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I watched this program on the History Channel the other nite on the Black Devils as they were called. Fascinating program and these guys were serious hardcore. Joint Canadian/American force made up of army volunteers,mostly hard-rock miners, skiers, and lumberjacks.

They were sent on suicide missions deep in German controlled territory. They were also the first Allies to enter Rome. Their first action...well seeing battle...they had to take over someother island before controlled buy the Japanese but they fled in the night...was to take this nasty well-defended hill. 3 or 4 other division had already failed. The front was long and sloping and Germans had their fixed guns pointing down that way and would chew up the Allies at any attempt to take it. The rear of the moutain was like a 300 ft rockface.

Anyways the Black Devils( which the Germans nicknamed them..get to that later) took 2 days to sneak up the backside of the mountain, only moving at nite, and attacked from the rear. The Germans wer caught off guard and all there fixed guns were pointing the other way. These guys took that mountain, althought they took heavy casualities...400 survived out of 1800 IIRC.

The reason they were called Black Devils is because at night they would conduct raids behind enemy lines and leave their calling cards on dead bodies...or if they were too much at risk would leave their cards on the HQ door or somethinglike that. The cards said in German "The worst is yet to come ". Man talk about a mind**** ! One of the Devils got a hold of a German's diary and it talked of devils in the night and all this stuff...hence the nickname. Also they acheived every objective they were tasked with

Actually the Black Devils, or First Special Service Force, is the direct lineal ancestor of the American Special Forces and Canada's Special Air Service.

What I was wondering is anyone know of any good books about these guys or programs I can purchase ? I'm sure others know of them.

Watching the program choked me up actually...they had all these older gentlemen who were in the Force and to see them talk about killing and seeing their buddies die in front of them...I have a lot of respect for them and all who served in the Great Wars. We wouldn't be here if not for them or the world would be a very different place at the least.

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Here's what I've found so far:



Here's a link to the page at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=books&n=507846



Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Adleman, a longtime journalist and editor, flew thirty-seven missions over Europe in World War II as a pilot in the Army Air Corps. George Walton, a lawyer and retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, served with the Devil’s Brigade in Italy.

Book Description

The first special service forces of World War II were known as the Devil's Brigade. Ferocious and stealthy combatants, they garnered their moniker from the captured diary of a German officer who wrote, "The black devils are all around us every time we come into line and we never hear them." Handpicked U.S. and Canadian soldiers trained in mountaineering, airborne, and close-combat skills, they numbered more than 2,300 and saw action in the Aleutians, Italy, and the south of France.

Co-written by a brigade member and a World War II combat pilot, the book explores the unit's unique characteristics, including the men's exemplary toughness and their ability to fight in any terrain against murderous opposition. It also profiles some of the unforgettable characters that comprised the near-mythical force. Conceived in Great Britain, the brigade was formed to sabotage the German submarine pens and oil storage areas along Norway's coast, but when the campaign was cancelled, the men moved on to many other missions. This World War II tale of adventure, first published in hardcover in 1966 and made into a movie not long after, is now available in paperback for the first time. 25 photographs. 10 line drawings. Paperback. 6 x 9 inches.

Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books


(No cover picture)

The Supercommandos: First Special Service Force, 1942-1944 An Illustrated History

by Robert Todd Ross: Editorial Reviews

Book Description

"Vigorous training, hazardous duty." These were the words that lured prospective volunteers to the First Special Service Force, and that promised, for those who measured up, the chance of getting into the war quickly. Unique during World War II, the First Special Service Force evolved as the amalgam of two Armies, Canadian and American, and the men who filled its ranks were among the hand-picked best from throughout North America. Their diverse and intensive training took them from the dust-covered prairies of Montana, to the bitterly-cold peaks of the Great Divide, to the waters of Chesapeake Bay. Their skillfulness, their remarkable esprit de corps, and their legendary endurance saw them through tough combat missions in both the Asiatic-Pacific and the European Theaters of operation. The Supercommandos chronicles the organization, training, and combat operations of the First Special Service Force during its brief but exhilarating history. Accompanying the broad text are nearly 400 black and white images, most unpublished, including a photo-essay by renowned combat photographer, Robert Capa. As well, there are more than forty extraordinary full-color wartime images of the Force both in training and in the combat zone. Beautifully rendered full-color maps, highly detailed Order of Battle graphics, charts, and numerous facsimiles of noteworthy original Force documents are also included. Completing this volume are over eighty full-color images of exceptionally rare, authentic First Special Service Force uniforms, insignia, weapons and equipment. The Supercommandos offers an unparalleled view of one of the world's all-time military elites, and will prove to be an invaluable resource for any collector, reenactor, veteran, or historian., over 400 and b/w photographs, over eighty color photographs, maps, documents, 8 1/2" x 11"

Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detai...=glance&s=books


With The Black Devils

A Soldiers World War II Account with the First Special Service Force and the 82nd Airborne

Mark J. Nelson

ISBN: 0764320548

Size: 6" x 9"

Illustrations: 30 b/w photographs

Pages: 176 pages

With The Black Devils offers readers a rare first-hand account of life with an elite group of American and Canadian World War II soldiers known as the First Special Service Force or Black Devils. Based on the letters and diary entries of Sam Byrne, who served with the Force from the early days in Montana through the units inactivation in France, the book shares the thoughts and emotions of a front line soldier chronicling his activities as they take place. The book follows Sams experiences after the Forces breakup, as he served in both the 504th and 507th Parachute Infantry Regiments. The author surrounds Sams letters and diary entries with background information thereby placing Sams words into a meaningful context for the reader. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in World War II in general or the First Special Service Force specifically.

Link: http://www.schifferbooks.com/military/grou...0764320548.html


Devil's Brigade

Properly designated as the 1st Special Service Force, the Devil's Brigade was a joint World War II American-Canadian commando unit trained at Fort Harrison near Helena, Montana in the United States.

The volunteers for the 1600 man force consisted primarily of enlisted men recruited by advertising at Army posts, stating that preference was to be given to men previously employed as lumberjacks, forest rangers, hunters, game wardens, and the like. The 1st Special Service Force was officially activated on July 20 1942 under the command of Lt. Colonel Robert T. Frederick. Force members received rigorous and intensive training in stealth tactics, hand-to-hand combat, the use of explosives for demolition, amphibious warfare, rock climbing and mountain fighting, and as ski troops. Their formation patch was a red arrowhead with the words CANADA and USA. They even had a specially designed fighting knife made for them called the V-42.

Their first scheduled operation was code named "Project Plough," a mission to parachute into German-held Norway to knock out strategic targets such as hydroelectric power plants. This operation had to be abandoned but in October of 1943 the commander of the U.S. Fifth Army, Lt. Gen. Mark W. Clark, brought the 1st Special Service Force to Italy where its members demonstrated the value of their unique skills and training. At Monte la Difensa they immediately earned a reputation for being able to take impenetrable objectives when no one else could. Here, in the dead of winter, the Special Force wiped out a strategic enemy defensive position sitting high atop a mountain surrounded by steep cliffs. Previously, American forces had suffered many casualties in futile attempts to take the important target. This incident was the basis for the 1968 motion picture titled "The Devil's Brigade."

During Operation Shingle at Anzio, Italy, 1944, the Special Force were brought ashore on February 1st, after the decimation of the U.S. Rangers, to hold and raid from the right-hand flank of the beachhead marked by the Mussolini Canal/Pontine Marshes, which they did quite effectively.

It was at Anzio that the enemy dubbed the 1st Special Service Force as the "Devil's Brigade." The diary of a dead German soldier contained a passage that said, "The black devils (Die schwarze Teufeln) are all around us every time we come into the line." The soldier was referring to them as "black" because the brigade's members smeared their faces with black boot polish for their covert operations in the dark of the night. Canadian and American members of the Special Force who lost their lives are buried near the beach in the Commonwealth Anzio War Cemetery and the American Cemetery in Nettuno, just east of Anzio.

The first unit sent into Rome, the Devil's Brigade were given the assignment of capturing seven essential bridges in the city to prevent the Germans from blowing them up. During the night of June 4th, members of the Devil’s Brigade entered Rome. After they secured the bridges, they quickly moved north in pursuit of the retreating Germans. The following morning, throngs of grateful Romans lined the streets to give the long columns of American soldiers passing through the city a tumultuous reception. War photographers captured the scenes of joy on film to be seen back home, but the soldiers who actually liberated the city had passed through Rome during the early morning hours in darkness and near silence and were again in fierce combat with the Germans along a twenty-mile front on the Tiber River.

