An in-progress annotated bibliography of books related to the First Special Service Force and 474th Infantry Division. Listed alphabetically by author’s last name. Please contact me if you have recommendations for books to add to this bibliography.
The Devil’s Brigade
By Robert H Adleman and Col. George Walton
1966 (first edition), Chilton Company Publishers, Philadephia
Adleman and Walton’s text looks nearly identical in size to Burhans mentioned below. Where they differ is that Burhans is more an individual’s account while Adleman and Walton drew on dozens of questionnaires and interviews with surviving members of the Force, allowing their text to generally include richer and more varied accounts of the events. The text includes some nice glossy black & white photos and a couple of drawn maps to help illustrate battles in Italy and France, but otherwise lacks the reference materials the Burhans book includes.
The First Special Service Force: A War History of the North Americans, 1942-1944
By Lt. Col. Robert D. Burhans
March 1947 (first edition), Infantry Journal Press, Washington, D.C., 376 pages.
Burhans’s book is regarded as one of the canonical accounts of the First Special Service Force’s time in formation and action. When researching the events surrounding Snook’s letters, I’ll often have Burhans and Adelman/Walton’s texts out side by side, as each contains variation in the level of detail they provide about a given event. For example, Burhans devotes little more than a page to the sea voyage to the Aleutians, while Adleman and Walton provide three pages of anecdotes and additional details about the same Pacific passage (though the reverse is true for other events, the texts truly do complement each other). As a firsthand account, it is a thorough history loaded with facts, though far drier in tone compared to more narrative accounts from the war, such as the Carter text below. Where the book really shines are the reference materials. The inside covers of the book are North American and European maps showing the movements of the Force. The book also has a number of photographs (color and B&W), timelines of Force battles, posts, camps & stations. Following the text, Burhans then includes a complete roster of men by full name, company, home, and whether or not they were killed. A highly comprehensive reference source.
Those Devils In Baggy Pants
By Ross S. Carter
1962 (8th printing, 1951 original date), A Signet Book, The New American Library of World Literature, New York.
I found Carter’s book in a box with other items related to the Force and am certain it had belonged to Snook. While the Devils in Baggy Pants are not the same as the Devil’s Brigade or Black Devils, Carter’s paratrooping unit, the 82nd Airborne Division, was not unlike the Force in purpose, execution, and the terror they struck into the hearts of German forces. The two groups both fought in the mountains of Italy and the FSSF is even mentioned in Carter’s narrative account (p. 74). Despite not portraying the Force, TDIBP paints a vivid picture of what fighting for your life in those mountains was like, providing an eye-witness account of some of the same battles the Force fought through. Readers begin the book learning how few members of Carter’s unit survive, but even knowing they’re inevitabilities, readers are so engaged by the colorful characters and individual’s appeal that we mourn and rage over each brother’s death along with Carter and the other survivors.
The Black Devils: A Pictorial History of the First Special Service Force
By Ray Routhier
1982 (first edition), Advanced Litho Printing, Great Falls, Montana, 77 pages.
I was given this book by a military and weapons book dealer whom I was lucky enough to know through the Oregon Knife Collector’s Association. After sharing Snook’s memoirs and some memorabilia with him, he surprised me with this very kind gift (and it’s signed by Routhier too!). The pictorial history is lovely, filled with action and posed shots from training and the war, as well as maps and photos of equipment, uniforms, patches and other items associated witht the Force. Inside the cover is a helpful chart of the chain of command for the FSSF and other charts, informational lists and graphics make this a rich resource despite the limited and more encyclopedic text.
Magazine, newspaper, and other periodical references to the Force. Many more to be added, suggestions welcome.
September 13, 1943, vol. 15, no. 11.
Allied Troops Retake Deserted Kiska
by Dmitri Kessel, pp. 25-31.
Snook refers to this issue of Life in his October 1st, 1943 letter home to Gee, hoping she’s able to get one so she can save the pictures. The text is brief but the photographs are indeed a remarkable window into conditions and features surrounding the invasion.