Personal recollections from world war two veterans and civilians.
Becoming a US Ranger
1st Ranger BattalionI was born in Baltimore, Maryland and, after High School (12 years)worked in a Chevrolet plant whilst studying prelaw nights. After two years of this, I was drafted into the Army, trained as an artilleryman and sent to Northern Ireland in May 1942. Soon after arriving I volunteered for the original First Ranger Battalion. After training I engaged in 4 assault landings and several campaigns in Africa, Sicily and Italy. I was not at Pointe du Hoc, that action was done by the 2nd and 5th Rangers. Some of our actions however, while not as publicized, are quite as interesting.
After the war, I married, had 2 boys (one's a sergeant of the Homicide squad in Baltimore, and the other is a preacher in Honolulu.) I practiced law 45 years retired two years ago. My beloved first wife died in 1966 and I married second time briefly and badly, third time lasting and well.
Anyway on with my saga. At first, we were not known as "Rangers." There is still some dispute as to where the term came from. Some say it was from the Texas Rangers,other the colonial Roger's Rangers. However the first call want out for "An American Commando" amd Commando soldiers where who we tried to emulate. At first we thought them supermen but later we believed we were as good or better.
The Commandos were a product of Churchill's zealous combativeness and the inspiration of Lieutenant Colonel Dudley Clark of the Imperial General Staff. They became fast moving, highly trained volunteer 'shock troopers' who could respond quickly to invasion or, as they did, carry the fight to enemy beaches with hitandrun amphibious raids. They were named as the Boar guerrillas of the war of Churchill's youth. They rekindled the belligerence of the desperate British Army after Dunkirk and gained the necessary experience for later, wider combat. Their raids drew> increasing numbers of German divisions to the defense of the European coast before and after the commencement of large scale Allied military operations. Routinely, they were the tips of those arrows pointing ashore on invasion maps. Thirty five thousand Commando soldiers and Rangers served, paying a dear butcher's bill grudgingly, but wresting a full share and more of his grisley wares.
After 1940, most commando soldiers had to 'graduate' from the Commando Depot in the Scottish Highlands at Achnacarry Castle, home of the Camerons of Lochiel. There, the training day began with a run to and from a milkandkipper breakfast, a 'speedmarch' at twice the infantry pace, another run to a field for PT and squad exercises lifting and throwing large tree trunks. It continued with runs to and between classes in fieldcraft, survival, weapons, rock climbing, marksmanship, infantry tactics, map reading, armed and unarmed combat, night fighting, amphibious landings and combat problems, for twelve hours a day, six days a week. The air was often live with the cracking of rifle and machinegun bullets and> the blasts of concussion grenades as marksman instructors flavored the exercises with the sights and sounds of war. Failure of any test of daring, strength or endurance, or to complete any course, invariably caused a return to the candidate's former unit 'RTU'. Candidates 'RTUed' left quietly without goodbys, some weeping, all disappointed.
The First Ranger Battalion was the product of a call for volunteers for an "American commando" to come to Carrickfergis, Ireland. The call went to the troops in Britain in June, 1941, and some 2500 responded from two divisions in the ETO at that early time of Americans' part in the War. Seven hundred of these survived two weeks' endurance and other tests at Achnacarry, and the rest were RTUed. The survivors formed a battalion with the table of organization of a commando: six line companies and a headquarters company totaling 500 officers and men. The surplus 200 of the survivors of Carrickfergis were RTUed at the Commando Depot.
At Corker Hill, near Glasgow, the Rangers were fresh from advanced training in the Highlands and at Dundee and were alerted for embarkation to parts unknown.
Written by Carl H. Lehmann
1st Ranger battalion Veteran
Continue to the landing in North Africa