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Tommy Prince Biography

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Tommy Prince

Birthdate:   October 25, 1915
Category: Military

Canada's most decorated aboriginal war veteran serving in World War II and the Korean War.

At the outbreak of World War II Prince volunteered to fight with the Canadian Army, and served from June 3, 1940 until August 20, 1945. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Engineers, the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion, and the First Special Service Force formed by combining Canadian and American troops to train at Fort Harrison near Helena Montana forming what became known as the famous "Devil's Brigade." Prince, and the other men of this unit were chosen for their rugged outdoor backgrounds and received the most rigorous training schedule under live fire ever undertaken by an army unit. All members of this elite squad, similar to the American Special Forces (colloquially referred to as the "Green Berets") starting in the late 1950s, were trained to be paratroopers and received intense instruction in stealth tactics, hand-to-hand combat, the use of explosives for demolition, amphibious warfare, rock climbing and mountain fighting, and as ski troops. They have been described as the best small force of fighting men ever assembled. As a member of the Devil's Brigade, Prince was involved in fierce combat duty and numerous dangerous missions in Italy and France.

Prince was awarded the Military Medal, for his heroics at Monte La Difensa, Italy in an event that in 1968 was turned into a Hollywood film titled The Devil's Brigade. It was at Anzio that his unit got the name "The Black Devils." The diary of a dead German soldier contained a passage that said, "The Black Devils (Die schwartze Teufeln) are all around us every time we come into the line." The soldier was referring to them as "black" because the brigade's soldiers smeared their faces with black shoe polish for their covert operations in the dark of the night.

Prince was decorated again for his valor while fighting in France and in 1944 was summoned to Buckingham Palace where King George VI presented him with his Military Medal and on behalf of the American President, the United States Silver Star. In all, Tommy Prince was decorated nine times, the most of any aboriginal soldier in the war. With the end of the fighting, Prince was honorably discharged in June of 1945 and returned to his home in Manitoba where he set up a small, but successful business. He married Verna Sinclair, with whom he had five children.

More info: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=ArchivedFeatures&Params=A269

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Posted by: fredzena      Last updated: 31-08-06      Hits: 11762