Second World War 'Black Devils'

OVERKILL

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http://www.muskokaregion.com/news-story/...WbQnQo.facebook
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PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA - Last week Congress announced that it would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the First Special Service Force on Feb. 3. The unit, which had nine men from Muskoka in its ranks, was the only unit formed in WWII with troops from the U.S. and Canada and is the forerunner of the Special Forces like the Green Berets and the Navy Seals in both countries. Dubbed "the Black Devils" by the German soldiers they fought, they operated mostly at night and behind enemy lines with blackened faces. Though a small force numerically, the Force never lost a battle, never failed to take an objective, and never gave up an objective once they took it. The FSSF has now reached another objective: to be recognized with the highest civilian honor the United States Congress can bestow, the Congressional Gold Medal. Past recipients have included the George Washington, the Tuskegee Airmen, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Native American code talkers, Thomas Edison and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. This is the first Congressional Gold Medal to honour a Canadian military contingent. Parry Sound filmmaker Greg Hancock's grandfather, Gord Hancock, was a member of the FSSF. A number of years ago, Hancock wrote and directed a documentary for History Television entitled Daring to Die: The Story of The Black Devils, and filmed parts of it in Muskoka. Hancock and his documentary played a role in the effort to have Congress recognize the Force. In 2013, the US Congress was considering awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the First Special Service Force. Hancock was invited by the Canadian Embassy in Washington to come and present the film to congressmen, senators, military leaders and the media as part of the effort to pass this legislation. This event, held at the Canadian Embassy, was well-received, as the film and the presence of several veterans put the history of the Force into a perspective that made their courage, achievements and sacrifice very real. Last week Congress announced that it would award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Force on Feb. 3, and Hancock was among those who received an invitation from the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives (John Boehner) to attend the ceremony where the medal will be officially presented. Hancock said, "I am honoured, and to be honest, thrilled, to be a part of this event. My grandfather was a member of the Force, but we did not know very much about his war time experience. Making the documentary was partly to find out our family history, partly to honour him, and as I came to know more of the men of the Force, it was to really show the incredible things they did, and what it cost them to do it." Nine men from the Muskoka area were members of the Force, and many of their family members still live here. There were five FSSF members from Huntsville: H.E.W. Wilks, Myrle T. Woolman, C. H. Rowe, S. A. Boyd and S. W. Burbridge. P P Decair hailed from Bala, G. R. G. Brazier and R. C. Mann came from Bracebridge and J. R. McNaughtin listed Muskoka as his home. Part of the reason that so many men in this relatively small unit came from our area could be that when the Force's commander, Colonel Robert Frederick, was recruiting, he specifically sought out trappers, lumberjacks, miners, prospectors and other men with experience in living and working in the outdoors. Steve Woolman, a proud descendant of Myrle Woolman still lives in Muskoka. Woolman said, "I'm glad it is so close now for the men of the Force. So many have died recently, it makes you sick to think they missed this honour being bestowed." While the unit maintained a force of about 1,800 men, many more soldiers rotated in and out of the unit due to heavy casualties. In all, more than 400 soldiers in the force were killed and more than 2,200 wounded through the war. They were trained extensively in guerrilla tactics, mountain climbing and fighting, winter combat, hand to hand combat, night fighting, and they trained in the use of virtually every weapon in the US and the German arsenals. The Force's first combat mission was to take Monte la Difensa, a mountain in Italy that had held up the Allied advance for weeks. The German defenders had repelled several massive attacks in those weeks. The Force took the mountain in two hours, and held it without reinforcements for days after that, at a heavy cost, sustaining 77 percent casualties. The unit fought in the January 1944 amphibious landing at Anzio, were the first into the city of Rome and spearheaded the invasion of southern France. The unit was popularized as "The Devil's Brigade" in a 1968 movie starring William Holden and Cliff Robertson. Only 75 Forcemen are still living -- 46 Americans, 29 Canadians and one Australian. The U.S.-Canadian First Special Service Force will receive the Congressional Gold Medal at Emancipation Hall in the U.S. Capitol in Washington. Taking part in the bipartisan, bicameral ceremony will be House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
My great uncle on my mom's side was one of those nine men (from Muskoka). Pretty wild! thumbsup
 
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Pretty neat. Many Americans served in Canadian Army during WW1 when the US wasnt involved yet. During Vietnam Canadians came across to serve in US Military. President G W Bush gave Medals to members of JTF2 for their assistance following 9/11. I think there is a memorial in BC for the Americans who died serving Canada in WW1. I'm just glad you guys are on our side!
 

