Members Only Long Range Desert Group
The Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) was a reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, and raiding operations unit employed by the British Army during the Second World War. Founded in July of 1940 by Major Ralph Bagnold as the No. 1 Long Range Patrol Unit (LRP), they sought men who were “energetic, innovative, self-reliant, physically and mentally tough, and able to fight in seclusion in the Libyan Desert. They operated in this desert from 1940 until March of 1943. The unit was formed specifically for deep penetration, covert reconnaissance patrols, and intelligence missions from behind Italian lines; nevertheless, they sometimes carried out combat operations.
The LRDG vehicles of preference were Chevrolet or Ford trucks and they opted for the two-wheel-drive variety due to the weight savings. They got rid of anything non-essential: doors, windscreens, and roofs. They were fitted with a bigger radiator, a condenser system, built up leaf springs for the harsh terrain, wide, low-pressure desert tires, sand mats, and channels, plus map containers and a sun compass devised by Major Bagnold. This allowed them to navigate easily over the barren wasteland. The vehicles were initially armed with 11 Lewis machine guns, four Boys anti-tank rifles, and a Bofors 37mm anti-tank gun. Later, a Vickers .50 machine gun would be added to the rear of the vehicles. The vehicles would be fitted with six to eight gun mountings, but normally only two or three of them would be in use. Many different iterations of which armaments the vehicles would use unfolded. By the end of the war, the vehicles carried the .50 Browning AN/M2 heavy machine gun which replaced both calibers of the Vickers machine guns and the Boys anti-tank rifle. In addition to these armaments, the vehicles were outfitted with what was state of the art communications equipment to report back to higher headquarters. All the radio operators were skilled in communications and came from the Royal Corps of Signals.
The LRDG area of operations between 1940 and 1943 was known as the Western Desert and stretched about 930 miles south from the Mediterranean to the Jebel Uweinat Mountains and about 1,200 miles from the Nile valley in the east to the mountains of Tunisia and Algeria in the west. Paved roads were non-existent, the day time desert temperatures could reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and at night below freezing—one of the many reasons why the vehicles were outfitted so ruggedly to stand the inhospitable environment.
They were finally disbanded at the end of WW2.
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