Captain William Orlando Darby had a keen interest in the organization and fighting style of the British commando. The 31 year old Aide-de Camp of the 34th Infantry Division was selected to create and organize a light infantry fighting unit specializing in reconnaissance, raids and ambushes. For it, he chose a name that had echoed across battlefields for hundreds of years.
Forged In Fire: The Birth of the US Army Rangers
With permission to raise three battalions, Darby created a rigorous training regimen designed to weed out those lacking in the physical and mental toughness he knew his men needed. After all, his intent was for his men to lead from the front, tackling the toughest jobs and allowing a breakthrough by larger units to be less costly.
He put the word out in early 1942 and the first 1,600 rushed to sign up, most coming from his old division, the 34th. Only 600 were accepted. By May 1942, the Rangers of 1st Battalion – the original Darby’s Rangers – was designated. They began training for their first deployment at Carrickfergus, Ireland.
Very cool article, very informative. If I may make one minor criticism, I think you wrote the quote from Gen. Cota incorrectly, not in the wording but in the grammar. Instead of, “Well, Goddammit, if your Rangers lead the way!” it should really be, "“Well, Goddammit, if you're Rangers, lead the way!” The way you had it written I had to read it twice to make sense of it because as written it suggests that the Gen was saying something about if Col. Schnieder's Rangers would lead the way but never completed the sentence. Only after re-reading it a couple of times I realized that what the General meant that Schnieder and his men are Rangers they should lead the way.
@StormR Some cool history there! Like the part of the POW rescue - killing over 50 enemy and rescuing 500 Americans. Amazing.
All the Way, baby! Also, anyone read, "A Perfect Hell", about the FSSF? Great read about another group of hard men. They discuss Darby quite a bit
Damn straight!! Great article
@KineticFury @MikePerry One of Darby's men, Robert Dunn, wrote a poem to commemorate the Rangers' raid on Sened Pass and based it on the Stephen Vincent Benet poem, "Stonewall Jackson's Way", except he called it, "And The Rangers Shall Lead The Way". Cota, who had been studying ways of employing the Rangers to best effect in the upcoming Normandy landins, may well have known of it (see James Altieri's "The Spearheaders"). PS This is the first time I've seen Darby credited with the Ranger name. Luke Truscott usually gets the credit, but Louis Mountbatten is said to have suggested the name to Eisenhower in a meeting in early 1942.