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Black Devils, ‘There's More to Come

Heroes Remember

Black Devils, ‘There's More to Come

We went there in January, February, March, April, May, June. Yeah we broke out of there in June, yes. It was day and night fighting you know. They'd push us back and we'd push them back. When we went into the line though, we were at what they call the Mussolini Canal. I had a two miles of front to hold with three hundred men which wasn't very much. And the Germans could come through our lines and we'd put artillery on them. The artillery kept us there really and chased them back. There was no place that was safe. And you couldn't move in the daytime because they had high ground and we didn't and they could chase you all over the place with an 88 or a mortar anytime you stuck your nose out so. All we could do was hold the line. Well, we pushed our boys back, we pushed them back about a mile and our boys wouldn't stand for somebody breathing down their nose so they just took after them every night and, by patrol, so there was a lot of patrolling at night. So we pushed them back about a mile to another highway where they could dig in. And then we chased them back from there too and we moved in on them every night. They were frightened to death of us because they didn't know who we were. We were actually holding the front of a division although we were less than a brigade really. A division being three times bigger. They were always trying to find out, there again, we were the secret force, and they were always trying to find out who we were because we had special uniforms. We didn't look like American uniforms, we didn't look like Canadian uniforms and we had baggy pants, because they had specially made pants for us that were good for the snow, good for anything hard, very comfortable with lots of pockets. And the Germans used to call us the men in baggy pants and then they started calling us the Black Devils because we always blackened our faces and moved in at night on them. And the colonel, the brigadier in command he got a little sticker for the boys and they would move in on the Germans and put a little sticker on their head or something after they had shot them. In which the sticker said, "There is more to come."

Mr. Gilday talks about some of their activities while holding the line at the Anzio beachhead.

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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