Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Daring Daylight Raid on Germany's Mile-High Fortress

When I was a kid, a film my father seemed to always have on was The Devil's Brigade. It was originally released in 1968, but played consistently on cable television in the 1980s. The movie starred William Holden, Cliff Robertson, and Andrew Prine as rugged Canadian-American commandos ascending a “mile-high” fortress occupied by the Nazis during WW2

Surprisingly, I was thumbing through the December, 1960 issue of Male and stumbled on a story titled, “The Daring Daylight Raid on Germany's Mile-High Fortress”. The title connected me to the movie, and after diving into the story, I realized it was the same real-life account of “the devil's brigade”, complete with artwork by the legendary Gil Cohen (The Executioner). The author is Martin Luray, a name that I'm not familiar with.

Luray's story is more like a traditional MAM informative piece detailing the true story of Major General Robert Tryon Frederick and his leadership of the hybrid Canadian-American military force known as 1st Special Service Force. The team was comprised of 2,400 men culled from prior-military professions like loggers, forest rangers, woodsmen, game wardens, and prospectors. The recruitment for the U.S. volunteers took place in the American Southwest and on the Pacific Coast. 

At 3,000 feet high, Monte La Difensa (known as Hill 960) was a strong-point in the defensive German line strung across the high peaks of Italy. To train for the extraordinary climb and fight, the 1st Special Service Force trained in Helena, Montana, Camp Bradford, Virginia, and Forth Ethan Allen in Vermont. 

In December 1943 and January 1944, the 1st Special Service Force conducted a series of operations at Monte la Difensa, Monte la Remetanea, Monte Sammucro (Hill 720) and Monte Vischiataro. The 1st Special Service Force attacked and captured the enemy forces at the impregnable Monte la Difensa. 

This informative piece authored by Luray inserts various quotes from infantrymen and leaders, including Major General Frederick. While not a stirring, action-adventure narrative, the short story provided an education on this chapter of American-Canadian history while provoking me to read more high-adventure literature. 

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