OVERKILL

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Originally Posted By: Marco620
Legands of the Fall movie shows the WW1 part quite well.
Speaking of which, that was a pretty bloody good movie!
 
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It was. Too bad Samuel died in it. War is a nasty business where nobody really wins but so much life is lost. Wish we could settle disputes with a hockey game or something instead. Just cant have the Toronto Maple Leafs doing our bidding in that matter or we would lose ever time lol.Go Habs
 

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My uncle from Nova Scotia was in the unit from the beginning. I had no idea what it was about until one night we sat down at my dining room table with a bottle of rum and a couple of glasses and he told me "what he did in the war". He was the kindest, happiest and gentlest man I think I ever knew.
 
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I am greatful for his service as without him we might be speaking german and under a fascist ruler. Thank you
 
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My great uncle Douglas Knowles fought w/ them for the duration. The ignominious manner in which the unit was summarily disbanded was an insult to the men & a travesty in general. One Doug went overseas & a completely different Doug returned. His wounds were not visible. Rest in peace Uncle Doug. John.
 

Al

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I am a huge WWII fan and truly admire these guys and all who fought. But doesn't Congress have anything better to do?
 
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Originally Posted By: Al
But doesn't Congress have anything better to do?
Probably not. Anything they pass will be vetoed anyway.
 
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Reading through the article, I was thinking "hey, this sounds like the movie "The Devil's Brigade"," which I have seen many times. Then almost at the end of the article, it did say "The Devil's Brigade" was based on the story of the FSSF. Very interesting. The movie doesn't make it clear that they sustained 77% casualties taking the mountain. They're Brave Men who deserve recognition.
 
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Originally Posted By: A_Harman
Reading through the article, I was thinking "hey, this sounds like the movie "The Devil's Brigade"," which I have seen many times. Then almost at the end of the article, it did say "The Devil's Brigade" was based on the story of the FSSF. Very interesting. The movie doesn't make it clear that they sustained 77% casualties taking the mountain. They're Brave Men who deserve recognition.
Like the "American Sniper" who "cetain media types" are trashing.
 
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WWII 'Devil's Brigade' to receive Congressional Gold Medal in Feb 2015. link: http://www.militarytimes.com/story/milit...medal/21989267/ Also from the this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devil%27s_Brigade "In 2006 the Canadian members of the 1st Special Service Force received the United States Army's Combat Infantryman Badge for participation in front-line combat." and "When the Special Forces Tab was created in 1983 for wear by members of the US Army Special Forces, it was also retroactively awarded to members of wartime combat units that had been identified as predecessors of the Special Forces. Thus, any soldier who had spent 120 days in wartime service with the First Special Service Force was authorized to wear the Special Forces Tab"
 
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Originally Posted By: Al
I am a huge WWII fan and truly admire these guys and all who fought. But doesn't Congress have anything better to do?
IMHO this may be the best thing they actually complete! Very important to honor those who have given us our freedoms. OP you must be very proud! And rightfully so.
 

OVERKILL

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Originally Posted By: BISCUT
Originally Posted By: Al
I am a huge WWII fan and truly admire these guys and all who fought. But doesn't Congress have anything better to do?
IMHO this may be the best thing they actually complete! Very important to honor those who have given us our freedoms. OP you must be very proud! And rightfully so.
Yessir! I just wish my family spoke of this stuff more. I had no idea until my mom mentioned it in a casual manner when I was remarking on my grandfather's service one day (RCAF, tail gunner, then boot camp sergeant). The term "lest we forget" really does ring true here and it is exceedingly hard to know in the first place if nobody talks about it smirk
 
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