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The Black Devils

Heroes Remember

General Fredericks who was the commanding officer of the Special Service Force; his idea of defence was offence. When they first moved up the no man’s land was maybe a hundred yards wide. When we came out of there ninety nine days later, it was a good mile and a half or better, no man’s land. Night patrols were the forté of the force at that time. And they used to blacken their faces with shoe polish or grease paint and their hands which was all that was showing. And one of the German officers that was sent to Valhalla or whatever they called their big port in the sky, had a diary on him and it was an automatic if you found a German body or a German forces body, if you had time you frisked him and get any information you could. And on this officer’s diary, there was one quotation and it says, “Those black devils are around us and we don’t know where they’re coming from and we don’t’ know where they go.” And the paparazzi of the forties got a hold of that and nicknamed us the Black Devils. So now you know how the Black Devils got their name.

Mr. Summersides explains how the Black Devils got their name.

Jim Summersides

Mr. Jim Summersides was born in Welland, Ontario, a town where he has lived all his life. As a young man, he recalls that peer pressure played a role in his joining the army. After enrolling, Mr. Summersides volunteered for the First Special Service Force, a unique joint Canadian- American effort that snuck behind German artillery lines creating havoc for the enemy. Mr. Summersides, along with fellow Canadian comrades, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor from the American Congress for his rare and profound contribution to the war effort. After the force broke up, he joined the 48th Highlanders and finished the war with that regiment. Mr. Summersides is very proud of his service during the Second World War and has had the pleasure of returning to Holland as part of the Canadian delegation for anniversary events.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
May 30, 2015
Person Interviewed:
Jim Summersides
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Liberation of Holland
1st Special Service Force

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