The worst is yet to come.
This patch was the unit patch for the First Special Services Force, also known as the Black Devil’s Brigade. The First Special Services Force is considered the predicessor to the US Army Special Forces.
More about the First Special Services Force:
The First Special Services Force, sometimes referred to as the “Black Devils” or the “Devil’s Brigade,” was a joint American-Canadian commando unit that existed from July of 1942 to January of 1945. Originally conceived by a British scientist who envisioned a British unit capable of winter warfare in Norway and the Alps, the British decided against forming such a unit due to the strain already placed on their forces. Instead, the idea was proposed to the United States, and was accepted by General George C. Marshall. A young Lieutenant Colonel on his staff, Robert T. Frederick, argued against the proposition, stating that the plan had serious flaws and that the risks to the proposed unit outweighed the limited gains that might be achieved. Frederick was overruled, and in an ironic, yet favorable, twist, he was given command of the unit after the original commander was removed.
The force’s recruiting motto was “Vigorous Training. Hazardous Duty. For those who measure up, get into the war quick!” Between the motto and some selective recruiting, the training area near Helena, Montana, was soon filled with American Rangers, lumberjacks, hunters, game wardens, and other recruits used to the rigors of outdoor living. The Canadians also assigned over 600 troops to the force, which helped fill it out to its full strength of three regiments. The recruits underwent parachute, weapons, demolition, hand to hand combat, rock climbing, skiing, problem solving, and small unit tactics. Training was brutal, beginning at 0430 and ending after dusk. The men double timed everywhere in order to maintain the compressed training schedule necessary to prepare the unit. They were outfitted with specialized equipment and weaponry for their task, including the M1941 Johnson machine gun and the V-42 fighting knife, and trained with captured enemy weaponry until they could operate it just as efficiently as their issued weapons. Despite initial concerns about frictions due to cultural differences, the force quickly melded into a hardened, highly effective unit.
The force deployed for its first mission in 1943, heading to the Aleutian Islands to seize them from the Japanese forces that had taken control of Kiska. Upon arrival, the force discovered that the Japanese had abandoned the island, and they returned to the continental US. In October of that same year, General Mark Clark called upon the force to assist in the invasion of Italy. They quickly demonstrated the value of their training when the 2nd Regiment assaulted La Difensa by marching six hours on foot, then scaling an almost vertical escarpment in freezing rain. American staff officers estimated that the attack would take 4-5 days. The force drove the Germans to retreat in two hours. They went on to capture four other mountaintop fortresses, suffering 77% casualties by the end of the campaign in 1944. After the mountain campaign, the force was moved to Anzio, where the three regiments were so effective, captured German officers stated that they believed the American/Canadian strength to be at least a division! Psychological operations also played a role during the campaigns. Cards were made that displayed the arrowhead symbol of the force next to the German words “Das dicke ende kommt noch,” or “The worst is yet to come.” After raids, the force would leave the cards on the bodies of dead German soldiers. Their final campaign occurred in southern France, where they served with the 1st Airborne Task Force and captured five German forts in Port Cros.
On December 5, 1944, the force was officially disbanded in a large field outside Menton, France, and the members were transferred to various Canadian and American units. Despite their disbandment, the First Special Services Force is considered the predecessor unit of the Canadian Special Operations Regiment, and the United States Army Special Forces. When the Special Forces tab was officially adopted by the Army, all members of the First Special Services Force that had served at least 120 days with the unit during wartime were retroactively awarded the tab.