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Pre knife hysteria- When knives were actually MADE in high school- Texas Black knives, etc-The war years Pt. 3

Here is an old letter requesting a knife--

"In Jun. 1943, my dad (only 20 years old) had just finished Navy boot camp, and commando training.  He was in an ARGUS unit, assigned to act as an infantry soldier, and to set up radar stations with the Marines when they invaded Tarawa (although he didn't know then that Tarawa was his
destination).  He felt his issued knife was insufficient as a combat knife. And he wrote home to my Granddad, in Dallas, with one request.  As I read the letter, I thought you might find it interesting today.

    "...There is something you could do for me.  I'll be issued a light hunting knife.  It's not really a weapon--these knives are the tool you need to live in the jungle.  I want a heavy knife similar to a light machete or bolo.  It must hold the edge well, be of sufficient weight to be used for
hacking (about the weight of a meat-cleaver).  It's blade should be about the thickness of a file and about eight or ten inches long.  It should be
well balanced.  Take your time and look around plenty.  I know this is a big order, any knife is hard to find now and you probably won't be able to locate one.  If not, it's okay, because I'll have a little one anyway.  I've talked to marines off Guadalcanal, and a knife like I've described is what
they recommend.  One man's was cut down from a machette--a very good knife. If you do find a suitable knife, it'll probably cost plenty--soak those bonds in on it, it'll be worth what it costs to me if you can find one.  But if you can't find anything except the ordinary hunting knife--just forget about it.  Love, Johnny. (Jun 23, 1943 postmark)"

    Interestingly, I have the knife my Granddad sent him, all the way in the
South Pacific.  I held it up to my new Battle Rat (which I got
Friday....thanks!) and the two are nearly identical in weight, length of blade and overall length, thickness and heft.  As soon as I can get a digital cam, I'll forward you a pic.  I think you'll find it interesting.
Even the top of the clip point is sharpened (like your "penetrator tip").

    In the same letter (which my Dad saved) is the brochure about this
knife.  I'll summarize it for you.  It starts off "More than 700 steel
combat knives made in Technical High's machine shop from North American's discarded files and a Louisiana lumber mill's worn band saw blades have been sent to YOUR SOLDIERS, SAILORS, AND MARINES during the past few months."
"Your knife may find a Jap gullet or a Nazi heart!" The flyer states the knives cannot be bought, "You couldn't buy one of these knives for $100, but we'll give one to your service man."

    Well, here's the excerpt from the letter my granddad sent along with the knife. ".  I went up to the Tech Hi yesterday evening, and thru the good graces of the Kiwanis Club I obtained one of their Combat Knives, and gave them a shipping label to mail it to you.  Those knives are made by the club members at night out of steel furnished by North American Aviation.  The club uses the machine shops of Tech Hi.  I am signing up to go one night a week, and help make these knives for the Marines.  They make 3 lengths of knives.  I picked out the longest, which I hope you will like.  The edges are not finished off as sharp as they can be made, so I will try to send you a small file so you can put a good edge on it.  They say it will hold an edge you can shave with.  If you have a good friend who would like to have one of these knives, have him write  Mr. Kenneth Kitch, c/o Crozier Technical High School, Dallas, enclosing 25 cents for mailing, and it will be mailed without further charge direct to him.  Be sure and let me know if you receive the knife.
   "I pray God will serve you well, and bring you back safely to us for brighter and better days ahead in your young life.  I hope you will never have to use it for defense, but if you do, I know you will use it with all your might and strength."

    You know, Eric, it's not often in our generation, that we see an example of that kind of American can-do spirit and patriotism.  I want to commend Swamprat and Busse for the thousands of dollars of knives you equipped American soldiers with, free of charge!  It's at the top of the list of reasons why I bought a Battle Rat from you, instead of from another company.
And it's the type of business approach which will solidify your reputation and legacy in the knifemaking world.  But, mostly, it is reminescent of the type of action that typified America 60 years ago.  Fortunately, Dad never had to take a life.  But he did see combat, and having a heavy blade at his side provided a feeling of comfort and assurance.  Somewhere in Afghanistan or in the streets of Yemen, the jungles of the Philipines, or elsewhere, there's an American combat soldier with an edge over his opponent.  A Busse edge.

    Please extend a hand, tomorrow, to your staff. And commend them for outstanding workmanship and spirit.  My Battle Rat is a work of art.  The finest knife I've ever held."

 The saga continues

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Comment by Jan Carter on August 23, 2014 at 10:04

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

I cant wait to read the rest of this story.  The letters here and the testimony about Busse carrying on a tradition from may conflicts and wars ago will certainly have me shaking their hands at the next show!


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Comment by Jeremy B. Buchanan on August 21, 2014 at 18:23

What a great story John. We need to get back to that type of concern for our soldiers. I can't wait to see both knives.

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