24 July 2012

First Special Service Force in ASL

In December 1943, First Lieutenant Frederick Blake Atto1 returned alone to his lines. With him were seven German soldiers. Earlier he had set off with a four-man fighting patrol from 3rd Company, 1st Regiment of the First Special Service Force. His small band had probed deep inside the German perimeter along the Bernhardt Line in Italy. The mixed party of American and Canadian commandos knocked out one isolated enemy post after another, killing nine of their foes and taking two others prisoner. 
While heading back to friendly lines, Lieutenant Atto and the prisoners became separated from the rest of the patrol. Undaunted, Atto carried on. He had not gone far before his party drew fire from a nearby German position. Armed only with his service pistol, Atto fired back. To his astonishment, five enemy soldiers surrendered. After realizing that the young officer was on his own, the prisoners had second thoughts. Atto fired a warning shot. This appeared to settle the matter, but the Canadian remained uneasy during the remainder of the return trip. His pistol was empty.
Lieutenant Atto was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) on 17 January 1944. The citation read, in part: “First Lieutenant Atto’s courage and presence of mind in the face of overwhelming odds reflect highest credit upon himself and the two armies which he serves.” He was one of only twelve Canadians during the war to receive this decoration—the second highest US award for gallantry.
Modelling the FSSF in ASL 
This is the second part of a two-part series on the First Special Service Force. My first post provided a historical overview of the development, training, and combat operations of the binational force. I also touched on the legacy of the FSSF. In this post I take a look at how scenario designers have modelled the FSSF in ASL. My motives are plain. I want to encourage players to try a scenario featuring the FSSF. I also want to encourage scenario designers to develop more scenarios that highlight the unique capabilities of the FSSF. 
One of the attractions of ASL, at least for me, is the sense of realism that the game conveys. No other tactical wargame system allows us to seemingly recreate and relive the past in such vivid detail. However, all of this delightful detail would be for naught, if it did not make the game more gratifying to play. For example, the simple act of placing an orange “HERO” marker on a 7-0 leader during play can be a game changer—in more than one sense.
The transformation of a leader into a hero gives the owning player a number of options that were unavailable a moment earlier. In the same instant, the now heroic leader becomes more vulnerable to elimination.2 Both players must take the new status of the leader into account as they proceed with play. What happens in war can also happen in ASL. As is often the case in war, the outcome of an ASL scenario can hinge upon the actions of a small group of men, or an individual soldier. Returning to our newly minted hero, if a player is able to capitalize on the special capabilities of the hero, he or she can alter the course of the game. But even if the hero fails to have a lasting impact on the scenario, the excitement and tension generated by its creation will have added another layer of fun to the game.
For me, it is frequently the little details and the subtle, and not so subtle, ways in which they impact on play that I find engrossing. Call it historical flavour or “chrome,” the discriminating application of special rules can add some sheen to a lackluster scenario design. I would hesitate to describe the FSSF as “chrome-plated.” However, the Force is unique enough that its representation in ASL should provide enough nuance to give you a singular gaming experience. At the very least, a scenario starring this extraordinary blend of North Americans will provide you with a diversion from your regular ASL fare.

