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A Stickler for Accuracy
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Today, December 5th, is Menton Day, which commemorates the deactivation of the First Special Service Force (FSSF), aka The Devil’s Brigade. The FSSF was a joint US-Canadian unit that was raised to conduct missions behind the lines in Norway to disrupt the Germans’ operations in that country.

The unit was raised and trained by Col. Robert Frederick at Camp William Henry Harrison near Helena Montana. In addition to airborne and hand to hand training, the Forceman also mastered skis, a snow machine called the Weasel, and troop ship/landing craft/beach assault operations.

When the Norway mission was scrapped, the FSSF was sent to Italy, where they gained fame by taking Monte la Defensa, a heretofore “unassailable” German artillery position high in the Italian mountains that was holding up the Allied advance up the length of that country. The Forcemen climbed a sheer cliff in the dark in order to surprise the enemy with an early morning attack that eventually drove the Germans off of the mountain tops and opened the way for the bogged down Allied forces.

A less spectacular, but just as vital mission was conducted by the Force on the Anzio beach head, where nightly patrols by black-faced Forcemen took prisoners, scouted positions, ambushed German forces and struck fear into the enemy in part by leaving behind cards that read, in German, Das Dicke Ende Kommt Noch! or “the worst is yet to come!”.

Upon deactivation in Menton, France on 5 December, 1944, the Forcemen were reassigned to Ranger and infantry units in their respective countries, ending a unique unit in either army, where US and Canadian soldiers were members of the same squad, platoon, company etc. and filled all billets, regardless of country of origin.

US Army Special Forces as well as Canadian Special Operations Forces take part of their lineage from the Force, to include the use of the V-42 Stilletto in the SF Crest. The SF crossed arrows and the arrow head shape of the shoulder patch also come from the FSSF.

So, raise a glass today to the men of the First Special Service Force. Pioneers of special operations who never failed in a mission, never gave up a foot of ground gained, and set the bar high for those of us who are fortunate enough to follow in their footsteps.

We just toasted the FSSF with some 15 year old Glen Fiddich. I think that they would have approved.
 

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wave man TDY staff
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41,776 Posts
You are the Keeper of the Flame here, Steve. Bless 'em all.
 
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