with the French Legion of Merit following the Operation Torch invasion, during which he and the other members of the 2-509th performed two combat jumps, one on November 8th and another on November 15th. Colonel Raff would go on to command the 82nd Airborne's 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Normandy. After Normandy, the 507th PIR was reassigned to the 17th Airborne Division, and Raff again led them on a combat jump into Germany known as Operation Varsity, which was the final US combat drop in the ETO. Thus, Raff took part in both the first and the last US combat drops in the ETO, and earned both a Silver Star and Bronze Star during WW2. After WW2, Raff commanded the 77th Special Forces Group (later renamed the 7th SFG), one of the earliest Green Beret units.

These custom bayonets produced for Raff prior to the Torch jump represent the first bayonet produced for the M1 Carbine. The US military didn't begin designing and testing an official M1 Carbine bayonet until October 1943, one year later. Like Raff's prototype, the first official prototypes tested were also spike bayonets, although these were shorter and bolted around the front sight.

While these were found to be adequate as bayonets, they had no other utility as a standalone knife. So these spike designs were abandoned in favor of modifying the existing M3 Trench Knife into what would become the M4 Bayonet, which required fitting the M1 Carbine with an updated barrel band with integral bayonet lug. The M4 bayonet was adopted in May 1944, but only saw limited WW2 combat use at the very end of the war in 1945, during the late PTO fighting on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

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Old 02-24-2016, 04:19 AM   #2
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Re: Interesting photos of a custom prototype M1 Carbine bayonet

Great scholarship! I never saw a bayonet set-up on a M1 Carb. We used to be issued with one sometimes when on deck watch in port in the Navy in the 60s. Most of the time we carried a full M1 Garand on a sling.
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Old 02-24-2016, 05:22 AM   #3
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Re: Interesting photos of a custom prototype M1 Carbine bayonet

Great photos and great history, Jeremy!

Well presented!

Thank you for sharing!

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Old 02-24-2016, 05:59 AM   #4
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Re: Interesting photos of a custom prototype M1 Carbine bayonet

Excellent write up on an interesting subject. Thanks for sharing
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Old 02-26-2016, 10:11 PM   #5
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Re: Interesting photos of a custom prototype M1 Carbine bayonet


I swear my grandfather's bayonet is this one. I have it in my possession now. He was a mechanic in the 8th Air Force, stationed in England (43-early 45) then occupation duty in Germany & Austria (late 45 & early 46).

Post war it looks like he completely removed the guard and muzzle ring.

I've tried googling to no end, and the M4 is the closest I can find. We do have pics of him in full combat gear as well (unfortunately that is *not* in my possession). He labeled every picture who he was with, and where. He never served in the PTO.

We have literally hundreds of photos he took - all labeled. I have the German ones he captured (mostly SA, NSKK and RAD related), but my aunt still has his. I've begged and begged to let me scan them.
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