WWII Commando fighting knife belonging to a hero of Operation Musketoon
Anyone who has watched the BBCs recent series SAS Rogue Heroes, will know that the Allied success in World War II owed a lot to the small brave units who undertook secret operations in enemy territory against high odds and in extremely perilous situations. No 2 Commando were one such unit and Private Reginald Makeham paid the highest price to secure success in Operation Musketoon. We are proud to be offering at auction his Commando fighting knife, which has been consigned through family descent.
Ipswich born Private Reginald Makeham 841059 of the Gordon Highlanders and No. 2 Commando was one of seven men who were captured after Operation Musketoon and later executed at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Berlin, on 23rd October 1942.
He was aged 28.
Operation Musketoon was the codeword for a WWII British-Norwegian commando raid on an electricity generating station and aluminium manufacturing plant at Glomfjord, in German-occupied Norway. Two officers and eight men from No 2 Commando alongside two Norwegian corporals working for the SOE set off on 11th September 1942.
They crossed the North Sea on a Minerve-class submarine belonging to the Free French Navy, Junon, which was chosen due to its silhouette appearing similar to a German U-boat. Upon reaching the shore they set out on a difficult overland mountainous trek to Glomfjord, which took several more days. They established a hide-out overlooking the plant and, despite close encounters with German scouting groups, decided upon the night of 20th September to carry out the attack as they were running low on supplies. After infiltrating the plant, the men helped the Norwegian workers to escape and planted plastic explosives around the pipes and machinery. One German guard was killed and another wounded during the operation, but the men completed their mission before German reinforcements arrived.
The destruction they caused was hugely out-of-proportion to the small number of men involved in the special operation and the plant remained closed for the rest of the war. However, during the attempted escape, seven of the ten Commandos were captured, taken to Colditz Castle, and later executed at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp under Hitler's infamous Commando Order.
It was not until the proceedings of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials that the raid and the criminal imprisonment and execution of the Commandos became common knowledge, as the German Army had stated that the Commandos had escaped.
The men, including Makeham, are commemorated on the memorial plaque at Sachsenhausen and the Brookwood Memorial for British and Commonwealth Second World War soldiers who have no known grave.
Lot description: A Fairbairn-Sykes 1st Pattern Commando fighting knife, the 16.5cm double edged spear-point blade (tip missing) marked to the ricasso The F-S Fighting Knife and Wilkinson Sword Co Ltd London to the opposing side, having a shaped oval cross guard with chequered nickel grip, housed in a nickel mounted leather sheath with Newey Pat. button, 29.5cm. Est. £1500-2000
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