Brig. General William O. Darby of "Darby's Rangers" Fame (1911 -
Brigadier General U.S. Army
World War II
Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Feb. 8, 1911
Graduate U.S. Military Academy June 1933
Assistant Commander 10th Mountain Division
Died in Po Valley Italy Apr. 30, 1945
Organized First Ranger Battalion
Commanding Officer Ranger Force - Tunisia, Sicily, Italy 1942-1944
Commander 179th Infantry 45th Division
1944-1945 OPD WDGS (Operations Division War Department General Staff
William Orlando Darby, a graduate of West Point and aide-de-camp to
General Russell Hartle, commander of the 34th Infantry Division in
Ireland, was selected to form and command the 1st Ranger Battalion in
Ireland. After handpicking 500 men who underwent preliminary elimination
tests, the Battalion was activated Jun 19, 1942.
As a Lieutenant Colonel, Darby led the 1st Battalion in the initial
North African landings at Arzew, Algeria and in the hard-fought Tunisian
battles where the Rangers were called upon to execute a number of
hazardous night attacks over difficult and treacherous terrain. Near the
close of the Tunisian campaign, Darby stood up two more battalions, the
3d and 4th, using the original 1st battalion as their nuclei.
The battalions, now known as the Ranger Force, spearheaded the Seventh
Army landings at Gela and Licata during the Sicily campaign. Under his
command, the Rangers also saw action at Cisterna, Salerno, Chiunzi Pass,
Cassino, and finally Anzio.
With the loss of the 1st and 3d Battalions at Cisterna (they were
consolidated with the First Special Service Force), he was placed in
command of the 179th Infantry Regiment of the 45th Infantry Division.
In 1944, Colonel Darby returned stateside where he served with the Army
General Staff for eleven months. Returning to Italy as part of an Army
Air Corps inspection team with General Hap Arnold, Darby was chosen as
the assistant division commander of the 10th Mountain Division. Eight
days later, he was killed by German artillery fire as he led his troops
in the final mop up of enemy forces in the Po River valley.
He was inducted into the Ranger Hall of fame in June of 1992.
U.S. National Cemetery - Fort Smith, Arkansas