18th century bayonet donated to museum

Steve Herbert handing over the bayonet to Simon’s Town Museum’s collections manager Vicky Mlenjemi.

A bayonet dated to the Battle of Muizenberg in 1795 was donated to the Simon’s Town Museum on Wednesday November 29

Steve Herbert, a Kalk Bay Historical Association member, said his father had found the bayonet buried in the garden of their house on Capri Road, in St James, in 1965.

Not long after it was found, the house was sold and his parents moved to Zambia.

After his father’s death, he took the bayonet and it travelled with him to Durban, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Toronto, The Hague, and finally back to Cape Town in 1996.

“It is a very well-travelled bayonet,” he said.

He believes the bayonet was lost by a British soldier advancing on Muizenberg in the battle of 1795.

There is a spring below his old family home so it was likely that troops would have stopped there for water, he said.

In October, Mr Herbert turned to the Facebook group, Cape of Diab, asking the experts on the group for advice.

One member said the bayonet looked like a volunteer sword socket, which was used with a .65 calibre flintlock musket.

He said they were made outside the British ordnance system for private sale and that it looked identical to a specimen dated from 1775 to 1800 that was documented in British and Commonwealth Bayonets, by Ian Skennerton and Robert Richardson.

“The blade is single-edged with a shallow fuller on both sides. The blade is 1.25 inches (32mm) wide. The horizontal blade orientation positions the blade edge down when fixed. The 3.625 inch (92 mm) socket is cut for a top stud,” his comment read.

Mr Herbert said he had offered the bayonet to the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society, but the society had declined as it had nowhere to display it.

He then decided to donate it to the Simon’s Town Museum.

“It is a very dangerous weapon,” he said.

Museum curator Cathy Salter said the museum was happy to accept the bayonet because of its link to Simon’s Town’s history.

“Simon’s Town was very involved in the Battle of Muizenberg, and we feel it is a lovely item for us to have,” she said.

Ms Salter said the museum was upgrading its Battle of Muizenberg display and was thrilled to have the bayonet.

For more information about the museum, visit its Facebook page.

Steve Herbert says his father found the bayonet buried in the garden of their house on Capri Road, in St James, in 1965.