Following the taking of Italy, on August 14, 1944 the Brigade was shipped to Iles d'Hyères in the Mediterranean Sea just off the coast of Southern France. As part of the U.S. 7th Army, they fought again with distinction in numerous battles. On September 7th, they moved to the Franco-Italian border in what is called the "Rhineland Campaign." Members of the Brigade, usually traveling by foot at night, made their way behind enemy lines to provide intelligence on German positions. This operation not only contributed to the liberation of Europe, but the information Brigade members were able to pass back to headquarters saved many Allied soldier's lives.

The Devil's Brigade, a one-of-a-kind military unit that never failed to achieve its objective, was disbanded by the end of the War. However, in 1952 Col. Aaron Bank would create another elite unit using the training, the strategies, and the lessons learned from the Devil's Brigade's missions. This force would evolve into specialized forces such as the Green Berets, Delta Force, and the Navy SEAL. In Canada, today's elite and highly secretive JTF2 military unit is also modeled on the Devil's Brigade. Like World War II, Canadian JTF2 members and American Deta Force members were united again into a special assignment force for the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.

In September of 1999, the main highway between the city of Lethbridge, Alberta Canada and Helena, Montana in the United States was renamed the "First Special Service Force Memorial Highway." This highway was chosen because it was the route taken in 1942 by the Canadian volunteers to join their American counterparts for training at Fort Harrison.

A large number of the Devil's Brigade members were honored for their acts of valor, including Tommy Prince, Canada's most decorated aboriginal soldier of WW II.

Battles of the First Special Service Force :

Aleutians Campaign, 1943 :

Kiska & Little Kiska - August 15-August 19, 1943

Segula Island - August 17, 1943

Italian (Naples-Foggia-Rome) Campaign 1943-1944 :

Monte la Difensa - December 3-December 6, 1943

Monte la Remetanea - December 6-December 9, 1943

Monte Sammucro - December 25 (Christmas Day), 1943

Radicosa - January 4, 1944

Monte Majo - January 6, 1944

Monte Vischiataro - January 8, 1944

Anzio - February 2-May 10, 1944

Monte Arrestino - May 25, 1944

Rocca Massima - May 27, 1944

Colle Ferro - June 2, 1944

Rome - June 4, 1944

Southern France, (Alpes-Maritimes) Campaign, 1944 :

Iles d'Hyères - August 14-August 17, 1944

Grasse - August 27, 1944

Villeneuve-Loubet - August 30, 1944

Vence - September 1, 1944

Drap - September 3, 1944

L'Escarène - September 5, 1944

La Turbie - September 6, 1944

Menton - September 7, 1944

Rhineland Campaign, 1944 :

Franco-Italian border - September 7 - November 30, 1944

Motion Picture :

The Devil's Brigade (1968) - starring William Holden, Cliff Robertson, Vince Edwards

Books :

Joseph Springer, The Black Devil Brigade: The True Story of the First Special Service Force , (Pacifica Military History, 2001).

Robert Todd Ross, THE SUPERCOMMANDOS First Special Service Force, 1942-1942, An Illustrated History (Atglen, PA Schiffer Publishing Ltd. 2000).

Robert H. Adleman, and Colonel George Walton, The Devil's Brigade (Philadelphia., PA: Chilton Books, 1966).

Robert D., Burhans, "The First Special Service Force: A Canadian/American Wartime Alliance: The Devil's Brigade" (Washington: Infantry Journal Press Inc. 1947)

This article is from Wikipedia. All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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I highly doubt they were the first Special Forces group if they came into action in 1942! maybe the first official Special Forces group but never the very first.

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I highly doubt they were the first Special Forces group if they came into action in 1942! maybe the first official Special Forces group but never the very first.

german Brandenburg was created before WWII(they fight in Silesia, Poland september39).

british SAS 1940 If Im correct.

btw only Great Britain, New Zeland and Australia have SAS(special air service) units. Canada have JTF2 unit.


Edited by mack pl
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I highly doubt they were the first Special Forces group if they came into action in 1942! maybe the first official Special Forces group but never the very first.

Try reading the whole topic... <_<

The unit NAME was the First Special Service Force. They don't claim to be the very first special forces group. Although most American (US Army Special Forces) and Canadian (JTF2) and some other SF units claim this joint elite unit as their historical predecessor.

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btw only Great Britain, New Zeland and Australia have SAS(special air service) units. Canada have JTF2 unit.

Thats currently true, but back in the day Canada did have a Special Air Service.

