United States of America

The members of the 1st Ranger Battalion were drawn in the main from two divisions that had recently been sent to Ireland from the U.S., the 34th Infantry Division and the 1st Armoured. In May 1942, Company A of the 1st Ranger Battalion was formed. All of the men were volunteers. They were moved to Scotland where they were trained under the instruction of British Commandos. Their commander was Captain William Darby. Some of them were among the first US troops to fight in Europe during the raid on Dieppe in 1942. Later they were expanded and trained to a battalion of 467 men. The US Rangers took part in the North African campaign Operation Torch, serving with Nos. 1 and 6 British Army Commandos. After this additional Ranger Battalions were formed along similar lines and took part in operations in all theatres of the war

Photos and documents about the US Rangers are here

LOUSTALOT, Edward Vincent

Known as: 
Forename seen elsewhere as Edwin
Rank: 
Second Lieutenant
Unit/Base: 
Regiment/Corps: 
US Rangers 1st Bn.
Service: 
Army
Service number: 
O-395585
Honours & Awards: 
Born: 
Monday, March 17, 1919
Died : 
Wednesday, August 19, 1942
Killed in action or died of wounds
Roll of Honour: 
Operations: 
Lt Edward Loustalot 1st US Rangers
Second Lieutenant Edward Loustalot, 1st US Ranger Bn., died during operations at Dieppe. He was the first American soldier to die on European soil in WW2.
 
Posthumous Mention in Despatches
"Second Lieut. Loustalot was attached to the party of No 3 Commando which landed on Berneval, Dieppe, on August 19th 1942. This party consisted of only three boat loads out of fifteen which had been engaged and dispersed by the enemy before reaching shore. They immediately went into the attack against greatly superior forces. Throughout the action, in which he lost his life, Second Lieut. Loustalot displayed the greatest coolness and gallantry under heavy fire and by his example and leadership contributed greatly to the attack, which successfully engaged large numbers for a long time and enabled another party, a mile distant, to approach their objective with only minor oppostion." 
 
Notes on Forename and Award:
UK National Archives search result shows Edwin. Source of Edward: ABMC, US Federal  Govt / Cross on his grave.
Award Source: UK National Archives ref WO/373/93/857. Award recommended by Lt. Col. J.F. Durnford-Slater.
 

HOCTEL, Lamont Durward

Rank: 
Private
Regiment/Corps: 
US Rangers 1st Bn.
Service: 
Army
Service number: 
35170079
Born: 
Wednesday, October 18, 1916
Died : 
Sunday, July 12, 1942
Died on war service
Died in the UK
Age: 
25
Cemetery/Memorial: 
Private Lamont Hoctel, 1st US Rangers, Company 'E',  drowned whilst training at Achnacarry. The date of his death is during the period that the US 1st Ranger Bn., led by Colonel W. Darby attended the Commando Basic Training Centre for their training. His death is noted in their War Diary as "drowned during stream crossing exercise.".
 
The local Death Register records the following information
 
Former occupation: Petrol Attendant
Private, Ranger Batallion, United States Army
Single, Male, 25yrs.
Usual residence: South Bend, Indiana, United States.
Found 7.30pm July 12th 1942 Loch Lochy, Bunarkaig, Achnacarry
Cause of death: Drowning
Seen after death by William A. Jarrett, 1st Lieut. Medical Officer 1st US Ranger Bn.
Informant as above.
 
Sources 
Register of Deaths in the district of Kilmallie (Page 17, no.49) via the website scotlandspeople.gov.uk 
CVA Gallery list of Courses at the CBTC
1st Ranger Bn. War Diary via the website wwiirangers.org
 

RUSCHKEWICZ, James R.

Rank: 
Ranger
Regiment/Corps: 
US Rangers 1st Bn.
Service: 
Army
Service number: 
36165787
Died : 
Friday, September 11, 1942
Died on war service
Died in the UK
Ranger James Ruschkewicz, US Rangers 1st Bn. 'C' Company, was killed in an accidental explosion of a landmine at Barry Rifle Range, near Dundee, during a training exercise.  
 
