- Filename: long-range-desert-group-in-the-mediterranean.
- ISBN: 9781576381373
- Release Date: 1998-09-01
- Number of pages: 38
- Author: R. L. Kay
- Publisher: Merriam Press
The origins of most of the WestÕs Special Forces can be traced back to the Long Range Desert Group, which operated across the limitless expanses of the Libyan Desert, an area the size of India, during the whole of the Desert War from 1940 to 1943. After the defeat of the Axis in North Africa they adapted to serve in the Mediterranean, the Greek islands, Albania, Yugoslavia and Greece. In the process they became the stuff of legend. The LRDG was the brainchild of Ralph Bagnold, a pre-war desert explorer (featured in fictional terms in The English Patient) who put all of his expertise into the creation of a new and, by the standards of the day, highly unorthodox unit. Conventional tactical thinking shunned the deep heart of the vast desert as it was thought to be a harsh, inhospitable wilderness where British forces could not possibly survive even less operate effectively. Instead, Bagnold and his colleagues created a whole new type of warfare. Using specially adapted vehicles and recruiting only men of the right temperament and high levels of fitness and endurance, the first patrols set out bristling with automatic weapons. The LRDG, in a dark hour, was the force which took the fight to the enemy, roving over the deep desertÑa raiderÕs paradiseÑattacking enemy convoys and outposts, destroying aircraft and supplies, forcing the Axis to expend more and more resources to protect their vulnerable lines. Their work was often dangerous, always taxing, exhausting and uncomfortable. They were a new breed of soldier, and the Axis never managed to field a similar unit. Once the desert war was won they transferred their skills to the Mediterranean sector, retraining as mountain guerrillas, serving in the ill-fated Dodecanese campaign, then in strife-torn Albania, Yugoslavia and Greece, fighting alongside the mercurial partisans. In addition, the LRDG worked alongside the fledgling SAS and established, beyond all doubt, the value of highly trained Special Forces, a legacy which resonates today.
This splendid record takes the reader behind enemy lines not only in North Africa but in Italy, the Aegean and the Balkans.The Author, who commanded the LRDG, paints a vivid picture of the unit's colourful characters: for example, Ralph Bagnold who put to good use the knowledge he gained from his pre-war desert travels.The LRDG was truly international with New Zealanders and Rhodesians playing key roles.This classic book won acclaim from the critics on its first publication by virtue of the author's unique knowledge, experience and narrative skills.
Although harsh and inhospitable, the North African theatre of World War II proved to be a perfect environment for irregular warfare and the deployment of Special Forces. Following Italy's entry into the war in June 1940, the Western Desert became the background for a long conflict dominated by motorized units. The major combatants Great Britain, Free France, Italy and Germany all developed irregular units to exploit the unique conditions of the region with varying degrees of success. This book details the genesis, organization and tactics of these forces, including such famous units as the Long Range Desert Group and the Special Air Service.
During the two-and-a-half years' fighting in the Western Desert of North Africa, which began with the Italian declaration of war in June 1940 and ended in 1943, the Long Range Desert Group became the acknowledged master of the vast desert. This small, highly mobile force was engaged in daring exploits and reconnaissance far behind the enemy's lines. Emerging suddenly from the depths of the desert, the LRDG would raid important airfields or attack Axis lines of communication along the Mediterranean coast, and then vanish back into the desert, to reappear hundreds of miles away. With its brilliant description of the harsh beauty of the desert, and its exiting chronicle of the LRDG activities, this book is as fascinating today as it was when was first published in 1945, after being vetted by the War Office. 'Moving, exciting and authentic' The Observer 'The British genius for exploration, hard living and insolently bold guerrilla warfare has never been better demonstrated than by the Long Range Desert Group … [Kennedy Shaw's book is] a remarkable record, told simply, unpretentiously and with engaging humour … One cannot remember a better war book.' The Manchester Guardian
Established in June 1940, as the brainchild of scientist and soldier Major Ralph Bagnold, a contemporary of Lawrence of Arabia, the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) allowed the British Army to gain a crucial advantage in the North African Front of World War II. Traversing great swathes of the desert that had never before been explored by Europeans, the LRDG was able to launch hit-and-run raids against remote enemy targets such as the fort and airfield at Murzuk. From December 1941 until the end of the Desert War in May 1943, the LRDG carried out numerous missions in tandem with the Special Air Service, using their unparalleled knowledge of the desert to navigate the SAS to enemy airfields on which attacks would be launched. As well as in Africa, the LRDG also fought in the Aegean, undertaking numerous dangerous missions in Yugoslavia, Albania, Italy and Greece, displaying their extraordinary versatility by operating in boats, on foot and by parachute. Using never-before-published photographs and archival material, interviews with surviving veterans who have never before gone on record regarding their wartime exploits, and special access to the SAS archives, Gavin Mortimer tells the story of the origins and dramatic operations of Britain's first ever special forces unit.
