Minister of Veterans Affairs Honours Canadian Veterans of the Devil’s Brigade in Washington DC

Devil’s Brigade Honoured with U.S. Congressional Gold Medal

February 6, 2015 – Bowmanville, ON – On Tuesday, the Honourable Erin O’Toole, Member of Parliament for Durham and Minister of Veterans Affairs, represented the Government of Canada at an event honouring Canadian Veterans of the 1st Special Service Force (FSSF), more famously known as the Devil’s Brigade in Washington DC.

In recognition of its superior service during the Second World War, the Devil’s Brigade was presented with the Congressional Gold Medal by U.S. Speaker of the House, John Boehner.

“Today’s presentation of the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal to Canadian Veterans of the Devil’s Brigade is a fitting honour in recognition of their courageous service and sacrifice,” says The Hon. Erin O’Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs. “The impact these remarkable men made during the Second World War has been around the world and will never be forgotten.”

In January 2013, then Minister of National Defence, The Honourable Peter MacKay honoured surviving members of the Devil’s Brigade with the Award for Operational Excellence, with Prime Minister Harper, The Governor General of Canada, and then Minister of Veterans Affairs, The Honourable Steven Blaney in attendance.

Newcastle resident Marg Maskell, an active veterans advocate and niece of FSSF veteran, Edward Morin, had been meeting with Minister O’Toole for a couple of years to discuss the commemoration of the Devil’s Brigade before he was ever appointed to Minister of Veterans Affairs. In 2013, Mrs. Maskell attended a reunion of remaining members of the Devil’s Brigade in Windsor and came back excited to share her passion for this elite group of men with her MP. “I knew that Erin’s dedication and compassion towards our veterans is well known and well appreciated by all and he has always taken a special interest in ways we could support our veterans,” said Mrs. Maskell. “For me, I am so proud that our government chose Minister O’Toole to serve our veterans because he shows his compassion and respect for them not just on special occasions such as this, but every day.”

Port Perry is home to a member of the Devil’s Brigade, Edward Groves. Minister O’Toole is currently planning a special local presentation to Mr. Groves to honour his unique and distinct contributions to the Second World War.

Quick Facts

  • Fourteen Canadian Veterans attended the ceremony, which took place 71 years after the Devil’s Brigade joined the Allied offensive in Anzio, Italy. It was during this battle that the unit was first given their famous nickname.
  • In January, 2013, Minister Peter MacKay presented 13 Devil’s Brigade Veterans with the Minister’s Award for Operational Excellence.
  • Activated on July 9, 1942, as three small regiments and a service battalion, the Devil’s Brigade was a joint Second World War American-Canadian commando unit trained at Fort William Henry Harrison in Montana, U.S.A.
  • The legacy of the brigade lives on, as many modern American and Canadian Special Forces units trace their heritage to this unit.
  • Arlington National Cemetery is a U.S. military cemetery located in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. More than 400,000 active duty service members, Veterans and their families are buried there.
  • The Canadian Cross of Sacrifice in Arlington National Cemetery was a gift from the Government of Canada. It stands in memory of American citizens who served with the Canadian Armed Forces and sacrificed their lives during the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War.

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