A tribute to the FSSF on Monte Sambúcaro (Sammucro), Italy
The operational history of the FSSF is fertile ground for scenario designers in search of unusual subject matter. Because many of its engagements were predominately infantry-only affairs, some FSSF operations may be suitable for scenarios aimed at beginners. I am thinking here of the small-unit actions at Anzio, which may also provide some grist for the Starter-Kit mill. That said, there is plenty of scope for more creative designs that revisit the fighting along the Bernhardt Line during December 1943 and January 1944. (Perhaps this will prompt someone to design a mountainous board using the new board format that debuted in Action Pack 6.) For those who enjoy the challenges of commanding a combined arms force, the two-week period following the break out from Anzio offers some variety, as two recent designs demonstrate. Designers looking to break new ground, may want to consider one of several small battles that occurred off the shore of southern France, or in the Alpes Maritime, along the Franco-Italian border. But regardless of what particular action a designer wishes to base a scenario upon, the number of special rules required to portray the FSSF in ASL need not be great. I can say this with some assurance because, to date, at least five scenarios have been published featuring the FSSF. Let’s take a look at how four designers have approached the subject in the past two decades.
First steps
Steve Swann was the first to publish a scenario featuring the First Special Service Force. A prolific scenario designer, Steve has a penchant for recreating actions involving light infantry. “Devil’s Brigade: Reference Notes for ASL,” published in 1990, was his third article to introduce an ASL model for a light infantry force.3 Modelling the Force should have been relatively straight forward from a organization and equipment standpoint. To begin with, the Force had no organic heavy weapons due to its intended commando role. Therefore, relatively few support weapons (SW) were required to outfit a standard FSSF company (Table 2). Furthermore, the unit was equipped solely with US weapons.
Inventor Melvin Johnson Jr.
Steve nevertheless faced two difficulties. The first was that the American counter mix in Yanks did not contain a Johnson M1941 LMG. The module (Gung Ho!) containing US marines—the only US formation officially issued with the Johnson—would not be published for another two years. So Steve had to make do with a British LMG.
The second difficulty was the lack of a suitable American squad type. Given the firepower of a typical FSSF squad, and the “moral fibre” and experience of its members—the average forceman was 26 years old—Steve calculated that a 6-5-8 squad would be ideal. Neither the American nor the “British” counter mix contained a squad with this Strength Factor (A1.2). In fact, I am beginning to wonder if the 6-5-8 has become sacrosanct. So Steve settled for an American 6-6-7. In his view, the 6-6-7 modelled the firepower of a squad armed with American small arms. It occurred to me that the 6-4-8 already used to represent British commandos may have worked in a pinch, albeit with a loss of effective range. However, the tan LMG already presented problems with respect to concealment and colour matching in an otherwise US table of equipment. 
In order to compensate for the lower Morale Level of the 6-6-7, Steve decided to treat the squad as having an underscored Morale Factor (A19.13). He also assigned all FSSF personnel in the fighting echelon an Experience Level Rating (ELR) of “5.”4 This ensured that FSSF squads and half-squads (HS) always retained their Elite status. For example, should a FSSF squad exceed its ELR during play, it would be replaced by two broken 3-4-7 HS. Were a HS to exceed its ELR, it would become Disrupted (A19.12). Steve felt that the underscored morale and the über ELR replicated the influence of Canadian personnel on the overall morale and fighting spirit of the Force. The presence of Canadian soldiers at all levels of the Force, also led Steve to make FSSF units immune to Cowering (A25.45). 
FSSF order of battle in A19 "Cat and Mouse"
