History

Wars & Campaigns

Boer War
First World War

►►Western Front

►►►Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

►►Allied Offensive: 1916

►►►Allied Offensives: 1917

►►►German Offensive: 1918

►►►Advance to Victory: 1918

►►Siberia
Second World War
►►War Against Japan

►►Italian Campaign

►►►Sicily

►►►Southern Italy

►►►The Sangro and Moro

►►►Battles of the FSSF

►►►Cassino

►►►Liri Valley

►►►Advance to Florence

►►►Gothic Line

►►►Winter Lines
►►North-West Europe

►►►Normandy
►►►Southern France
►►►Channel Ports

►►►Scheldt
►►►Nijmegen Salient

►►►Rhineland

►►►Final Phase
Korean War
Cold War
Gulf War

Operations 

GAUNTLET Aug 1941

(Spitsbergen)

HUSKY Jul 1943

 (Sicily)

COTTAGE Aug 1943

 (Kiska)

TIMBERWOLF Oct 1943

(Italy)

OVERLORD Jun 1944

(Normandy)

MARKET-GARDEN Sep 44

(Arnhem)

BERLIN Nov 1944

(Nijmegen)

VERITABLE Feb 1945

(Rhineland)

Battle Honours

Boer War

►Paardeberg

18 Feb 00

First World War
Western Front
Trench Warfare: 1914-1916

Ypres, 1915

22 Apr-25 May 15

Gravenstafel

22-23 Apr 15

St. Julien

24 Apr-4 May 15

Frezenberg

8-13 May 15

Bellewaarde

24-25 May 15

Festubert, 1915

15-25 May 15

Mount Sorrel

2-13 Jun 16

Allied Offensive: 1916

►Somme, 1916

1 Jul-18 Nov 16

►Albert

.1-13 Jul 16

►Bazentin

.14-17 Jul 16

►Pozieres

.23 Jul-3 Sep 16

►Guillemont

.3-6 Sep 16

►Ginchy

.9 Sep 16

Flers-Courcelette

15-22 Sep 16

Thiepval

26-29 Sep 16

►Le Transloy

. 1-18 Oct 16

Ancre Heights

1 Oct-11 Nov 16

Ancre, 1916

13-18 Nov 16

Allied Offensives: 1917

►Arras 1917

8 Apr-4 May 17

Vimy, 1917

.9-14 Apr 17

Arleux

28-29 Apr 17

►Scarpe, 1917

.3-4 May17

►Hill 70

.15-25 Aug 17

►Messines, 1917

.7-14 Jun 17

►Ypres, 1917

..31 Jul-10 Nov 17

►Pilckem

31 Jul-2 Aug 17

►Langemarck, 1917

.16-18 Aug 17

►Menin Road

.20-25 Sep 17

►Polygon Wood

26 Sep-3 Oct 17

►Broodseinde

.4 Oct 17

►Poelcapelle

.9 Oct 17

►Passchendaele

.12 Oct 17

►Cambrai, 1917

20 Nov-3 Dec 17

German Offensive: 1918

►Somme, 1918

.21 Mar-5 Apr 18

►St. Quentin

.21-23 Mar 18

►Bapaume, 1918

.24-25 Mar 18

►Rosieres

.26-27 Mar 18

►Avre

.4 Apr 18

►Lys

.9-29 Apr 18

►Estaires

.9-11 Apr 18

►Messines, 1918

.10-11 Apr 18

►Bailleul

.13-15 Apr 18

►Kemmel

.17-19 Apr 18

Advance to Victory: 1918

Amiens

8-11 Aug 18

►Arras, 1918

.26 Aug-3 Sep 18

►Scarpe, 1918

26-30 Aug 18.