33068148 Ranger Aaron M. Salkin, 'C' Company, was severely injured.
 
The Rangers had been training with No 1 Commando under Lieut. Col. T. Trevor
 
[ Source: 1st Ranger Bn. War Diary http://www.wwiirangers.com ]
 

'US Rangers', Assault on Pointe du Hoc Battery


Transcript of a report by Lt Colonel Trevor.

Report details the landing of the US Rangers on DDay to assault the Battery.
Source: David Cheverton, godson of Lt Col. Thomas Hoult Trevor
(click on highlighted name for more.)
 
1. The Battery dominated the OMAHA and UTAH beaches and shipping. It was essential, therefore, that the guns be destroyed at the earliest possible moment.
 
2. The outline plan at the time that I started to work on the project was to land the Rangers on OMAHA beach in the second wave, pass them through the forward troop and then for them to advance along the coast line for 4-5 miles and attack the Battery from the landward (South-East) side. This plan was identical with the plan used to attack the POINTE MATIFOU battery at ALGIERS. There it was demonstrated that even against light opposition it is impossible to reach and reduce the Battery quickly enough to prevent it engaging our shipping to considerable effect. The plan was, therefore, partially abandoned and a landing was sought nearer the objective. That this was right was demonstrated by the fact that neither the balance of the Ranger Group nor the assault Batallions landed at OMAHA, in spite of most violent exertions, covered the 4-5 miles and reached POINTE DU HOE before the evening of D+2. During which time if the damage done at MATIFOU in a few hours is any criteria much of our shipping would have been sunk. 
 
3. The search for a nearer landingwas complicated by the topography of the coast which, Westward of OMAHA to POINTE DU HOC and on to GRAND CAMP, consists of 90 - 100 ft high cliffs. ​
 
4. The second plan consisted of a landingat GRAND CAMP, some two miles to the East of the Battery, and then attacking the Battery from the East. Here, however, there was a large artificial inundation which restricted the line of advance and forced the attack over open country up hill on ground dominated by prepared positions on commanding ground. A careful study of photographs convinced everyone that not only had the enemy foreseen this attack, but that he had made very elaborate preparations to meet it, and had prepared a “killing ground”. The object of the inundation being solely to canalise the attackers' advance over this prepared ground. This plan was abandoned. Inspection of the ground and defences later showed that the enemy had, in fact, made the most careful preparations on the above lines and many hitherto unsuspected positions commanding the line of approach were discovered. ​
 
5. The right and left attacks having been ruled out, if the battery was to be quickly silenced, there remained only the centre which, as already mentioned, consisted of high vertical cliffs. A plan was produced to scale the cliffs to the East and West of the battery at selected places between the strong points which were sited at regular intervals along the cliff top, and then attack the battery from the East and West by means of a pincer movement. ​This plan offered every prospect of success, if the assault could scale the cliffs under fire. However, when they had done so - no easy task – the defences of the battery still had to be reduced, and these in themselves were formidable. ​
 
6. A study of these defences showed that they all faced inland and that the enemy were relying for defence of the battery to seaward on the sheer cliffs. If the assault force had to climb the cliffs under fire it was obviously better to do so and get right into the objective without having to overcome any additional obstacles, rather than climb the cliffs and then have to deal with the prepared defences. An additional inducement was the vital impotance of obtaining a quick decision, coupled with the economy of supporting fire which resulted from combining the supporting fire for the attack with the neutralising fire necessary to keep the battery silent during the approach. The final deciding factor was that it was a very bold conception and it is an old dictum that “bold conception and cautious execution leads to quick and favourable decisions”. This plan was adopted but unfortunately they hedged by providing for part of the Ranger Group to land at OMAHA and carry out the original plan if the assault of the Battery had not succeeded by H+30. It was, however, the original plan that failed and this “insurance” policy only resulted in the success of this operation not being fully exploited for lack of the necessary follow-up, since the assault did not land until after H+30. ​
 
7. The plan of attack having been decided and the route of approach having been chosen, there only remained the technical problem of how to waft two hundred or more men up a vertical cliff. When that problem had been solved a short eight minute film explaining how it was to be done was made, and is included as part of this report. 
 