Steve also gave FSSF units a number special modifiers and abilities. For instance, in all cases where nationality may have an impact on a die or dice roll (dr/DR), the FSSF player is free to choose whichever modifier (American or British) is most favourable. The most common result of this stipulation was to give FSSF units an extra negative modifier in determining a Heat of Battle (A15.1) result. More problematically, Steve granted FSSF units the ability to use captured German machine guns (MG) without penalty (A21.). The only limit on this use was that the Breakdown Number (A9.7) became an “X” Number, meaning that the weapon would be eliminated on an Original DR of “12.” There were certainly grounds for conferring this ability. The training syllabus in the United States covered the use of German small arms. However, there are two problems with the concept. First, formal training does not appear to have been provided to replacements in any systematic manner after the unit was committed to combat operations in Europe. Second, Steve subsequently extended this ability to include all German SW in his scenario A19 “Cat and Mouse.” Perhaps this was an oversight. Unfortunately, it would lead to what I suspect was an unintended consequence—more on this shortly. That said, applied sparingly as a Scenario Special Rule (SSR), the ability to use captured German weapons without penalty may add a bit of historical flavour to a particular action. 
An FSSF Sergeant (left) shows off his German MP40
Today, pundits might disparage some of the foregoing special abilities as extraneous “chrome.” However, one special ability that has stood the test of time is Stealth (A11.17). Steve gave the FSSF Commando capabilities (H1.24). Commandos are always Stealthy, which makes ambushing opponents a bit easier. The negative die-roll modifier (drm) for being Stealthy is also handy for gaining concealment (A12.122), and Searching (A12.152). At the same time, this drm reduces the likelihood that an FSSF unit will suffer Search Casualties (A12.154). Commandos also have the ability to scale buildings. But seriously, how many of you have encountered Scaling (B23.424) during play? More useful, is the improved ability of Commandos to climb cliffs (B11.433). I am not sure how much it would add to the game, but FSSF units could certainly take advantage of their mountaineering skills in a scenario that recreated the famous assault on Monte la Difensa, Italy in December 1943. 
Steve Swann's ASL Model of the First Special Service Force
Steve rounded out his FSSF order of battle (OB) with good quality leadership, and demolition charges (DC). The explosives make eminent sense considering that the Force had acquired a great deal of experience with demolitions while training “stateside.” To simulate the above-average quality of officers and "noncoms," Steve recommended that all FSSF leaders have negative leadership modifiers. Unfortunately, Steve does not elaborate on how this would work in practice. For example, is an 8-1 FSSF leader exempt from Replacement (A19.13)? Or how about Field Promotions (A18.)? Is an 8-1 leader created automatically? These are questions for future scenario designers. Judging by a number of scenarios that feature the FSSF, designers have, in fact, given some thought as to how the FSSF should be portrayed in ASL. Let’s have a look at what they have come up with.
A comparison of FSSF capabilities in five ASL scenarios
Table 3 summarizes the traits or special characteristics that four scenario designers have used in their portrayal of the FSSF in ASL. You will note that apart from the special abilities that I touched on earlier, Steve Swann also granted FSSF units Assault Engineer (H1.22) status in scenario A19—a night scenario (E1.), by the way. I am not sure that I agree with this decision. Admittedly, this capability may have been specific to the scenario. Apart from an increased Smoke Exponent, Assault Engineers are a bit more lethal in Close Combat versus AFV. So maybe Steve wanted to simulate an increased capability on the part of the FSSF to close assault enemy AFV at night. In any case, I would be reluctant to grant the FSSF Assault Engineer status as a matter of course. 
