Adams Revolver

Used by the officers, the Adams Revolver used percussion caps and had a double action system. It was made in England and had a five shot cylinder.

Captain Panter reported in 1875 that Cerberus carried 24 Dean & Adams breechloading revolvers.

Adams Revolver

Enfield Mk II Revolver

Produced in 1882, the Mk II version had a calibre of .476. The revolver shown was used in the Victorian Naval Forces.

On 2 July 1885 The Argus stated that the officers were to be issued with the Enfield six chamber revolver.

Enfield Mk II Revolver.
Photo courtesy of The Museum of HMAS Cerberus.


The cutlass is a heavy naval sword with a single-edged blade of medium length which is generally given a very slight curve, but may often be straight. A brass or steel simple handgrip and guard wrap around the top tang of the blade.

"The blade's weight is concentrated to provide a shattering blow delivered with the edge of the blade. There is little in the design to facilitate the use of the point, nor is it easy to parry another's blow. This is a sword designed for simplistic use by a user who has had little training in fencing."

The cutlasses used in the Victorian Navy could be fixed to the Martini-Henry rifles as bayonets. They were therefore worn on the belt, most likely through a bayonet-frog, and accompanied the men to China.

The engraving above from a Victorian Naval Forces exhibit shows that the cutlasses could be attached to the martini-henry rifles as bayonets. Click to view whole image.

The Australian Illustrated News,
23 January 1884

Cutlass Drill on board Cerberus.
The Weekly Times, 14 July 1900.
courtesy of "Newspaper Collection", State Library of Victoria

A close up of the Cutlass Drill photo shows that the cutlasses had a loop through which the rifle barrel could pass. This allowed the cutlass to be attached to the Martin-Henry rifles as a bayonet.

Thanks to Tom Lewis & John Underwood for pointing out the above feature.

Bayonet Frog
for slinging the cutlass-bayonet in its scabbard from the sailor's belt. AWM REL26333.006 Click image to enlarge.

The dual use cutlass-bayonet in action.

Australasian Sketcher, 8 April 1882.

"as you stumble about the turrets [of the Cerberus], the engine room, and the cramped lower deck, garnished round the walls with any number of rifles, revolvers, and cutlasses hanging in their leathers."

The Herald, 12 April 1887

The Cutlass (From Navy News by Lieut. Tom Lewis (RAN).)

The use of edged weapons on board ships has a long history. The cutlass has been the sailor’s weapon for many years in Western navies before its demise in the mid 20th century.

As William Gilkerson points out in Boarders Away, the word ‘Cutlass’ comes from the Latin ‘cultellus’ or short sword. Swords can be seen in ships’ ordnance lists from 1645.

The cutlass is a heavy naval sword with a single-edged blade of medium length, which is generally given a very slight curve. The blades weight is concentrated to provide a shattering blow delivered with the edge of the blade. This is a sword designed for simplistic use by a user who has had little training in fencing. Therefore, the cutlass-wielding sailor would have usually been outfought by a swordsman. Nevertheless, the weight of a cutlass blade would often be enough to sweep a lighter blade out of the way.

Cutlasses can be divided into two types, Brass hilted and Iron hilted. The brass versions are largely confined to the years prior to the Napoleonic wars. Brass hilts were easier to make, but iron hilts were stronger in use.

The Royal Navy retained cutlasses officially until 1936. The Royal Australian Navy seems to have had the weapon in armories from its inception in 1911, with the cutlass gradually devolving out of a possible combat weapon to one of ceremonial usage only.

As far as other navies are concerned, several photos attest to the wearing of cutlasses by USN members fighting in the Pacific in that conflict. From the Korean War comes a story of an American engineers’ battalion, which was being overrun at Inchon. Forced to fight with whatever came to hand, an NCO took his by-then ceremonial sidearm, a cutlass, and dispatched one of the enemy!


An officer's sword.
The sword shown above belonged to Captain Panter.
photographed courtesy of The Museum of HMAS Cerberus.

Victorian Navy sword once belonging to Gunner Christopher Jones.
Photographs courtesy of the Christopher's Great great grandson, Paul Jones.

Boarding Pike

Boarding Pikes were described as being kept on the main deck (most likely the Shield Deck) and were basically a spear head on a long pole. They had no function on the ship apart from use as a weapon.

Boarding Pikes most obtained from Williamstown in 1992 & therefore most likely from the Victorian Navy.
Photo courtesy of Craig Little.

Nordenfelt Ammunition

nordenfelt ammunition

Fig 1 - ammunition for 1 inch four barrel guns. Figs 2 - 8 for six pounder QF gun.
image courtesy of Steve Johnson's ammunition website

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