Apart from the well-known Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knives there were many other types of Knives used by the Aux Units. A fairly typical example I will attach to this posting, made by Joseph Rodgers & Sons and used by an Arnold Beer of Eastwater, Devon. Bought a few years ago via an on-line auction, never checked to see if Arnold Beer is on an Aux Unit database, but hopefully he is. This style of knife would have drawn little attention and at the time quite common to see a sheath knife being carried, impossible today! I have some other examples that I can post another time and wonder if other Members have other patterns they would like to share. Regards, Clive.
Knife out of its sheath. By the way, the Calender the knife is on I also bought from an online auction, one of the few truly rare, and inexpensive, items that can occasionally be found. Sold as a manual and did not get too much attention, thankfully! Regards, Clive.
These Joseph Rodgers knives are truly fascinating in that all the examples recorded have been issued to the Aux-Units in the West Country. I know of one in the Dorset Military Museum in Dorchester, others have been reported in Cornwall. We have an example in the BROM that belonged to Lt. Stanley O. Pike, Assistant Group Commander, Axbridge, Somerset. In unsharpened mode, they should have a 5.250" blade with Bowie clipped back edge, cast aluminium crossguard and jigged bone scale grips. The "Cutlers to His Majesty" with the Maltese Cross and star cutlers marks are a sure sign of quality manufacture and Joseph Rodgers were certainly one of the best. However, the blade has to be one of the thinest to be found on what seems to be a general purpose knife. Why do these recorded seem to originate from the West Country ? That they were carried isn't unusual given that the Fairbairn Sykes wouldn't have been issued until mid to late 1941 and I have an assortment of "civilian" knives either with Home Guard or Aux-Unit origins. This early time I find the most fascinating before our war production got into gear and lend lease began to arrive from America. Totally on our own, under immediate threat of invasion, massive losses after Dunkirk and our police busy dumping and destroying arms of all kinds rather than let these folk have anything without what they viewed as proper authority ! It could only really happen here !
Keep the early knife debate going all you collectors out there.
Very nice pictures.
Would I be right in thinking these farmer, land worker, gamekeeper and poacher types would have known exactly where to buy this kind of thing quite openly, or even adapted something they already had? I am guessing it would be easy enough with a little thinking? Or am I making it too simple.
Interesting observations Richard about the Rodgers knife, you may well be right. I will dig-out a few other knives soon to post, one I recall was made from an old file. I do not believe there was any problem in buying, or making, a sturdy knife. The time we are talking about was far different than today. I still have somewhere or other my Cub/Boy Scout sheath knife I carried in the 1950's, bought for me by my father, it is fairly similar to the Rodgers one I posted. Just last year whilst in Norway it was a suprise to see how many Norwegians carry very functional and traditional sheath knives, though in the country of course. I have digressed, the subject of Aux Unit knives, especially the early ones is surely most interesting. Regards, Clive.
No, no bother buying knives in those days. William Rogers (I cut my way) trademark seem to be the commonest with Aux-Units with grips either of stag or more commonly, compressed leather washers. In fact, these Rogers knives were actually made by John Clarke who bought the trademark in 1873. Southern & Richardson are another much seen maker. As for files converted into fighting knives, I have several beauties, two closely copying 1st. Pattern F.S.'s. Stubbs actually made commercially converted files into trench knives and fighting knives in both wars. I'm always fascinated that so many "commercial" knives are double edged in style rather than surely more useful utility "Bowie" type.
Any more thoughts on Joseph Rodgers and the West Country ? I must get one of those modern cameras, the inverted glass plate type I use is not bad but the trough of gunpowder for the flash makes dark, sooty patches on the ceiling.
I also have one of these Joseph Rodgers knives. I have also heard them described as 'Tyre cutters'. Ron Flook's knife book also attributes them to SW Auxunits. I met a chap at this year's Beltring and his father was in a Hampshire Auxunit. He said that he showed his father two knives: a FS knife and a Joseph Rodgers knife. His father immediately pointed to the Joseph Rodgers and identified it as the knife that his Auxunit had - he said they never had an FS knife and said they were 'posh' - people forget now that FS knives were very expensive, even during the war.
The commercially available fighting knife with the compressed rubber washer handle grip seems to have been the most populous during the war, particularly by would-be Home Guard commando units. The Essex HG history 'Warmen Courageous' has a great photo of a HG blacked up, brandishing a Tommy gun and holding one of these knives between his teeth! I heard that one Essex HG commander, when weapons were short in 1940, just went to his local knife shop and bought 35 of these knives for all his platoon. I've never seen definitive proof that Auxunits used them, but I'm sure they probably did.
I have a lovely HG style fighting knife made from a file/chisel, complete with a sheath held together with what looks like aircraft rivets: probably made by an aircraft factory HG in his spare time. Can anyone tell me please - in idiot-proof terms - hwo I can upload photos as I can't see any instructions?