First response
Mike Faulkner is a member of the Schwerpunkt design team, a respected, third-party publisher of scenario packs since 1996. A year after the re-publication of Lt. Col. Robert D. Burhans’ The First Special Service Force in 1997,5 Mike designed a meaty, combined-arms scenario in which the FSSF received top billing. Elements of 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment, FSSF “ride shotgun” on the Sherman tanks of the US 1st Armored Division, escorted by the M8 armoured cars of the 81st Armor Reconnaissance Battalion. The battle takes place on 4 June 1944, on the outskirts of Rome, at Torpignattara. 
M8 "Greyhound" 6x6 armoured car [US vehicle note 43]
Mike had access to the USMC counter mix in the Gung Ho! module when he designed SP33 “The Eternal City.” Even so, he was stretching the limits of the counter mix by including six Johnson LMG in the OB—five came in the box. As you can see from the partial US OB below, Mike opted to use the USMC 6-6-8 squad to represent the FSSF. This squad type solved a number of problems that had confounded Steve Swann. The marine squad had the desired Morale Level. Plus, if one wished to retain immunity from Replacement by a lower quality squad, it had an underscored Morale Factor already printed on the counter. Moreover, the range of the marine squad was arguably more in keeping with the US small arms carried by the Force. 
FSSF order of battle in SP33 "The Eternal City"
Having said that, for the most part Mike followed Steve’s recommendations in modelling the Force. Mike did dispense with Steve’s provision for using captured German SW without penalty. But the most interesting departure was an SSR that allowed FSSF units to declare Hand-to-Hand Close Combat (H-t-H CC, J2.31). This is a nice touch. However, I think that the SSR would be most appropriate in scenarios depicting actions along the Bernhardt Line (Monte la Difensa, Monte Sammucro, Monte Majo, etc.), or the patrolling and raiding operations carried out east of the Mussolini Canal near Anzio.
A devil of a time
In 2003, George Kelln released CDN20 “The Black Devils of Anzio” as part of his Canadians in Italy series. George is the proprietor of Lone Canuck Publishing, a Canadian producer of scenario packs, and the occasional campaign game. To my knowledge, of all the scenario designers to follow in Steve Swann’s footsteps, George is the only one to have retained the 6-6-7 squad as the basic FSSF unit. George’s Black Devils also retain the underscored morale of Steve’s model, as well as immunity to Cowering. For ease, George has granted the Force Stealth, rather than full Commando capabilities. He has also allowed FSSF units to use German SW without penalty. Curiously, the SSR does not distinguish between MG and other SW. I am not sure if this was intentional, but it certainly has an important implication for the scenario, as I will explain momentarily.
“The Black Devils of Anzio” recreates a counterattack that occurred during the breakout from Anzio, on 23 May 1944. At 0545, the FSSF struck German positions along the Mussolini Canal. By 1000, they had secured a railway line and a bridge over the canal along Highway 7. The attackers were digging in when the Germans struck back with armour, including Tiger tanks. Once their supporting armour was knocked out, the lightly-armed men of the FSSF were at a serious disadvantage.
FSSF order of battle in CDN20 "The Black Devils of Anzio"
You will notice that the OB above includes MMG and HMG. Steve Swann noted in his article that the attached 456th Parachute Artillery Battalion had two M1917 Browning HMG on its establishment. It is possible that the HMG in the OB represents one of these. More likely, the HMG was “scrounged” from another unit. The MMG, however, are to be expected. According to one source, each section of a FSSF platoon was armed with a M1919A4 Browning .30 calibre “light machine gun,” which ASL treats as an MMG.  The weapon was in addition to the Johnson M1941 LMG. One veteran of la Difensa vividly recalled the “punishing weight” of the so-called LMG during his climb up the mountainside, in December 1943.6 
