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.

Col. William Darby
Col. William Darby

500 of the 600 men passed the training course, and soon 49 of them boarded ships with Canadian Infantry and British Commandos to test large scale invasion techniques in the fateful operation codenamed Jubilee…the raid on Dieppe.