After the First Special Service Force (1SSF) and The First Canadian Parachute Battalion (1 Can Para) were disbanded at the end of WW2, an interm para/spec ops unit was created: The Canadian Special Air Service. The Cdn SAS was soon replaced however, by the Defence of Canada Force (DCF), then the Mobile Striking Force (MSF). Later, DCF/MSF was disbanded and became the groundwork for the Canadian Airborne Regiment (Cdn AB Regt. or CAR), which came into service in 1968.

Edited by FuSaKi
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My late Canadian uncle was a member of the 1st Special Service Force and served with them in Italy - he was captured by the Germans (twice) :) and escaped a 2nd time and hid in a German farmhouse until he ran out to meet a US tank.

He gave an interview for Jospeh Spinger's book, "The Black Devil Brigade: The True Story of the First Special Service Force" (the one featured in the first post).

His name was Johnny Skelton.

Edited by SFLUFAN
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My late Canadian uncle was a member of the 1st Special Service Force and served with them in Italy - he was captured by the Germans (twice) :) and escaped a 2nd time and hid in a German farmhouse until he ran out to meet a US tank.

He gave an interview for Jospeh Spinger's book, "The Black Devil Brigade: The True Story of the First Special Service Force" (the one featured in the first post).

His name was Johnny Skelton.

Very Cool. I met a veteran of 1SSF on June 4th. Even today he has "the look of Eagles" about him.

@FuSaKi - Nice avatar mate - PRO PATRIA.

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You know Im not sure thats fully correct, no expert, but I thought that the SAS were the first special forces created in the Africa Campaign against romel. They had the first pinkies. Might be wrong, but its very american for History Channel who are american to claim they had the first, no dig I love america and all but remember that film, Enigma, were it made out the US found the code book from the U boat which really helped crack the code, but in real life it was HMS Notingham and a daring storm raid of a U boat forced to surface by a depth charge and they got on board before the Germans could destroy the code book. Just food for thought Im probably wrong.

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something for you about Enigma ;)

The full extent of Poland's role in code breaking has largely been understated or at best ignored and the true perspective has only recently made with the publication of Budiansky's (2000) definitive work on the subject. While it is widely known and accredited (Foot, 1984; Stafford, 1997) that Polish and French Intelligence had Enigma machines at the outbreak of war, the degree to which the code breakers had 'read' enemy radio traffic has never been fully revealed. Indeed Stafford (1997:221) accredits only a few lines while the real story is amusing and displays much of Poland's sense of humour and bravado in the affair. It also makes 'classic' historical analyses of Poland by the likes of Liddell Hart woefully inadequate by believing Poland's readiness for war being on a much lower scale. Had it not been for the Poles pre-war audacity, Churchill (Stafford, 1997) would have not had his 'Golden Eggs' (Ultra transcripts) to play with or use while in negotiations with Roosevelt.

B-Dienst (Germany's naval intelligence service) had cracked the Royal Navy's cipher in 1935. British Intelligence had little success in de-ciphering German radio traffic and remained largely 'blind' right up to the outbreak of war, hence the surprise when a German U-boat sank Royal Oak at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. In the early 1920s, the Biuro Szyfrow (Polish Intelligence) had successfully monitored German radio traffic. Between February 1926 and July 1928 German naval followed by army radio traffic abruptly became unreadable. The Poles suspected new codes and ciphers generated by machines were now being used (Budiansky, 2000) after initially suspecting it was dummy traffic. An early Enigma machine had been displayed at the 1923 Congress of the International Postal Union in Berne, Switzerland for businessmen eager at keeping the contents of their telegrams secret. In 1928 the Poles were given direct confirmation in the existence of the Enigma machine with military capabilities. Polish Customs at Warsaw inspected a package mis-directed to Poland that prompted an immediate diplomatic protest from Germany that the package should be returned immediately and un-opened. With their suspicions aroused, Polish Intelligence technicians checked out the contents and found a commercial version of the Enigma machine. Quite calmly and with a dash of audacity, Biuro Szyfrow ordered an Enigma machine from the manufacturers in Germany by using a false cover and address.

Initially Biuro Szyfrow had great difficulty in breaking captured radio traffic and in January 1929 approached the renowned mathematics institute of the University of Poznan (Budiansky, 2000). Secret classes in cryptology ran in parallel to undergraduate studies. Eventually, two students Jerzy Rozycki and Henryk Zygalski worked in a vault in the Army's regional command post in the outskirts of Poznan - a building built by Kaiser Wilhelm II as the official residence for the Crown Prince. A little later, Marian Rejewski joined the group. From 1933 onwards Biuro Szyfrow had been reading German Enigma traffic. As war loomed, Poland in their desperation used the Enigma card to guarantee French and British support. The 'ace' was that the Poles had replicated the machines and broken the code. Days before war broke out and through clandestine meetings, (Menzies who was head of MI6 was present at the meeting and this is described in Foot's 1984 book on the SOE) samples of the machines left Poland ahead of the advancing German Army to Britain and France. The mathematicians reward from British Intelligence - a scarf depicting a horse-racing scene (Budiansky, 2000: 96). British and French Intelligence together with diplomats and leading politicians were stunned by how late in the day the Poles had played their hand. Both the French and the British Governments posturing had been largely pledges of support rather than physical resourcing through arms and munitions being sent, hence the fiasco over the delivery of fighter aircraft from Britain


mack pl

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Motion Picture :

The Devil's Brigade (1968) - starring William Holden, Cliff Robertson, Vince Edwards

A typical Hollywood blockbuster with lots of explosions and shooting. Hardly Saving Private Ryan, but it gives you a good idea about their background.

As far as I'm aware 'mack pl' is correct in mentioning the Nazi Brandenburg units as being the first SF to participate in WWII. Obvious really, as the Nazis started the war in the first place :rolleyes: .

Anyway, from what little I've read about them, these units were initially a bunch of specialists inc. foreign speaking soldiers and many wore enemy uniforms to acheive objectives. IIRC, immediately prior to the invasion of Poland, Brandenburg units were responsible for taking a radio station and a railway tunnel. During the invasion of the low countries, they were responsible for capturing at least one Dutch bridge. After the Blitzkrieg was over, the Brandenburg teams were broken down and they were draughted into the expanding SS regiments.

An excellent book on the invasion of the low countries is Blitzkrieg in the West Then & Now and features many Nazi raids inc. the Fallschrimjaeger. One daring raid included in the book is the much written about account of Eben Emael. Basically a Belgian Maginot style underground fortress built before the war on a hill overlooking an important canal junction. Around a hundred Nazis landed on top of it in the early hours of the morning in small gliders armed with light weapons and shaped charges. The Belgians put up firm resistance and finally surrendered later in the day. Nazi ground forces aided in the fortresses capture and fortunately for the glider troops, Eban Emael wasn't mined. A concern that they had, but wouldn't know if it was the case until they got there.

I'm still surprised that the attack has never been covered by a developer!


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Hey just found this post.

Just thought you guys might be interested in knowing that the Germans trying to take over Rotterdam in May 1940 called the marines black devils because of their uniform, and obviously because of their ferocious fighting.

Edited by chiel_mic
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@ Chems - The unit NAME was the First Special Service Force. It doesn't claim to be the FIRST SF Unit as there were of course others before it in WW2 not to mention through out history.

@Chiel mic - IIRC they were called the Black Devils because they charcoaled their faces (blackening them) and for their ferocity, their uniforms were otherwise mostly US (with alterations), and they were not Marines.

Another quick summary...

The 1st Special Service Force was a unique joint formation of Canadian and American troops assigned to perform sabotage operations in Europe in World War II. Simply named "special forces" to conceal its "commando" or "ranger" purpose, this unit later gained fame as the "Devil's Brigade".

Members were handpicked and sent to Helena, Montana for special training. The Canadians wore American uniforms and equivalent ranks to eliminate any questions of command among the troops. Their work-up took place in three phases, with extensive physical training throughout the program. The first phase included parachute training, small unit tactics and weapons handling - all officers and ranks were required to master the full range of infantry weapons from pistols and carbines to bazookas and flame throwers. Next came explosives handling and demolition techniques, then a final phase consisted of skiing, rock climbing, adapting to cold weather, and operation of the Weasel combat vehicle. Exercises in amphibious landings and beach assaults were added later.

The first deployment of 1SSF to the Aleutian island of Kiska disappointed the troops when it was found that the Japanese forces expected there had already evacuated, but the exercise was considered good experience. The force was next sent to Italy, where German forces entrenched in two mountains were inflicting heavy casualties on the 5th US Army. The first regiment, 600 men, scaled a 1000-foot cliff by night to surprise the enemy posiition. Planned as a 3 to 4 day assault, the battle was won in just 2 hours. The force remained for 3 days, packing in supplies for defensive positions and fighting frostbite, then moved on to the second mountain, which was soon overtaken. In the end, 1SSF suffered 511 casualties including 73 dead and 116 exhaustion cases. The commander, Col. Robert Frederick, was wounded twice himself.