In “Cat and Mouse,” Steve Swann gave the FSSF the “ability to use all SW without captured-use penalties.” I suspect that George took this at face value. The problem, at least in “The Black Devils of Anzio,” is that this SSR allows the FSSF to use captured Panzerschreck (PSK) at will. Admittedly, one can make a case for such use. In 1942, the Force had conducted extensive trials of the American M1 rocket launcher at Fort Harrison. We may speculate that this experience gave at least some members of the Force an understanding of how rocket launchers generally worked.7 Whereas a Bazooka will have a tough time knocking out a hull-down Tiger tank, a PSK will destroy this behemoth every time, duds excepted. All this is to say that if I had the Germans in CDN20, I might be tempted to “forget” the PSK in my bivouac, rather than tempt fate.
End of the road
The Mediterranean Theatre, and Italy in particular, are underrepresented in "official" ASL publications. This partly explains why we have so few scenarios featuring the FSSF. With the publication of Action Pack 8: Roads Through Rome in 2011, the number of scenarios involving the Force almost doubled. Gary Fortenberry designed the ten  scenarios in the pack. The FSSF appear in two designs: AP80 “A Bloody Waste,” and AP81 “Lost Highway.” Like SP33 and CDN20, Gary’s scenarios focus on clashes that occurred during the drive on Rome in May-June 1944. In both cases, the FSSF are attached to an ad hoc “flying column” known as Task Force Howze, after the commander of the 13th Armor Regiment, US 1st Armored Division. 
FSSF orders of battle in AP80 and AP81
Board 4a Artena station
In AP80, the Task Force is joined by elements of the 3rd US Infantry Division, which constitute almost 60 percent of the Infantry component. In spite of its small size, the FSSF component forms the backbone of the assault force, which must wrest control of the Artena railway station—on board 4a—from elements of Panzer-Division Herman Göring.
In “Lost Highway,” the FSSF make up 70 percent of the Infantry; the rest are First Line US squads. This time, Task Force Howze encounters elements of 362. Infanterie-Division and 4. Fallschirmjäger-Division in the suburbs of Rome, along Highway 6. The scenario takes place on 5 June, the day after the battle at Torpignattara. It is arguably the most compelling, if challenging, scenario in the pack.
With the exception that there are no Johnson LMG in AP80, the FSSF get the same treatment in each of Gary’s scenarios. In common with Steve Swann’s model, FSSF units have superior leadership, underscored Morale, an ELR of “5,” and are treated as Commandos. Following Mike Faulkner’s lead, however, Gary represents the Force with USMC 6-6-8, albeit with a twist. Unlike SP33, Gary’s SSR explicitly state that US Marine Corps rules (G17.1) apply. These rules provide some interesting benefits. 
A prototype FSSF counter
Marines do not Disrupt. However, they are, in the absence of an SSR stating otherwise, subject to Cowering. This minor trade off is mitigated further by the fact that whenever an Unarmed Marine squad is rearmed, it is always exchanged for a Marine 4-5-8 (G17.14)—not an Inexperienced squad, as is normally the case (A20.551). In the unlikely event that the Germans do take a FSSF unit prisoner, you will want to make a side note. Then again, the prospect of a 4-5-8 popping up in the German backfield may persuade some Axis players to invoke No Quarter (A20.3) instead.
Of all the SSR used to replicate the unique nature of the Force, Gary Fortenberry’s are the most concise. Even so, they could be simpler. Unless there is a realistic requirement for Climbing or Scaling, for instance, one can dispense with the Commando designation. It would suffice to do what George Kelln did, and simply make FSSF units Stealthy. But I am nitpicking. 
29 June 2022 Edit: In 2017 Lone Canuck released Anzio - 1944 On Patrol with the First Special Service Force. The pack (available in our KitShop) contains seven scenarios that pit the FSSF against an eclectic group of adversaries, including Luftwaffe ground troops, Hermann Göring Panzergrenadiere, and a handful of Italian Xa MAS, among others. The pack also includes a small sheet of counters. On it are counters representing FSSF squads. These counters are very similar to my speculative counter above. The main difference is that George's counters don't have Spraying Fire.
