Ranger Charles A. Brown
Born: 19 September 1924 in Gardner,Maine
Died: 5 April 1969 in Chelsea, Maine
Army Serial Number: 31322071
Ranger Battalion/Company: 4/HQ/B Company/FSSF/474th Infantry Regt. (separate)/10 Major Port TC
Enlisted: 27 April 1943 in Portland, Maine
Battles/Campaigns/Significants: Anzio Landings/Cisterna/Operations with Rangers, OPS with FSSF and 474th (separate)
Medals/Awards: CIB, BSM,EAME Campaign Medal with Bronze Arrowhead, WWII Victory Medal, American Defense Medal and Medals earned with FSSF and 474th
Charles Arthur "Charlie" Brown was the son of Harry Arthur Brown and Susie E Perkins. The Brown family were residing in the Chelsea, Maine area. Harry worked as a blacksmith. Charlie attended grammar school in the Chelsea area. By 1938 Harry had died and Susie was head of the family.
Charlie signed up for military service on 27 April 1943 in Portland, Maine. He was 18 years old at that time. He did his basic training in the US and shipped overseas. By December of 1943 he had volunteered for the 4th Ranger Battalion from the 2nd Replacement Depot and was in HQ Co. While in the HQ Co he and a large group of men went thru a month of Ranger training. On 3 January 1944 he was transferred into B Company.
Charlie and B Company boarded the HMS Winchester Castle on 20 January headed for the Anzio landing in Italy. Rangers loaded into LCAs on 22 January 1944 and landed onto the Anzio Beaches at 2 AM. There was light resistance. B Company set up a road block and patrols to clear and take prisoners. By the 27th of January B Company had taken in 12 prisoners. They were relieved by the British the next day and were trucked six miles to the rear to rest before the next operation which would be Cisterna.
Early on 30 January B Company reached the jump off location in the area outside of Cisterna, Italy and marched 2 miles before being pinned down by intense machine gun fire and snipers. They were held almost 12 hours before they took out the snipers and the MG position. 3 B co men were KIA and 9 men were WIA. On the next day the 1st platoon was able to move ahead and the 2nd platoon policed and removed dead and moved wounded.
On February 15th Ranger Brown was promoted to Private First Class. During this time the 4th Ranger BN continued to fight on while the members of the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions had lost much of it’s strength as 651 men became POWs. The 3 Ranger Battalions had incurred 110 deaths for the last 2 weeks of January plus 10 Rangers would die eventually in prison camps after being captured. There were many wounded in the operation too. This resulted in a cost of 120 men who would not ever return home to their families. The 4th Rangers would incur the most men KIA at 44 and the most wounded in the attempt to break thru the German Artillery and Tank line to get to the other two battalions. Because of this action the men still in the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions were assigned to the 4th Rangers.
On March 27th Ranger Brown was transferred to the First Special Service Force. By the middle of April 961 Rangers were transferred to the “Devil’s Brigade”. Charlie was assigned to 2nd Company 1st Regiment. Ranger Brown now continues fighting with the FSSF in the Anzio area and they were one of the first units to break thru and march into Rome. The “Forcemen” fought for 99 days in the Anzio area. They moved to take on operations in France and on 5th December 1944 in Melton, France they were disbanded. Some of the men were transferred to the 474th Infantry Regiment (Separate). Charlie was sent to the 474th A Company on 6 January 1945.
By the time Charlie joined the 474th they had seen action in 5 major campaigns. They also were the unit involved in moving the treasures of Merker’s Mine in April of 1945 and a small group was sent to help at Buchenwald prison camp in Weimar, Germany. The war in Europe ended on 7 May 1945. Two days later, the 474th and the 99th Battalion finally received the mission that many hoped for. The regiment would move to Norway to assist in the disarming and demobilization of Germany’s 300,000 man army there. The regiment devoted a month to spit and polish preparation in LeHavre, France, before departing for Oslo via LSTs on 4 June. After a delightful cruise on a smooth sea, under a sunny sky, the regiment arrived in Oslo on 8 June.
The 99th was garrisoned in Camp Smestad, a beautiful former German log cabin camp just outside of Oslo. By late July preparations were completed for German demobilization and troop transportation back to Germany. Throughout August the battalion assisted in the processing and movement back to Germany of nearly 100,000 German military personnel. When Norway’s King Haakon returned to Norway he was greeted by an honor guard from the 99th Battalion, and in turn the King honored the 99th by designating it as his personnel honor guard.
By the middle of October 1945 they departed from Oslo headed for Boston Harbor. They were disbanded in November. It is unclear how long PFC Brown was with the 474th but we do know his last service was with the 10 Major Port Transportation Corps. He was honorably discharged after that duty.
Charlie returned home to Chelsea, Maine. He was married to Virginia Derby 23 February 1946. They had two children, Trudy Brown Jackson
and Harry Albert Brown. By 1950 he was living with his brother, James in Chelsea. His mom Susie was also there. He was employed as a truck driver for a general contractor. Charlie was only 44 when he died on 5 April 1969. He was laid to rest in the Brown family plot at a Cemetery in Whitefield, Maine. Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P. Ranger Brown.. By the end of this year, PFC Charles A Brown will have been honored with two Congressional Gold Medals. He earned one with the First Special Service Force and soon will receive one for his duty as a WWII Ranger.