this winter very good. We fought our way from Maiori to Naples. We
Rangers had a buddy system, and two lived as one. Charles Roby and I were
such a pair. We were buddies every hour; day and night.
Naples, our fighting was over for a few days and we were sent to Sorrento
for R&R, which included a 10 mile speed march every day. After about
15 days in Sorrento, we were, on Nov. 2, given orders to move out the next
day. Most of the guys, except for Roby, went out for a night on the
town. Roby didn't drink, but he knew where to find me that night and
came to get me at closing time as we were being kicked out. He said
that he wanted to talk to me. Needless to say, I had been drinking,
but he made me understand, after some time, that he had arranged for us to
go and have our picture made together. At first I refused.
I told him
that he must be nuts; that there was no place to go for a picture. Again
he said, "Yes, I have it all arranged." I asked, "Why?" He said that
he knew where we were going the next day, and that he was not coming back
from this raid.
I told him
that he was crazy. He said, "No, I am not coming back and I want to have
this picture made." By this time I agreed to go with him because he
seemed so serious about it. Now it is early in the morning, Nov. 3,
and as I found out, he had not made arrangements. We woke up these
people at their studio and Roby had the man and woman take our picture.
They got our address to mail the pictures when they were ready.
Deluce and Figlio-Fotografo
Francceco 17 Studio
there was no more drinking for me. Roby and I went back to the
schoolhouse and turned in.
Just a few
hours later we were loaded into trucks and went to a small town north of
Naples. Captain Nye told us to rest
would not be getting any sleep that night. It was around noon when
Captain Nye turned to Sgt. Altieri and said, "Get Dye and Freemire.
We have a job to do." So much for my rest.
We went to
Battalion HQ where we met with Col Murray, another officer, a Sgt. and two
Italian partisans. We were to be the scouting party. We went
approximately 3 miles behind enemy lines and the Italians showed us the
way up the mountain. We went back to rejoin the Battalion to get
ready to complete our mission.
As we started
this raid, that was to go 12 miles behind enemy lines, F-Co 4th Ranger Bn.
led the way up the mountain, single file.
It was good
going until daylight. When the Germans saw us they opened fire. E-Co
4th Rangers were to our left and were in serious trouble. With Sgt
Altieri in charge we circled around to help. In doing so we came
upon an open field. We had to cross it to achieve our objective.
The field had a slight slope, then dropped off. Past the drop off
was a fence that we had to also go over.
We made our
way about 2/3 of the way across the field when we started taking a lot of
small arms fire. We found as many low spots on the ground as we could for
cover. As we lay on the ground, our packs and canteens were being
shot off. The Germans then started with mortars. After
the second shell, Sgt Altieri had us sound off, in order as usual.
No one had been hit. Sgt Altieri then called us by name, two at a time to
get across the last part of the field and into the woods. We ran
toward the woods. Roby was heavier than me and carried a Thompson sub
machine gun with ammo. Roby was on my right as I ran past him and
dove across the fence. The mortar barrage continued as I lay on the
ground trying to catch my breath. I crawled back into the woods
where it would be safe enough to stand up. I called out for Roby but
there was no answer. I asked others around me,"Where's Roby?" No one
knew. Finally someone pointed toward the field.
Then I knew.
forgotten about the picture and what Roby had said until that instant,
when it all came back. It had been approximately 32 hours since we
had our picture made. I walked to the fence where I could see Roby
clearly. He was on his back with his feet facing me as I walked out
onto the field and sat down beside him. Still holding his Thompson
and holding an extra clip in his hand, I reached and touched him.
We had made a pact that we would get our personal papers from the one who
had fallen and return them to the family. I got the waterproof
packet from his right breast pocket and zipped up his jacket. It was
then that I remembered that I had to get his dog tags. I started to
get Roby's dog tags and in doing so, I looked down at his face and blood
trickled from his mouth onto the left side of his face. The sun was
shinning; the sky was blue and not a shot was fired. I got up and
walked off of the field and took his personal packet to Sgt Altieri.
I told Sgt Altieri that I had not gotten the dog tags. He said that
he would take care of it for me.
buried in the Alban Hills with one of his dog tags.
What he had
said I didn't believe, even though he believed what he had said. Now
he had been killed and I still couldn't believe it.
We won that
battle and more, but we were leaving our buddies behind.
that had been taken caught up with me at Lake Lucreno. Either Lt Randall
Harris or Lt James Lavin gave the picture to me and it just killed my soul
when I saw it.
Roby have known?
How could he
have been so sure and still do what he knew would kill him?
TO ME, THIS
IS A REAL HERO!
I was out of
the war at Anzio. I was blown up in a farmhouse along with Col Murray and
others and sent back to the states.
months later I went to Toledo, Ohio to see Roby's family. They owned
a bar called ROBY'S TAVERN. When I walked in, there was in front of
me, behind the bar, a life size picture of the one Roby and I had taken
back in Sorrento. The emotions can hardly be expressed, even today.
I was greeted
warmly by Roby's family. How did they know it was me; a man they had never
laid eyes on? Because of the picture on the wall of two Rangers,
their son and me, Noel Dye.
tell them the circumstances surrounding Roby's death. There was so
much celebrating and joy surrounding my meeting them and them me that the
story was never told.
In 1995 I
returned to Ohio to find Roby's grave after a trip to Italy and Normandy.
He was not listed as being buried in Europe, so I continued my search in
was sold long ago, but is still called Roby's Tavern. The new owners
put me in touch with the previous owner that bought it from the Roby
family. She, without hesitation, gave me the telephone number of
James Roby ( Charles Roby's son), when I told her what I wanted.
James Roby. He met me in Toledo, and I told him the whole story.
Remarkably, James Roby's granddaughter looks just like Charles Roby, her
Great-Grandfather. It was like looking in to the past. James
then took me to say good-bye to my Ranger Buddy.
years, with some memories better that others, I can still feel the sun on
my face and the smell in the air on that crisp November morning in 1943 as
I lay next to Roby on the Battlefield.
Approved by Theresa Dye; 29-Aug-2013