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Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Dagger

ISBN: 978 1 84908 431 4
Review Date:

When thinking of a commando, many of us immediately pull up a mental image of a darkened face, sneaking over walls or falling over the side of rubber boats, and chances would be that this imaginary figure would be holding a dagger, ready to quietly dispatch any opposition. Of the WW2-era daggers, the Fairbairn-Sykes daggers were probably the most widely recognized. In the title Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Dagger, author Leroy Thompson dove into the history of the early developments of this dagger design, the development of combat tactics using this dagger in the Shanghai Municipal Police, and how this weapon made its way to the sides of British SOE operatives. Though the daggers themselves were inanimate objects, through stories of commandos Thompson was successful in telling how these graceful weapons could become such blood-thirsty weapons in the hands of a trained operator. Former commando Victor Kaisner's recollection of his time at Anzio, Italy particularly sent a chill down my spine.

We used our knives many times. This was the way to do it because it was usually quiet. And we were trained for this. This was what it was all about. We would just sneak up and get a hold of their helmets and cut their throats. For example, we went out one night, we made a little noise, their machine gun took off, we held our fire, and I sent the men forward. I could actually hear the Kraut trying to say "Schwartzer Teufel" [Black Devil] as they were slicing his throat. Then they gave him a sticker. But that really surprised us that he knew who was killing him

To press home, the book included a page from a commando manual noting a list of major arteries in a human body, the depth of each beneath the skin, and, if severed, how many seconds it would take for the victim to lose consciousness and how long before death.

Finally, an avid collector of military daggers himself, Thompson painstakingly described the differences in detail of each Fairbairn-Sykes commando dagger variant, whether of those of direct lineage or those influenced by the design. Many photographs, whether from the WW2-era or modern close-ups of items in various collections, gave good visual to the author's descriptions.

Fairbairn-Sykes Commando Dagger was definitely written to cater to niche audiences, targeting militaria collectors but it would satisfy those interested in special operations in general as well. I would recommend this book for those interested in these topics.

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Famous WW2 Quote
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?"

Winston Churchill, 1935