When the Australian Owen sub-machine gun was introduced into service in 1941 it was not fitted to take a bayonet. In 1944 the decision was made to add a suitable bracket so that a bayonet could be mounted. Earlier, in 1942, the manufacturers of the Owen, Lysaghts of Port Kembla, had developed a new model of the gun. This Mark II Owen gun had an accompanying bayonet designed to fit it. This was an unusual design that fixed over the muzzle compensator without any additional standard being fitted to the weapon. Only 200 examples of this model of bayonet were produced.
In 1944 the bayonet selected for use with the sub-machine gun was a shortened version of the standard Pattern 1907, or No. 1 Mark I bayonet. The special requirements of jungle warfare had led to the search of weapons and equipment suitable for the very difficult conditions it entailed. In the effort to lighten the soldier's load, a shorter and lighter rifle was deemed desirable.
In 1944 Australia produced 100 Trials Shortened and Lightened No. 1 rifles at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, along with 100 short bayonets. The rifle was not adopted for use, but it was this bayonet that was selected for fitting to the Owen sub-machine gun.
It was officially approved on the 31st July 1944 and sealed on the 16th August 1944. The bayonet was designated Bayonet Sub-Machine Gun (Aust.) No.1 Mk.I. The only difference between this model and the Pattern 1907 is the new 10 inch blade with a fuller that is only 5 inches long.
A second model was also approved and sealed on the same dates, being designated the Bayonet Sub-Machine Gun (Aust.) No.1 Mk II. Originally this design was to have a new made 8 inch blade with a 3½ inch fuller, but all known models in existence were in fact cut down form original Pattern 1907 bayonets with the 17 inch blade. The blade, with a 12½ inch fuller, was cut down and the point reshaped. For this reason the fuller is longer than 3½ inches and thins down towards the point of the bayonet.
Both models were agreed upon on the 6th April 1945, several months after the original patterns were first sealed. But on the 13th April it was decided to adopt the 10 inch Mk. I as the standard length.
Owen gun production ceased in September 1944 after approximately 45,000 had been produced. Very few, if any were manufactured with the bayonet bracket fitted. They began to be fitted from 1945 by Australian Army Ordnance. The majority of Owens received them when they were Factory Thorough Repaired (F.T.R.'d) during the period 1946-1950 and 1955.
Since the muzzle compensator and bayonet standard of the Owen and the bayonet boss and standard of the SMLE rifle have the same measurements, the bayonets were interchangeable between the two weapons. During the Korean War the shorter bayonet was known as the universal bayonet and was issued with the rifle. The Owen gun was not withdrawn from frontline service with the Australian Army until 1966.
During 1944-45 the bayonets, both Marks I and II, were manufactured at the Orange Rifle Factory No. 3, Orange, New South Wales. In the early 1950s, when it was feared that the Korean conflict might spread, production recommenced, this time at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. Markings on the bayonet identify the manufacturer. Orange made bayonets have stamped into the left hand ricasso the month and year of the date of acceptance, eg. 11 ‘44, 3 ‘45. Above this is stamped the original pattern acknowledgement for the P 1907 bayonet.
On the right hand ricasso is stamped the bending mark “X”. “OA” and a single broad arrow, the government acceptance mark. The wood grips are stamped "SLAZ", flowed by the last two digits of the year of manufacture. This stands for Slazengers (Australia) Pty. Ltd Sydney, the company that manufactured the woodwork. “OA” was also stamped into the end of the pommel, just below the mortise slot. These markings are the same for both Marks. Most Mark II bayonets are dated 10 '44, but some other dates do exist - 9 '44 and 11 '44 have been seen. This is the date when the bayonet was made in its original (17 inch) form, not the date when converted, which was months later.
The original 100 Trials Shortened and Lightened Bayonets were also produced at Orange and differed from the production models only in that they had only the maker's mark and bend mark stamped into the face of the right ricasso. They did not feature all of the other acceptance markings since they were not subject to the standard inspection and acceptance procedures.
Bayonets manufactured at Lithgow in the 1950s feature different markings. On the left ricasso is an inspector's stamp, eg. the broad arrow of government acceptance and the last two digits of the year of manufacture. The month is no longer included ie. 52, 53, 54. The right ricasso is marked with the bend mark. Next to MA 53, “MA” alone can also be found. Even an example without either version on the right hand ricasso has also been noted. Whatever year of manufacture is on the bayonet, all that have this mark are stamped MA 53, even when made in 52 or 54. The grips are marked "SLAZ" and the pommel is marked “MA” or “OA” if a part held in store, of Orange manufacture, has been utilised at this later date.
The scabbard issued with the bayonet was the same as the standard Pattern 1907 scabbard, except for a shorter leather body being used. The chape and locket is marked “OA” or “MA” depending on manufacturer. The leather is stamped ‘MANGROVITE’ followed by the last two years of manufacture. The leather was supplied by the Mangrovite Belting Pty. Ltd. J. Ludowici Ltd, Sydney.
In 1946 the nomenclature was altered. The designation of the Owen Sub-Machine Gun was changed to the Owen Machine Carbine. On the 25th April 1947 the Bayonet Sub-Machine Gun (Aust.) No.1 Mk.II became the Bayonet Machine Carbine (Aust. No.1 Mk.I/I. It is not known exactly how many bayonets of both types were produced. Records show that 19,000 had been manufactured as of the 16th April 1945. A total of 34,662 Owen Machine Carbines were F.T.R.d, so it is assumed that at least this many bayonets were produced.