Make your own free website on Tripod.com

As tensions grew in Europe, the need was envisioned for special parachute troops, able to undertake operations consisting of widespread sabotage over the snowed areas of Europe. It was clear that these troops would have to be raised and trained differently from other units. Canada, along with the United States agreed to deliver such a force.

Members of the force were all volunteers, handpicked from their respective army units. Every member, whether being officers or from the ranks, had to undergo a detailed examination, which would determine if the candidates possessed the desired attributes. Those not chosen were simply returned to their units while selectees were sent to Helena, Montana, as construction of the training camp, Fort William Harrison, neared completion.

The variation in uniforms of the men arriving from various parts of the country created a temporary resentment as to who would be in charge. This was soon settled when the Canadians were given American uniforms and those arriving with rank, assumed positions of authority in the Force. The joint Canadian-US formation was unique in the fact that its members represented "the truly great inheritance of the North American people", hard-rock miners from Northern Ontario and Texas cowhands joined in work "to become the best god-damned fighters in the world", and a terror to their enemies.

Force candidates receive instruction on American "aircraft drills".

 

Their training schedule was set into three phases. The first one consisted of parachute training, small unit tactics, weapons handling, in which all officers and enlisted men had to qualify and master the infantry weapons such as the M1 rifle, pistol, carbine, BAR, light and heavy machine gun, bazooka, mortar, flame throwers, and grenades.
Parachute training began immediately and at an accelerated pace. Within 48 hours some of the men were jumping from C-47 aircraft and within another 24 hours had made their second jump. This pace was continued with no interruptions whatsoever. Those who could not meet the rigorous training schedule would often request transfers back to their original units.
Explosives handling and demolition techniques were a favorite among the men. Once they became accustomed to handling explosives, they took delight in blowing up everything. Some of their favorite targets were garbage cans, cabins, which weren't always empty, and even a toilet in a nearby pub was once victimized. Unit tactics and problems made up the second one.

The final phase consisted of skiing, rock climbing, adapting to cold weather, and operating the Force's combat vehicle, the Weasel. Physical training was included in all three phases to maintain a high level of fitness throughout the Force. Amphibious training, which included the loading of landing crafts and beach assaults, was to come later following the escalation of the war in the Aleutian Islands.


BACK NEXT