While researching the Apache Revolver and the British Commandos I came to realize how fond of brass knuckles the commandos seem to be. Their equipment consisted of at least one fighting knife, the most famous of which was the Fairbairn Sykes Fighting Knife, but almost all the other knives they used had brass knuckles as part of the handle. Some of these knives were leftovers from WW1, but one of the most unusual and interesting is the knuckle knife used by the Middle Eastern Commando.
From Roy Shadbolt's collection
It is hard to say how the Commandos that fought in the Middle East came by these knives, but I suspect they were locally sourced because of urgent need, and failure of wartime logistics. The Commando's Death's Head knuckle knife came from Egyptian shops. The blade was made from left over WW1 German bayonets, something common in that part of the world after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during WW1. The Ottomans and Turks were German allies and used a lot of their equipment. The handles follow closely the same pattern as each other, but had to have come from a number of different shops.
Cap badge also from Roy Shadbolt's collection
The Middle East Commandos even used a representation of this knife as their cap badge. It's a unique symbol of a gritty time in history. Knives and cap badges are still available but not cheap. Real ones are rare and many reproductions abound.
Men of No. 51 Middle East Commando
The revolver was designed in 1860 by a Belgian, a Dolne Brevette... as a Multi Purpose Pinfire Revolver, and nicknamed Daisy, as it opened like a flower. It consisted of three weapons, a knife, brass knuckles, and of course a pepperbox revolver body. It could be hidden in a pocket and used folded up effectively as a knuckle duster, or a knife could be unfolded and used, or all of it could be unfolded and used as a revolver. As it didn't have a barrel, it was a strictly short range weapon. The early guns were 5mm and 7mm pinfire, but a 9mm version was known to be used by British Commandoes in WW2.
Photo by Michele M. F.
The end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries was a great time for the well to do. They could enjoy the latest inventions and culture, it was so great it was called the Belle Epoque in Paris, or the "Gilded Age" in the US. But in Paris, as elsewhere, everyone wasn't included in the prosperity, so gangs of Parisian hoodlums made a bit of their own prosperity. They armed themselves with, among other killing weapons, the Multipurpose Pinfire Revolver. One gang, Les Apaches, was so notorious that the revolver was named for them and became the Apache Revolver. They preyed on the upper middle class, and made such a nuisance of themselves the even fought a week long pitched battle with the police, and it wasn't clear the police won. World War One brought an end to the Apaches, though, and they and their kind were consumed in the trenches along with everyone else.
Cover of Le Petit Journal, featuring Parisian Gangmembers
The last stop on the story of the Apache Revolver is the British Commando and the French Resistance. Numbers of these guns were still floating around when WW2 came about, and it has been rumoured that when the Commando was born, this weapon was adopted and Whitehall is still quiet about their use. The gun was supposed to be 9mm, and is still supposed to be in the Commando's arsenal. The French Resistance undoubtedly used them, since any gun was better than none. I for one think the Brits may have tried them, and rejected them for the flimsy and awkward weapon they are, even though they have a love for all things with brass knuckles attached to them. They liked close in weapons so much the cap badges of the Commando Groups that fought in the middle east featured the early fighting knife with brass knuckles for a handle. I think Whitehall liked the reputation the Commando's may have achieved by fostering use of such a malicious looking gun.
Photo by Trinjac