►Drocourt-Queant

.2-3 Sep 18

►Hindenburg Line

.12 Sep-9 Oct 18

►Canal du Nord

.27 Sep-2 Oct 18

►St. Quentin Canal .29 Sep-2 Oct 18
►Epehy

3-5 Oct 18

►Cambrai, 1918

.8-9 Oct 18

►Valenciennes

.1-2 Nov 18

►Sambre

.4 Nov 18

►Pursuit to Mons .28 Sep-11Nov

Second World War

War Against Japan

South-East Asia

Hong Kong

 8-25 Dec 41

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily

Landing in Sicily 

   9-12 Jul 43

Grammichele 

15 Jul 43

Piazza Armerina

16-17 Jul 43

Valguarnera

17-19 Jul 43

Assoro 

  20-22 Jul 43

Leonforte

 21-22 Jul 43

Agira

24-28 Jul 43

Adrano 

29 Jul-7 Aug 43

Catenanuova

29-30 Jul 43

Regalbuto

29 Jul-3 Aug 43

Centuripe

  31 Jul-3 Aug 43

Troina Valley

 2-6 Aug 43

Pursuit to Messina

 2-17 Aug 43

 Southern Italy

Landing at Reggio

 3 Sep 43

Potenza 19-20 Sep 43
Motta Montecorvino 1-3 Oct 43
Termoli 3-6 Oct 43
Monte San Marco 6-7 Oct 43
Gambatesa 7-8 Oct 43
Campobasso 11-14 Oct 43
Baranello 17-18 Oct 43
Colle d'Anchise 22-24 Oct 43
Torella 24-27 Oct 43

The Sangro and Moro

The Sangro

19 Nov-3 Dec 43

Castel di Sangro

.23-24 Nov 43

The Moro

5-7 Dec 43

San Leonardo

8-9 Dec 43

The Gully

..10-19 Dec 43

Casa Berardi

 ..14-15 Dec 43

Ortona

20-28 Dec 43

San Nicola-San

.31 Dec 43

Tommaso

.
Point 59/ 29 Dec 43-

Torre Mucchia

4 Jan 44

Battles of the FSSF
Monte Camino

.5 Nov-9 Dec 43

Monte la Difensa-

2-8 Dec 43

 Monte la Remetanea

.
Hill 720

25 Dec 43

Monte Majo

3-8 Jan 44.

Radicosa

4 Jan 44

Monte Vischiataro

8 Jan 44

Anzio

22 Jan-22 May 44

Rome

.22 May-4 Jun 44

Advance

.22 May-22 Jun 44

to the Tiber

.
►Monte Arrestino

25 May 44

►Rocca Massima

27 May 44

►Colle Ferro

2 Jun 44

Cassino
►Cassino II

11-18 May 44

►Gustav Line

11-18 May 44

►Sant' Angelo in

13 May 44

Teodice

.
►Pignataro

14-15 May 44

Liri Valley
Liri Valley

18-30 May 44

►Hitler Line

18-24 May 44

►Aquino

18-24 May 44

►Melfa Crossing

24-25 May 44

►Ceprano

26-27 May 44

►Torrice Crossroads

30 May 44

Advance to Florence
Advance

17 Jul-10 Aug 44

to Florence

.
Trasimene Line

20-30 Jun 44

Sanfatucchio

20-21 Jun 44

Arezzo

4-17 Jul 44

Cerrone

25 - 31 Aug 44

Gothic Line
►Gothic Line

25 Aug-22 Sep 44

►Monteciccardo

27-28 Aug 44

►Montecchio

30-31 Aug 44

►Point 204 (Pozzo Alto)

31 Aug 44

►Monte Luro

1 Sep 44

►Borgo Santa Maria

1 Sep 44

►Tomba di Pesaro

1-2 Sep 44

►Coriano

3-15 Sep 44

►Lamone Crossing

2-13 Sep 44

Winter Lines
►Rimini Line

14-21 Sep 44

►San Martino-

14-18 Sep 44

San Lorenzo

.
►San Fortunato

18-20 Sep 44

►Casale

23-25 Sep 44

►Sant' Angelo

11-15 Sep 44

 in Salute

.
►Bulgaria Village

13-14 Sep 44

►Cesena

15-20 Sep 44

►Pisciatello

16-19 Sep 44

►Savio Bridgehead

20-23 Sep 44

►Monte La Pieve

13-19 Oct 44

►Monte Spaduro

19-24 Oct 44

►Monte San Bartolo

11-14 Nov 44

►Capture of Ravenna

3-4 Dec 44

►Naviglio Canal

12-15 Dec 44

►Fosso Vecchio

16-18 Dec 44

►Fosso Munio

19-21 Dec 44

►Conventello-

2-6 Jan 45

Comacchio

.
►Granarolo

3-5 Jan 44

Northwest Europe
Dieppe

19 Aug 42

Battle of Normandy
Normandy Landing

6 Jun 44

Authie

7 Jun 44

Putot-en-Bessin

8 Jun 44

Bretteville

8-9 Jun 44

       -l'Orgueilleuse .
Le Mesnil-Patry

11 Jun 44

Carpiquet

4-5 Jul 44

Caen

4-18 Jul 44

The Orne (Buron)

