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WW2 1st Pattern Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife with provenance (sold)

A Wilkinson Sword WW2 British commando's 1st pattern Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife in good condition and with provenance.

WW2 British Commando 1st Pattern Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife with provenance

Sold Item Notice

This is a rare early Wilkinson Sword 1st Pattern Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife held by a British commando in the famous Lofoten Islands (Norway) raid by the Royal Navy and British special forces on the 3rd and 4th of March 1941. The knife was traded by a commando for a bottle of whisky with a cadet officer (John Lindsay Coldwell) with torpedo tube duties on HMS Oribi, one of the British destroyers that carried the commandos and which actually berthed in the Norwegian harbour while the operation took place. How Coldwell was allowed or managed to keep a bottle of Scotch on board a WW2 RN vessel we can only suppose; probably due to the service area of HMS Oribi, often escorting ships bound for Russia, often involved in missions in the freezing North Sea including on one occasion ramming and sinking a German u-boat (U-531). The raid on the Lofoten Islands was during particularly harsh cold weather so the commando probably felt a bottle of Scotch worth the explaining he had to do about his "lost" FS knife and scabbard (as the scabbard was also "lost", this would have taken some explaining). Anyway, the knife ended up in the hands of a Royal Navy officer and it was his son who sold the item to me.

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It is easy to authenticate this FS fighting knife amongst the sea of both later releases of the 1st pattern and of reproductions by reference to the Wilkinson logo etching area (the border is orientated differently to later 1st patterns - the border appears "upside down" and bleeds over the tablet ricasso / forte in comparison with later issues), the "wing" less scabbard (the earliest issued scabbards did not have the wings) and the rack number stamped on the back of the sheath. Unlike most 1st pattern FS knives, this one saw active service against Nazi German in the hands of a British marine commando. This makes it much more valuable than later 1st pattern knives.

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The knife is in very good order, the Wilkinson Sword and F-S Fighting Knife etchings a little worn, the 16.9 cm blade in good shape and firm, the hilt / grip in good order, the original leather and steel chaped sheath in good order with the leather retaining loop and fastener complete and in good order. On the back of the sheath is the number "748". Included with this item are photos of the commandos on board HMS Oribi and of the destroyer in the harbour of the Lofoten Islands. Further pictures available upon request. Item reference number 585 (214).

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