View Full Version : Something a little different, a Bill Hook!

05-09-2016, 21:12
Hi Guys

Here is an odd one.

The Bill Hook!

The Bill Hook is a traditional cutting tool used widely in agriculture and forestry for cutting smaller woody material such as shrubs and branches. They were used in WW1 and WW2 by Australian troops. They are a very solid tool with a fair bit of heft. They were used in place of machetes. Such a tool would have been useful in the jungle for clearing fire lanes etc.

Examples from either war are not easy to find. For a start, being a rather mundane agricultural instrument they are easily overlooked. There is nothing glamorous about a Bill Hook. I suspect that there are many sitting overlooked in garden sheds and similar places.

The WW1 examples carry makers names such as McKay (Sunshine Harvester) and are dated as well.

The WW2 examples that I have seen, only carry Acceptance Marks. I am yet to find a WW2 example that is maker marked. All of the examples that I have seen are very uniform in design.

I was fortunate to recently obtain this example.

It is clearly marked with D/l\D on the grips and an Inspectors acceptance mark of /l\ over W.
It weighs 760 Grams. The blade is 247 mm long. Total length 393 mm.



I would like to hear from anyone who has an example of the Bill Hook. Particularly any that are maker marked!

Hope this was of interest.


06-09-2016, 22:29
Hi Dutchy,

Great thread of something that not may have seen. I have two and have not seen another, outside the ones where this came from.

The first of mine is almost identical to yours in shape and handle shape/design, except is has no makers mark or acceptance//l\ stamp.

The second is date stamped 1918 and has a makers mark (on the same side as shown in your picture above) of :
there is another line that starts CA but the rest is not readable.

It has a small /l\ close to the handle with 2 unreadable letters on the right side that it is not DD.

It has a round and shaped handle. The blade is much heavier than the other with a thicker section at the tip.

I think my first is the same as yours.

I know both are Army issued as I 'rescued' them from destruction in the late 80s, when they were in a batch of mixed machetes that were to be disposed of. There were only a couple of the heavier ones and a bunch of the lighter ones. Sadly, I only saved these two and the rest went off to the smelter.

I will try to post some pictures on the weekend. Let me know if you have any other questions about them.



06-09-2016, 22:54
Thank you for your post Mick!

I anxiously await the images.

In the meantime I will just have a little cry about the fate of the other machetes etc. :(:(


18-09-2016, 20:52
It took a bit longer than I thought to get the photos sorted.

Here are the photos of both and a couple of close-ups of the markings. The last photo shows the extra weight in the tip of the 1918 version.

First time I have posted photos, so hopefully it works.



http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e132/baccy42baccy42/IMG_4248_zpsclbtekqi.jpg (http://s38.photobucket.com/user/baccy42baccy42/media/IMG_4248_zpsclbtekqi.jpg.html)
http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e132/baccy42baccy42/IMG_4249_zpsxq4s6vey.jpg (http://s38.photobucket.com/user/baccy42baccy42/media/IMG_4249_zpsxq4s6vey.jpg.html)
http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e132/baccy42baccy42/IMG_4252_zpsmdroyolm.jpg (http://s38.photobucket.com/user/baccy42baccy42/media/IMG_4252_zpsmdroyolm.jpg.html)
http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e132/baccy42baccy42/IMG_4253_zpsj8275oqd.jpg (http://s38.photobucket.com/user/baccy42baccy42/media/IMG_4253_zpsj8275oqd.jpg.html)
http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e132/baccy42baccy42/IMG_4251_zpsgsxm67vo.jpg (http://s38.photobucket.com/user/baccy42baccy42/media/IMG_4251_zpsgsxm67vo.jpg.html)
http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e132/baccy42baccy42/IMG_4250_zpsxkachjqc.jpg (http://s38.photobucket.com/user/baccy42baccy42/media/IMG_4250_zpsxkachjqc.jpg.html)

18-09-2016, 22:52
There are quite a few designs still in production - even Gerber has one

I guess our caneknife could also be classed as a bill-hook.