8-9 Jul 44

Bourguébus Ridge

18-23 Jul 44

Faubourg-de-

18-19 Jul 44

       Vaucelles .
St. André-sur-Orne

19-23 Jul 44

Maltôt

22-23 Jul 44

Verrières Ridge-Tilly--

25 Jul 44

         la-Campagne .
Falaise

7-22 Aug 44

►Falaise Road

7-9 Aug 44

►Quesnay Road

10-11 Aug 44

Clair Tizon

11-13 Aug 44

►The Laison

14-17 Aug 44

►Chambois

18-22 Aug 44

►St. Lambert-sur-

19-22 Aug 44

       Dives

.

Dives Crossing

17-20 Aug 44

Forêt de la Londe

27-29 Aug 44

The Seine, 1944

25-28 Aug 44

Southern France
Southern France

15-28 Aug 44

Channel Ports
Dunkirk, 1944

8-15 Sep 44

Le Havre

1-12 Sep 44

Moerbrugge

8-10 Sep 44

Moerkerke

13-14 Sep 44

Boulogne, 1944

17-22 Sep 44

Calais, 1944

25 Sep-1 Oct 44

Wyneghem

21-22 Sep 44

Antwerp-Turnhout

   24-29 Sep 44

Canal

.

The Scheldt

The Scheldt

1 Oct-8 Nov 44

Leopold Canal

6-16 Oct-44

►Woensdrecht

1-27 Oct 44

Savojaards Platt

9-10 Oct 44

Breskens Pocket

11 Oct -3 Nov 44

►The Lower Maas

20 Oct -7 Nov 44

►South Beveland

 24-31 Oct 44

Walcheren

31 Oct -4 Nov 44

Causeway

.

Nijmegen Salient
Ardennes

Dec 44-Jan 45

Kapelsche Veer

31 Dec 44-

.

21Jan 45

The Roer

16-31 Jan 45

Rhineland
The Rhineland

8 Feb-10 Mar 45

►The Reichswald

8-13 Feb 45

►Waal Flats

8-15 Feb 45

►Moyland Wood

14-21 Feb 45

►Goch-Calcar Road

19-21 Feb 45

►The Hochwald

26 Feb-

.

4 Mar 45

►Veen

6-10 Mar 45

►Xanten

8-9 Mar 45

Final Phase
The Rhine

23 Mar-1 Apr 45

►Emmerich-Hoch

28 Mar-1 Apr 45

Elten

.
►Twente Canal

2-4 Apr 45

Zutphen

6-8 Apr 45

Deventer

8-11 Apr 45

Arnhem, 1945

12-14 Apr 45

Apeldoorn

11-17 Apr 45

Groningen

13-16 Apr 45

Friesoythe

14 Apr 45

►Ijselmeer

15-18 Apr 45

Küsten Canal

17-24 Apr 45

Wagenborgen

21-23 Apr 45

Delfzijl Pocket

23 Apr-2 May 45

Leer

28-29 Apr 45

Bad Zwischenahn

23 Apr-4 May 45

Oldenburg

27 Apr-5 May 45

Korean War
Kapyong

21-25 Apr 51

Domestic Missions

FLQ Crisis

International Missions

ICCS            Vietnam 1973

MFO                 Sinai 1986-

Peacekeeping

UNMOGIP

India 1948-1979

UNTSO

 Israel 1948-    ....

UNEF

Egypt 1956-1967

UNOGIL

Lebanon 1958    ....

ONUC

 Congo 1960-1964

UNYOM

Yemen 1963-1964

UNTEA

W. N. Guinea 1963-1964

UNIFCYP

 Cyprus 1964-    ....

DOMREP

D. Republic 1965-1966

UNIPOM

Kashmir 1965-1966

UNEFME

Egypt 1973-1979

UNDOF

Golan 1974-    ....

UNIFIL

 Lebanon 1978    ....

UNGOMAP

Afghanistan 1988-90

UNIIMOG

Iran-Iraq 1988-1991

UNTAG

Namibia 1989-1990

ONUCA

C. America 1989-1992

UNIKOM

Kuwait 1991    ....

