Fighting knives used by British commandos and SOE during WW2

 

The Commando knife or F-S fighting knife - Third Pattern.

                                                               

Text and pictures by
Olof Janson unless otherwise stated
.

Special honour should be given to:

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

Who have given me much assistance.  

On the picture to the left:

3rd Pattern WS F-S with white blade

3rd Pattern WS F-S with black blade

3rd Pattern WS F-S with white blade and name scroll

 

updated 2013-03-04


 

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

 

1942.

By this time more than 100 different companies made and/or sold the Commando knives.

 

Wilkinson Sword Co. London marked Third Pattern with bright blade.

Wilkinson was the only company which was allowed to etch their knives wit the F-S etching.

 

Three Wilkinson marked F-S of the Third Pattern.

Knives with both bright and black blades were made but all with the same type of 3rd Pattern Grip

 

Wilkinsons sold also 3rd Pattern knives with an extra name scroll.

 

To support the demand for faster and cheaper production a new cast grip was produced. It is thought to be the design of the Joseph Rodgers firm, of Sheffield. 
It had 27 concentric rings, and was cast in a non-strategic alloy.

In about September of 1942, the so-called ring grip pattern was introduced, and quickly became standard. 

The blade was now machine forged. 
Some little number exists from the earlier production in 1942 with hand grounded blades. 
These blades can be recognized from a small wedge on the blade close to the hand guard.

Wilkinson Sword started the production of the 3rd Pattern 20th of October 1943. This can clearly be seen in their orders due to the different price (16s/knife compared to 17s 4d for 2nd Pattern).

 

The new type of machine forged blade without the small V-shaped wedge.

 

Special thanks to  Robert Wilkinson Latham

 

The small V-shaped wedge is a clear sign of a hand grounded blade. It is seen here on the picture, close to the hand guard.

 

This is a 3rd Pattern Commando knife made by Wilkinson Sword Co.  

The small wedge of a hand grounded blade can be seen here close to the hand guard.

 

This 3rd Pattern Commando knife most likely made by Wilkinson Sword Co. marked with I.

Wilkinsons made a number of 3rd Pattern Commando knives for India.

 

B2 marked Third pattern.

 

These B2 stamped knives are common with the ENGLAND stamp on the cross-guard but quite rare without!

 Read more here>>>

 

 

This handle with 27 concentric rings deviates from the original composition of F-S knife. It has been told that Fairbairn disliked it. However it is a fact that Third Pattern knives with this type of grip and the F-S logo exist and he did not oppose to the marking.

The perfect balance was lost. The handle was also likely to slip if it became wet from water or blood.

There are not many variations of the third Pattern, except F-S and Wilkinson logos on some. The pommel nuts vary and the number on top of the hilt vary from 1 - 4.

The grips of Pattern 3 are made by four manufacturers:

- Perry Barr metal Co of Birmingham
- Walsall Die Cast Ltd
- H. J. Maybrey in New Cross, South London.
- Wolverhampton Die casting Company

Most likely each number 1-4 on the grips refer to one of these four manufacturers. These grips were used by all other manufacturers of the Pattern 3 Commando knives.

Wilkinson Sword delivered 163 565 knives with black finish of both 2nd and 3rd Pattern together.

From the end of 1942 until 1945 about 200 000 knives of this type were produced for MoD.

There is also some rare knives without this mould number.

Rather unusual marked 3rd Pattern FS are  3rd Pattern stamped 42

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Several companies produced the 3rd Pattern.

Here are more Third Pattern Commando knives as the 3rd Pattern knives normally are called.

From left to right:

The mint P3 knife
from Mike Silvey above ;
Mechanically ground blade

P3 knife marked 15
Mechanically ground blade

 

P3 with Indian acceptance I and drop-forged type of blade

(Note the small wedge on the blade close to the hand guard) .

 

Note the different pommel nuts and cast numbers on the hilts.
These numbers refer
only to the mould used to cast the hilt.

 

Here is a typical 3rd Pattern in mint conition from late WW2 production. Made in Sheffield.
The knife is only stamped with ENGLAND on the crossguard.

 


 

Specifications for 3rd Pattern Commando Knife.
Length over all 11.456" - 11.85" 291 - 301.0 mm
Length of blade  6.732" - 7.00" 171 - 177.8 mm
Wheight 250 - 260 gram 250 - 260 gram

 

F-S knives made by Wilkinson Sword Co. From left to right:

1st Pattern; 2nd Pattern; 2nd Pattern; 3rd Pattern

 


 

BREN Mk I

Made by Enfield RSAF 1944


 

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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.