Fighting knives used by British commandos and SOE during WW2

 

Odd private purchase knives

                                                               

Text and pictures by
Olof Janson unless otherwise stated
.

The Auxiliary Units

Special honour should be given to:

  • Robert Wilkinson-Lath
    am,
  • Ron Flook,
  • Roy Shadbolt
    Clive Bassett.

Who have given me much assistance.  

On the picture to the left:
Auxiliary Unit badge

 

 

updated 2013-02-13


 

INDEX

Forming of Commandos
The Shanghai fighting knives
1st Pattern F-S Fighting knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting Private Purchase knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting w/o Wilkinson trademark.like B2, Fat Man, Reverse Knurling
3rd Pattern F-S Fighting knife
Beaded & Ringed - Roped & Ringed

Steel hilt and Different hilts

Wood handles.

US Marine Raider Stiletto OSS - Stiletto w.'Pancake Flapper' and

Odd knives

Three Indian F-S Commando Knives

Sheaths
Marks
UK Commando knives; Postwar production

 

Different private purchase knives can also be found. These knives can not be classified as F-S knives, but they have some resemblance to them.

 

Many of them were used by the Auxiliary Units

 

The standard knives for the Auxiliary Units, which were planned to be British Guerrilla, were equipped with Wilkinson made F-S knife as the primary knife. This is documented in Robert Wilkinson Lathams book. Sometimes there was a second sidearm of their own choice.

 

The Auxiliary Units were specially trained highly secret Guerrilla units created with the aim of resisting the expected German invasion.
Courtesy of Clive Bassett

Normally equipped with F-S, but those who were not, were told to equip themselves with a knife of their own choice.

The original owner of this knife. S.E. Essex Auxiliary Units and commanded the following patrols: Canvey Island, Hockley, Rayleigh, Rochford and Thundersley.

He is wearing this knife.

The image was probably taken 1943-1944

Courtesy of Clive Bassett

It is a heavy knife with balance far away from the specifications of the F-S knife. It weights 430 gram (15 1/4 ounces).

It is a private purchase knife  most likely from Rodgers.

 

The Auxiliary Unit was the idea of Major-General Colin Gubbins. He visited local Home Guard commanders finding out from them who their best men were. The most important requirements for the volunteers was an expert knowledge of their own locality, a degree of physical fitness and an ability to keep what they were doing a secret.

 

Men in the Auxiliary Unit were formed into three special Home Guard battalions as a cover - 201 for Scotland, 202 for Northern England, and 203 for Southern England, but they were kept separate from the Home Guard. The Auxiliary Unit had HQ and training centre at Coleshill House, a Palladian mansion, about 10 miles from Swindon, with large parklands and woods very suitable for guerrilla training.

You can read more here:

 http://www.swindonweb.com/?m=2&s=625&ss=635&c=2524&t=Mabel+Stranks+on+the+BBC

 

 

Late war or early post-war

Crossguard of brass

Swain & Adeney are a class outfitters for officers.

 

Another similar private purchase with crossguard of aluminium

 

This knife has a square section hilt of ebony. It has been mentioned by Ron Flook

 

Knuckle-duster commando knife

By this clumsy construction all Fairbairn-Sykes delicate techniques about how to handle a fighting knife are gone.

 

There are no reports about official use of the Knuckle-duster commando knife; however they appear from time to time. Most likely they are private purchase knives or even post-war constructions. Obviously they are inspired by the US 1917 Trench knife. Robert Buerlein mentions this knife in his book.

 

This knife has absolutely nothing to do with the original F-S knives. The limited handling possibilities of this knife are completely different from the technique taught by Fairbairn and Sykes.

 

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Forming of Commandos
The Shanghai fighting knives
 

There are three basic modells of the F-S fighting knife.

1st Pattern F-S Fighting knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting Private Purchase knife
2nd Pattern F-S Fighting w/o Wilkinson trademark.
like B2, Fat Man, Reverse Knurling
3rd Pattern F-S Fighting knife
Beaded & Ringed - Roped & Ringed

Steel hilt and Different hilts

Wood handles.

OSS - Stiletto w.'Pancake Flapper' and
US Marine Raider Stiletto

Three Indian F-S Commando Knives

Odd knives

Sheaths
Marks
Sheaths
UK Commando knives; Postwar production

 

The Stalingrad Sword made by Wilkinson Sword.

 

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References:

Robert Wilkinson Latham His own web site
Alan W. Locken Commando 1940 - 1945
Robert A. Burlein Allied Military Fightingknives
Ron Flook British and Commonwealth military knives.
Fredrick J. Stephens Fighting Knives
Frank Trzaska The O.S.S. Stiletto - Knife World February 1998.
Frank Trzaska The Raider Stiletto - Knife World July 1997
Kelly Yeaton The First Commando Knives.
John Nowhill & son Sheffield
Michigan knives  
Dr. William Windrum  The earliest commando knivesAllan W. Locken Commando 1940 - 1945.