Devil's Brigade Canadian members get Congressional Gold Medal
14 surviving Canadians get highest civilian honour awarded in U.S. at Washington ceremony
Feb 3, 2015
The Devil's Brigade served as the prototype for the special forces that would come later: outfits like the JTF-2, Navy Seals and Green Berets. (CBC)
Forty-two surviving members of a joint American-Canadian special forces military unit called the Devil's Brigade were honoured with the Congressional Gold Medal on Tuesday — the highest civilian honour the United States Congress can bestow.
The brigade was an elite special service force during the Second World War, and is so revered that it served as the model for the U.S. Navy SEALS. It also inspired a film in the late 1960s.
The award ceremony took place at Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and was attended by dignitaries from Canada, the U.S. and the military.
The Canadians who attended Tuesday's ceremony included:
- John Callowhill, Stoney Creek, Ont.
- James Summersides, Welland, Ont.
- Vernon Doucette, Lower Wedgeport, N.S.
- Herb Peppard, Truro, N.S.
- Arthur Pottle, Saint John.
- Wilfred Paquette, Gatineau, Que.
- George Wright, Picton, Ont.
- Donald Ballantyne Cobourg, Ont.
- Morris Lazarus, Toronto.
- H.R. Hawkyard, Toronto.
- Charles Mann, Kincardine, Ont.
- Ralph Mayville, Windsor, Ont.
- Leonard Corbett, Calgary.
- Maurice White, Edmonton.
The men in the 1st Special Service Force were particularly close, said Canadian Maurice White, who joined the military back in 1941.
"The officers would help make your breakfast, do guard duty. So, us knowing them in that manner, if they asked us to go to hell, we would go with them," he said. "We had that much faith in one another."
The Devil’s Brigade marked the first time Canada and the U.S. combined forces in a single unit.
The group was trained in hand-to-hand combat, to climb mountains and parachute down on targets, and to become demolition experts.
The special service force was also given another name by the Germans: the black devils....
This is a terrific story about special Heroes being recognised for their Service. GO read the rest here.. ( Be sure to read all the links in the story too.)
Related: Devil's Brigade (Wiki)
FSSF: The Devil's Brigade - (The Canadian record)
U.S.-Canadian 1st Special Service Force in World War II
That last link is particularly fine on the history. GO read an important part of our cross-border history