19-09-2016, 00:38
Thanks very much for that Mick.

I also have an identical Bill Hook to your unmarked one in my collection. I have always believed that it was Military issue because of the distinct similarity in design with the few marked ones that I have seen. Same pattern, different makers usually only occurs on Military supply, being made to a standard pattern,

The Cornelius Whitehouse one is very interesting. Were it not for the fact that you rescued it from destruction from an Australian Army clean up, I would have said that it was British issue.

It appears that Cornelius Whitehouse made dozens of different Bill Hook designs. It appears that just about every County had their own interpretation.

If you are interested, check out the Cornelious Whitehouse Catalogue (http://www.timelesstools.co.uk/images/Cornelius%20Whitehouse%20catalogue.pdf) pages 17 - 20.

@Antonio_Luiz Yes you are correct. Perusal of the above catalogue shows a bill Hook the same design as the Cane Knife. 1109 Rutland Peaked.


19-09-2016, 21:52
Thanks Dutchy - had a look and very interesting catalogue. I agree with you and @Antonio_Luiz that the unmarked one is relatively common. On the other hand, I have never seen another Cornelius. You really have to see it and feel the weight to appreciate the difference between the two.

Either way I like both and am pleased to have them in my modest collection

25-09-2016, 19:52
ive owned about a dozen of the plate steel billhooks. there was a surplus dealer in brisbane in the 1990s who had them for 12$ they literally had several 100 ive also collected up some at markets .. ive never seen one that has ever had an edge on it.. i suspect that none were ever issued. they only have military marks on the handles and none on the blades and no makers mark. as somebody whos grew up using billhooks i cant see them as being usable even if they had a 30mm wide edge put on them , i suspect they they were produced sourced and then rejected as unusable and kept in stores.
the other bill is a common pattern used by britian canada and australia in both ww1 and ww2 mostly british made. although some were mad ein canada and i suspect french and belgian ones were procured in ww1 as well
ive got some canadian ones about the places. these military issue bullhooks generally have a tapered spine meaning the thickestpart is more towards the centre of the blade than the spine . some sort of regional blade pattern form the u.k. the canadians had a nice sheath for these

13-02-2017, 14:56
Hi Guys

Further to this conversation I need to add the following:

According to the research published by Keith Spencer in his latest book "Australian and New Zealand Cutlers and Cutlery 1788 - 1988" the only WW2 maker that he could actually identify was Marsden Products Pty Ltd. This was from the Government Gazette records. I am not aware of any Marsden marked bill hook being in any collections.

I am certain that there were more makers than Marsden because of the differences I have noted in the Bill Hooks that I have seen.

This Bill Hook from my collection was most likely produced in the same factory as the one Baccy42 shows above. The handle rivets appear to be identical.

I recently had the good fortune to be provided some information on the use of Bill Hooks or "Hooks, Bill" if one uses the appropriate Military terminology.
I was informed by Jack Neville a collector and 'expert' restorer of military vehicles and a foremost authority on Ford/Marmon Herrington gun tractors, that the Hooks Bill was a part of the equipment that served the 25 pound field gun in WW2.
Jack has provided me with a diagram of the layout of the No: 27 Limber (Trailer Artillery No: 27). Item No: 4 can be clearly identified as a Hooks, Bill.

Following on from the information provided by Jack, I contacted a colleague who served in the Royal Australian Artillery during the Vietnam War and he confirmed that he knew the Hooks Bill well and that "In Malaya and Vietnam all Artillery Guns had a Hooks Bill as part of the CES. I served on, 40mm Bofor, 88mm Mortar, 25 Pdr, 105mm Pack, 105mm towed and 5.5inch medium."

Some more of the puzzle filled in.

If they were used by any other Corps or Units I would appreciate the information.