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Michael156

Special Force/Jedburgh Wings - (*** MODERATORS' CHOICE)

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Jedburgh - your original query has developed into a most interesting and informative post - we must be grateful to Michael for adding his considerable knowledge. I hope you will be able to keep it ticking along with more on the people involved.

Myself and Brian would like to consider this for one of our ' Mods' Choice' - however, it will need a little more on the units to give it research potential for future collector's. Mervyn

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A few years ago the Jedburgh Reunion Committee, now no longer in existance, prepared a simple hand-out to give a general idea of what the Jedburghs were and what their function was. The following is the text:

"In World War 11 the Jedburghs were a Special Force Unit of 300 volunteers recruited from the the armed forces of Britian, America and France with a small contingent from the Netherlands, Belgium and Canada. Their task was to parachute into enemy occupied territory in small mixed-nationality teams, to arm and train resistance fighters and to coordinate their activities with the overall strategy of the allied D-Day armies advancing out of the Normandy bridgehead ("Overlord") and the landings in the South of France ("Dragoon").

Milton Hall, near Peterborough, was their home base. There, in 1944, they underwent months of exhaustive training, covering all aspects of modern guerrilla warfare, ambushes, demolition, unarmed combat, silent killing, small arms, parachuting and the techniques of reception committee work for receiving additional supplies by air while operating behind enemy lines.

The Operational Teams themselves, which were formed through a mixture of "official" nominations and individual choice, usually comprised either two British or two American Jedburghs plus one other from the intended country of operation. There were variiations on the theme, of course, but whatever the final composition, one member of every team was always a radio operator, profficient at high speed morse and cyphers, the peciliarities of shortwave radios, such as the "B2" and the "Jed-Set" and the intricacies of running repairs under promitave conditions.

Between D-Day and V-E Day, Jedburgh Teams carried out 101 Operations in Europe; 93 with the Maquis in France in support of the allied landings and eight in the Netherlands, of which six were in connection with Operation "Market Garden" (Arnhem). Later the Jeds, as they liked to call themselves, did many similar operations with other allied Special Forces, such as the America OSS and the British Force 136 (SOE) in Norway, Italy, Burma, Malaya, Borneo, Indonesia, China and Indo-China.

Jedburgh dead, as can be seen from the Memorial Tablet in the Sprite Chapel of Peterborough Cathedral numbered 37. Most were killed in action but some died of wounds and others of illness contracted on Operations in the jungles of South-East Asia. Seven were executed after capture. One French officer being beheaded and another being bayoneted to death".

This is a fairly simple explaination, however covers the basics and can be expanded upon. I will attach an image of Milton Hall today, known as ME 65 during the war, taken from the air. Regards, Clive.

Edited by jedburgh

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There is little I can add to Clive’s exceptional synopsis of the Jedburgh program and its history, except in hopes of providing a little more context and influence.

Up to World War II America, at least, had little comparable experience in modern guerilla warfare to the rest of the world. Although there were a few commando type units throughout our own history, that background paled in comparison to global experience such as with the Chinese, the Boer War, and Zapata. Unconventional warfare, and its application, was not well developed and educated to most at the time. But conditions in Europe during World War II provided the settings for successful resistance movements. Although behind the stoic British early in the war, the U.S., France and allies learned quickly and operated in combined effort to great effectiveness. Although extremely successful then, the same use of these forces under the same conditions has been rare since.

The mission of the Jedburgh teams were also the catalyst for today’s Special Forces teams. Although application has changed somewhat, and today’s composition maybe more similar to the Operational Groups, the tasking for a single Operational Detachment Alpha to “train, equip, and a battalion size element” very much reflects the Jedburghs example in both influence and mission. The requirements for operations in denied areas such as language and military skill specialties to support that mission clearly mirror the Jeds in many aspects.

The combined nature of the Jedburgh teams was also remarkable. Allied cooperation in teams that represented such political and national diversity was unique in a time with little confidence and understanding to what those issues meant post war. Although the teams were very effective with the proper dynamics at lower levels, national interests did come into play at all levels of influence. Another early example of how special operations can have very unique political effects.

The OSS Operational Groups, or OG’s, were another element of the Office of Strategic Services task organized for special operations. Usually employed in larger numbers, they were assigned to accomplish specific missions that were often conducted in conjunction with the resistance, but not specifically organized and tasked with developing resistance.

Another point worth noting is that at least some of the OSS Operational Groups wore Special Force wings as well. It is very likely that this badge was not entirely exclusive to the Jedburgh program. This fact again reinforces the understanding that ‘authentic’ SF. wings came from various sources from all over the world and with slight differences in style and make. Many assuredly came from immediate post war specialty orders as keepsakes or replacements of originals.

Below are a few informative, enjoyable, but nonacademic works:

Operative, Saboteurs and Spies, by Patrick O’Donnell

The Jedburghs, by Will Irwin

Operation Jedburgh, by Colin Beaven

SOE in France, by MRD Foote - one of the most recognized, essential works

Also, a few credible sites for reference:

http://www.801492.org/Agents/AllJedburghs.html

http://www.ossog.org/

http://www.ossreborn.com/

We hope that this thread continues and expands with much more information, international flavor, and personal insights.

