Personal weapons were, with some exceptions, intended for defence rather than offence, as in no way was it proposed that they should fight pitched battles with superior forces but rather should avoid direct confrontation, killing only when necessary to achieve surprise or to effect material damage on the enemy's supply lines or stores.

Smith & Wesson .38 Revolver

'These men must have revolvers', scribbled Churchill on one of Gubbins' weekly reports, and so they were issued with these, usually .38 Smith and Wessons or .455 Webley Mk VI. Some Auxiliaries possessed or acquired German Mausers or Lugers, which were much prized if they accepted the 9mm Sten gun ammunition.


Fairbairn Sykes Knife

Other personal weapons were the Fairburn Commando dagger, which was worn just above the knee, attached to the battledress trousers by five khaki buttons engaging in buttonholed tags in the top and sides of the leather sheath, and a vicious assortment of personal rubber truncheons (issued) and coshes (home made). Many Auxiliaries also made their own,cheese-wires' for garrotting sentries. These consisted of a two-foot length of thin piano wire with a short broomstick handle at each end. Ingenuity did not stop there. it is known that some patrols in Kent experimented with bows and arrows for silent killing and to carry explosive or incendiary charges.

Auxiliary Units were given high priority in the provision of patrol weapons and explosive devices. They were provided with such items as Thompson sub-machine-guns, plastic explosive, and certain delay mechanisms, long before these became generally available to the Forces.

Thompson SMG

Sten Gun

As well as the.45 Thompson, unit small arms included the Sten and a .22 BSA or Winchester sniping rifle with telescopic sights and silencer. These were intended to takeout sentries and guard dogs (and, possibly under operational conditions, collaborators and informers, although these intentions were unspoken).


Winchester .22 Rifle

Other patrol weapons were the 36M (Mills) hand grenade for possible use in ambushes and which could also be fired from a rifle, adapted for this purpose, to take a cup discharger and special cartridge. The 36M could also be utilised as an effective trip-wired booby-trap, its firing lever held firm in an empty tin rigidly attached to a tree.

The No 77 Smoke Grenade was also issued. This looked like a small thermos flask, its tin body containing white phosphorus which ignited on contact with air, creating a dense smoke. Removal of the black plastic 'cup' exposed the firing mechanism. When thrown, a weighted linen tape unwound, withdrawing a loose safety pin, which enabled, on impact, a metal ball bearing to set off a cap and detonator, distributing the phosphorus over a wide area.

Some patrols had the so- called 'sticky bomb', a glass sphere containing liquid nitro- glycerine, covered in a fabric cloth impregnated with some sticky substance. This was supposed to make the bomb stick to its target when either placed in position or thrown. It was detonated through a mechanism in its handle but, since the sticky sphere was protected by a two part metal cover which had to be removed before use, these were cumbersome weapons and generally disliked.

Sticky Bomb Demonstration [IWM]




Uniforms and Insignia


Explosives, Booby Traps, Incendiaries

Training Manual

Later Stages


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