The World's First SWAT Team: W. E. Fairbairn and the Shanghai Municipal Police Reserve Unit

The World's First SWAT Team: W. E. Fairbairn and the Shanghai Municipal Police Reserve Unit

by Leroy Thompson


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In turbulent Shanghai in the years between the World Wars, the International Settlement was a mercantile powerhouse that faced unrest from Communist labor unions, criminal gangs, spies, political agitators, armed kidnappers and assassins. Adjoining the Settlement were the French Concession and the Chinese city, both hotbeds of intrigue and crime themselves. Called the most sinful in the world, the Settlement relied on its police: the Shanghai Municipal Police, one of the most advanced forces in the world.

After an incident in 1926 when the police fired upon demonstrators, which resulted in unrest and strikes, W. E. Fairbairn was charged with forming a specialized unit to deal with riots and armed encounters. The resulting Reserve Unit became the prototype for future SWAT teams, as it developed tactics for using snipers in barricade and hostage incidents, techniques for use of the submachine gun during raids, hostage rescue tactics, aggressive riot-dispersal tactics and various other tactical innovations. Out of the experiences of the unit came many of the techniques later taught by W. E. Fairbairn, E. A. Sykes, Pat O'Neill and others to the Commandos, Rangers, SOE, OSS, 1st Special Service Force and other Second World War elite units. Those same techniques still resonate today with special forces and police tactical units.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781848326040
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 11/07/2012
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Leroy Thompson is one of the world’s leading authorities on special army and police units. He is the author of several books on the subject including The Bodyguard Manual, The Hostage Rescue Manual and Secret Techniques of the Elite Forces. He lives in the USA.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

List of Plates xi

Acknowledgements xiii

Introduction Special Weapons and Tactics: A Fairbairn Legacy Charles D. Melson 1

Chapter 1 Life in the International Settlement 11

Chapter 2 Rising Crime and Riots: The Need for a Reserve Unit 61

Chapter 3 The Shanghai Municipal Police Reserve Unit 77

Chapter 4 SMP Weapons and Weapons Training 121

Chapter 5 The Shanghai Volunteer Corps and the Reserve Unit 158

Chapter 6 U.S. Marines, Fairbairn, and the Shanghai Police 175

Chapter 7 Legacy of W. E. Fairbairn and the SMP Reserve Unit 192

References and Further Reading 203

Index 208

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