November 12th, 2019

Halifax museum honours legacy of former member of Canadian-U.S. Black Devils

By The Canadian Press on November 8, 2019.

Family and friends of the late Second World War Sergeant Herb Peppard join other members of the military for the unveiling of a new First Special Service Force exhibit featuring Sergeant Peppard's memorabilia at the Army Museum Halifax Citadel in Halifax on Friday, November 8, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese

HALIFAX – A new museum exhibit was unveiled today honouring a Nova Scotia member of a famed Canada-U.S. army unit during the Second World War known as the Black Devils.

Herb Peppard of Truro, N.S., died in June at the age of 98.

Peppard was one of the last survivors of the First Special Service Force, which fought in several campaigns between 1942 and 1944 in Italy and northwestern Europe. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the unit’s disbandment.

Peppard, who was a sergeant, was awarded both the U.S. Silver Star and Bronze Star Medals for gallantry in the field.

The exhibit at the Army Museum at the Halifax Citadel features artifacts of his service, including medals, uniforms and personal stories.

Peppard’s daughter, Rosalee Peppard Lockyer, says she’s overwhelmed by the collection that honours not just an exemplary soldier but a warm and caring human being.

The First Special Service Force was officially activated on July 20, 1942 under the command of Lt. Colonel Robert T. Frederick.

The shoulder patch insignia for the unit was a red spearhead with “USA” written horizontally and “CANADA” written vertically.

Preference for entry into the 1,800-strong force was given to men who had previously been employed as lumberjacks, forest rangers, hunters, game wardens or in similar physical jobs.

The elite commando unit was depicted in the 1968 Hollywood film The Devil’s Brigade starring William Holden, Cliff Robertson and Vince Edwards.

In 2015, 42 surviving members of the unit, including Peppard, were honoured with the Congressional Gold Medal – the highest civilian honour the United States Congress can bestow.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 8, 2019.

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