MINURSO

W. Sahara 1991    ....

ONUSAL

El Salvador 1991    ....

UNAMIC

Cambodia 1991-1992

UNAVEM II

Angola 1991-1997

UNPROFOR

Yugosla. 1992-1995

UNTAC

Cambodia 1992-1993

UNOSOM

Somalia 1992-1993

ONUMOZ

Mozambiq. 1993-1994

UNOMUR

 Rwanda 1993    ....

UNAMIR

Rwanda 1993-1996

UNMIH

Haiti 1993-1996

UNMIBH

Bosnia/Herz.1993-1996

UNMOP

Prevlaka 1996-2001

UNSMIH

Haiti 1996-1997

MINUGUA

Guatemala 1994-1997

UNTMIH

Haiti 1997    ....

MIPONUH

 Haiti 1997    ....

MINURCA

C.Afr.Rep. 1998-1999

INTERFET

E. Timor 1999-2000

UNAMSIL

Sie. Leone 1999-2005

UNTAET

E. Timor 1999-2000

Exercises

 

Battles of the First Special Service Force

The Battles of the First Special Service Force are grouped as a separate phase of the Italian Campaign of the Second World War for administrative purposes by the webmaster.

Background

The First Special Service Force was a unique special force described in detail in another article on the site. Recruited from both American and Canadian volunteers, the Force was in reality a small brigade of specialist troops of soldiers trained in parachute, mountain and amphibious operations. Originally founded for commando missions in Norway, the Force was trained in Montana, then dispatched to the Aleutians in 1943, after which it was sent to Italy where it was employed as mountain troops. Administratively, the Canadian contingent - originally 50% of the unit, and later comprising about 35% of the personnel of this uniquely organized force - was known as the 2nd Canadian Parachute Battalion, and later the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion.

The first Canadian troops were authorized in July 1942, under Lieutenant Colonel John G. McQueen of The Calgary Highlanders. When he broke a leg in training, he was replaced as the second in command of the Force by a U.S. Army officer. Various questions of pay, privileges, drill and uniform were wrestled with as the unit was molded in training. By July 1943, the Force numbered 177 officers and 2283 other ranks (including 42 Canadian officers and 552 Canadian other ranks) divided into the three "regiments" of two battalions each. They set off for the Aleutians with American uniforms and equipment, and impressive record in training, having achieved competency at a variety of skills, including demolitions, enemy weapons proficiency, parachute jumping, amphibious boat drills, and skiing.1

The unit landed on Kiska in August 1943 to find the Japanese had fled, and the Force moved to the United States, crossed the continent, and crossed the Atlantic to North Africa where it staged for Italy, landing at Naples and coming under command of the United States 5th Army in November.2

Italian Campaign

Battle of Sicily - Southern Italy - The Sangro and Moro -
Battles of the FSSF - Cassino - Liri Valley - Trasimene Line - Advance to Florence - Gothic Line - Winter Lines

Battles of the FSSF

Monte CaminoMonte la Difensa-Monte la Remetanea
Hill 720Monte MajoRadicosaMonte Vischiataro –  Anzio – Rome – Advance to the Tiber – Monte Arrestino – Rocca Massima – Colle Ferro

On 26 November the unit came under the command of the United States 36th Infantry Division. The U.S. 2nd Corps' part in Operation RAINCOAT was to capture Mount La Difensa and Mount Maggiore while the British 10th Corps took Mount Camino.3

La Difensa-Remetanea

The 36th Division tasked the FSSF to take la Difensa and la Remetanea while the 36th Division captured Remetanea and British troops seized Camino simultaneously. The assault on Mount Difensa was the subject of a highly fictionalized 1968 motion picture, though the basic theme of a difficult surprise attack was accurately portrayed. The Force attacked on 3 December 1943 in light rain and through deep mud, man-packing heavy loads to the top of the mountain and drove elements of a reinforced battalion of Germans from the heights. Further assaults secured Remetanea by the end of 6 December and on 7 December the Force linked up with the British 56th Division who finally secured Camino. When finally relieved on 9 December, the Force had suffered 400 casualties.4

