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PostPosted: Sun Nov 11, 2007 6:32 pm 
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The 20th Century British Military Pattern Gurkha Issue Kukri.-'07
-by SPIRAL
(Latest 2009 revision in this link).
Perhaps this little article will help answer some of the most frequent questions I see & hear about the main British Gurkha military pattern kukri.
Many kukris have been used by the Nepali Gurkhas of the British army, with small purchases by various, units, regiments, & of course many private purchases by individual officers & men.
But there have only ever been 5 military pattern number kukris in official British Gurkha issue.
Other models have been issued notably various length military Sirupati in WW2 , & the various kaudi less hybrid kukri/dah models from 1919 to 1945 , & indeed The famous "Maharaja of Jodhpur" kukris in WW1 although sadly any real evidence or photos of them being carried to date is totally lacking.
Many traditional kukris are seen in photos from WW1 & WW2 and these can be either early or more unofficial{non pattern.} kukri or private purchase or even family heirloom kukri, as according to the Brigade of Gurkhas many Gurkhas returned from their first leave with a traditional kukri rather than a military issue variant. Judging from photos the majority carried issue kukri though.
Historical Family heirloom kukris were sometimes even brought along by the new recruits, who according to various testimonies from WW2 veterans those that did would often only use those as their weapons while using the issue kukri for utility work.
Here are the 5 patterns. In number order Mk.1 at top.

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The First official numbered British Indian Gurkha military kukri the mk.1 was in production by 1903 up until at least 1915.
It was a break from the traditional hidden partial tangs to a full length rat tail tang culminating in turn nut similar in design to a rifle stock recessed into the walnut butt.
Many of them are unmarked although some later 1915 models carry manufacturers stamp Co. & sometimes FW marks on the spine occur which may be the inspection mark from Fort William.

Their weights vary from 24oz to 33 oz {On those I have examined.} Blade lengths typically in the 13 1/4 to 14 inch range.
Here are the 2 variant mk. I s, the lower longer handled one is a rarer variant. Although all mk.1s are rare most are short handled.

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The mk.2 was in production by 1915 & was to stay in manufacture for the British army until at least 1944 so certainly they ran into production figures of many thousands.
It has been produced by many manufacturers & armories over the years.
Commercial private purchase versions production continued after the war.
Their weights can vary from 22oz to 28oz but most seem to be the 24 oz to 25 oz range.{On those I have examined.}
The 3 ww1 manufacturers most often seen are {with years of production runs that I know off so far.}
CO. 1915,1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, The predominant maker by far, made at Cossipore arsenal more famous for its artillery pieces.
DHW 1918, 1919
RGB 1917, 1918
Rarer manufacturers include,
E.Boota Singh &sons, {Rawalpindi} 1917
AS & Sons Ltd. A model of which only one very high quality piece is known dating from 1916.
RFI {Rifle Factory Ishapore.} are also known to have made a small high quality batch in 1927.
In ww2 well known manufacturers include.
ATD, {Army Traders Dharan} {or possibly Dehra Dun} 1942, 1943
MIL, 1941, 1942,
Pioneer, {Calcutta} 1943, 1944
Queeta Bros. 1943, 1944
JNB 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944
One variant mk.2 often called the M.43 after the manufacturers stamp found on it is identifiable by the mark, & sunken rivets combined with an integrally welded tang , bolster join, but as these 2 later features can be found on other mk.2s the mark is the real key. {Although some occasionally appear to have escaped marking.}
Some people refer to this as a separate model in my opinion it is just a particular manufacturers interpretation of the design as none of the differences sighted only occur on m.43s other than the stamp.
I have an early m.43 which has the original style handle of the early mk.2s, which helps show its ancestry.

Here 3 mk. 2s a typical Co. made 1917 , at top, a Queeta Bros. mk.2 in the middle, and a m.43 at the bottom.
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Here's typical Co. & m.43 stamps.
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The mk.3 kukri came into being in 1943 according to Indian sources & was certainly in mass production by 1944. It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the K.45 design based on the date stamp present on some examples made in 1945.
It is still the most commonly issued kukri to the Indian armed forces.
Thousands or even millions have been made, but the only Genuine military pieces are those that were actually purchased by the military forces. The others are just commercial copies even if made by the same companies.
It was designed for easy & fast production & was made by many companies.
Including. {With years of production runs that I have seen to date.}
Mil, 1945
WSC {Windlass steel Crafts} 1944, 1945,
CMW {Calcutta}, produced very high quality specimens that have many easily recognizable manufacturer & army inspection stamps.1944, 1945
Many MK.III were not maker clearly marked, or were badly stamped.
Other manufactures include Chowdri & DKW who both produced during 1945 at least but most likely for the Indian army after Independence as well.
Many of these kukris have been made to the present day & it has been used by many Indian army Gorkha units as well as commercially exported in lower quality versions to the USA & Europe for over 50 years.
It weighs from 19 oz to 26 oz. {On those I have examined.}

1944 & 45 versions of the CMW mk.III kukri & detail of manufacturers stamp & army inspection marks.

