“The Sword-Lance: a Suggestion” (1903)

  • Originally published on the Bartitsu.org site on Monday, 13th June 2011

Captain F.C. Laing was a soldier serving in India with the 12th Bengal Infantry (Kelat-I-Ghilzai Regiment), who in 1902 had spent an intensive several months training at E.W. Barton-Wright’s Bartitsu Club in London. Returning to active duty, Laing later produced an interesting account of his Bartitsu experiences which was published in the Journal of the United Service Institution of India and which is reproduced in volume II of the Bartitsu Compendium.

Appended to that article was this proposal and design for a curious weapon that Laing called the “sword-lance”. Although it is unclear as to whether the sword-lance was ever actually manufactured or employed in battle, Laing’s proposal indicates that he shared the adventurous, experimental temperament common to a number of Bartitsu Club members …


By Captain F. C. Laing, 12th Bengal Infantry.

In the October number of this Journal, “Tulwar” briefly discussed the question of the most suitable hand-to-hand weapons for use in the Native Cavalry. May I venture to offer a suggestion which might possibly, when perfected, produce a weapon combining the advantages of both lance and sword, making the former a sort of elongated sheath for the latter.

The accompanying rough hand sketch may assist the reader to follow my idea more clearly.

The lance I propose is made, as at present, of bamboo, carrying the usual steel head; at the butt end it is hollowed so as to form a scabbard for a straight sword, the handle of the sword forming the lance-butt, the button being made long enough to fit into the stirrup when the lance is being carried.

The sword blade, about 3 ft. 3 in. long, is prevented from falling out by means of a steel spring similar to that of the sword bayonet.

In order to decrease the weight the lance head and sword guard might be made lighter; in any case the weight would probably not exceed that of the lance now in use by more than a few ounces.

The advantages claimed for this form of weapon are :—

1. One combined weapon instead of two.

2. Decrease of weight on the horse.

3. Each man carries a weapon which he can use in the manner most suitable to the requirements of the moment.

4. The construction in no way affects the strength or utility of either weapon.

5. Convenience of carrying.

In conclusion I should add, that if the jointed lance is adopted, it would be most suitable to the combined sword-lance as it can be carried as shown in the sketch.

The disadvantage of the weapon may consist in the sword being straight and not curved; there are adherents of both forms and some may consider a straight thrusting sword more serviceable than the curved.

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