by Brent Werner
80 pages, paperback, Osprey Publishing, 2015
Featuring full-color artwork, archive photographs, and first-hand accounts from participants, Storming Monte la Difensa examines the origins, execution, and aftermath of the First Special Service Force’s (FSSF) spectacular success at Monte La Difensa amid the brutal winter conditions of December 1943 among the peaks of Italy’s Apennine Mountains. In December 1943 Monte La Difensa was part of the formidable German defenses overlooking the Allies’ planned route to Rome via Monte Cassino. In the Force’s first combat in the Mediterranean theater, the FSSF would employ its special training in mountain climbing and winter warfare to scale the peak, capture it, and then hold it against German counterattacks. Astonishing their 5th Army superiors, the First Special Service Force had succeeded in the face of seemingly impossible odds, but suffered a 77 percent casualty rate. Their victory, founded on their aggressive combat doctrine and extensive training in a variety of combat techniques, would prove instrumental in the postwar development of both U.S. and Canadian Special Forces.