Dagger used by hero commando in daring WW2 raid goes up for sale

Dagger used by hero commando on daring WW2 raid behind enemy lines before he was caught and executed by the Nazis goes up for sale

  • Private Reginald Makeham went behind enemy lines during Second World War
  • He was one of 12 men who helped destroy a vital Nazi power plant in 1942 
  • The officer was caught and executed at Sachsenhausen concentration camp
  • Now, Makeham’s dagger is being sold at auction with a guide price of £2,000

A Second World War dagger used by a heroic British commando who was caught and executed by the Nazis is being sold at auction.

Private Reginald Makeham was one of 12 men who went behind enemy lines during a daring escapade to destroy a power plant vital for German aircraft production in 1942.

After blowing up the facility in Nazi-occupied Norway, seven of the party were captured as they made their escape.

Days later Adolf Hitler issued his controversial ‘Commando Order’ which dictated that captured Allied commandos be summarily executed without trial.

The seven men – including Private Makeham – were taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin where they were shot. They were the first men executed under the order.

They were cremated in one of the camp’s furnaces.

Private Reginald Makeham was one of 12 men who went behind enemy lines during a daring escapade to destroy a power plant vital for German aircraft production in 1942

The Germans told the Red Cross the men had escaped but it was not until the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials in 1946 that the truth came out.

Pte Makeham’s commando fighting knife has its tip broken off, possibly from where he used it to overpower an enemy soldier.

He was issued with a replacement dagger and the damaged one remained with his family.

His niece is now selling it for £2,000 at auctioneers Lacy, Scott and Knight of Bury St Edmunds, Suffok.

The Fairbairn-Sykes knife is 6.5ins long and has a double-edged spear-point blade.

It is imprinted with the words F-S Fighting Knife and Wilkinson Sword Co Ltd London and cokes with its leather sheath.

Glenn Pearl, a valuer and auctioneer at Lacy, Scott and Knight, said: ‘The fighting knife has been consigned by a member of the family.

‘It was issued to all commandos to be used primarily as a fighting knife in hand-to-hand combat.

Pte Makeham’s commando fighting knife has its tip broken off, possibly from where he used it to overpower an enemy soldier, Now his niece is selling it at auction for £2,000

‘I can only assume that Reg Makeham damaged it on a previous mission and he was later issued with another one.

‘This is not the knife he took with him on Operation Musketoon. He would either have discarded that one or it would have been taken from him by his captors.

‘There is not a lot of information about any of his earlier commando missions because they were covert and he couldn’t tell anyone and he didn’t survive the war to talk about them.

‘It is a very important item with a fascinating story behind it.’

Pte Makeham was born in Ipswich, Suffolk, and worked as a manager at a grocers in Buckinghamshire before the Second World War.

He joined the Gordon Highlanders as his mother was Scottish and then No 2 Commando.

The unit was made up of elite soldiers who teamed up with the Special Operations Executive (SOE) to carry out acts of sabotage behind enemy lines.

One such raid was Operation Musketoon in September 1942.

The 12 men – 10 commandos and two Norwegian corporals – left the Orkney Islands in a submarine, crossed the North Sea and arrived in northern Norway four days later.

The men trekked overland for several days until they reached the power plant at Glomfjord.

After infiltrating the plant they arranged for the Norwegian workers to escape before planting plastic explosives around the pipes and machinery on a timed delay.

As the building blew up the men split into two groups and made their escape.

Pte Makeham’s group were captured but the second group made it to neutral Sweden and then sent back to Britain.

The power plant had supplied a nearby factory that made aluminium for Luftwaffe aircraft. As a result of the raid it remained closed for the rest of the war.

The dagger will be sold on December 9.

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