Majo

To secure the Winter Line and open the Mignano Gap, the heights of Mount Majo had to be secured, six miles from Cassino. The preliminary to this was Hill 720, and the fighting to secure the feature began on Christmas Day, 1943. The objective was taken at a cost of 77 casualties. The attack on Majo proper began on New Year's, with flanking attacks on the town of Radicosa and nearby hills. The 1st Regiment was sent on a flanking mission to Mount Vischiataro while the 1st Battalion of the 3rd Regiment seized the heights of Majo and held on despite heavy fire and poor weather. Of a combat strength of 1800, about 1400 had been killed or hospitalized during the brief campaign in the Italian mountains.5 By the end of January, only 300 Canadians "in fighting condition" remained in the Force. The FSSF was withdrawn from the line and sent to the Anzio beachhead at the start of February.6


Canadian personnel of the First Special Service Force awaiting medical evacuation, near Venafro, Italy, January 1944.
Sergeant Roy Cooper, Portage LaPrairie, MB; Sergeant Fred Hill, Havelock, ON; and Sergeant Norman D. Torpe, Metiskou, AB.
All three men served in the 1st Regiment, SSF. According to Ken Joyce, the photo was taken "in the shadow of Mount Sammucro in the vicinity of Ceppagna." The white tags are casualty tags; Joyce surmises that these NCOs were wounded during the actions of the 1st Regiment around Mount Vischiataro (Hill 1109) on January 6-7, 1944.  LAC photo

Anzio

The Allied landings in Anzio had been an attempt to outflank strong German defensive lines across the peninsula of Italy, but indecisiveness left the invading armies stranded on the beaches and surrounded by German defenders. The FSSF took over a quarter of the perimeter, guarding the flat plains through which the Mussolini Canal ran to the sea, and settled in to a routine of patrolling. They quickly established dominance over No Man's Land. Reinforcements for the Force arrived after several weeks of attrition due to constant patrol actions, sickness and shellfire, in addition to the drain from earlier battles, particularly among the Canadians, for whom reinforcements had not been provided due to a growing reinforcement problem. Canadian authorities eased restrictions on reinforcements for the force, and the U.S. Army also provided trained Rangers to replace casualties.7

Rome

In May, after weeks of floundering in the Anzio beachhead, news came that the Hitler Line had been breached - one of the defensive positions that the Anzio landings had been an attempt to bypass. To trap German forces now retreating, the forces at Anzio were ordered to go on the offensive; the FSSF took part in the battles to break out of the Anzio beachhead. Once free of the perimeter, conflicting desires among senior commanders had the forces eventually driving on Rome. On 23 May the FSSF saw action near Cisterna and were forced to regroup after taking heaving casualties in a German counter-attack. On 25 May the Force advanced on Mount Arrestino, taking it the next day along with the town of Cori. On 28 May the FSSF moved on the railway junction at Colle Ferro, again suffering heavy casualties in the process, and when the position was finally taken on 2 June, they contacted French troops advancing from the south through the Liri Valley. On 4 June, the first troops entered Rome, seizing bridges over the Tiber River.

Battle Honours

The following Battle Honours were granted for these battles:

  • Monte Camino

    • Monte la Difensa-Monte la Remetanea

  • Hill 720

  • Monte Majo

  • Radicosa

  • Monte Vischiataro

  • Anzio

  • Rome

  • Advance to the Tiber

  • Monte Arrestino

  • Rocca Massima

  • Colle Ferro

Notes

  1. Joyce, Kenneth H. Snow Plough and the Jupiter Deception: The Story of the 1st Special Service Force and the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion, 1942-1945 (Vanwell Publishing Ltd., St. Catharines, ON, 2006) ISBN 1-55125-094-2

  2. Dancocks, Daniel G. D-Day Dodgers: The Canadians in Italy 1943-1945 (McClelland & Stewart Inc., Toronto, ON, 1991) ISBN 0771025440

  3. Nicholson, Gerald The Canadians in Italy, 1943-1945 (Queen's Printer, Ottawa, ON) 1st Edition 15 Sep 1956, 2nd (corrected) Edition  Feb 1957, p.453

  4. McKay, A. Donald Gaudeamus Igitur "Therefore Rejoice" (Bunker to Bunker Books, Calgary, AB, 2005) ISBN 1894255534 pp.262-264

  5. Burhans, Robert D. The First Special Service Force: A Canadian/American Wartime Alliance: The Devil's Brigade (Methuen Publications, Agincourt, ON, 1981) ISBN 0-458-95020-1

  6. Joyce, Ibid, p.196

  7. Ibid, pp.196-209

 


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