Churchill's British Resistance - The Auxiliary Units


Close combat weapons used by the Auxiliary Unit

By CART member Peter D Antill BA (Hons). MSc (Econ). PGCE (PCE).

It was in relation to close-quarter weaponry that the Auxiliers really came into their own when the Aux Units were first created. They raided their possessions of old Boy Scout knives, over-the-counter kitchen knives and hunting knives, while in various workshops and garages, worked to produce a range of garrottes and thrust / punch weapons. Garrottes, thin pieces of wire with small wooden handles at each end could be used to throttle lone sentries while thrust weapons, such as the T-shaped carpenter’s brawdawls with a wooden handle and a sharpened steel spike protruding at right-angles, were lethal up close, as were knuckle dusters and knobkerries.

Rubber Truncheon


Rubber truncheons, very nearly forgotten by the War Department, having seen riot control duty in far-off lands, were also handed out to all members of a patrol, and they were issued with thick rubber-soled agricultural workers’ boots, similar to those which were later given to the Commandos. Outwardly, however, the members of the Resistance patrols managed to look to the casual observer like ordinary members of the Home Guard although they sometimes wore their battalion badges, and many of them had their uniforms slightly altered to give them greater freedom of movement.



After 1941, most Auxiliary Unit members were given the Fairbairn-Sykes Commando dagger, but many used and indeed preferred the hardier general purpose sheath knife, obtained from ironmongers, were home-made or obtained as trench raid trophies during the Great War. The delicate Fairbairn, which suffered greatly if for example, you used it to open a tin, was however, designed to cause death by internal bleeding with a sub-clavian thrust. It had sharpened edges in polished nickel and a serrated handle to reduce the chance of loosing one's grip. It was made in batches by Wilkinson Sword and some had darkened steel for night fighting. Oxenden felt as strongly about knives and clubs as he did about standard firearms. The knife 'is perhaps the hardest and noisiest way of killing a conscious man, but is light to carry. The rubber club might be useful on occasions; but both are rendered superfluous by the Welrod.' Of course, many Auxiliers disagreed with the notion that killing with a knife had to be noisy and in the early days, that's all they had. 

Read Peter's guide to Small Arms and Support Weapons of the Wehrmacht here