WW2 Dagger History
On November 4th 1940 a meeting was held to discuss the requirements for a close combat fighting knife at the premises of Wilkinson Sword attended by Jack Wilkinson Latham and engineer Charlie Rose is where the famous incident takes place with Fairbairn grabbing a ruler and assaults Sykes in a mock knife attack that led to the birth of the famous 1st Pattern F-S fighting knife. With a total of 5000 official ordered by the Ministry of Supply for Commando and SOE units and training stations starting the 14th of December 1940 with the first mentioning of the word FS in the official order and ending with the first much larger order of the 2nd pattern in October 1941 as the war waged on. Although the total amount of 1st pattern being made with the 1st Pattern also available for private purchase remains a mystery. Unlike back than where a Silent Kiling course had to be passed before being issued with one of these knives (later replaced by a chit system) these iconic knives are now for sale for military, collectors or anyone interested in the history of the Fairbairn Sykes Fighting Knife.
With the introduction of the 2nd pattern, a knife easier and cheaper to produce than the 1st Pattern (still having a brass grip but simpler crossguard and blade) comes also the arrival of other producers besides Wilkinson Sword due to bigger demand for the FS knife with more special forces being trained for the War effort. Starting with the Nickel 2nd Patterns marked Broad Arrow 56 on the crossguard or 60 on the hilt or being unmarked and than later the all black 2nd Patterns and its variants either unmarked but mostly showing a bigger variety of inspection marks found on the crossguard or grip with the most common being /I\ B2 mainly linked to the inspector for Wilkinson but also /I\A3, T, 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 21,38 and /I\I being an Indian Stores approval mark. The total amount of MoS contract knives is more difficult to answer due to the multiple variants besides the Standard Wilkinson 2nd Pattern that make it to the battlefield: the Fat man, the J. Clarke&Son reversed knurling knives, the Beaded&Ribbed (maybe Joseph Rodgers), the Ribbed&Roped and off course the private purchase Wilkinson etched ones. From only Wilkinson MoS official orders a conservative estimate of 125400 2nd Patterns was done by Ron Flook. Maybe a little advertsing of your company where you compare the original to your version would be a good idea after this story. Let me know what you think and of its needs adapting. Again the grammar you have to work out yourself
3rd Pattern with an estimate of around 650000 plus official MoS orders the 3th Pattern is probably the best known F-S knife of the 3 basic Patterns. With October 1943 being the estimated date of introduction it also introduces a very different casted zinc alloy grip with 27 concentric rings being copper plated before blackening, a cost saving exercise compared to the all brass ones we have on the 1st and 2nd Pattern. The WW2 hilts all having a numberr from 1 to 4 on the pommel referring to the 4 different die casting companies who produced these hilts and initially still having the hand grounded blades we also see with the 2nd Pattern but later with the more used, easier and again cheaper to produce machine made blades. Besides Wilkinson a large amount (38) of other companies producing the 3th Pattern to make enough knives and with the numerous broad arrow inspection numbers and letters found on the cross guard or ferrule they are a very interesting collecting area for those interested. Definitely a very different knife in the way of looks and feel in the hand with the concentric rings in stead of the knurled ones before and slight different weight distribution. Our 3th however retains the brass hilt producing a better feel in the hand than the WW2 ones! Only one way to find out and that is to handle the knife yourself, you will Not be disappointed!