Thank you for your question about the McLaglen Peskett. Difficult one to answer accurately but I will do my best. Whatever else, it might start a lively input into these wonderful devices ! John E. Peskett was the Managing Director of Cogswell & Harrison, gunmakers in London, a justly famous gunmakers that developed several clandestine devices during the war. For example, I once owned a "Hand Firing Device" rather like the American "Stinger" but bigger and far better made, in .410", not .22" ! I never fired it but I bet it would have been a rapidly retreating pistol unless gripped firmly. Fully hand engraved with C&H's full name, address and "410" Calibre Cartridge", that example was for trial rather than issue, as those would have been unmarked apart from perhaps the calibre. I add this simply to illustrate that these sorts of firms carried out unbounding work behind the scenes to ensure that those in the field had the best that could be developed and produced. Certainly the McLagen was a similar device. I have to think that anything that tries to be all things to all men, often do nothing very well. As a cosh, this prototype perhaps lacks weight at the ball end and the blade at 3.5" lacks length however, its weakness I think, is the small diameter spool around which the garrote wire is wound. Unless great care is made to evenly wind the wire back on the spool, it can easily get jammed and fractured. However, this one was one of the first and came from Wilkinson Sword who also made the earliest examples, these had a brass body, later ones used steel.
Production examples had a 5.25" blade that dropped by gravity once knurled faced side buttons were pressed. The blade locked into position when they were released. The devices were all, 7" long overall. The steel ball was bigger diameter on the production ones making a more effective cosh and in a recess around the ball had engraved "patent applied for", a patent that was later approved, (No.559747) However, the garrote was certainly a problem and all the examples I have examined had kinked or fractured wire. It was simply too difficult both the reel out and wind back onto the small diameter spool. Difficult sat at a table, impossible probably in active service. My prototype was made in the Wilkinson toolroom in 1940/41 but it took until 1943 to arrive at limited production, all for the Aux-Units. The "List of Change" date was 030344 but as these LOC's were always way after manufacture and issue, bear no relevance for us. As I said, 48 in total seem to have been made out of a total production run of 100, how many remain is unknown.
Whatever, superb history, I hope this is of slight use to you.
Superb! Amazing what is out there. I imagine there is all sorts to be found, the problem is knowing what one is looking at! I'm amazed such a low volume production device made the LoC's. Mind you when Dunkirk was rumbling on the Chaplains department took 70 pages of documentation back and forth from the War Office and even to the king to waffle on about the shape of a badge, so why not all the other departments!
[Good job the clerks didn't go on strike.] Even the name of this weapon is evocative of the Empire.
A very interesting weapon Richard. I do not believe I have ever seen an account of one actually being issued or used, but it is possible. I will attach an image of an example I own, but have never been certain of its originality. Not a very practical weapon either, as you mention. Regards, Clive.
I have owned this for over 30 years Tom, as with all such things, not easy to come by and always way too expensive! Bought privately from a fellow who now lives overseas. By the way, can you move my posting on the BAR to the weapons section, put it in the wrong area. All the best, Clive.
Dear Clive. No, neither have I ever known a McLaglen Peskett to have been issued. I'm certain the garrote wire was its stumbling block. The severe bend where it was retained into the spool centre being pulled through 90 degrees every time it was reeled out coupled to the small spool diameter resulted in regular fractures and kinks. If not issued, they must have been recorded in some ledger somewhere and in British fashion, would have been recalled and no doubt scrapped.
I was hoping for replies such as yours ! Please keep it going.
My example has a broken wire Richard, I was going to replace it but did not see much point in doing so. I am also sure records of it must exist in some official archive, perhaps at Kew? I have only exhibited mine on a couple of occasions, the last time was at the British Film Institute at the 50th anniversary of the film "Carve her name with Pride". I will attach an image of one of my display cases, including the Peskett. Regards, Clive.
What a wonderful display ! I have never seen a double bladed tyre slasher coin before. I know that is a tiny bit of your superb array and the thumb daggers,telescopic cosh and escape knife, I must stop now because the dribble has clogged up the keyboard ! Write more ! Oh, a fellow serious collector ! They don't understand you know, never will.
The display Tom was one put together for one evening only and contains a number of items that have no connection with the Auxiliary Units. All such temporary displays and exhibitions I carry out are under the "banner" of our Museum at RAF Harrington, which I promote on all and every occasion possible. My suggestion would be to select items that have proven Aux Unit useage and would be more suitable for the website. As Richard and others will certainly know it takes a long time to source, locate, research and aquire such material, also on a number of occasions more than a bit of luck and being in the right place at the right time. Through the study of these items one thing I really have learned is the limited use to which many of them were put. This is not to say they were never made or in fact issued, more the matter of being practical or otherwise. This I am sure applies very much to the Aux Units, they would have used simple, effective and easy to obtain items. Material that would not look out of place or raise too much suspicion and attention. For example a lump of pipe being as good as a rubber cosh, a simple sheath knife in place of a Commando Knife etc. I think it much has to do with being covert as opposed to overt. On that note "over and out" for now, Regards, Clive.
Lovely picture Clive. Great OSS and SOE related collection. [I've said that before and I'd say it again!].
