In depictions of the Victorian era we often see lower ranks of soldiers wearing uniform when off duty in pubs or frequenting fairs, or just milling about as extras in the background etc.

My question does not refer to firearms, but rather a sheathed bayonet.

When a soldier was off duty, and wearing his uniform, would he carry his bayonet openly on his belt?

This specifically relates to British troops garrisoned at home but off duty.

If they did typically do this, would the police of the period have the power, or the inclination, to have them remove their weapon in public?

  • 3
    In most armies soldiers do not carry the arms off duty. But officers do. An exception is Israel army.
    – Alex
    Commented Sep 25, 2019 at 19:53
  • @Alex I recall a story in the soldier's newspaper when I did my service about an off duty soldier causing some commotion when he decided to pop into the bank for a quick errand in field uniform and carrying a machine gun.
    – liftarn
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 7:06
  • 4
    Just to remind everyone I did point out that I wasn't referring to firearms, but specifically a sheathed bayonet.
    – Tommy
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 10:07

1 Answer 1


No, no bayonets. They wouldn't have had a spot to put them, as they had a special uniform type for off-duty, the 'walking-out' uniform. The primary difference with this uniform was the fact that it had a plain white belt -no weapon sheaths. From the Victorian Uniform Guide for one particular unit(all emphasis mine):

Walking Out Belt - A P71 buff leather belt whitened, worn when not on duty.

Another aspect of the 'walking out uniform' was the 'swagger stick' which I encountered while researching another question:

In the British Army before World War I, swagger sticks were carried by all other ranks when off duty, as part of their walking out uniform. The stick took the form of a short cane of polished wood, with an ornamented metal head of regimental pattern.

So, the off duty uniform you could expect to find soldiers wearing, the walking out uniform, would not have included a sheathed bayonet on the belt.

  • Thank you very much, I had never associated the swagger stick with the lower ranks and had previously thought only such as a RSM would carry one.
    – Tommy
    Commented Sep 27, 2019 at 6:35

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