Army Photo Public Domain)
it was in training or in battle, your unwavering, indomitable spirit
forged by painstaking and diligent zeal has always persevered. Your
resourcefulness and initiative have earned for you the respect and esteem
of all true fighting men the world over. You have done much to aid the
Allied cause in this war.
your Commanding Officer I am justly proud to have led such an outstanding
group of American fighting men. Never was I more sad than on our day of
parting. Never was I more content than being with you on our many exciting
operations. You trained hard, you fought hard, and always you gave your
best regardless of discomfort or danger.
the great Allied raid at Dieppe through the exacting, bitter campaigns
culminating with the Anzio Beachhead battles, the First, the Third, and
the Fourth Ranger Battalions have performed in a capacity unsurpassed by
the highest tradition of the American Army. Your record speaks for
James Altieri author of Darby's Rangers)
links to Ranger recommended book lists:
Research Reading List
excellent comprehensive account of all six Battalions:
In World War II
Ranger Robert W. Black
Darby Legacy Project
found their introduction into the pages of American History with America's
entry into World War II. Major General Lucian K. Truscott, U.S. Army, in
liaison with the British General Staff, submitted proposals to
General George Marshal that "we undertake immediately an American
unit along the lines of the British Commandos" in 1942. A cable from
the War Department quickly followed to Truscott authorizing the activation
of the 1st U.S. Army Ranger Battalion.
much deliberation, Captain William Orlando Darby, a graduate of West Point
amphibious training, was chosen as the Commanding Officer of the 1st
Ranger Battalion. Promoted to major within a few weeks of receiving this
assignment, Darby performed the impossible by organizing the unit. Of the
1500 men to volunteer for the original Ranger Battalion, only 600 were
chosen and on June 19, 1942, the 1st Ranger Battalion was officially
select team of four officers toured the existing Commando Training Camps
and selected the Center at Achnacarry, Scotland for the Rangers. Here they
underwent intensely rugged training. Coached, prodded, and challenged by
the battle-seasoned Commando instructors (commanded by Colonel Charles
Vaughan), the Rangers learned the rudiments of Commando warfare. Five
hundred of the 600 volunteers that Darby brought with him to Achnacarry
survived the Commando training, many could not endure the exercises, one
Ranger was killed, while several others were wounded in training so
realistic, it was actually executed under live fire.
first Americans to see active combat in the European conflict of WWII
were forty-four enlisted men and six officers from the 1st Ranger Battalion. Dispersed among the Canadians and the British Commandos, these
men were the first American ground soldiers to see action against the
Germans in the famed Dieppe Raid (click
here to view the roster of Rangers who participated on the Dieppe Raid). Three Rangers were killed, several
captured, and all won the commendation and esteem of the Commandos in this
raid. The first American soldier killed in Europe in WW II was part of the Dieppe Raid, and
a Ranger, Lieutenant E.V. Loustalot. During this raid, he took command
after the British Captain leading the assault was killed. Loustalot scaled
a steep cliff with his men, was wounded three times, but was eventually
cut down by enemy crossfire in his attempts to reach the machine-gun nest
at the top of the cliff.
first efforts to stop the German infiltration of Europe
by the 1st Ranger Battalion. In efforts to prevent German occupation of
seaports in North Africa, the 1st Ranger Battalion spearheaded an invasion
at the Port of
Algeria. This was accomplished
executing a surprise night landing, silencing two gun batteries, and
opening the way for the capture of Oran.
Tunisia in 1943, the 1st Battalion executed the first Ranger behind-the-lines
night raid at Sened Station for the purpose of gaining information and terrorizing
the enemy. Later, in March, American units
were shot to pieces, time after time, trying to break through the critical
mountain pass at Djbel Ank. Given this mission, the 1st Rangers undertook
a twelve-mile night march through rugged terrain to reach the heights of
Djbel Ank where, at dawn, the Rangers surprised the enemy from the rear,
capturing two hundred prisoners and giving General Patton an opening
though which he began the final and victorious battle in North Africa.