Available in the BattleSchool KitShop
Where do we go from here?
The foregoing scenarios have demonstrated the inherent flexibility of ASL: the ability of the system to capture the essential character of virtually any historical unit or formation that fought in the Second World War. The creative application of rules can provide a unique gaming experience. However, when crafting a scenario, selectivity is paramount. Steve Swann’s representation of the Force clearly is the most nuanced. His SSR attempt to replicate almost every special trait. But in doing so, he arguably goes too far, and in some cases, perhaps not far enough. For example, the ability to use German SW without penalty is more complicated than it needs to be, and frankly, more encompassing than it deserves to be. I have no trouble with the concept per se. An SSR such as: FSSF may use German MG without penalty,” works for me. That said, I would be reluctant to make it a standard capability. In other words, this sort of SSR should be scenario- and SW-specific. 
Spoilt for choice [M20 Utility Car in background]
The battles along the Winter Line, in December 1943 and January 1944, may warrant such an SSR. The protracted fight for Monte Majo in early January is a prime example. The Force had to fend off more than 25 counterattacks. When their ammunition ran out, Forcemen grabbed abandoned German weapons and fought on. By mid January, however, the FSSF was woefully understrength. Granted, some personnel would return to the Force after a period of convalescence. But the fact remains that over time the old sweats who had trained at Fort Harrison made up a smaller and smaller proportion of the Force. I realize that this is conjecture on my part, but I would expect to see an overall degradation in certain skill sets across the Force, as it absorbed new men from other units and replacement depots (“repple depples,” or “repo depo” in common historical usage).8 
V-42 Stiletto and leather sheath
Having said that, I was surprised that Steve Swann did not include H-t-H CC among the special skill sets of his FSSF OB in “Cat and Mouse.” Before leaving the US, the Force received training in unarmed combat. Each member of the fighting echelon also was issued with a special fighting knife, shown below.9 I think that allowing FSSF units to declare H-t-H CC under certain circumstances may have been a good fit for what is essentially a series of five raids.10 Be that as it may, the strength of ASL is that no two scenarios, even those that purportedly portray the same action, need be wedded to a particular formula. So perhaps someone else will design a scenario that highlights the hand-to-hand combat talents of the FSSF. 
Few scenarios in the last two decades have spotlighted the actions of the FSSF. We have nevertheless witnessed an “evolution” in terms of ASL scenarios involving this binational force. Regrettably, designers have ignored the period on the Winter Line. This is a shame because, in my view, it is this period, more than any other, that defined and immortalized the Force. Is there a more fitting tableau than mountain warfare in the middle of an Italian winter to showcase the unique character of the FSSF?
The FSSF packs a powerful punch in ASL. However, as George Kelln’s scenario illustrates, the Force was designed for a specific role. When compelled to take on a general combat role, the inherent weaknesses of a light-infantry force become apparent. Although the battles along the Winter Line were not the type of operations for which the Force necessarily was raised, these battles did allow the FSSF to put their specialized training and skills to good use. I am therefore keen to see what today’s scenario designers can do with this rich subject matter. For the rest of you, I hope that my synopsis of the FSSF in ASL will encourage you to play a scenario starring this unique military formation. May the Force be with you!

