As written by his son, John Geoffrey Arthur Hart - First Special Service Force Association.
Geoffrey Hart was born Aug. 31, 1920 in Maple Creek Saskatchewan, son of Arthur and Grace Hart, the oldest of four children.
The Hart family moved to the Rolla district in the Peace Country in 1929.
Geoffrey was pulled from Carpio school in Rolla in Grade 8 at 14 years old during the Depression, he was required to go to work to help feed the family. He worked at various jobs, until he enlisted at Depot 13 in Dawson Creek in 1941. Geoffrey took his basic training in Vernon B.C. as a member of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, then transferred to the Royal Canadian Engineers, and eventually joined Canadian Army Training school in Hamilton and was selected the 2nd Canadian Parachute Battalion and transferred to Canadian Army Training school in Hamilton in March 1942. From there he was selected to join the 1st Canadian Special Service Battalion and transferred to Helena, Montana as part of the First Special Service Force in July 1942. This U.S. Canadian Special Forces unit was expected to parachute behind enemy lines and take out key positions.
Geoffrey was in First company Second regiment and the first group on the top of Monte la Defensa, this was their baptism of Fire. Sgt. Hart was wounded by shrapnel during the initial attack. The FSSF claimed the mountain within two hours and received counter attacks for three continuous days. Geoffrey was in the hospital until March ‘44 and rejoined the FSSF at the Battle of Anzio.
Sgt. Hart took part in night patrols, behind enemy lines where the FSSF earned their name the “Black Devils” by the Germans. It is said that in a captured German diary: “They come at us and we never see them until it is too late.” The FSSF patrols left a card on the German buildings, defensive positions, and the dead sentries which read “Das Dicke End Kommt Noch,” which means “The worst is yet to come.”
In February 1944 the FSSF landed at Anzio, there were 69,000 combined allied troops, 71,000 defending Germans and just over 1,200 members of the First Special Service Force where they held 1/4 of the beach head. The FSSF section of “No Man’s Land” was 100 yards away and stretched out to two miles by May 23 when the combined Allied forces broke out to Rome.
On June 2, Sgt. Hart was hit again at the German held town of Colle Ferro Italy where he received the American Bronze Star for valor during the Rome breakout on June 2, 1944.
The award read: For heroic achievement in action on June 2, 1944 at Colle Ferro, Italy. During an attack on the town, Sergeant Hart’s company was subjected to horrific artillery shelling. Sergeant Hart, leader of a rocket launcher crew, was wounded in the shoulder by shrapnel. Despite severe pain he refused treatment and remained in command of his men until his platoon was relieved the following day. continued on next page
The FSSF joined the Allied rush to Rome and were the first Allied Unit into the eternal city. They rested at the Pope’s residence on Lake Albano and practised their amphibious landings until they were deployed to the French Riviera where they would land on the German occupied French Islands of Îles d’Hyères on August 15.
This is where Sgt. Hart received his third wound on the island of Ille du Levant, where multiple shrapnel fragments took him out of action until October where he joined the FSSF and continued on until the FSSF was deactivated on Dec. 5, 1944. Sgt. Hart was wounded three times and suffered from reoccurring malaria, which he contracted at the Anzio beachhead.
After the war, Sgt. Hart was reassigned to the Currie Barracks in Calgary where he became a part of Canadian Intelligence. His duties were to interview German prisoners of war in Lethbridge and Medicine Hat for further destinations and to demine the balloon bombs that were sent across the Pacific from Japan. He was then discharged from the Army at the conclusion of the war and moved back to the Peace country and settled down doing carpentry and construction in the area. He married Mary Chamberlain in 1952, together they had one son, John Geoffrey Arthur Hart. Geoffrey was killed at W.A.C. Bennett Dam [Portage Mountain] April 27, 1966.
His memory lives on through the research of the dedicated sons and daughters of the First Special Service Force Association, which was created by the veterans in 1945 to provide a place to return and help heal the tremendous wounds that they carried throughout their lives.
The First Special Service Force were the original Special Forces, with Special Forces in Canada and the U.S.A carrying their lineage and their early training is still highly regarded today by all Special Forces.
The First Special Service Force received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2015 in Washington D.C. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest Congressional Award that U.S. Congress presents.