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A Part of the First Special Service Force

Heroes Remember

A Part of the First Special Service Force

So while we were in Avellino there was this fellow came down. He was a Canadian lieutenant colonel but he was from this outfit called the First Special Service Force and he was looking for volunteers. We figured, hey, you don’t volunteer for nothing especially in the infantry but it couldn’t get any worse, we thought. There was a dozen or so of us joined the First Special Service Force and we were shipped up to their base camp and just an idea of the difference. Our first meal at the base camp with the force, we had canned chicken, we had fruit cocktail for dessert. They had real coffee, it was made in big things like garbage pails but they were clean. When you ladled out the coffee to your cup, you had a cup as well as two mess tins, you got real carnation milk to put in it and white sugar. Well, we thought we died and gone to heaven. You know it was more like home but that was the end of home because we shipped out after about four days we shipped out and went right up to the Anzio Beachhead and the first night at the Anzio Beachhead they told us “Dig in.” Well, we were all green. Well, Jerry could reach any place at all with his artillery on the beachhead. So he shelled the daylights out of us. He proudly observed us coming in. One kid was so scared you could hear him wailing, crying and the next morning they took him and they wanted to know how old he was. Sixteen. No wonder, I mean the rest of us were old, nineteen, twenty years old but we had a little bit of what, little bit of nerve maybe and it didn't drive us up the wall like it drove him. It was one way where I think he must have survived the war because he didn’t have to go any further than that. They shipped him back and we never saw him again.

Mr. Summersides recalls volunteering for the First Special Service Force and enjoying the short-lived but much improved menu before being sent to the Anzio Beachhead.

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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