Arzew Harbor - North Africa

An Interview with Carl Lehmann of Darby's Rangers

I joined the Rangers because I was a "yard bird" in the 34th Division. And at the time I would have done anything to get out of it (34th Division). Everyone else in the unit seemed to have at least one stripe and was a non-com; I got all the "shit" details (laugh).

For the Invasion of North Africa we went into Arzew Harbor. There was supposed to be a boom across the harbor but it wasn’t in place and we went right into the harbor and got off on a dock. Our unit was supposed to establish a perimeter around a cemetery; and we did that. As I remember I got fired upon by an automatic weapon and I hit the ground … and I got fired on again. At this point I realized that I was on the wrong side of a tombstone so I moved to the other side to avoid the fire. Over there they have pictures of the persond interred and this was a guy who was killed in Verdun (laugh). I remember this quite clearly.  He was killed in Verdun and they shipped his body back to Arzew. The firing stopped … nothing much more happened until I had to  go on a patrol where we got fired on again by automatic weapons. I had no idea what the purpose of the patrol was. So we were out on the patrol; it was myself, my platoon sergeant and another guy.  We hit the ground and I said to the Platoon Sergeant "Berdoff, what are we gonna do?" He said, "we are going to stay here till dark." So I looked at my watch  and it was 9:30 so I said "Fuck you Berdoff, I’m gone (laugh)."  I went back to the cemetery and went behind a large wall in the cemetery. The cemetery had a wall  around it and there was an oil refinery type thing behind it. I remember it was still dark when we inspected the oil refinery. The manager of the refinery came out – he had a guard with him who was armed with a rifle. I took the rifle away from the guard; it was unloaded.

I remember that we went on a patrol the second or third day and we went through a town. As I was searching around the town there was a guy aiming at me with two hands. At that time we used to think that was the woman’s way of firing a handgun. The way we used to fire a handgun was with one arm out firmly holding the gun and firing. This guy had a revolver and pointed it at me with two hands and I froze. He fired and missed. By that time he took about 30-40 bullets from other people in my squad and that’s when I decided I was going to get out of the Rangers … but I never did.

Interview with Carl Lehmann by Pat O'Donnell  11/1998