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A Ghostly Fight

Heroes Remember

Germans threw a lot of, so they threw everything they had at us at that time. I mean in the way of, they kept sending more troops in. Well, I suppose you might say we were about equal strengths but of course they could reinforce theirs much easier than we could. Interviewer: Yes. So, and it was bad weather. It was December, there was snow, there was ice, there was rain and there was clouds. So the clouds hung over the mountain, basically they were our worst enemy. Because oh it was a sort of a ghostly fight where clouds would go up and you would see about five or six Germans over there. And they would see you and boom the clouds would come down and then you would say, "Now I wonder where those fellas are going?" and "Will we stay here or we better move." And then you would move and you might run into them. So that went on for four or five days. And eventually we took that and then we went on and cleaned up some other mountains further along so that the British could get up because the Germans were holding them up. I think it was six days, five or six days and nights of fighting. Well as I say, we had a lot of pretty tough hardy guys but it's happened, every army, every unit has those periods of time when it's do or die sort of. You hang in and keep on going. Well it's very hard to describe. That's why we don't too often talk about that particular part of war. If you weren't there, you don't understand. Yes, I think you can say that. You see your friends getting wounded, you get to see your friends getting killed. That was our first time into battle there and you learn in a hurry. You think it's all fun and games up to that point and then they always say that you have to survive the first four or five hours of battle, if you do you might be good for a long time. But it's that first four or five hours that makes or breaks, sort of, the individual.

Mr. Gilday talks about the battle on the top of the mountain, the FSSF's first time in battle.

Tom Gilday

In Ottawa he ended up volunteering for parachuting and hazardous duties. He then was part of a group that became the first Special Force; half Canadian and half American. He was then appointed as Battalion Commander. His crew fought and took over many mountain ranges that the Germans were protecting. They attacked at night and painted their faces black, they were known to the Germans as the ‘Devil's Brigade'. After being on the line for eight months during the Italian Campaign it was decided he would run a Recruit Training School. He then opened and ran the first Canadian Army Leave Transit Camp in Oyster Work. The camp was later moved to a larger camp in Nijmegen. In 1945 Mr Gilday was appointed General Staff Officer and placed in charge of the city of Amsterdam. He stayed there for six months and then returned home.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Tom Gilday
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
1st Special Service Force
Battallion Commander

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