Lieutenant Colonel Ronald C. Speirs
I first learned of Ronald Speirs through Ambrose’s book and the subsequent TV series “Band of Brothers” and, like many people, I wanted to find out more about him. I quickly discovered that little information existed about him in the public domain and when he was mentioned, it was always in relation to his ‘ruthless’ image. He was always described or introduced as ‘sparky Speirs’, ‘bloody Speirs’ and ‘the stuff of legends’ which to me, only served to reduce him to a one dimensional caricature. This seemed very disingenuous to a man who had obviously been a brave and professional soldier and officer for more than 20 years. Not much had been written about his later career and almost nothing about his early life. I became determined to uncover more information.
My initial research yielded varying results – I did learn more about him, but there were still gaps in his life story. My research also uncovered several inaccuracies and some controversies. It’s unsurprising that this is the case though, when you consider the fact that Ronald Speirs was a deeply private man. We know that he was very loath to help both Ambrose and Spielberg due to his reluctance to take a place in the limelight and that he was “very much against this kind of thing.” Whilst most veterans of his era are frequently interviewed or filmed, Speirs himself never wanted that.
Connecting with Scott Crombie was a turning point. Scott, a grandnephew of Speirs, is an avid amateur genealogist who has extensive knowledge of Speirs’ early life and family history and was able to provide much needed information. We are very grateful for Scott’s contribution to the website.
With the help of a BBC journalist, it was arranged for me to speak to Ronald’s son, Robert – who was incredibly gracious and kind to me. To speak to him was thrilling and I will always be grateful to him for allowing me a glimpse into his father’s life.
It has also been very touching to receive contact from relatives of Ronald Speirs on both sides of the Atlantic – American nephews and nieces who remember ‘Uncle Ronnie’ from their childhood and English second cousins who remember their fathers talking about ‘cousin Ronnie.’
Rich Riley, a well know figure amongst WWII veterans who works tirelessly “Preserving the Memories & Sacrifices of Our Greatest,” has over the years interviewed and spoken with many veterans – including those who served with the 101st Airborne. Rich kindly and very generously shared a wonderful story about Speirs at Camp Toccoa which gives a unique insight into Speirs’ character. We are incredibly grateful to Rich for sharing this story with the website.
Thanks goes to David Worthen who spotted some minor mistakes in the presentation of Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Speirs’ shadow box. David spent 20 years serving in the US Army and since his retirement studies military history, researching “whatever strikes my fancy.” He kindly corrected these mistakes.
We would also like to thank everyone who has contacted the website – all your feedback has been positive and gratefully received.
My biggest thanks goes to my editor Jess Dunbar. Her skills as a professional journalist and copywriter – not to mention diplomat – were much needed and relied upon. As with most projects of this nature, there were twists, turns, highs and lows, but her unwavering support and encouragement kept everything focus, on track and moving forward.
Whilst every attempt has been made to research and write accurately about the military campaigns in which Lieutenant Colonel Speirs was involved, no member of the web team is a military expert, and the aim of this site is to impart information about Ronald Speirs’ military career in a generalised form. The objective of this site has never been to write detailed and in-depth accounts of military actions in which he – or any regiment to which he belonged – were involved.
While researching for the site I quickly discovered that many websites exist specifically for 101st Airborne and their actions in World War II. There are also sites dedicated to particular actions and campaigns of World War II. These sites are created by individuals and groups who have a vast depth and breadth of knowledge. They chose to create these sites to preserve and share information, with a dedication that is commendable. I recommend that anyone wishing to learn more about the events and campaigns of World War II should visit some of these sites, as the information they contain is detailed, precise and accurate. You can find the source material in the footnotes of each section which will include links to the websites.
I have created this site in memory of Ronald Speirs, as an objective source of information about his life and career. I hope it forms part of his legacy to future generations. It is entirely privately funded and therefore carries no form of advertising and has no commercial intent.
I hope you enjoy the site and please feel free to share your feedback using the contact box.
24th June 2013