By Dominic Oto
Risk, grit, daring and doing impossible missions are the trademark of America’s Special Operations Forces (SOF). Many American SOF units trace their lineage to the “Devil’s Brigade.”
During World War II the Allies were struggling to strike out at their enemies. A secret unit of soldiers was created to carry out deadly actions in the face of impossible danger. The unit was called the First Special Service Force.
The Devil’s Brigade was a special fighting unit from World War II. This secret fighting outfit combined crack Canadian soldiers and a collection of U.S. Army misfits, many serving time in military jails before they were recruited. At first, there was a conflict between the men of two different armies. Over time hostility turned to friendship and respect. The commando unit was sent to Italy to attempt a dangerous mission that was previously considered impossible to successfully complete.
The Canadians were the handpicked best of the best-trained army in the world, veterans of the fighting at Dunkirk. The Canadian volunteers are the very best of the Canadian army: spit and polish, experienced, and multiskilled soldiers. The Americans were a rough bunch. The Americans are the bottom of the barrel of the U.S. Army: oddballs and troublemakers lacking discipline. Over time, Colonel Robert T. Frederick forges the brass-knuckled Americans and the brass button Canadians into a unified, crack commando fighting force.
The unit’s name disguised the lethal fighting skills of its men. On the battlefield, their Nazi opponents called them “Die Schwarzen Teufeln” (the Black Devils). Too much of the public, they became known as the Devil’s Brigade. To their admirers, they were no less than super commandos.
They were a fighting force like no other. Men of the outdoors attuned to the rigors of rough terrain. They struck with stealth by night. The enemy feared them. They were a force trained to confront danger. They became known as the “Devil’s Brigade.”
They were a hellish band of men that hated each other more than the enemy until they met the enemy. The unit is sent to Italy where they distinguished themselves in numerous combat actions. A band of men the enemy soon called the “Devil’s Brigade.” The First Special Service Force is the most unusual group of men ever brought together to win a war.
About the author:
Oto holds a BS in History from Oregon State University and a MMA in Military History from American Public University. He served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Company Commander and Staff Trainer to the Afghan National Army. He was wounded once and decorated three times. Oto is an Infantry Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve.