First Special Service Force 1942 - 44 (Elite) Paperback
by Bret Werner (Author), Michael Welply (Illustrator) (64 pages) 2006 Soft Cover
The book is Osprey's Publishing’s examination of the First Special Service Force of World War II. . This famous unit was formed and trained at Fort Harrison near Helena, Montana from 1942 to 1943 with three regiments intended for special operations. The Force, made up of handpicked U.S. and Canadian volunteers who were trained in parachute, amphibious, ski, mountain and demolition operations and other 'Special Forces' skills. The book describes the FSSF uniforms, clothing and weaponry that had many unique features reflecting their bi-national composition and specialist skills including the use of the deadly V-42 stiletto combat knife. The Force first saw combat in the Apennine Mountains of Italy. There they distinguished themselves, at heavy cost, in the battles of Monte La Difensa (Dec 1943), Monte Majo (Jan 1944), on the Anzio beachhead (Feb - May 1944) and in the race to Rome, which they were the first Allied unit to enter.
The FSSF fought with a ferocious skill which earned them a fearsome reputation. At Anzio, although at only half strength, they successfully held at least a quarter of the entire beachhead and were the spearhead of the final breakout towards Rome. Famed for their stealthy night-time fighting ability, the Germans named them "Die Schwartzer Teuflen" the Black Devils (they blacked their faces and hands with boot polish). Due to heavy combat losses, the Force was disbanded in Nov 1944, after taking part in invasion of Southern France, the survivors transferred to other units. With only 1,800 infantrymen at full strength, they accounted for 12,000 enemy casualties, took 7,000 prisoners and experienced a 600% attrition rate from their original number. This Osprey book includes many rare photographs of the First Special Service Force training and combat.
First Special Service Force 1942 – 44 is currently out of print, however, the Montana Military Museum has a few copies available. We are hopeful that Odyssey Publishing will make more copies of this excellent reference available.