Although I collect or acquire a wide range of knives, my primary interests have been Fairbairn-Sykes daggers and other daggers used by airborne and special operations units. F-S type daggers used by airborne or spec ops units are especially appealing. One such dagger that I have been pursuing for many years is that of the Greek Raiders. An F-S dagger used by the Greek Raiders is especially interesting as this unit can trace its lineage to one of the first World War II units to use the design: the Greek Sacred Band or Sacred Company, which served with the Special Air Service and Special Boat Service in the Aegean.
“The primary feature that makes the Raider Stiletto desirable is that on one side of the ricasso the Greek Raider insignia is etched, while on the other the Eickhorn squirrel appears.”
The forerunners of the current Greek Raiders were formed in 1946 for counterinsurgency operations in the mountains during the Greek Civil War. In 1975, the Raider forces were formed as a unit under the Greek army’s Special Forces Command. In 1996, the Raider forces were combined with Greek airborne forces to form the 1st Raider/Paratrooper Brigade. Within the brigade is the 13th Special Operations Commando “Sacred Company,” an amphibious raiding force that takes its name from the World War II-era Sacred Company. Harking back to their origins with the Special Air Service, members of the 1st Raider/Paratroop Brigade wear an insignia with a winged sword with a scroll bearing the SAS motto, “Who Dares Wins,” in Greek. Note that the classical Greek kopis style of sword is not used, but instead a double-edged blade, though not an F-S. Elements of the brigade are charged with a wide spectrum of special ops missions, including amphibious raids, reconnaissance, mountain warfare, direct action, counterterrorist missions, personnel recovery, counterinsurgency, hostage rescue and target interdiction.
I first learned about the Raider Stiletto when I was offering assistance to another Greek special ops unit during the run-up to the Athens Olympics. My contact showed me an example he had been presented, but was unable to acquire one for me. A few months ago, I did finally manage to acquire one. The knife itself is of typical third pattern Fairbairn-Sykes type with the ribbed handle, but with a flat pommel. It was produced by Eickhorn, and is fairly typical of the F-S knives the company produces, though with a couple of special features. The primary feature that makes the Raider Stiletto desirable is that on one side of the ricasso the Greek Raider insignia is etched, while on the other the Eickhorn squirrel appears. Though only about a third of an inch high, the etching has enough detail that the Greek “Who Dares Wins” can be read on the scroll with a magnifier. The 6.5-inch blade is double edged, with one edge serrated for a little over 2.5 inches. Given the airborne, mountain and amphibious missions of the unit, serrations make sense for cutting cords or ropes. The pommel is flared with a flat, which would allow some light use for pounding. I also think it gives a better grasp on the knife with less tendency to slip in the hand, though it would still have the typical F-S tendency to roll in the hand. The entire knife is blackened.
The sheath is of polymer with a hole at the bottom for a tie-down. Friction retention of the knife is good, but there is also a snap retention strap. The strap and the frog are of heavy woven material. In addition to a belt loop, the frog also incorporates a military hanger hook/clip for the GI pistol belt as well.
I have my doubts that this knife is used as a general combat knife. It would appear more likely that it is designed for presentation upon completing Raider selection, or maybe as an award knife for special achievement. On the other hand, I have seen a video of Greek Raiders practicing martial arts with what appears to be an F-S-type knife. In my collection of photos of various special ops units, there are two or three of the Greek Raiders wearing a blade, but from the angle it is impossible to tell whether it is the Eickhorn F-S or the Special Forces Combat Knife mentioned below.
One reason for my belief that another design may be the primary field knife is because of another knife I have seen in wear with Greek and/or Cypriot special forces that is also from Eickhorn. It is marketed by the company as the Special Forces Combat Knife. A clip-point design with a 6.8-inch blade that is serrated along the top edge, it has a curved crossguard and ribbed handle. This blade incorporates a slot for use with the sheath as a wire cutter. Overall, it appears a much more useful general combat/utility knife than the F-S type I have. I understand versions of this knife are also available with the Raider insignia, so I am on the hunt for one of these as well. Since this is a collector column, the issue of whether the Greek Raider F-S is a standard-issue combat knife or intended as an award knife is not that relevant, though it is an interesting question. It is the Raider insignia on the ricasso of the Eickhorn F-S that gives it collector interest for me. I’ve stuck it in a drawer with other F-S daggers used by the special ops units of Indonesia, Singapore and a couple of others. For those of us who collect F-S knives, there always seems to be new reiterations of the classic knife, whether from custom makers or marked ones such as the Greek Raider knife. I’ve heard rumors of a couple of others marked with unit insignia and remain on the hunt.
For more information on Fairbairn-Sykes Daggers, visit: http://www.fairbairnsykesfightingknives.com/