First Special Services Force


Shock the Enemy with 

Quick Strikes and Deep Thrusts

Leaving him Paralyzed and Confused

An all-volunteer “shock-troop” was to parachute into German-held Norway, knock out important hydroelectric plants, perform other acts of sabotage, and then fight their way to a neutral border.

In the spring of 1942 As tensions grew in Europe, the British Chief of Combined Operations, Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, introduced to U.S. Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall a project conceived by an English civilian, Geoffrey N. Pike, for the development of special equipment to be used in snow-covered mountain terrain. This plan, named PLOUGH, was designed for attack on such critical points as the hydroelectric plants in Norway upon which the Germans depended for mining valuable ores.

It was clear that these troops would have to be raised and trained differently from other units. 

Canada and United States agreed to deliver such a force.

General Marshall concluded that an elite force recruited in Canada and the United States would be the best military organization for conducting the raids and strikes; he selected an American, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Tryon Frederick, to assemble, organize, train, and command the U.S.-Canadian 1st Special Service Force.

Made up of three regiments of two battalions each, the unit became a separate branch of the service, with the crossed arrows of the Indian Scouts, by then inactivated, as its insignia. The men were trained in demolitions, rock-climbing, amphibious assault, and ski techniques, and were given basic airborne instruction.

Members of the force were all volunteers, handpicked from their respective army units. Every member, whether being officers or from the ranks, had to undergo a detailed examination, which would determine if the candidates possessed the desired attributes. Those not chosen were simply returned to their units while selectees were sent to Helena, Montana, as construction of the training camp, Fort William Harrison, neared completion.

"The Devil's Brigade"  

"The black devils are all around us every time we come into line and we never hear them."

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