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Next we have the mk.4 was the rarest official kukri pattern model to ever exist, and the last 50+ years have made it virtually extinct.
It was designed in 1949/50 by Wilkinson Sword Company. It appears the British army wanted to buy British despite the much higher cost rather than keep purchasing from The Indian kukri factories/ Government.
In profile its looks nearly identical to the mk.3 which was obviously its design basis but when examined by hand there are many subtle differences.
WSC confirmed to me that only 1400 were ever made, {possibly 1401 including the prototype pattern room model.}
A very small number for an army production run. Less than 10/% of serving Gurkhas would have been issued with them.
They where a very high quality hand forged production by some of the worlds leading sword smiths & cutlers. With some unusual minor features not seen on other models. } & presumably the cost of having them made by WSC resulted in no further orders for this now sought after model.
They seem to have been mainly issued in the Far East, particularly Malaya. A large number went to the Gurkha signals.
What happened to them is sometimes regarded as a mystery , I have heard many unsubstantiated stories, but it seems to me the simple truth is they most where never brought back out of Malaya ever again they were used to destruction in the longest jungle campaign fought by the Gurkha in there their long & bloody history.
A couple of years never mind 10 or 15 years in the Borneo jungle would rust & rot most equipment beyond recognition. According to army sources canvas jungle boots & webbing would be rotting within 2 weeks.
Hence I think the rarity of the mk.4 Wilkinson sword kukri. Not many were made, Then in that extreme environment handles eventually warped or rotted & Loosened the unless cleaned & oiled every day the steel rusted.
Literally Only a handful of them are known to be in existence today.
Which with the quality of workmanship that went into them & place in history seems rather a shame.
It is the holy Grail for serious collectors of Military kukri.

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Some time during the early 1960s the ”new” mk.5 kukri was introduced. {Which nowadays also has 12 digit NATO service number}
Often called the BAS {British Army Standard} or BSI {British service issue.} By kukri aficionados These are Nepali manufacturer’s terms & seem to bear no relation to any British military designation.
It is generally made in Nepal rather than India.
This shorter much lighter kukri was introduced a few years after every Gurkha had been issued with the British SLR copy of the Belgian FAL automatic rifle, or the Sterling submachine gun. One assumes that by which point the powers that be thought a smaller lighter camping style or self defence kukri was acceptable .Rather than the earlier more sidearm battle worthy style kukris.
This model is made by numerous Nepali firms nearly all of which claim to supply The British Army.
In a way it seems irrelevant which of them do as the current versions of it manufactured most seem to be low quality. No different than the average modern tourist kukri.
The lowest bidder wins the army contract each year so for many years Lalit of khukri house has been one of the main suppliers as the size of his business presumably allows him to undercut the competition. Of course he was also a Gurkha for many years & maintains his contacts within, the British army, the Gurkhas & at the officer training school Sandhurst.
Hundreds of thousands have been made, but the only Genuine military pieces are those that were actually purchased by the military forces. The others are just commercial copies even if made by the same companies.
The higher quality versions of this kukri I have seen, were made by kamis employed the British army themselves working at Dharan army base. They are normally marked "Ordep Nepal" with a date stamp. {Generally from the 1980s.} With superior fit & finish, they have a superior feel to the ones marketed today that I have handled.
They were made in 3 grades, the High Quality ceremonial, the issue & the training kukri. Interestingly most other Manufactures ceremonial models are low quality chrome plaited blade items.
Many minor variants exist due to the number of manufacturers & many years of production when multiplied by the 3 required versions.
It seems a short training model has been issued to recruits for many years & sometimes it is carried throughout their service. Blade Lengths of 10 1/4 inch to 11 inch are common & it is possible a few were even longer in the 1960s judging from old photos.
3 Dharan army base made mk.5 kukri, All weigh between 16oz & 17oz
Training model at top, {unmarked.}
Issue standard. Middle.
Ceremonial at bottom.

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Typical marks found on the Base made kukris.
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I welcome any further information & photos to evidence opinions emailed to me at spiraltwista@aol.com please include kukri in title. To enable further updating of this article.

Enjoy your kukris!
Spiral.
Photos & information on this page can be freely used elsewhere for discussion, other than written or commercial publication or websites as long as following statement included.

“Text & photos copyright, Spiral JRS Feb. 2007.”
Alternative spellings include.. Khukri, Khukuri. Kookerie. Gurka. Goorkha. etc.etc.
Revised 11/11/2007


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