Thanks, Michael.

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Coldstream also asked earlier about published orders citing the wear of the Special Force wing...below is the only reference I could find to date.

SForder.jpg

Thanks, Michael.

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Brian and I - as the co-Mods. would like to thankyou both for making this such an interesting and seriously researched article. It will be pinned for two weeks - however, the title will remain. I think it will draw attention , which is well deserved - really, as we have said before, what GMIC is about.

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Hi just recently joined ... acquired this wing during a series of trades I did with a fellow from France about 18-19 years ago have always thought it to be French SAS/Para as it came with a lot of French Kepi badges etc andsince they where at the time the only unit I could find that had used modified British Para ... was always curious as to the star and cut back wings as I could never find a reference to that having been done by French airborne units ... posted it in a French para site and someone posted an article/reference page on the Jedburghs saying the British members of this unit did this sort of modifying to British para badges. thoughts anyone ?

Edited by PerthRegiment

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Michael,

My reading of your document leads me to think that what we are calling the 'SF wings' are not wings in the sense of designating the wearer as being parachute qualified. If they were then there wouldn't be a need for any personnel to be wearing regular Army wings on becoming parachute qualified. Nor would there be a requirement to remove them when leaving the unit. I may be thick on this but it looks to me like the SF wings were a unit identifier and not a specialty qualification. The document even refers to the SF wing as sleeve insignia. This means, as it applies to the OSS OG's, that all members of the unit would be entitled to wear them whether parachute qualified or not.

The US Army also has definite rules for the wearing of shoulder sleeve insignia. Currently serving with the unit: worn on the left shoulder. Prior combat or overseas service with the unit: worn on the right. Both shoulders? I have no idea. I know this doesn't agree with all of the photographs we've seen in this thread, and I can't account for the variations.

But back to my original idea, that perhaps the SF wings were a unit identifier rather than a qualification badge. Your thoughts?

Cheers,

Dan.

Edited by Dan M

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Hi just recently joined ... acquired this wing during a series of trades I did with a fellow from France about 18-19 years ago have always thought it to be French SAS/Para as it came with a lot of French Kepi badges etc and since they where at the time the only unit I could find that had used modified British Para ... was always curious as to the star and cut back wings as I could never find a reference to that having been done by French airborne units ... posted it in a French para site and someone posted an article/reference page on the Jedburghs saying the British members of this unit did this sort of modifying to British para badges. thoughts anyone ?

According to Allied Special Forces Insignia 1939-1945 (2000) by Peter Taylor the badge you have was used by members of the Jedburghs. It was made from the metal Parachute Regiment cap badge by cutting back the wings, cutting off the lion and crown above the canopy and adding a brass star at the bottom. (I would presume the British members wore this in lieu of their own regiment or corps cap badge, but it could have been used by other nationalities as well.) Taylor states that only 55 members of the Jedburghs were British with no two coming from the same regiment.

One interesting item that Taylor infers in the section on the OSS is that the Jedburghs were an OSS operation. He goes on to say that the OSS was divided into two branches; special intelligence (SI) and special operations (SO). This would seem to make sense seeing as how both the Jedburghs and the OSS Operational Groups wore the 'Special Force' wings on their sleeve.

Cheers,

Dan.

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Dan M…

 

Good question Sir from your November 26, 2014 post on if SF Wings could be more accurately portrayed as a unit patch/identifier - I would like, and very much wish, to ask a veteran about that. I think someone who wore it could give us the most integrity in perspective.

 

But to one of your points I do agree, I don't believe the SF Wings replaced, added to, or were intended to be Airborne qualification badges. BUT, they may have well been qualification for some advanced training curriculum that may have evolved and was open to interpretation from time to time, place to place, and Command team to Command team. The Jedburghs, OGs, and joint units of that era being so new and unique, and with their brevity in existence and informality, I’m sure that official designations of qualification or unit patches were little considered or cared about.

 

Personally I see them as possibly being an additional qualification insignia; although unauthorized requiring their removal from the uniform after leaving the sovereignty of that command. The variations for wear is long and wide from my personal observations of pictures and literature reinforcing the lack of regulation in their wear.

 

I will post another picture I discovered yet again taking the SF Wings outside of the European Theater and placing them in the desert environment...all the more intriguing in scope!

 

Please accept my apologies for being so tardy in answering your inquiry.

 

Respectfully,

M

Edited by Michael156

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The South African Recce Commandos had an "Operator" Brevet. This was worn by qualified Recces, along with their para Wings and whatever else they had. It was an extra distinction for the "real deal"... men who had done the training and were involved in boots on the ground operations.... I have always imagined it was something like that....

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Hello,

New to this forum and thought I'd add a picture of an original set of 'Jedburgh' Wings. I have collected WW2 Parachute insignia for many years and this wing is very hard to find and, when they appear for sale, expensive.

 

Paul

WW2 US Jedburgh Wings.jpg

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