Sua Sponte  – US Army Rangers in the Modern Era
Part Two  –  Rangers in World War II
by James L. Rairdon, DM, FLMI

was the replacement of casualties. The Rangers had to remain out of combat for a month or so to train incoming replacements. The second issue is related to the first, the replacement of officers wounded in combat. Some junior officers needed more training and experience before the should have been promoted to higher command in combat. The final problem related to the lack of a headquarters for the 6615th Ranger Force. This limited the Force's abilities in intelligence planning and evaluation of missions (King, 1985).

    While the 6615th Ranger Force was disbanded (their efforts perhaps saved the beachhead at Anzio. The German counterattack stalled and the American forces were able to respond (Baker, 2010; Darby & Baumer, 1980).

    After spending a year in Washington DC COL Darby was assigned as the Assistant Division Commander of the 10th Mountain Division in Italy. Just eight days after assuming duties with the 10th Mountain Division, Colonel Darby was killed by enemy artillery fire as he led his troops in clearing operations along the Po River valley. Two days later, all enemy forces surrendered in Italy. Colonel Darby had been wounded three times, his many decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross, the British Distinguished Service Order, the French Croix de Guerre, and the rarely awarded Russian Order of Kutuzou. He had refused three battlefield promotions while assigned to the Rangers, electing to remain with his chosen soldiers. Upon hearing of Colonel Darby’s death, General Lucian K. Truscott, Commanding Fifth Army, stated " . . .never have I known a more gallant, heroic officer." Colonel Darby was posthumously promoted to the grade of Brigadier General (Baker, 2010).

The 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions

The 2nd Ranger Battalion was activated on 1 April 1943 at Camp Forrest, Tennessee under the command of LTC William C. Saffrans, former commander of the Second U.S. Army Ranger School at Camp Forrest. The battalion command changed three times after LTC Saffrans was assigned to Hawaii. MAJ Charles Meyer and MAJ Lionel E. McDonald successively commanded the battalion until the arrival of LTC James E. Rudder on 30 June. The battalion was re-designated on 1 August as the 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion. They staged through the New York Port of Embarkation on 23 November, arriving in England on 29 November (Baker, 2010).

The 5th Ranger Battalion was constituted in the AUS on 21 July 1943, re-designated on 1 August as the 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion, and activated at Camp Forrest, Tennessee on 1 September under the command of LTC Max F. Schneider, former executive officer of the 4th Ranger Battalion (Baker, 2010).

Pending arrival of the (later to be disdained) lozenge–shaped Ranger shoulder sleeve insignia (SSI),

Ranger Creed
    CPT Richard B. Sullivan ordered SSI to be locally made, which proved to be the wrong size, with the word ‘RANGER’ as singular (vice plural ‘RANGERS’), and two narrow gold borders instead of a wider single gold border (Baker, 2010). These patches were derisively called "Sunoco" patches; they were roundly disliked. The scrolls were much more popular. The Provisional Ranger Group was formed on 9 May 1944 to provide a command and control headquarters for the 2nd and 5th Ranger Battalions during the landings at Omaha Beach Normandy invasion, Operation OVERLORD (Baker, 2010).

    LTC James E. Rudder assumed command of the Provisional Ranger Group while maintaining command of his 2nd Ranger Battalion and Task Force A. The Group Executive Officer was MAJ Richard P. Sullivan of the 5th Ranger Battalion. Task Force B comprised C Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion under CPT Ralph Goranson. LTC Max Schneider commanded the 5th Ranger Battalion and led Task Force C (Baker, 2010). LTC James E. Rudder led the 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion, during the Normandy invasion. More than fifty percent of the 355-man strong battalion became casualties. The capture of Pointe du Hoc was vital to the success of the D-Day landings in the vicinity of Omaha Beach. To the west of the 1st Infantry Division positions, a German cliff-top battery could wreak havoc with the Allied forces as they landed ashore (Baker, 2010).

    At 0415 hours, 6 June, the 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion launched their landing craft, and at 0430 hours the 10-mile run-in commenced. As the pre-landing naval barrage was lifted at 0600 hours, they approached the beach, regaining their course at 0630 when they realized they were some 2,000 yards from their objective landing point. The 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion hit the beach at 0720 hours, and embarked upon their mission. As the Allied forces were still in-bound to the beachhead, the 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion ineffectively fired their rocket scaling lines. The ropes carried extra weight with salt water from the sea and would only travel 15 meters. The Rangers began climbing the cliffs without their ropes, and despite opposition from the Germans above, within thirty minutes, 100 Rangers of Companies D, E and F had reached the top. The enemy guns were not in place. Defying all odds, Lieutenant Colonel Rudder established his command post atop the Pointe. Contrary to what Cornelius Ryan said, one patrol commanded by FSG Leonard G. Lornell and SSG Jack E. Kuhn located and destroyed the heavy howitzers intended to become the Pointe du Hoc battery (Baker, 2010).

    Despite a bullet wound in his right side as he had landed ashore, FSG Lornell destroyed two gun barrels

Continued on Page 3
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