8. The most prominent event in the execution was that the Rangers were put ashore about 70 minutes instead of 3 minutes after the bombardment ceased. At the time I considered that this alone was enough to render the operation abortive. However, so great was the tactical surprise and such the verve and dash of the troops that it made no difference, the first men being up in about 3 – 4 minutes and the guns captured and destroyed in thirty minutes. ​
 
9. The great accuracy of the preliminary bombardment, both by air and sea – the very considerable devastation and the large craters so created were very impressive, but it was of great interest that in spite of this accurate and intnsive concentration of heavy bombs and shells, only one-third of the guns were badly damaged, one-sixth slightly damaged, while half were in perfect order which strikingly confirms the old doctrine that vital objectives must be assaulted if they are to be destroyed with certainty. ​
 
10. Throughout the 3 days holding battle that followed the destruction of the guns the supporting fire given by the destroyers, was by its weight and extreme accuracy, often the deciding factor. It is rather remarkable that much of this fire was controlled from a forward O.P.  by Aldous lamp direct to the ship; the wireless sets having become casualties.
 
11. When the battle was prolonged food and water, both of which we were in need of, were landed by the destroyers in their ships' boats.
 
12. The lack of landing craft delayed the evacuation of wounded and the value of unit M.Os having blood Plasma and the necessary facilities for blood transfusion was apparent and should never be neglected where there is any likelihood of delayed evacuation.
 
13. The unseaworthy qualities of the L.C.A. were abnormally apparent in the short lop that there was during the run in, two out of twelve sank, due to stress of weather, the others were only kept afloat by working all the pumps and every available man bailing with his helmet. Having been for long voyages in the Channel and up the Africa coast in bad weather aboard these craft, without experiencing similar circumstances, I can only suppose that on this occasion the length of the seas was peculiarly unsuited to L.C.A. But it would appear desirable, in view of the above, to consider before employing these craft in the falsely named Pacific.  
 
14. In conclusion I feel that it should be stressed that an operation of this sort against a strongly defended coast is only suitable for bold and skillfull troops who have had long and careful preparation. Their leaders must combine a courageous spirit in the conception of the plan, with the ability to take infinite pains over minor details of the execution. 
 
12th July 1944                     Signed . Lt Col Trevor

YOUNG, Leilyn, Letter about his time as a US Ranger.

Type: Letters
Author: Leilyn Young, Lisa McCollum
Year of Publishing: 2010
Keywords: Leilyn Young, US Ranger

Leilyn Young, one of the first US Rangers to have Special Forces training by the new UK Commandos in WW2. Leilyn trained at the Special Training Centre, Lochailort, and then again at the Commando Depot, later renamed the Commando Basic Training Centre, Achnacarry. Both training centres were in Scotland, otherwise known as Commando Country. 

This letter is a diary of events from when he left America, his arrival in Ireland, subsequent Commando training in Scotland, then onto North Africa. The letter was taken back to the USA by a returning fellow US Ranger. Leilyn Young not only went through a 4 week course at Lochailort in 1942 but also a 4 week course a few weeks later at Achnacarry with Colonel Darby and his other Rangers. This latter course ended on the 1st August 1942. Leilyn reached the rank of Colonel but was a Captain when this letter was written.

His niece Lisa McCollum recalls this about him " He was an incredible man, very soft spoken and one of the kindest and gentlest men I had ever met. I did not know him as well as I would have liked." Leilyn Young died on the 28th July 2004 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Our thanks to Lisa McCollum for sharing her Uncle's letter with us