Honor your hero with thoughts, memories, images and stories.
Uncle “Babe,” (his nickname because he was the baby of the family) enlisted in the Army tank corps in February of 1941 and was shipped overseas in March of 1942. He volunteered for the brand new First Battalion of Darby’s Rangers in May of 1942. He participated in the raid on Dieppe in Aug of ’42, and also fought in campaigns in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. On November 13, 1943 he sustained abdominal wounds while on patrol in Venafro, Italy and died 6 days later on November 19, 1943 … less than one month before his brother, Wes, was shot down over Germany.
Evansville, Indiana's Maturity Journal article, Volume 25, Issue 5, page 3, May 2010 (pg 1) The article was printed for Memorial Day, 2010, and it told the story of the two brothers being killed in action less than a month apart.
St. Angelo Hill, Chianzi Pass, Italy Taken immediately after taking St. Angelo Hill. The arrow points to Babe. Daddy writes that "they are pretty well tuckered out." Mac McKinnon is standing at Babe's left shoulder and "Blackie" Friedman is on Mac's left side.
St. Angelo Hill, Chianzi Pass, Italy Taken just after 10 days with hardly any water (1/2 teacupful a day) on St. Angelo Hill. Babe is seated in front. "Mac" is on Babe's right. There is a picture in LIFE Magazine about this -- Chianzi Pass. Babe and these men received their 2nd Presidential Citation for this.
Tunisia, Africa Names from bottom to top: Sgt. Frank Mattini, Sgt. Babe Brinkley, Pvt. Joe May, Sgt. Bon Lowell, Sgt. Steve Yarbor, and Pvt. Will Taylor. They were returning from the Tunisian camp.
This was the news article about Babe's death in the Evansville paper. This is the only place I've seen that lists him as a Staff Sergeant. In the book dedicated to Darby's Rangers he is listed as PFC.
Scotland This is an example of a letter the censors got hold of. This is the letter in which he told his mom about joining "an outfit of special troops" -- Darby's Rangers. The Rangers were a pretty well-kept secret until the raid on Dieppe. There was just a small contingent of Rangers that took part in that raid and Babe was one of them. (See the story about Dieppe and the letter he wrote home about it.)
The Raid on Dieppe was basically a British and Canadian Commando raid. But the Commandos had been training Darby's Rangers for about 4 months and decided that this would be a good time to test how well the training was going. So they took a small contingent (50 men) of the 1st Battalion of Rangers along on the raid, and Babe was one of them. He wrote home on Aug 26, 1942 and told the folks about it: "Dear folks, Well, here I am at last. Your son has been in battle. I was one of the U.S. Rangers at Dieppe, but I came away without a scratch. In fact, I didn't even get ashore. It was a great fight and boy was I scared. Almost shook myself to pieces when the shells started coming at us. Please don't worry as it was fun when daylight came. I am now waiting to go on another raid and the sooner the better. Will then have a chance to get back to the states so I hear. By the way, tell Jean that writing here is pretty difficult so you and Jean get together whenever I write so that you'll get all the dope. Tell the rest of the kids and family not to expect letters for that reason. Give them all my regards, tell them to take care of themselves. Haven't been getting any mail, but I believe I have a bunch at headquarters so that's ok." Then he gives them his new address and closes: "Well folks, that's about all I know. Don't worry for heavens sake as I'm all right. Yours truly, Babe" When I read the part about how scared he was, I just sat here and cried. Daddy never talked about any of their battles that he knew about and he never talked about any battles he took part in during the Korean War. So I will admit that I was naive and never really thought about what the individual soldiers were feeling. So when I read that and remembered that Babe was just barely 19 when he went on this raid, I was just a little overwhelmed emotionally. (Babe enlisted when he was only 17 -- like many others, he lied about his age to get in.) I also think it's important to realize that the Raid on Dieppe on 19 Aug 1942 was a collossal failure for the Allied forces. A total of 3,367 of the 6,086 men (almost 60%) who made it ashore were either killed, wounded, or captured, and virtually none of the objectives they had set for themselves were met. The RAF lost 106 aircraft (compared to only 48 of the Luftwaffe) and the Royal Navy lost 33 landing craft and 1 destroyer. However, the Raid on Dieppe did accomlish one thing -- it greatly influenced two very important future Allied operations: the landings in North Africa (Operation Torch) and Normandy (Operation Overlord). Babe was part of Operation Torch, but was killed in action in Italy in Nov of 1943, so he wasn't one of the Rangers at Normandy.
Babe's Purple Heart Certificate
On Sunday, 23 Aug 1942, Wes wrote a letter to his older brother, Earl, in Wisconsin. At this point, Wes had just received his wings and his commission as a 2nd Lt at the end of July, and was still in training waiting to be "shipped out." "Babe" had just turned 19 and had been in Scotland undergoing commando training with Darby's Rangers since early July and Wes had already heard all about the Commandos and Darby's Rangers. This is part of the letter he wrote to Earl: "Jack and Mom sent me some of Babe's letters and I don't think I've ever read anything that sounded as forlorn as his last letter. He sure is homesick. He's in a Ranger Battalion, which is the Commandos for our Army. I wish there was something I could do to help him besides write letters. He's in this outfit away from what friends he has and I'm telling you there's nothing worse than that and on top of that he's so far away from home. Please write to him often because a letter from the folks at home means more to a soldier than anything in the world. I just hope that I can make it through this alright and can get sent over there and get a chance to see him before anything happens to him. The chances of any of us ever seeing him again are about a million to one. Every time I think of him and this outfit he's in, I tighten up all over. If only a person could see a couple of years into the future, I'll guarantee that every one of us and no exceptions would live according to the Golden Rule and never make a misstep. When you go home and Mom doesn't know what kind of outfit Babe is in, I believe it would be best not to tell her." I can tell you now that, after Babe made it through the unbelievably difficult training in Scotland, he loved being a Ranger. I put this letter here because it shows the reputation the Rangers had as early as Aug of 1942. But it really tells more about Wes and what a sweet, compassionate man he was.
This is Babe with the Rangers in Scotland during their training with the British Commandos. The blue line points at Babe. Daddy said, "you have to use a glass, but it is a good pic of him -- he has his cap on the left side of his head."
I'm posting this here as well as on Wesley's page because there is so much information in it about Babe!