“Onward we stagger. And if the tanks come, then God help the tanks!”
That quote comes from the commander of the 1st Rangers Battalion and a soldier who so distinguished himself that the unit became known as “Darby’s Rangers.” The unit was among the first American ground forces to see action against the Nazis, beginning in Tunisia. During that time, Darby made very good on his boast. According to his citations for Distinguished Service, he personally oversaw the destruction of several German tanks with light artillery and grenades. He was also known for personally reconnoitering German positions. A rumor went around that at one point a courier visited Rangers headquarters. When he asked some soldiers where Darby was, one of the Rangers quipped “You’ll never find him this far back!”
Sadly, Darby did not get away with such bold actions forever. On April 30, 1945, he was killed in action when a tiny shell fragment hit him in the heart. It was only one week before Germany surrendered and on the same day that he was to be promoted to brigadier general.