The Winnipeg Free Press Headline definitively clarifies that this was NOT a secret organization and that it served as a direct propaganda threat to enemy occupied territory. In short, the headlines were part of an overall deception plan directed against Norway.
Left, sample FSSF cap cord for manufacturers. Note that previously this was a stock of Civilian Training Corps cap cord. Above/below wool Garrison cap with early cap cord belonging to Sgt. Kenneth Kelly 4th Rangers/FSSF. Note Italian made 4 Ranger Scroll. The scroll was added to the group however the FSSF patch belonged to Kenneth.
FIRST SPECIAL SERVICE FORCE
Technician 5th Class Bernard Kassoy who took many of the unnumbered photos above as well as others. He is also responsible for the mens mug shots seen on this site from Eric Morgensen
SPEARHEAD VS. ARROWHEAD
THE INSIGNIA ISSUED AT FORT WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON
The 1st Special Service Force was raised in the United States, the UK and Canada but it fell under the overall command of Churchill, Roosevelt and the Combined Chiefs of Staff. The Canadian Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence also had power over the deployment of the organization. It is a mistake to think that the US had overall control of this organization. The 1st Special Service Force was NOT part of the permanent US Order of Battle.
What is striking about this picture is the similarity of these hills (mountains) to La Difensa and Remetania in Italy.
NOTE: Man at far left lands with feet apart while man left lands with feet together. The stance was changed in order to avoid injury. Man right practicing to collapse his chute .
CANADIANS SHIPPING OUT AND ARRIVING IN MONTANA
CLICK ON ABOVE AND BELOW BUBBLE TO READ HISTORY OF THE FSSF. Edit thanks to Roy Akins
The actual Glengarry (Scots Fusiliers of Canada), lanyard, Summer Garrison Cap worn by Sergeant Clayton Veitenheimer in the photos right and left at Landsdowne Park in Ottawa before shipping to Montana and then while in US uniform in Montana. Clayton was wounded at Difensa and KIA at Anzio. These are items (with the exception of the Order of the Purple Heart and Memorial Cross ) he left at home before shippoing out to Italy. The webmaster added the PH to his group as his family mentions that he was presented one in error after being wounded at Difensa.
William Henry Harrison (left and right) was born on 9 February 1773. He made a name for himself as Governor of the Indiana Territory when he led US military forces against the Shawnee Nation under Tecumseh in the Battle of Tippecanoe 7 November 1811. This was part of US expansion west deeper and deeper into Indian territory. He became the 9th President of the United States in 1841and after taking office, died 30 days later at the age of 68. The shortest recorded term as President of the United States.
Various manufacture of US WW 2 Parachute Badges. Far left is a standard STERLING marked "issue" example. However the Force only issued roughly half the Force with these before running out. Orville Baldwin, Force Supply Officer then privately acquired examples like the following private purchase examples by Gemsco, American Emblem Company, Robbins, Durocharm, Bell Trading Post, Orber etc. The above AE&Co badge belonged to Dennis George pictured above. The last badge is a Durocharm and these have been seen in FSSF portrait photos which even show the proper long pin sticking out the side of the badge.
The special US made multi-piece gold plated CANADA as worn by Officers. The EM/ORs wore this with the addition of a EM's brass disc behind it.
There is a standing myth that Lt. Col. Robert Frederick was specifically chosen to lead the Force. This is not true. In fact there were a few men considered before Frederick but they refused to take on a plan they thought would go nowhere. It is stated that an officer from the 87th Mountain Battalion (possibly their CO Onslow S. Rolfe) was interviewed as well as Colonel Howard R. Johnson who would go on to command the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. He would be killed on 8 October 1944 in Holland. It has to be remembered that Frederick was a desk jockey at the War Department with an artillery background. It is likely he took on the job because he wanted to get out from behind that desk. He was chosen by Mountbatten ( not Eisenhower as stated by others) because he was handling the FSSF file in Washington.
Cpl. Roy Leonard FSSF 4/3 wearing Type 1 Canadian Parachute Badge with his US badge and trimming on his Canadian BD jacket. Roy conducted his para training in Vermont. Members of the FSSF also wore examples of the Type 2 badge (bottom)
Canadians wearing the Canadian Parachute Badge on their US uniforms. Two men wear both US and Canadian wing. Most of these men were recruited from the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion at Fort Benning. Other men wore them on leave. Officially this was not permitted while on duty after February 1943. Middle, Canadian wearing Canadian rank on US uniform with the odd inclusion of Canadian formation badges!!! Early loose intertwined FSSF shoulder loop. Sergeant Charlie Mann top with typical US Uniform/Insignia.
Below, Tech 5 from the Service Battalion wearing both Officer and EM insignia. Note Type 1 Shoulder Sleeve Insignia. These were narrow compared to later types. Courtesy Monte Delmain
The second Canadian CO after McQueen was injured Lt. Col. Don Williamson. The typical khaki drill uniform worn by most Canadians to Montana in the summer of 1942. Top right, Canadians arrive to the tar paper and wood barracks of FWHH.
Left, Garrison cap and photo of Canadian Force replacement in Italy Merle Woolman. Note later cap cord with white cotton tape.
TRAINING PHASE #1
FORT WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON MONTANA
The First Canadian CO Lt. Col. John G. McQueen Calgary Highlanders while in England (left)
The Type 2 FSSF SSI which is slightly fatter than the first Type 1 Badge. This example belonged to Sgt. Clayton Veitenheimer. Also US Officers Captain, Major and Lt. Col. rank as worn by Lt. Col. Akehurst. Note that far right bottom is a Major oak leaf cluster overpainted in green. Officers were ordered to camo paint their rank insignia before assaulting Kiska in the Pacific. This pin was worn by Akehurst in the assault.
The FSSF Parachute Badge Background Trimming was based on prior US Airborne unit trimmings like the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment trimming top right. The 3rd Canadian CO, Lt. Col. Jack Akehurst (right) drew the FSSF trimming in a letter home to his wife when he first acquired his in Montana. This is the exact same oval below from Akehurst with a Robbins marked US Parachute Badge.
Above: Officers on leave in Helena, Montana. Note that by early 1943 the background trimming OR oval is missing. Since they could not keep the entire Force supplied with the unique trimming, it was ordered removed from the duty uniform
Fort Wm. Henry Harrison circa late 19th Century
Colonel Howard R. Johnson CO 501st Para Inf Regt with original 501 GERONIMO jacket patch
Canadian Raymond Bursey after his jump wearing the leather football helmet he sent home to New Brunswick pictured middle. NOTE that all FSSF leather football helmet of all manufacturers had the cut at the back in a shape of an upside down "V". Not all football helmets at the time were made like this suggesting either helmets were made specifically like this in 1941/42 or they were made specially for the Force? The Rawlings version (right) is a type worn by the FSSF as well but note this football version does not have the upside down "V" cut which has been identified on all versions worn by the FSSF.
Sgt. Veitenheimer before his jump (far left ) a Cdn Corporal in summer dress ready to "stand up!" and jump from the back of one of initially three C-47 assigned to the FSSF. Note the jumpmaster watching for the DZ.
Photo of Frederick before making first jump in Montana. Courtesy John Korompilas
Type 1 "narrow" FSSF patch and Midland Regiment Cap badge of Sgt. Joseph Tullock 5/3.