The sword of Stalingrad

Russianswords.com is proud to offer advanced collectors of historical arms a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire a unique piece of history— Now you can own one of only 4 extremely rare weapons produced with the personal approval of HM King George VI of England during World War II, for your own collection.  I present you one of these four swords, which were manufactured in England in 1943, to honor the Victory of the Russian Army over the Germans troops near Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad was the great turning point in the course of WW II—after this spectacular victory, world powers were able to foresee the end of the formerly unstoppable Vermacht, and the great fear fascist German domination over Europe, and the world, was over. 

The Sword was designed in 1943 by R. M. Y. Gleadowe, former Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford.  The design was approved by no less an authority than His Majesty King George the Sixth, above a number of other designs.  A committee of nine members of Goldsmiths Hall supervised the work of England’s best craftsmen, and the blade was forged by Wilkinson Sword. The two swordsmiths chosen for this important undertaking were Tom Beasley and his assistant Sid Rouse. Mr. Beasley was already in his eighties at the time—he was born in 1860 and began work at the age of eight helping his father at the forge.  His family had been sword makers since the early 1700s. During World War II he was still working full shifts and overtime in his eighth decade!  Tom fathered a considerable number of children (accounts vary from 21 to 23; apparently he was never quite certain himself). This fact was mentioned to the Russian Ambassador at an exhibition in 1946 where Beasley was introduced as the ‘maker of the Stalingrad Sword.’  The Ambassador congratulated him and invited him to Russia, whereupon Tom (86 years old at that time) replied that if they paid his fare he’d be happy to oblige! Tom Beasley died on October 12th, 1950 at the age of 90, and is buried at Acton Cemetery.  In 1944, the citizens of Stalingrad presented approximately 30 special folios to the craftsmen who had worked on the sword.  One book, containing numerous photographs, which was presented to Sid Rouse, is now in the possession of his grandson John Dixon, who carries on the family sword making tradition at the Sword Center.  

 The special steel for this blade was supplied by Sanderson Brothers and Newbould of Sheffield. It was acid-etched with the words ‘TO THE STEEL-HEARTED CITIZENS OF STALINGRAD, THE GIFT OF KING GEORGE THE SIXTH, IN TOKEN OF HOMAGE OF THE BRITISH PEOPLE.’  This inscription was translated into Russian on the reverse of the 36” double-edged blade. The crossguard was 10” wide and solid silver.  The two-handed grip was bound with gold wire and fitted with a rock-crystal pommel.  The scabbard was covered with crimson Morocco leather, and fitted with silver mounts bearing the Royal Arms, Crown and Cipher (unfortunately was lost), and three gold-mounted red enamel stars. Corporal L. G. Durbin, RAF, did all the gold and silver work on the sword and scabbard.  He was granted special leave from his normal duties after the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths approached the Air Ministry.  He worked in Meadow Road, Kennington, at the forge of Frank Adam, his tutor at the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts. While this sword was being made, Wilkinson made three additional swords, (one of which I now proudly offer to you). These swords were precisely the same in every detail except for the gold and silver. One of theses three swords is displayed in Wilkinson museum at the Sword Centre In Acton. After the Sword was completed, it was taken on a tour of the UK and put on public display in several cities including Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, and London, where it was displayed at Goldsmiths Hall and the V&A Museum.  It also appeared in Manchester (with Cpl. Durbin himself in attendance), and at Sheffield and Winchester Cathedral.  The sword created great interest and enjoyed wide press coverage wherever it was shown. Presentation of the Stalingrad Sword was made by Winston Churchill in the Ballroom of the Russian Embassy at Teheran on 29th of November 1943, and was the highlight of the Teheran Conference.  Though Churchill gave the sword into Marshal Stalin’s hands, the sword was intended specifically to honor the heroic defenders of Stalingrad, and with this understanding, Stalin accepted  on their behalf. Amongst those present were President Roosevelt and the British, Russian and US Chiefs of Staff.  The place of honor however, was held by Marshal Klementi Voroshilov, defender of Stalingrad. Molotov was also at the Conference, but left before the presentation.  For the occasion, an Honor Guard was formed of 22 Russian officers and 16 British soldiers from The Buffs.

This weapon, one of only four made, is a fine example of the bravery and spirit of the Allies during the darkest part of the 20th century.  It is of superior craftsmanship- and is therefore suited to the very best antiques arms collections.

One of the three additional copies of the famous sword was presented to mr. Cardiner - the head of the American mission in England at that time. That’s how the sword was brought to America. The sword was kept privately by Mr. Cardiner and was forgotten for years after his death. Couple years ago, the sword was found in the attic of the Mr. Cardiner’s house by his grandson. The grandson of Mr. Cardiner then contacted Wilkinson Co. trying to find out the details. After getting the positive response from Wilkinson Co, the family decided to contact swords experts and asked for assistance in selling the sword. That’s how this famous sword ended in my possession.  I also have all original letters and other supporting documentations, including the offer from Wilkinson Co., to restore the missing part.

This sword is a unique historical relict.

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