The first of eight volumes in the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War covering the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theatres. After setting the political and military scene, the authors open the action with Italy s declaration of war and France s collapse in June 1940. Britain s painful neutralisation of the French fleet at Oran and Alexandria is followed by the first blows against the Italian empire in East Africa, and Italy s attacks on Egypt and Greece. The Fleet Air Arm s triumphant attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto, masterminded by Admiral Cunningham, is trumped by General Wavell s even more successful Battle of Sidi Barrani in December, when vast numbers of Italians were captured for negligible British losses. The victory was followed up by Britain s capture of Bardia and Tobruk, and the founding of the Long Range Desert Group - the germ of the SAS. The mopping-up of Genertal Graziani s forces in Cyrenaica, however, ominiously resulted in Germany s decision to rescue their ally with General Rommel s Afrika Korps. However, the volume concludes optimistically with the successful campaign against Italy in Ethiopia, in which General Orde Wingate s irregular Gideon Force plays a prominent part. The military narrative is accompanied by descriptions of diplomatic developments and technological innovations such as the arrival of the Hurricane fighter plane, the Matilda tank and radar. The text is accompanied by ten appendices, 30 maps and diagrams and 43 photographs.
Discusses World War II with attention to events in the Mediterranean, from Italy's declaration of war in 1940 to its surrender in 1945.
Deals with UK military history, World War Two, and Air Force.
Among the greatest developments in conventional war since 1914 has been the rise of air/land power – the interaction between air forces and armies in military operations. This book examines the forging of an air support system that was used with success for the remainder of the war, the principles of which have applied ever since.
Illustrated with 29 maps/diagrams and 44 photographs “The second of the eight volumes dealing with the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theatres in the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War, this book is largely concerned with the consequences of Germany's decision to prop up its faltering Italian ally in North Africa in 1941. It opens with General Rommel reversing Britain's conquest of Italian Cyrenaica, and increasing Axis air attacks on the fortress island of Malta. Britain's naval victory against the Italians at Cape Matapan in March is swiftly followed by British reverses in the Balkans. A British-backed anti-Nazi coup d'état in Yugoslavia results in April in Germany's occupation of that country and Britain's retreat from Greece before a relentless German advance. Germany's airborne invasion of Crete sparks a fierce battle for the island, ending in a British evacuation. A pro-Axis coup in Iraq is followed by a successful British intervention, which deposes the pro-Nazi Rashid Ali regime in Baghdad. British and Free French forces also occupy Vichy French-ruled Syria. The book ends with more attacks on Malta, the building-up of Allied forces in the Middle East, and General Wavell's replacement by General Auchinleck as British Commander in North Africa.”-Print Edition
Illustrated with 30 maps and 40 photos. “Britain defeats Italy on land and sea in Africa and the Mediterranean in 1940. “The first of eight volumes in the 18-volume official British History of the Second World War covering the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern theatres. After setting the political and military scene, the authors open the action with Italy's declaration of war and France's collapse in June 1940. Britain's painful neutralisation of the French fleet at Oran and Alexandria is followed by the first blows against the Italian empire in East Africa, and Italy's attacks on Egypt and Greece. The Fleet Air Arm's triumphant attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto, masterminded by Admiral Cunningham, is trumped by General Wavell's even more successful Battle of Sidi Barrani in December, when vast numbers of Italians were captured for negligible British losses. The victory was followed up by Britain's capture of Bardia and Tobruk, and the founding of the Long Range Desert Group - the germ of the SAS. The mopping-up of General Graziani's forces in Cyrenaica, however, ominously resulted in Germany's decision to rescue their ally with General Rommel's Afrika Korps. However, the volume concludes optimistically with the successful campaign against Italy in Ethiopia, in which General Orde Wingate's irregular Gideon Force plays a prominent part. The military narrative is accompanied by descriptions of diplomatic developments and technological innovations such as the arrival of the Hurricane fighter plane, the Matilda tank and radar. The text is accompanied by ten appendices.”-Print Edition
Despatches in this volume include those covering the Battle of Matapan in 1941, Fleet Air Arm operations in 1940, the Battle of Sirte in 1942, the action with the Italian Fleet off Calabria (Central Mediterranean) in 1940, the engagement between British and Italian forces off Cape Spartivento (Central Mediterranean) in 1940, the Mediterranean convoys between January 1941 and August 1942 which includes the famous Operation Pedestal, operations in the Aegean in 1943, the engagement with an Italian convoy in 1941, and the despatch covering Coastal Force actions, including those in the Mediterranean.??This unique collection of original documents will prove to be an invaluable resource for historians, students and all those interested in what was one of the most significant periods in British military history.??The Coastal Forces despatch also includes those vessels assigned to the Levant, Dover and Nore stations i.e. outside of the Mediterranean theatre.