You need to register with Nabble before you can see the "Insert Image" box.
When you have registered it will appear above the text window. as seen in the screen capture below.
Once you click on the insert image link you will be asked to find the image on your computer.
Then it asks you the size you want to publish it. (See below)
Depending on the size of the image you will need to use the "Preview Message" button to trial the size of the image you want to publish. If it is a large picture from a digital camera that has not been resized I suggest you selectSmall.
You can always go back and edit a post after you have published it.
A very interesting knife that you have posted Austin, quite a rarety. If you have others then would love to see them. Your comments about the Fairbairn-Sykes/Commando Knife support my own belief that it was far more usual or typical for a regular pattern Sheath Knife to be carried, also much more practical. Regards, Clive.
Yes, it's very nice: the handle looks like it is made from a chisel/vice
The blade is like a FS knife blade but you can see where it has been
As I say, the rivets holding the sheath together look like the thin
aluminium aircraft type rivets.
Interestingly there is no slits/slider to attach the knife to a belt so
presumably would have been worn in a BD trouser slit pocket.
From: Clive Bassett [via Coleshill House - Auxiliary Unit Forum]
Sent: 19 February 2010 14:51
Subject: Re: Auxiliary Unit Knives
A very interesting knife that you have posted Austin, quite a rarety. If
you have others then would love to see them. Your comments about the
Fairbairn-Sykes/Commando Knife support my own belief that it was far
more usual or typical for a regular pattern Sheath Knife to be carried,
also much more practical. Regards, Clive.
Love the calendar. Inexpensive???? Depends on who else is in the auction. I was outbid on an original East Yorkshire Aux Units 1937 Calendar last year. My bid was £365. Congrats to who won it, and sorry I pushed up the bidding so high!
I have no idea if the 1937 Calender is the same one Matt. My memory is not all that, seem to recall it was either just under or just over £100. Did you keep a picture of the one that you bid on, then we can compare notes!
Austin, you mentioned the superb "Britain at War" publication and that you have written an article to appear in a future issue. I just have to ask, what are the "other" British Resistance Groups-Movement that you have written about? Regards, Clive.
Grand looking knife and after many years of research, quite typical of the knives that were carried by the Aux-Units from the early years onwards and a very rare survivor. It may be that the gathering years mean that these once young lads are now going but, I always see any Aux-Unit displays exibiting Fairbairn Sykes knives and no others. A lot of water had passed under the bridge before the FS knife became available in mid to late 1941, a time interval filled with bought commercial sheath knives, Great War relics and especially, home made fighting devices such as your example. These were not "stood down" when the FS became eventual standard issue, their strength, proud manufacture and ability to carry out day to day duties stood them in good stead long after the delicate, fit for one purpose only FS had come and gone. Also, we must remember that the Home Guard and Aux-Units were the only forces that were encouraged to design and make anything to fight, upset and destroy the Germans. Regular units doing such things would have had such items removed from them as they were equipt from the Q.M.,and any such unlawful arm could have been viewed as "not being in the spirit of war" and would have been confiscated by either senior N.C.O.'s and officers in their regular inspections. I have many examples of improvised fighting devices, with hindsight, some good, many dreadful but all showing that in those dreadfully dark days, alone, under threat of invasion, skill that in this country went many years ago, these young men that produced such items must never be forgotten. I thank you for allowing us to view your knife.
Extremly privileged to see some of your collection at the BRO at the weekend. I don't think I have still appreciated its amazing breadth and scope. I was far too busy awed with the wow factor to take as many pictures as I should have! It is an amazing collection and a real credit to your dedication, sir.
Regards and best wishes
My apologies for not being on this forum of late - my work's internet has blocked the forum!! It was allright about a month ago but now... so my replies will be somewhat tardy!
Thank you for your letter, we hope that you enjoyed the day, I certainly did. Its at times like that when one wonders if the museum seems rather small however, nearly everything in it has been donated or is on loan from former Aux-Unit folk. As they still feel bound by the Official Secrets Act, the few that are left are a delight, once you get them to talk !
They don't make 'em like that nowadays !
I have just read the thread about this knife and thought I would check out the nominal roll and inf I have on Devon - I can't find a "Beer" listed at all, and there isn't an Eastwater I can find on Devon with Google. There is one in Somerset, near the Mendips and one Beer S, listed in their nominal roll. There is an Ashwater in Devon, but doesn't seem a likely AU site.
A while since I looked at this thread and just noticed the last comment made back in March 2011. I did not check out previously the location nor the name associated with the knife I posted. A brief look on the WWW came up with two spellings for Eastwater and East of the Water, Bideford, Devon. As for the name, this I can not answer, assuming the Nominal Roll for the Patrol in this area, which I have never seen, is complete. Regards, Clive.