Rangers played a crucial role in the battle of El Guettar which
immediately followed, for which the First Ranger Battalion won its first Presidential
early successes of the 1st Ranger Battalion precipitated the creation of
the 3rd and 4th Battalions. The original 1st Battalion was divided into
thirds. One third of the Headquarters and each company was placed in each
of the Battalions 1-3-4. The battle seasoned 1st Battalion moved into
their newly assigned positions and trained their Ranger brothers. The
1-3-4 Battalions were trained under Darby in Nemours, North Africa and prepared for
the invasion of Sicily and Italy.
Had it not been for
the accomplishments of the 1st Ranger Battalion in the early entry of WWII,
there would be no Rangers today. Their successful invasions in North Africa opened the
sea and its ports for the Allied forces. The Allies were now
able to move ships and
equipment into the campaigns and raids that followed, enabling the later forces to
successfully achieve the infiltration along the coast of Africa, into
Sicily, and up into Italy.
the invasion of the Anzio beachhead, the
1st, and 3rd Rangers were destroyed behind
enemy lines in a heavily outnumbered encounter at Cisterna, Italy. The
Battalion suffered massive casualties while attempting to break through
enemy lines to rescue their Brothers in the 1st and 3rd Battalions.
See the story below, an account of Christmas at Oflag 64 by one of the
officers captured at Cisterna. The
1st, 3rd, and 4th Battalions were known as
and 5th Ranger Battalions proudly carried on the Ranger reputation as they
entered the war on D-day on the beaches of Normandy. The 6th Battalion
carried on in the Pacific Theater as they fought in the jungles of the
Philippines. These stories are documented more comprehensively by the Rangers who were
there on the 2-3-4-5-6 Battalion pages.
at Oflag 64
me tell you a story. There were two times in my 15 months at Oflag 64
Prison Camp, that I cried. One of them was the 4th of July. We were
standing in an appel formation and the orchestra came out. We
wondered what in the world was going on. After they were through counting
us, we all still stood there. From somewhere, somebody produced an
American Flag. There was a strong enough breeze to make it stand out and
it seemed to be flapping at us- cocky like. As it waved in the breeze, the
orchestra played the Star Spangled Banner. And I stood there
looking at it. Although we heard afterwards, the Germans had tried to
confiscate the flag, remarkably, they didn't interfere. That surprised us!
At that moment, I was so proud! Tears came to my eyes.
other time was at Christmas. We had a play that night, one of our small
theater productions I had been a part of it, I remember- in the chorus.
Later, we started to sing Christmas Carols with the orchestra and the
piano. The Germans enjoyed that, too. I remember while we were singing Silent
Night, the guards were singing along with us in German. So, we sang a
lot of Carols.
afterwards, we went back to our barracks. It was deadly serious again. The
spotlights were on us, rotating around. The lights were shining on our
Christmas tree. Earlier we had all helped a couple of guys who were pretty
adept. make a Christmas tree out of the Red Cross parcel boxes. It stood
about two feet high. They had fit some branches in and had used the opener
ribbons from the Wooly Beef Cans for decorations. The Wooly Beef and the
Spam cans had metal ribbons about a quarter inch thick. The cans were
opened by rolling up these metal ribbon keys. They were our icicles for
the Christmas tree. We even had made little Santa Clauses out of cardboard
and hung them on the branches.
put the Christmas tree in the window. And of course, it was cold. But when
I went to bed that Christmas night, after it was all over, I laid there in
the dark in my bunk. Every now and then the spotlight would come by and
the light would flash on our little Christmas tree. Because of the change
in temperature and the wind outside, it would move the ornaments and make
them twinkle and shine. I got to feeling kind of blue- kind of lonesome. I
thought of home and what they were doing for Christmas. That night I cried
myself to sleep.
by Warren (Bing) Evans
from "Heroes Cry Too"
& 3rd Ranger Battalion