Object of the Month - March 2023

31 March, 2023

 AB 29a – Field Marshal Alan Francis Brooke's Katana  

Field Marshal Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, KG, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO & Bar attended the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich in 1900 and was commissioned into the Royal Artillery as a second lieutenant in December 1902.

During the Great War, he introduced the creeping barrage system at the Battle of the Somme and planned the barrages for the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Brooke commanded II Corps of the British Expeditionary Force in WW2 and was promoted to Chief of the Imperial General Staff in 1941 where he was the foremost military advisor to Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister.

The Alanbrooke Collection was donated to the museum in 2016 and encompasses a wide variety of personal items including uniforms, personal mementoes and medals.

Among this collection is a Japanese Katana sword which was presented to the Field Marshal by the Supreme Allied Commander, South-East Asia, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten.

The plate on the scabbard states that the sword was forged by Sekino Kane Moto circa 1485. Further investigation has revealed that the technique used to create the Hamon (forged hardened edge) of the sword was not developed until 1520, and the shape of the tang (where the blade extends into the grip) indicates that it was likely to have been made around 1800.

Often, the stories behind the objects can be more interesting than the objects themselves. As part of the Alanbrooke Collection, this Katana is representative of one of Britain’s most famous Gunners, and additionally, it has also revealed Japanese techniques in forging one of the world’s most well-known personal weapons.