Known as the "Devil's Brigade", the First Special Service Force was a joint World War II American-Canadian commando unit organized in 1942 and trained at Fort William Henry Harrison near Helena, Montana. The brigade was under the command of the United States Fifth Army and fought in the Aleutian Islands, Italy, and southern France before being disbanded in December 1944. Although its wartime service was brief, the First Special Service Force was instrumental in developing modern concepts of unconventional warfare. The legacy of the Devil’s Brigade lives on in today’s American and Canadian special operation forces. Original artifacts from this very popular World War II unit are now highly prized collectibles, especially those identified to a service member. Offered here is a U.S. A-2 jacket with painted Devil’s Brigade insignia worn by Lt. John J. Chaffeur. The left chest of the jacket features the iconic FSSF arrowhead known instantly by friend and foe alike in red and white paint. The jacket lacks a maker’s tag and has a Talon zipper. On the lining is the name “2 Lt J J CHAFFEUR” handwritten in ink. An online database of First Special Service Force members lists a Staff Sergeant J.J. Chaffeur (www.firstspecialserviceforce.net). Additional proof of Chaffeur’s identify comes from a newspaper article in the April 8, 1945, issue of The Independent-Record of Helena, Montana. (The FSSF trained at Fort William Henry Harrison near Helena.) Titled “Interesting Tale of First Special Service Force Tells about Trip to Farmhouse Held by Krauts,” the article reports that “Lt. John J. Chaffeur was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant at ceremonies held ‘in the field’ on Jan. 20.” At the time of his promotion to lieutenant, the FSSF had been disbanded for no more than a month, and Chaffeur transferred to the 474th Infantry. The article also states Lt. Chaffeur was a platoon sergeant on Monte La Difensa. With its steep slopes, Monte La Difensa made a formidable German defense position standing in the way of U.S. forces advancing to Rome in December 1943. Facing impossible odds, the FSSF scaled the peak and fought aggressively to beat back the Germans. The victory came at a staggering cost. The FSSF suffered a 77% casualty rate in this one battle. Provenance: The Putnam Green/Sycamore Collection
Very good as an A-2 jacket worn by an identified member of the First Special Service Force, a founding father of modern American and Canadian special forces. The arrowhead unit insignia retains most of the original paint. Cuffs and waist band show wear and repairs. The lining has a couple of tears, and Chaffeur's name remains legible. A great piece of identified First Special Service Force history that will look great in any WWII or special forces collection.
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