1SSF saw continued action throughout the Mediterranean, at Monte Sammucro, Radicosa, and Anzio. For the final advance on Rome, 1SSF was given the honour of being the lead force in the assault and became the first Allied unit to enter the "Eternal City." Their success later continued in Southern France and then at the France-Italian border. Often mis-used as line troops, the force suffered continuously high casualties until it was finally withdrawn from combat.

On the 5th of December, 1944, in Southern France, the First Special Service Force was disbanded. Its battle honors included Monte Camino, Monte La Difensa, Monte La Remetanea, Monte Majo, Anzio, Rome, Advance to the Tiber, Italy 1943 - 44, Southern France and Northwest Europe. The Canadians rejoined their home units and the Americans were assigned to either Airborne units or the newly formed 474th Infantry Regiment. Col Frederick became the youngest Major-General ever in the American army, at the age of 37, and took command of the 45th Division.

1SSF is the historical ancestor of the modern US Army Special Forces Groups today and Canada's JTF2.

Edited by MarauderMike
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@Mack pl: ah I see, well twas an intresting read anyways. Everyone played there part, just some people seem to think it was some more than others.

@Mike 2 weeks till I *grace/disgrace/inflict/condem your country with my presence

(*remove and keep appropriate)

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  • 13 years later...

My Paternal Grandfather (John Reardon) was a Black Devil. I only recently came to understand this after I started to really dig into this box of letters he sent my Grandmother and Father. A friend whose father trained out in Helena for operations in the Aluetian Islands recognized the significance of one of the telegrams I have. My father was born in Helena Montana while he was there training. My grandmother intended to give this box to my Dad when she died, but my father predeceased her. I have hundreds of letters here - many postmarked Anzio, Italy.

After the war things were difficult for them. I know my Grandmother was a bit of a drinker and I'm told so was he. Her family (eldest spinster sister and her mother) injected themselves into their marriage. They were Slavic and they weren't thrilled she went and married an Irishman from Boston, whom she met on a vacation.  They convinced her to leave LA (I guess that was a station) and go home to Linden, NJ with her son John Tracy Reardon.  I was told after the war that he had "Battle Fatigue" which we might call PTSD today, but can you blame him? I've read Springers Oral History book and it breaks my heart because my father deserved to know that his dad was a hero. I think he was a pilot and I was told he was shot down, survived, and continued working with the military in France after the Anzio campaign. 

I know my grandmother never stopped loving him and died with a broken heart. My dad always had a hole in his heart you could feel when you talked to him about his upbringing. In approx 1984-1987, My grandfather passed away out here in California. My dad wanted to go to his funeral but my mother (cruelly) bristled at the expense. I know he regretted that and he would die just a few years later when I was just 17. 

My father signed up for the Air Force in the 60's - his one connection to his dad.

Today is Memorial Day and I know that no one will be there to put flowers on his grave, wherever that may be.  I know this is a slightly emotional post. My own husband's father was a pilot in Norway, and his story of his father is eerily similar, just change the location to Sweden and Norway. We were just notified this month that he has passed in Norway and it's kind of brought up all of my old feelings.

So. I was hoping that someone here might be able to direct me to resources where I might be able to track that down more information about my grandfather John Reardon, a Black Devil, and a hero.

I now live in San Diego County. Could any of the vets who read this contact me if you can help me in my search. I can be contacted at
traceyodmanATicloudDOT.com. Thanks!!





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It is possible but I don't how easy, to request military records from the US National Archives.
(Includes DD 214/Separation Documents, Personnel Records, Replacement Medals, and/or Medical Records) 
Allot of military records were lost in a fire in St Louis, MO at a repository that kept them in the 1960's.
I hope his records were not lost there.

I didn't realize the The 1st Special Service Force was known as The Black Devils.
I read about them in Rick Atkinson's book The Day Of Battle(The war in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944)
One of the best trained and highly decorated units of WW2. My father was at Anzio too. 
You might also search on the internet for sites dedicated to The 1st Special Service Force.
Good luck and God Bless.


Edited by wombat50
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  • 6 months later...
  • 1 year later...

The Black Devils were a crack unit. Does anybody know the card they would leave on the bodies of the dead Germans? There was a saying also that apparently scared the Bejesus out of them. Also, I could be wrong here but I do believe that the Desert Rats (SAS) pre dated the devils as the first commando unit of the war.

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