Capt. Atto's gravemarker
1. Frederick Atto was from Mount Royal, an affluent neighbourhood of Montreal, Quebec. He was killed east of Anzio, near Highway 7, during a strong German counterattack on 23 May 1944. The Germans pounded 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment with artillery and overran the lead companies with the aid of Tiger tanks. Captain Atto was 25. His remains lie in the Beach Head War Cemetery in Anzio, Italy. 

2. For the ASL Starter Kit players reading this, a hero is a special type of Single Man Counter. Heroes and heroic leaders have a Morale Level of 9, or 8, if wounded [EXC: leaders with current Morale Level of 10 remain so, unless wounded]. When a hero or heroic leader exceeds its Morale Level during a Morale Check, it wounds, rather than breaks. If wounded a second time, heroes and heroic leaders are automatically eliminated (A15.2).

3. Steve Swann, “Devil’s Brigade: Reference Notes for ASL,” ASL Annual 90 (Avalon Hill Game Company: Baltimore, MD, 1990): 25-27. See, for example, Steve’s “Darby’s Rangers: Reference Notes for ASL,” The General Vol. 25, No. 5  (AHGC: Baltimore, MD, 1989) 27-29; and his “Desantniki: Reference Notes for ASL,” The General Vol. 26, No. 2  (AHGC: Baltimore, MD, 1990), which, along with the scenario G10 “Grab at Gribovo,” welcomes Russian paratroopers to ASL.
463rd Para Arty Bn
4. Steve assigned a lower ELR to attached units such as the US 81st Reconnaissance Battalion. The 456th Parachute Artillery Battalion retains an ELR of “5” when attached to the FSSF. [Ed. Technically, it was the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion that supported the FSSF. According to a 101st Airborne website, the 463rd was raised on 21 February 21 1944, while in the Anzio beachhead. Personnel were drawn from the 82nd Airborne Division’s 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, less Batteries “C” and “D.” As with other attachments, Steve felt that this artillery unit did not warrant an underscored morale. 
5. Robert D. Burhans, The First Special Service Force: A War History of the North Americans, 1942-1944 (Battery Press: Nashville, 1997), originally published in 1947. See also the Robert D. Burhans Papers 1942-1945, held in the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University, on the outskirts of San Francisco, CA. The papers contain Burhans’ research materials collected during the course of researching his history of the Force.
6. While deployed in the Anzio beachhead, the Force also absorbed the remnants of Darby’s Rangers—primarily the 4th Ranger Battalion. Each Ranger Battalion had a MG Platoon armed with M1919A4. Bret Werner, First Special Service Force 1942-44, (Osprey Publishing: Oxford, 2006), 53. See also, Swann, “Darby’s Rangers,” p. 27.
7. The Bazooka first saw action in North Africa. The Germans captured a handful of these early models in Tunisia and used them as the basis for their own, more powerful design, the PSK. The Germans also apparently captured some bazookas from the Russians, who in turn had received them through the US lend-lease program.
8. For similar reasons, I do not think that there is much to be gained by giving FSSF squads the ability to use Spraying Fire (A7.34) via an SSR. Marine Raider 5-5-8 squads (G17.111) have an underscored Range Factor, indicating that they may use Spraying Fire. FSSF sections and Marine Raider squads were similarly armed. Both special forces also used the Johnson LMG, have Assault Fire, and are treated as Stealthy. Marine Raiders operated during 1942 and 1943, and were disbanded in February 1944. However, a Firepower Factor of “5” does not do justice to a FFSF section operating from December 1943, especially when compared to the Firepower Factor of a First Line US Army squad. Unfortunately, Marine 6-6-8 squads do not have an underscored Range Factor. A 7-6-8 Marine squad might work for operations prior to February 1944, when the FSSF fought with most of its original cadre. [Note that the 7-6-8 USMC squad (G17.11) may Deploy freely during setup, or during its Rally Phase after passing a Normal Task Check (NTC).] In retrospect, I have to disagree with Steve Swann’s desire for a 6-5-8 squad. Given that the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was already in use with the Force during the battles for the Winter Line—and increasingly found its way into FSSF sections from Anzio onward—a Marine 6-6-8 squad is probably best.
"OSONS" is French for "dare"
9. The FSSF stiletto—a type of knife designed for thrusting—was based on the Fairbairn-Sykes fighting knife issued to British (and Allied) Commandos in Britain as early as 1941. The Type V-42 Fighting Knife featured a narrower, double-edged stiletto blade made of high carbon steel, and a scored indentation below the hilt for the wielder’s thumb, the latter intended to provide optimal orientation of the weapon for thrusting. (One veteran confessed that the knife probably opened more tin cans that enemy throats. However, the slim blade was quite brittle and ill suited for this sort of domestic work.) Today, badges of the US Army Special Operations Command, and the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command, bear the V-42 stiletto. Interestingly, the badge (above) of the former Canadian 2nd Special Service Force (1977-1995)—a light-brigade formation abolished following the disbandment of the Canadian Airborne Regiment (1968-1995)—featured a winged dagger reminiscent of the British Special Air Service (SAS), and the short-lived Canadian SAS Company (1947-49).
10. Scenario A19 is designed to be played five times in succession, using random map boards, in order to determine a winner based on accumulated Casualty Victory Points (CVP).


Anonymous said...

Excellent pair of articles on the FSSF, Chris!

I hope someone, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, will publish some scenarios on the Force using this knowledge base as a start.

GrumbleJones said...

Really enjoyable article and a great example of how much depth can still be added to ASL.

Dale said...

Cool article mate, nice work. Always keen to hear more about the Italian campaign! I will be looking at have a go at some of those scenarios.

Luciano Bucci said...


Luciano Bucci said...


Chris Doary said...

Grazie Lucci, un sito molto interessante. Complimenti anche per il successo del vostro museo.