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 George Frederick William De Relwyskow “A Fighting Man”

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PostSubject: George Frederick William De Relwyskow “A Fighting Man”   Wed 19 Aug 2015, 10:37

George Frederick William De Relwyskow
“A Fighting Man”
by
Phil Matthews





De Relwyskow – Courtesy of Lynn Phillip Hodgeson


Born: 18 /6/1887 in the United Kingdom

Died: 9/11/1943 in Burma on Active Service


Introduction

George William Frederick De Relwyskow was born in the borough of Kensington, (which is in the City of London) on the 18th of June, 1887. He was born into a large family of White Russian origin which was well known for its great Wrestlers and Wrestling Promoters, as he grew he himself took part in these pursuits also. Although he was primarily a “Freestyle” Wrestling practitioner from a young age my research shows that he also took part in the “Catch-As-Catch Can” style. His success in wrestling was such that was a both a Gold and Silver Medal winner in two weight Divisions (at just 21 years of age) in the second Olympic Games in 1908 which were also held in London.

Lightweight (-66.6 kg) Gold Medal
Middleweight (-73 kg) Silver Medal
Also a medal winner at this time was a man named “Stanley Vivian Bacon”, from Camberwell in London. Further research is needed on this person but it is possible that he was the originator of the “S.V Bacon Style of Wrestling” favoured by the British Army shortly after World War Two.


Photo Courtesy - Allan Best

According to some British researcher’s De Relwyskow was a Hand to Hand Combat Instructor for the British Army in World War One. It is thought that during this time he also taught special “Trench Raiding Parties”.
What is known is that later in 1918 he was based in Aldershot as an Instructor with what would later become known as the Physical Training Corps. It was here he first trained many Army Instructors in his methods of Wrestling, Self Protection and Physical Training.

Inter-War Years
During the Inter-War years De Relwyskow continued to practise and participate in Wrestling competitions, bouts and promotions. Continuing with his Wartime experiences he also produced a book on his method of ‘Physical Culture’ which he entitled ‘My Simple Way to Health”.


Above - Cover of De Relwyskow’s Physical Culture Book


Above – Poster from De Relwyskow’s Physical Culture Book

Although a part of the ‘Physical Culture’ movement of the time the “winner of over 1,000 contests and Lightweight Wrestling Champion of the World” also wrote a book entitled “The Art of Wrestling”.

Published in 1925 this work also included a small section on Self Defence methods. The most Interesting part of this Instruction was the complete disdain for any type of ground grappling in a self defence or battlefield situation. This mirrors W.E Fairbairn’s views as shown in “Scientific Self Defence” and shows that in terms of real self protection De Relwyskow was obviously a very practical man.




De Relwyskowy in his early Twenties

The book also states that he was the “Official Trainer to British Olympic Games Team, Paris, 1924”.

STS 103 - CAMP X


Sergeant Major George de Relwyskow, Standing on Left, Back Row

His time as an Instructor didn’t end there though. During World War Two he volunteered to go back in the Army and served as an Instructor in Unarmed Combat and Silent Killing with SOE (Special Operations Executive). He was so successful in this that he was later posted as an Instructor to the SOE School in Canada Special Training School (STS) 103 which was also known as “Camp X”. The school began in December of 1941 and De Relwyskow was the Instructor who replaced W.E Fairbairn in teaching his specialty of Close Combat, Silent Killing and Small Arms.

Noted Camp X researcher Lynn Hodgson has told the experience of one evening when:

“On one particular Saturday night at the Camp, de Relwyskow, of whom it was said, "could strike like a snake", went into Oshawa for some "R&R" with one of the other instructors. After some time at the Genosha Hotel, de Relwyskow noticed that a man was staring at him and making gestures. De Relwyskow quickly became agitated and went over to confront the man. Some words were exchanged and suddenly the man took a swing at de Relwyskow. In one continuous motion, and with split second timing de Relwyskow grabbed a ketchup bottle, broke it and held the jagged edge to the man’s throat until finally his mate pulled him away from the man. This man never knew how lucky he was for he had just taken on one of the most feared silent killing experts in the world”.