Carve Her Name With Pride and Against The Wind are two of my favourite early post war era films with all the original kit being shown.
Richard, I genuinely love your comment about Clive's display being a "serious collectors". I'm going to show my wife. I wish she was serious about me being serious.
[That said I don't think we judge someone as serious just because they have enough money to spend. I know someone who spends thousands on RAF collectables. He has no interest in WW2. It is an investment only. I don't call that serious. He has the money, but no love for the subject.]
I'll have to settle for just being seriously interested until my children leave home when perhaps I can find more disposable income! I dread to think about the cost on todays currect collectors market. Although values will be somewhat relative I can't help thinking that now people today have done more research and know more about this kind of object, the price reflects that. Years ago I am sure it was possible to buy things because others just did not know what they were and sold them under value. There seem to be few genuine bargains now.
Having said that hobbies seem not to be so affected by relative value or the current financial climate. People will always spend on things they love for sentiment etc. [If they can!]. Last year at Stoneleigh fair was a Welrod on a dealers gun display. I chatted with him for a while about it. I wondered if the bank collapses at the time would affect its sale. It was £2950. It had gone in 3 hours. I wish I'd had that kind of daring. But to someone who collects such things that was probably not a bad buy.
At the same fair someone bought a battalion patch and two 201 Aux Unit arm flashes, in a bargain box for a quid. I'm sure we all know its 'what' you know that counts!
Oh, how I agree ! I've never had "money" to enable me to buy come what may and I'm absolutely sure that the deep love I have for my collection is as a result of having to save. Certainly, those bits that give the greatest pleasure are very often things that others have rejected or not bothered with. I bought a small box of folding knives last year at auction for £30, I only saw the top two out of four or five but they seemed fine and I was happy to buy the lot just for them. When I delved deeper after the sale, one underneath was an SOE Jack knife with the tyre slasher blade. Many folk had viewed the lot, few took part in the bidding. I am also, very lucky in having a wife and pal who puts up with me ! 40 odd years and she is still speaking ! Makes a huge difference because you can feel quite foolish talking to yourself. (I do that regularly as well).
So yes, those with a fat wallet do seem to get far less pleasure out of things than I do and I'm sure we probably agree on that one. Enjoy all we do or try to do.
Some very interesting comments. Today we are all better informed, some excellent publications, the Internet etc. Regarding values, as an example, my first SOE Jump Suit cost me £100, at the time it seemed painful, today an altered one at Stoneleigh being offered at £1,400, overpriced though IMO. Then last year at a collectors fair an SOE Saboteurs Knife, (sorry Richard), for £2.50, I thought the seller wanted £250! Knowing your subject, doing the homework, research and study is really what counts. If you only buy what you can afford, be it a little or a lot, and enjoy the pleasure of temporary ownership (only custodians in our lifetime) you will not go far wrong. Also having an understanding wife, as Richard mentioned! Regards, Clive.
Thanks! Informative as ever. I wholeheartedly agree with you that its about knowing the subject and spending time looking, you might just spot that overlooked item. I just need to find the right sales to go to in the first place! I'm sure as Clive says the web has been good for educating buyers and sellers both.
I think my wife is understanding, or at least forgiving. My collecting room [admittedly mainly chaplain's subject based] is resembling a mobile church nowadays. If not then at least she is tolerant. Hopefully one of my two girls will read about the heroines of SOE and I'll create a collecting ally in the home! We'll see.
Look forward to meeting you both at Coleshill or Parham I hope. [I've met Richard at Parham 2007 but he probably won't remember. You might recall my ex-forces friend Tony Mugridge from Shropshire though!]
The only thing I can really add to the mix is the identity of the other half of the originator of the weapon, one named Leopold MacLaglen. He was the brother of a rather famous actor from the time who's first name was Victor.
For a more general intro please take a look at the following link:
The weapon has always seemed to me to attempt to be many things, but fails badly at being any one of them very well. Another point is that I have yet to see any reference to it being issued to any service or organisation during WW2.
A research colleague of mine told me once that he had bought one in the 1970's, it was actually a modern reproduction made in some backstreet workshop - he wondered as to how many sold these days were marketed as "original".
Reproduction or original I'd love to have one in my collection.
Are you aware that the peskett close combat weapon is still on the official secrets list , along with the delisle carbine and the welrod pistol ( last used by the SAS in Iraq in 2001 ) even theo they are still used by a section of our special forces community to day and the two firearms are still made over in the united states today .
If you require any more information with regards the above listed items you may wish to contact the Americam National Archives for details and they will provide you with the Welrods operating instructions
Weapons Adviser ? No. Certainly not. I'm just someone who knows a little about not much. The joy of any of this is that so many folk have similar interest and many more no doubt do but don't admit being a little off the thin wire that we "enthusiasts" balance on. So please, no more talk of weapons adviser. Those who don't learn something every minute of every day are most probably dead. Or perhaps, should be.
Sir, I didn't know about the McLagen still being "under wraps" but I can confirm that when I was researching Welrod at RSAF Enfield Pattern Room, the drawings were under lock and key and not available to visitors. I believe they still are. Delisle, Welrod and Sten 2S remain the finest silenced firearms anywhere. Thank you for your information.