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Tactics of the First Special Service Force

Heroes Remember

Tactics of the First Special Service Force

We had to have a minimum of a high school education and you had to be in the prime of your life, grade A shape to get in. But the first guys they had to take all this training. They trained on everything. They were trained on rubber boats, they were trained on parachutes and everything else. We, the later recruits to it never jumped so therefore, I have no wings to put up. We went down onto the shore in the south of Italy and we went out on a couple of American destroyers and then practiced getting off the ship and getting into rubber boats without getting drowned. There was eight men paddling, one man on the bow, when we got to shore to grab the landing line and pull the boat in and one man in the stern to steer. And it was tricky to say the least. We scrambled down the nets with all our gear and onto the rubber boats and paddled in and even though we weren’t Airborne, the outfit was considered Airborne because of the paratroop’s training. We beat the paratroops in by eight hours on the Southern France invasion.

As part of the force, Mr. Summersides describes the additional rubber boat training and exercises required to do this job.

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

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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