Combatives Founders

Set Europe ablaze!

"Set Europe ablaze!" was Churchill's declaration and the war cry of the newly established Covert and Special Forces operations that would strike at the Nazi forces with swiftness, cunning, bravery, daring, deliberate and deadly skills. Fairbairn and Sykes were commissioned as Captains and charged with the responsibility of turning the men and women of these branches into deadly opponents at close-quarters. Everything that was taught from that point on till the end of the war was purely military combat oriented as opposed to law enforcement oriented as it had been in Shanghai. Fairbairn and Sykes selected a group of 12 men, who were drilled through a 12-week instructors’ program, then sent to teach the system throughout the forces.

Fairbairn, Sykes, as well as other former Shanghai Police officers who were also expert in Fairbairn's methods were assigned as instructors to various elite forces and covert intelligence units spanning the U.K. These included:

  • Commando units
  • Paratroopers
  • Secret Intelligence Service (S.I.S./M.I.6)
  • Special Operations Executive (S.O.E.)
  • Royal Marines
  • British Home Guard (who received special instruction as resistance fighters).

Under the heading of "Silent Killing" Fairbairn and Sykes devised a number of nasty methods for dealing with an enemy which were classified. This fighting system was designed for use without firearms, or when the use of firearms was detrimental. It was divided into six segments and they were taught in addition to unarmed combat and the of use small arms.

William Ewart "Dan" FairbairnIn March 1942 Fairbairn arrived in Canada for temporary duty, where at the command of the B.S.C. (British Security Co-ordinator) he taught his methods to covert operatives at “Camp-X”, (also known as Special Training School No. 103).

While William Fairbairn was teaching at “Camp-X” in Canada Eric Sykes remained in England. He was engaged as a supervisor to S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive) personnel engaged in covert action, sabotage, espionage, and assassination in German occupied Europe carrying out Winston Churchill’s war cry.

Επίδειξη τεχνικής του Fairbairn στον ApplegateShortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbour which forced the until then neutral United States’ entry into the war against the axis powers, Fairbairn was actively engaged in instructing U.S. personnel at “Area-B”, a secret training camp in Maryland, (there is speculation that this was already taking place before the official declaration of war). This camp was one of several "schools" that were set up to train covert operatives assigned to the O.S.S. established in 1942 (Office of Strategic Services – forefather of the C.I.A. established 1945). For a time Fairbairn had a very busy, divided schedule, between “Camp-X” in Canada, and “Area-B” in Maryland U.S.A. However, it was not long before the O.S.S. would claim his full attention.

According to “The Secret War Report of the O.S.S.”, authored by Kermit Roosevelt, wherein Fairbairn and the training of O.S.S. personnel is referenced, Fairbairn did not use the term “Defendu” for his wartime combative method as he had in Shanghai. It was referred to simply as “The Fairbairn System”.