Harold Rinard was part of the Iowa National Guard shortly before WWII. When the decision was made to form Darby's Rangers Harold's National Guard unit, stationed in England, was absorbed as part of the cadre for Darby's Rangers. After being accepted individually as a Ranger, they were shipped to Achnacarry, Scotland for the most strenuous training available under the British Commandos. Some Ranger's took part in the ill-fated Dieppe raid on France.
After training was completed, Darby's Rangers, now known as the "Original 1st" Battalion went to North Africa. Darby's Rangers were selected as the spearhead unit in the North African invasion in advance of the 1st Infantry Division. They landed in North Africa at Arzew, Algeria. Through stealth and other skills learned in training the Ranger's were able to silence heavy guns which put the Naval ships off shore and the landings at risk. Their attack, being so swift and complete, resulted in taking hundreds of prisoners.
Soon after the North African invasion, began the Tunisian campaign. During this campaign the Ranger's took part in several major military actions. These actions included: the Sened Raid; the withdrawal from Gafsa to Dernia; and the Battle of El Guettar. Harold was wounded during this period. While in French Morocco, the "Original 1st" was expanded to form the 1st, 3rd, and 4th Ranger Battalions. Harold volunteered to go to the 3rd Ranger Battalion as part of a mortar crew and was promoted from Private to Sergeant.
Darby's Rangers next action was the Sicilian campaign. The 1st and 4th landed in Sicily at Gela, while the 3rd landed later at Licata. The Rangers were involved in several actions where they distinguished themselves.
The next Ranger action was the allied invasion of Italy at Salerno. While the landing did not go well, with most units being pinned down, the Rangers were able to infiltrate beyond the beachhead and play a major role in the eventual success of the invasion. One major Ranger action during this period was the battle for Chiunzi Pass. Harold was wounded again at Chiunzi Pass. While the war in Italy ground to a muddy stalemate in the hills and valleys of Italy, the Rangers were used as ordinary frontline troops and did not require the Ranger's unique skills. This action lead to severe depletion of the number of available Rangers and their skill level.
To help resolve the stalemate in Italy, the invasion of Anzio, Italy, just south of Rome on the western coast, was planned. During this period, Harold was promoted to Master Sergeant. The invasion, with Darby's Rangers in the lead, went incredibly well. On the day of the invasion troops were able to reach the outskirts of Rome itself. Once the Germans realized what had happened, and through inaction by the American leadership, Anzio too became a trap. With all troops trapped on the beach, German Artillery made life on the beachhead miserable. In an effort to break the worsening condition at Anzio, all three battalions were chosen to lead a general allied attack. The Rangers objective was the small town of Cisterna. The 1st and 3rd Battalions were to infiltrate behind enemy lines along a ravine to a location adjacent to Cisterna. Meanwhile, the 4th Battalion was to clear the road leading to Cisterna. The 4th ran into stiff enemy opposition and was unable to advance very far beyond their jumping off point. Near Cisterna, the 1st and 3rd left the ravine to begin their attack only to find incredible resistance. The Germans, anticipating just such an attack, and preparing their own attack had been reinforced with the vaunted Hermann Goering Panzer Division. In a viscous battle lasting several hours, almost the entire day, the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions ceased to exist. Of the 767 men of the 1st and 3rd Battalions involved in the Battle for Cisterna, 6 men were able to return to friendly lines. Of the others, roughly 50% were killed and the rest were captured. Harold was among those captured and spent the rest of WWII in a German prison, sort of …
The planned German attack never occurred.
An interesting set of events occurred soon after the Rangers were captured at Cisterna. The Germans, realizing they had captured some of America's best troops decided to let these men, trained in escape and evasion, out of the trucks they were being transported in so that they could be paraded through the towns and shown off. After each town the Rangers were put back in their trucks and driven to the next town. The Germans soon realized they needed less and less trucks after each town. The practice of parading Rangers through towns along the way to prison stopped.
Harold spent the remainder of the war under the watchful eye of his German captors. When he enlisted, Harold had weighed 200 pounds, but when he returned from the war he weighed less than 100 pounds. After Cisterna, the 4th Battalion was disbanded and it's members absorbed into other British and American special operations units. After the war all remaining Ranger units were disbanded.
After WWII, Harold began working with my father, Harold's brother-in-law. When word reached him that the North Koreans had invaded South Korea and that the Army had decided to reactivate the Rangers, as Airborne Rangers, Harold immediately re-enlisted. Harold went through Airborne training with the 3rd Airborne Ranger Company. After Airborne training, Harold still a Master Seargent, was sent to Korea to join the already in country 1st Airborne Ranger Company, which was attached to the 23rd Regiment and part of the 2nd Division. Within days of Harold's arrival, the 23rd found themselves surrounded by an estimated five Chinese Regiments at a place called Chipyong-ni. Since the Chinese had entered the war, the Americans and South Koreans had retreated in a rapid fashion, near panic, but still orderly. At Chipyong-ni, the Chinese more than met their match. After the three day battle for Chipyong-ni, the Chinese advance was halted for the first time since their entry into the war. It was during the battle of Chipyong-ni, on the night of February 14/15, 1951 that Harold Rinard was killed in action in the frozen snows of Korea by an artillery shell.
Thanks uncle Harold!