by Brendan O’Carroll
Brendan O’Carroll has put together an excellent and interesting book in the Images of War series, covering the Long Range Desert Group’s exploits and equipment during the period from 1940-1943.
It is one of the many special activities that were carried out by small groups of armed forces in World War 2, and one of the many innovative ways of waging war, forced by the circumstances.
When the war broke out the British were occupying Egypt, and the Italians were in Lybia, surrounded by French colonies. They had very little information on the whereabouts and plans of the enemy, and could not perform aerial reconnaissance because of the distances in the vast deserts.
Major Ralph Bagnold had explored the area of southern Lybia in pre-war years and in July 1940 offered his services to the Commander-in-Chief Middle East, General Wavell……. And thus the LRP (Long Range Patrol) unit was born. It consisted largely of New Zealanders, members of the 2NZEF. After December 1940 when other British units joined too, the name was changed to the Long Range Desert Group or LRDG.
I was especially interested in the book, because I built two of Tamiya’s models depicting the LRDG (and SAS units) some 50 years ago, and started reading about their exploit back then already. I still have the models and was planning to re-paint them and put them in a diorama one of these days.
Even now with the internet and the availability of so much information online in the form of pictures, stories, Wikipedia, and clubs, my preference is still for printed books, for easy reference and not having to browse umpteen folders or links.
This book is a very welcome addition to my library and I am sure I will be checking on it a few times in the future for my modeling and painting. There are a ton of interesting photos in it, many of the men taking part in the actions, but also of their equipment and surroundings.
The book also provides information on the major actions, and one of those was, much to my surprise, that of flying recce missions with an old bi-plane. Frankly, the pilots flying that ‘thing’, basically unarmed and VERY slow, must have been even braver than the men crossing the desert in their trucks!
The book covers the Early Days, then Operations in Fazan, 1941, The LRDG Air Section, the Barces Raid, and the final days in the desert in 1943. In addition, there are dedicated chapters covering the CMP Ford F30 and the later Chevrolet 1533X2 4×2 30 cwt.
All in all a great resource for who wants to model dioramas from this period and area or those who just want to learn more about those very special actions in the desert during those years, and about the very brave men driving those trucks for thousands of miles through uncharted and hostile territory.
Believe me, the Paris-Dakar Rally was child’s play compared to what they did.
You can get it here straight from the publisher, Pen & Sword Books
By Brendan O’Carroll
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Images of War
Illustrations: 250 integrated black and white illustrations
Published: 15th October 2020