By the time they had completed their training, the range for Allied bombers had
increased enough to reach Norway; consequently, the Force’s focus shifted. Their first
taste of fire was in the Aleutians. They then proceeded to Italy where the Allies had been
stalled at the German Line for over three months. Less than 24 hours in Italy, Frederick
was given a week to break the stalemate. He ordered his Force to scale the sheer face
of Monte Le Defensa, and, less than 24 hours later, broke the German stranglehold.
Hopscotching over the mountain chain, the Force continued to Anzio where, although
composed of less than 2,000 men, were responsible for over a quarter of the beachhead.
With blackened faces, formed into small teams, they overwhelmed German defenders
without firing a shot, and then disappear into the night. This stealth, after a German
officer’s diary was discovered referring to “die schwarzen Teufeln (the Black Devils)”
earned them the nickname “The Black Devils” and “The Devil’s Brigade. The Force then
spearheaded the push into Rome and up the Italian boot to southern France where they
were inactivated 5 December 1944 in Villeneuve-Loubet near Menton, France. During
its year and a half existence, the 1800-man “Devil’s Brigade” accounted for over 12,000
German casualties and captured over 7,000 prisoners. This was not done without a price,
sustaining an attrition rate of over 600%.