Plymouth County

Capt. Leonard Dirks



Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dirks, of this city, received a cablegram the first of this week from their son, Lieut. Leonard Dirks, who is located in England and serving with the American Rangers, that he participated in last week’s large scale raid on the Nazi base at Dieppe, France, and had returned to England without mishap. Lieut. Dirks is a member of one of the first contingents of American troops to arrive in the British Isles in this war, and was assigned to the American Rangers (similar to the British Commandos) some time ago. Upon hearing that the Rangers participated in the Dieppe raid, his parents assumed that Leonard had taken part in the affair and their belief was verified upon receipt of his message.

Source: Akron Register-Tribune, August 27, 1942

NEWS of the BOYS in the SERVICE.

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dirks of Akron were much pleased Tuesday to receive a letter, the first in six weeks, from their son, Leonard Dirks, who is serving with the American Rangers in the North African campaign. He recently received a promotion from first lieutenant to a captaincy. Capt. Dirks wrote that he was all right and feeling fine. While he could not state that he had been in action, there was intimation that such may have been the case. At any rate, this second promotion in rank would indicate that this Akron young man is giving a good account of himself as a soldier.

Source: LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, March 23, 1943


Capt. Leonard Dirks gave his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dirks of Akron, a pleasant surprise when he arrived in Akron Monday from two years service overseas.  Capt. Dirks went to Ireland about two years ago and transferred to the American Rangers, when they were first organized, training in Scotland.  He participated in the ill-fated Dieppe expedition and escaped unscathed from an experience, which cost so many allied soldiers their lives.  He was with the Rangers in the invasion of Africa, Sicily and Italy and participated in much of the hard fighting at Salerno and around Cassino, escaping capture at the latter point when a good share of his outfit were taken prisoner by the Germans.

Capt. Dirks expects to spend a  20-day leave at Akron and in Des Moines, where he was employed when he entered military service.

Source:  LeMars Semi-Weekly Sentinel, March 31, 1944 (photo included)

They Fought in the Bloodiest Battles of World War II

By Nick Lamberto
Many of them came from Iowa communities; some had never traveled beyond the next farm or a neighboring city or town before they joine the Army.

But before the end of World War II, these same men – members of the U.S. Army Rangers – had participated in seven invasions, leaving a trail of bravery and blood from the sands of North Africa and the scraggy cliffs of Normandy to the jungle trails of Luzon in the Phillippines.


Killed in Italy.
The Rangers trained under the British commandos with intensive schedules laid down by Col. William O. Darby, a West Point graduate credited with organizing the First Ranger Battalion in Northern Ireland June 19, 1942.  Darby was killed in Italy in 1944, two days before all enemy forces in Italy surrendered.

Enemy Fire.
The Rangers’ first taste of combat came on Aug. 19, 1942, when 51 of them were among the 5,000 Allied troops, mainly Canadians, who went ashore at Dieppe, France, in the face of intense enemy fire.  At least four Iowans were on the Dieppe raid – Leonard Dirks of Akron, Lester E. Kness of Des Moines, Franklin M. (Zip) Koons of Swea City, and Gino Mercuriali of Cedar Rapids.

Source:  The DesMoines Register, Sunday, July 27, 1975 p. 21 (photo included)