Lieutenant Ronald Speirs earned a popularity for each bravery and brutality whereas combating in Europe with the now-legendary Easy Company throughout World War II.
During a tense battle on Belgian soil, an American firm discovered itself pinned behind German strains with no radio. A lieutenant named Ronald Speirs, who had parachuted into occupied territory on D-Day, took decisive motion. He ran straight by means of the middle of the German-occupied village.
Speirs put his life on the road for the mission – and it not the primary or the final time he risked the whole lot.
“The Germans were so shocked at seeing an American soldier running through their lines – they forgot to shoot!” stated a fellow member of Speirs’s firm.
And after relaying messages to the corporate, Speirs rotated and ran again by means of the identical enemy line.
But who was Ronald Speirs, the lieutenant memorialized within the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers? And had been the tales of his derring-do right?
Who Was Ronald Speirs?
Although he made his identify combating within the U.S. Army, Ronald Speirs was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, on April 20, 1920. The youngest of 5 youngsters, Speirs had few reminiscences of Scotland. His household moved to Boston in 1924.
Even earlier than World War II, Speirs started coaching below military officers. Two officers visited his Boston highschool to guide drills.
When warfare broke out, Ronald Speirs volunteered. He’d been working as an accountant however put aside his profession to move for primary coaching in Mississippi. During primary coaching, the military requested Speirs to affix a brand new unit: the Parachute Infantry.
The transfer would ship Speirs to one of the crucial harmful jobs within the army. But it additionally netted him an additional $100 a month in pay, so Speirs signed up.
Paratrooper coaching began with simple duties. Speirs and his regiment would run three miles up Mt. Currahee in Georgia, then again down. They started leaping from mock planes and low towers till the regiment moved to Fort Benning and began leaping out of C-47 planes. Next, they practiced evening drops.
By 1943, the regiment was prepared for fight. And Speirs held the position of platoon chief in E Company of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Ronald Speirs’ Legend Began On D-Day
Ronald Speirs entered lively responsibility with the U.S. Army in June 1944. Two days later, he climbed aboard a C-47 to cross the English Channel and land in Normandy.
The D-Day invasion despatched 156,000 Allied troops into Nazi-occupied France. And Speirs was one among them.
As platoon chief, Speirs discovered himself accountable for round 15 paratroopers. And resulting from low cloud cowl, the paratroopers landed round 4 miles from their goal zone. Speirs led his males towards Brecourt Manor. But earlier than they reached their goal, Speirs’ firm got here throughout a gaggle of German troopers.
With orders to take no prisoners, Speirs shot the lads. The controversial motion received Speirs reward from the press again residence.
At Brecourt Manor, Speirs led an assault towards an artillery battery. German troopers tossed a grenade on the Americans as they fled. Speirs shoved the grenade below the mud, urgent it down together with his boot. The lieutenant’s fast considering saved lives — and Speirs walked away with solely minor injury to his boot.
Speirs’ Famous Suicidal Run Through German Lines
On D-Day, Ronald Speirs confirmed bravery that bordered on suicidal. And that continued throughout his time in Europe.
Speirs and his males crossed France, Holland, and Belgium, profitable again territory seized by Hitler. And then, within the Belgian village of Foy, Speirs put his life on the road.
U.S. troops flanked the city, held by German troopers, however the firm on the far aspect of the city had no radio. The harmful state of affairs might have resulted in catastrophe — till Speirs sprinted proper by means of the middle of the village with German troopers staring him down your complete time.
Speirs miraculously reached the corporate, the place he gave orders earlier than operating again by means of the village a second time.
“He just kept on running right through the German line, came out the other side, conferred with the I Company CO and ran back,” Carwood Lipton stated in a 1991 interview. “Damn, that was impressive.”
The heroic motion earned Speirs a promotion. He can be accountable for E Company, later immortalized in historian Stephen Ambrose’s e-book Band of Brothers.
The Stories About Ronald Speirs
But not each story about Ronald Speirs was constructive. Controversy additionally adopted the officer.
Killing prisoners of warfare throughout the D-Day invasion violated the Geneva Convention. In spite of that, a Boston Globe article praised Speirs and reported that he was “awarded the Bronze Star for singlehandedly killing 13 Nazis after parachuting into Normandy on D-Day.”
Speirs additionally reportedly shot a platoon sergeant throughout the invasion. According to eyewitnesses, a drunk sergeant had been ordered to face to make method for an artillery barrage, however insisted on going into the fray. Speirs relieved the sergeant of responsibility, however when the person grew to become indignant and leveled his rifle at Speirs, the lieutenant shot.
“The platoon saw it happen without batting an eye,” Speirs later stated in his protection.
“Speirs shot him,” Easy Company Major Dick Winters later wrote. “[And] in doing so he probably saved the lives of the rest of the squad.”
Years later, when historian Stephen Ambrose wrote Band of Brothers about E Company, fact-checking the numerous Speirs tales proved virtually unimaginable. One story claimed that Speirs handed out cigarettes to German POWs earlier than capturing them. Another stated Speirs shot the sergeant only for being drunk.
Simon and Schuster reached out to Speirs, involved that publication would trigger a lawsuit. Speirs had no downside with the tales, quipping, “I’m 81 years old, what can they do to me now?”
At the top of World War II, Speirs and his firm captured the Eagle’s Nest, Hilter’s mountain prime hideout. Speirs later served within the Korean War after which served because the governor of Spandau Prison in Berlin. Speirs died on April 11, 2007, on the age of 86.
Ronald Speirs was one of many extra mysterious characters in Band of Brothers. Next, examine Easy Company chief Richard Winters, after which study heroic paratrooper Lewis Nixon.