Sened Station: Tunisian Campaign North Africa
(Posted February 2003)
In February of 1943, the 1st Ranger Battalion was to raid the Sened Station, still in North Africa. On Feb. 11, 1943, Co’s. A, E and F set out to raid the Italian positions at Station de Sened, defended by the Centauro Division and the elite Bersaglieri mountain troops.
With twelve miles of rough terrain to cover, the Rangers carried no packs, traveling light with a canteen of water, a C ration and a shelter half each. They were trucked in to about twelve miles of their final destination. From here they set out on foot to within four miles of their mission objective, Sened Station.
In keeping with the Ranger element of surprise, soon after nightfall, the Rangers rose from hiding and approached to within one mile of the Station objective. From here they were close enough to observe the enemy, undetected. Here they waited here until full darkness fell. With blackened faces, tags taped down (to eliminate any noise and the resulting alert of their approach to the enemy), and woolen skullcaps, they quietly approached.
Company A approached from the left, E the center, and F on the right. With the use of hooded lights shown only to the troops behind (a tactic employed yet today when in situations of radio silence where they employ a series of colored lights seen only to the rear of the approaching Rangers), Darby and Dammer were able to signal and move the three companies into position, using only their colored, hooded lights, for the attack.
The Italians became suspicious and fired nervously and aimlessly into the night. Having no idea the Rangers were actually among them, the fire was aimed too high and served only to alert the approaching Rangers as to the gunner’s positions.
As the three companies approached and attacked, the Headquarters Company was firmly positioned in the rear, making it impossible for the Italians to escape the Ranger attack.
In less than an hour, the Rangers secured Sened Station. Ranger Garrison was killed and twenty some other Rangers were wounded. The Rangers withdrew and headed back to Gafsa on foot, the prisoners, the wounded, and the now battle seasoned Rangers.
It was a quick pace and difficult with prisoners and wounded. Several Rangers were decorated with Silver Stars, while Bing Evans and Walter Wojcik were awarded battlefield commissions.
The raid was carefully planned and exceeded all expectations. Darby recalls one incident when he was in radio communication with Captain Max Schneider, future commander of the 5th Ranger Battalion:
"During the action I called Captain Max Schneider to find out how many prisoners he had taken. The captain replied, 'I think I have two, sir.' The field radio connection was bad, and I asked for a repeat. The two Italians tried to pull a getaway, and the captain fired two quick shots, answering in the same breath, ‘Well, sir, I had two prisoners.’"
The raid resulted in at least fifty Italian dead and eleven prisoners from the famed 10th Bersaglieri Regiment. The fighting for Sened was very close and personal, as one Ranger recalls, "There was some pretty intense in-fighting there, but a man doesn't talk about what he does with a bayonet."
Five officers and nine enlisted men were awarded the Silver Star for their part in the Sened raid.
References: Rangers in World War II, by Robert W. Black, 1st Battalion Rangers who were there.