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Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife mounted on WWI Memorial (Death) Plaque...Unusual Pairing!

Article about: Gentlemen: I follow my first post concerning my Brit Assault Vest, which turns-out to be almost certainly a reproduction, with another piece that may be good. Or may be bad. Whatever it is,

  1. #1

    Default Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife mounted on WWI Memorial (Death) Plaque...Unusual Pairing!

    Gentlemen:

    I follow my first post concerning my Brit Assault Vest, which turns-out to be almost certainly a reproduction, with another piece that may be good. Or may be bad. Whatever it is, it's unusual and that's why I purchased it about 15 years ago.

    As you can see from the photos, it's a rather crudely made composition board plaque, faced with black leather with three items affixed:

    1. A small photo of what appears to be a WWI Canadian soldier.
    2. A brass WWI “Memorial Plaque” named to “JOHN WILLIAM KEDDY”.
    3. A Fairbairn-Sykes type fighting knife .

    When I was growing-up the children's television show, Sesame Street, drilled various songs into my head and when I found this plaque one song immediately jumped to mind:

    “One of these things is not like the others,
    One of these things just doesn't belong”

    The price for this strange conglomeration was about $100. I purchased it realizing that the WWI era photo and (presumably) the Memorial Plaque for the pictured soldier could have no direct link to the WWII era fighting knife. I also realized that I was unlikely to ever learn the story behind the strange pairing. I assumed at the time of purchase, and I have little reason to think differently now, that someone, perhaps a decedent of J.W. Keddy, wanted to honor the fallen soldier and used the F-S knife not because of any linkage, but rather because it was a cool looking military artifact that apparently was available and on hand.

    I recently came across this plaque while searching for something else, and decided to do a little online searching that was not available to me when I purchased it. Within a couple of minutes Googling, I learned about (Royal Canadian Regiment) Private Keddy's birth (September 23, 1897) and death (August 22, 1917) and his burial at the Vimy Memorial (Pas de Calais, France). I'm sure with a little more investigation, other details will surface. (As a side note, isn't the internet a marvelous tool for the militaria collector? It's just amazing what can be found with virtually no effort.)

    I also decided to remove the fighting knife while I had the plaque in hand. Luckily, the brass tacks popped right out with no damage to the leather. I was pleased to discover that the knife blade was in very nice condition after having been encased in the cheap, homemade leather cocoon for who knows how many years. The only markings I could find appeared on the backside of the crossguard: “Imperial Gudedge Cutlery Co." A Google search found a few auction sales and a couple of forum posts, including one here at “War Relics”, but I didn't learn very much. It may be a late WWII piece or it might have been manufactured as late as the Falklands War.


    Thoughts, opinions and ruminations welcome!


















  2. #2
    ?

    Default Re: Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife mounted on WWI Memorial (Death) Plaque...Unusual Pairing!

    Hello Richard
    I found this:
    Fairbairn-Sykes 3rd Pattern Hollow Ground Blade Imperial
    cordially
    Didier

  3. #3

    Default Re: Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife mounted on WWI Memorial (Death) Plaque...Unusual Pairing!

    Quote by bichon View Post
    Hello Richard
    I found this:
    Fairbairn-Sykes 3rd Pattern Hollow Ground Blade Imperial
    cordially
    Didier
    Didier:

    Thank you! That was one of the sites i found during my brief search but as I mentioned in my original post, it didn't provide much in the way of definitive information. Great photos though!

  4. #4
    ?

    Default Re: Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife mounted on WWI Memorial (Death) Plaque...Unusual Pairing!

    Very nice looking memorial, with a good looking FS knife, the "BRASS" plaque, commonly referred to as the " death penny " was awarded to the families of the deceased and accompanied with a scroll which i assume you dont have, a friend of mine has the software to print out these with full details of the accounts of death and regiment served

  5. #5
    ?

    Default Re: Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife mounted on WWI Memorial (Death) Plaque...Unusual Pairing!

    Hi All,

    I own an example of this Fairbairn Sykes knife by Imperial Gudedge, which I purchased new in Montreal in 1978 for the princely sum of $12.95 Canadian. Sorry to say it is the poorest quality knife in my Fairbairn Sykes collection (and the first because I didn't know anything about them at that time.) I feel the steel is of poor quality because it will not sharpen properly in spite of many repeated attempts years ago. You will notice a pronounced ridge running down the grip. This is termed casting flash and it is completely absent from WWII era grips which have mold numbers at the pommel ( from 1 to 4). The crossguard is stamped from very thin stock in comparison to the 3mm thick crossguard found on WWII era knives. As mentioned on ebay, this knife's blade is hollow ground, but that's not much of a recommendation to its quality. At a gunshow a few years ago I saw an example of an Imperial Gudedge marked knife which seemed to have a heavier grip than mine, possibly from an earlier period. It proudly sported what I suspect was a bogus broadarrow marking on the crossguard. Why bogus? Because it lacked the accompanying letter or inspector's number that is seen on authentic period knives. Finally, my knife was accompanied by a scabbard marked "Made in Germany". It is of the classic pattern supplied with traditional German hunting daggers which are used to kill wounded game. You can see this scabbard in a photo of this knife elsewhere in this forum. I'll post the reference if I find it again. This scabbard has confused others who have assumed it is a "replacement" for the original. I'm thrilled to learn my knife is now worth $200!

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