George De Relwyskow on left.
Photo Courtesy of Lynn Phillip Hodgeson


In STS 103 De Relwyskow worked closely with another Instructor, “Harry Court” (The Camp X Explosives and Demolitions Instructor) but he didn’t want to be a trainer – he wanted active service. At this time he was fifty-five years old, one can’t help but feel that as an active man all his life he would have baulked at the thought of spending the war behind a desk.

In David Stafford’s book an experience where De Relwyskow was teaching Unarmed Combat to one of the latest recruits, a nervous bank clerk from Toronto is mentioned.

“You push their eyes in with your fingers”, said De Relwyskow.

“I couldn’t do that”, protested the trainee in horror

“”If you don’t” replied the Champion Wrestler, “you might get your's pushed in!”

A fighting man all his life he wanted action, after his stint as a trainer he returned to Britain and was sent to the Far East. He certainly experienced a lot of action and was killed on a mission in Burma late November 1943.

In David Stafford’s book “Camp X” there is a picture of De Relwyskow lying in snow by a river, apparently deep in thought. Looking at it I sometimes wonder if he had any inkling of how history would treat him (see notes).

His surviving family were also very much interested in the arts of Wrestling and after the War became involved in promoting wrestling matches. An example of one of their posters is shown below.


Winter Gardens Promotion - 1961

If anyone knows any of his family or of how I could contact them I’d love for them to get in touch.

Spread the Legacy, Keep it Alive!!
Copyright 2006 – thebristolbloke


Special thanks to Lynn Philip Hodgson for his permission in letting me use his photographs of De Relwyskow and quote.

Thanks also to James F again for his help and support in getting this essay together.

Special mention needs to go to Allan Best of the British Wrestling Association for his help in additional photographs and ‘grist’ - my grateful thanks!

Also my thanks for their immense help to:

Paul Gerasimczyk - USA
Dennis Martin - UK
Marcus Wynne - USA
Mika Soderman - SWE
Ron E - UK
Lynx – “Of the Feline Kingdom - All places are alike to her”

Sources:

Lynn Philip Hodgson – see his webpage http://www.camp-x.com/
David Stafford – Camp X: Canada's School for Secret Agents
Allan Best of the British Wrestling Association (BWA) for his help and aid – please visit the BWA website @ http://www.britishwrestling.org
Public Records Office
Personal Records and Notes


Song:
Brothers In Arms – Dire Straights

Notes:

I have written before that “History has a habit of cruel neglect”, in my experience it also has a habit of being “appropriated” by persons seeking only to further their own ends.
I have already written in this article that in David Stafford’s book “Camp X” there is a picture of De Relwyskow lying in snow by a river, apparently deep in thought.
There is (in a museum somewhere) the same photograph, except the “explaining tag” beneath it incorrectly labels as him being an Instructor of a some other fighting art or style.
I’m sure it’s merely a mistake made by the local staff, people who are paid to be there but not researchers themselves.
Looking at the photograph it was interesting however in that the art mentioned was devised by a fine man. A thinker, developer and pioneer in Self Protection training in his country – an honest man.
He was never on the staff of STS 103 or its sub-holdings even “un-officially” - nor was his art ever taught at the school. In my west-country terminology “He would never have mislead anyone – he were good people”.
At STS 103 all of the Instructors were on the Staff Personnel Roster, as a British run training school it was no different in this respect to any other of SOE’s schools worldwide.
SOE Doctrine permeated every one of its Training establishments, to teach anything outside of it would have been DIRECTLY against the Commands rulings on training. Action would have been taken and noted against the irregularity – a paper trail would have begun.
If some misguided person were to start claims that their art was taught at an SOE school anywhere in the world I’d ask them for one thing and one thing only – proof.
We have proof that Fairbairn and De Relwyskow were Instructors at STS 103, like every other SOE establishment staff records were held and maintained.
There are also eyewitness records, transfer papers, service records - in a few words a ‘paper trail’ or in a single word – proof.
I’m sure there are no honourable persons around today who would do this.
If however someone were to claim anything false all they would really be doing is denying true history and the fine legacy of those brave souls.
This being the people who were actually there doing the hard work at the sharp end.
That and they’d also be sullying the good reputation of the one person they do claim to honour.
I’m sure those person wouldn’t be able to sleep at nights (on their expensive beds).
More on this later…

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