T/5 Albert Messner served as the radio operator
on a SAARF team in early 1945.
In England in the spring of 1945, rumors had reached Supreme
Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces
(SHAEF) that, with the end of the war in sight and the outcome
a forgone conclusion, Hitler might order the
guards at various Stalags and Oflags to massacre all the Allied
POWs as one of his final hateful gestures.
Plans were made to try to avert this.
In the newly-formed SAARF (Special Allied Airborne Reconnaissance
Force), over 200 troops of various
nationalities were trained in England. A number of officers and
men, who had prior combat experience with the
101st, were sent to SAARF in early 1945. The unit only existed
for several months. Each team consisted of 2
officers and one enlisted (usually a T/5) radio operator. These
teams could parachute into the vicinity of a Ger-
man Stalag to monitor events from a distance. In the event of
an imminent massacre, they could radio for a
battalion of paratroopers to jump ASAP on the camp.
The SAARF wing and tab (shown above left) were intended
for wear at the top of the right shoulder, although
they could be worn below a 1st Allied Airborne patch or a former
Airborne combat unit patch. The SHAEF
patch (shown above right) was worn on the left shoulder while
personnel were serving in SAARF