The first special service forces of World War II were known as the Devil’s Brigade. Ferocious and stealthy combatants, they garnered their moniker from the captured diary of a German officer who wrote, “The black devils are all around us every time we come into line and we never hear them.” Handpicked U.S. and Canadian soldiers trained in mountaineering, airborne, and close-combat skills, they numbered more than 2,300 and saw action in the Aleutians, Italy, and the south of France.
Co-written by a brigade member and a World War II combat pilot, the book explores the unit’s unique characteristics, including the men’s exemplary toughness and their ability to fight in any terrain against murderous opposition. It also profiles some of the unforgettable characters that comprised the near-mythical force. Conceived in Great Britain, the brigade was formed to sabotage the German submarine pens and oil storage areas along Norway’s coast, but when the campaign was cancelled, the men moved on to many other missions. This World War II tale of adventure, first published in hardcover in 1966 and made into a movie not long after, is now available in paperback for the first time.
Adleman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A photographer and tail gunner in the Army Air Forces during World War II, he became a businessman and a historian, and began a collaboration with U.S. Army Colonel George Walton to write books about World War II, the most successful of which was 1966’s The Devil’s Brigade. A story about the 1st Special Service Force nicknamed the “Devil’s Brigade”, the book would be turned into a motion picture of the same name in 1968 and starred William Holden and Cliff Robertson.
Adleman was co-owner and president of Robinson, Adleman, and Montgomery, a Philadelphia public relations and advertising firm. An innovator, he constantly started new ventures including publishing of “The Record-Breeze and Mall Journal newspapers; produced forerunner of “Today” TV show, “Modern Living,” and chain of fast food restaurants, “Take Out Kitchens” and “Hush Puppy House.” He also owned the Bessie V. Hicks School of Dramatic Arts. Graduates included Jeanette MacDonald, Charles Bronson, and Bruce Dern.
After selling the movie rights, Adleman and his wife moved from Philadelphia to Malibu, California. They remained there for a number of years until they acquired a large ranch property in Oregon. At which point they opened the restaurant The Bella Union, featuring the “peach baboo”, a cocktail named after their grandson’s childhood treat. Adleman died in Ashland, Oregon, in 1995. His wife and two daughters scattered his ashes on the ocean at the beach in Malibu.