British WW1 Cpt. David McLaren Bain Gordon Highlanders Fighting Knife

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This very special WW1 fighting knife was a private purchase by Captain David McLaren Bain of the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders. Captain Bain bought this knife before departing for the Western Front in October 1914. Eight months later, he was dead.

David Bain fought in the Flanders trenches from December 1914 and was wounded at Neuve Chapelle in March 1915. After recovering from his wounds he was promoted to Captain early in May 1915 and returned to France on May 20th. Less than a fortnight later he was killed in action on the 3rd June 1915 in Festubert, France. He was 24 years old.

This fighting knife along with Captain Bain’s other possessions were returned to his parents in Edinburgh. Captain Bain is buried in the Brown’s Road Military cemetery in Festubert, France.

David Bain was born on 10 September 1891, the son of William and Edith Bain of Edinburgh. He joined the army after graduating from Oxford University where he was a rugby Blue (1910-1913). He played as a prop for the Edinburgh Academy and was a well-known and celebrated Scottish rugby international, representing Scotland in 11 international matches between 1911 and 1914.

This bespoke, hand forged knife is of Bowie form with a single edge and sharpened clip point.
The 200mm blade is in good condition and retains its fighting edge. The blade has a mild age patina with small areas of darker tarnish. The blade’s spine is scalloped, reminiscent of a Scottish Dirk.
The steel crosspiece is firm and the blade is tight in the horn grip.
The horn hilt is etched with the name “D. Bain” and the pommel bears a bronze badge of the Gordon Highlanders incorporating the motto, “Bydand.”
The knife has a total length of 325mm and is complete with its original leather scabbard. “Cpt. Bain 2GH” is written in ink on the back of the scabbard.

This is a very special World War one private purchase fighting knife with a poignant story. There is a wealth of information available online concerning Captain David Bain. A quick search also turned up a list of the eleven rugby internationals in which he played and numerous newspaper articles and letters in which he is mentioned as well as an excerpt from a letter he wrote home at Christmas 1914.