The Timeline for the Long Range Desert Group
1940 - 1943
 
   
   
  The Long Range Desert Group was a reconnaissance and raiding unit of the British Army during the North African desert campaigns. Originally called the Long Range Patrol, the unit was founded in Egypt in June 1940 by Major Ralph A. Bagnold, acting under the direction of General Archibald P. Wavell. As the unit got bigger the name was changed to the better-known Long Range Desert Group (LRDG). The LRDG never numbered more than 350 men, all of whom were volunteers. The LRDG was formed specifically to carry out deep penetration, covert reconnaissance patrols and intelligence missions from behind Italian lines. After time they would sometimes engaged in combat operations. Because the LRDG were experts in desert navigation they were sometimes assigned to guide other units, including the Special Air Service and secret agents across the desert. A typical patrol unit consisted of two officers and 28 other ranks, equipped with a heavy truck and 10 light trucks. In March 1941 new types of trucks were issued and the patrol units were split into half-patrols of one officer and 15 to 18 men in five or six vehicles. Each patrol incorporated a medical orderly, a navigator, a radio operator and a vehicle mechanic, each of whom manned a truck equipped for their role.  
   
  Sunday, June 23, 1940  
  Major Ralph A. Bagnold met with General Archibald P. Wavell, the commander of the Middle East Command in Alexandria, Egypt and explained his concept of using a small group of men intended to undertake long-range reconnaissance patrols behind the Italian lines in Libya to gather intelligence. Wavell endorsed the concept and and gave Bagnold six weeks to get a unit organized and ready. Wavell also dictated an order to heads of departments and branches that any request that Bagnold might make for personnel and equipment “should be net instantly and without question.” This was the beginning of the Long Range Desert Group.  
   
  Wednesday, July 3, 1940  
  The No.1 Long Range Patrol Unit was mustered into the British Eight Army under the command of Major Ralph A. Bagnold. The unit consisted of two officers and 85 other ranks composed mainly of volunteers from the 2nd New Zealand Division. This unit would be expanded and become the Long Range Desert Group.  
   
  Friday, September 13, 1940  
  The Italian 10th Army, commanded by Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, launched an offensive from its bases in Libya on the outnumbered British forces in western Egypt after Italian engineers had finished cutting several wide gaps in the layers of Barb wire along the Egyptian-Italian border.  
   
  The No.1 Long Range Patrol Unit arrived at Siwa in western Egypt. Here the group would take advantage of previously cached stocks of fuel, food, and water.  
   
  Sunday, September 15, 1940  
  'W' Patrol of the No.1 Long Range Patrol Unit commanded by Captain Edward 'Teddy' Cecil Mitford of the No.1 Long Range Patrol Unit set out to carry out a reconnaissance of Kufra and Uweinat in eastern Libya. Finding no trace of the Italians, they turned south and attacked fuel dumps, aircraft and an Italian convoy carrying supplies to Kufra. The group captured two Italian trucks and official mail.  
   
  'T' Patrol, commanded by Captain Patrick Clayton, reconnoitered the main route between Kufra and Uweinat. The group then drove south to meet French forces in Chad. The unexpected visit by Clayton’s groups was instrumental in encouraging the French forces in deciding to join the Free French instead of remaining loyal to the Vichy regime. ‘W’ and ‘T’ patrols would rendezvous at the southern tip of the Gulf of Kebir along the Egyptian-Libyan border at a pre-positioned supply dump and then returned to Cairo.  
   
  April 1941  
  The Long Range Desert Group was ordered to reinforce the Kufra area in southeastern Cyrenaica, Libya. 'R' Patrol was based at Taiserbo and 'S' Patrol at Zighen. 'T' Patrol (the headquarters of the LRDG) and the Free French were based at Kufra under the command of Major Bagnold. The detached 'G' and 'Y' Patrols remained at Siwa Oasis, under command of XIII Corps.  
   
  Friday, August 1, 1941  
  Major Guy L. Prendergast was promoted Lt. Colonel and assumed command of the Long Range Desert Group. Prendergast was responsible for creating the air link while the LRDG was based at Kufra in southeastern Cyrenaica, Libya. Bagnold was promoted to full Colonel and returned to Cairo to join the staff at the Middle East Command headquarters. Prendergast oversaw command of the LRDG between until October 1943.  
     
   
     
   
 

The objective of WW2Timelines.com is to provide a day by day account of the events that lead up to and were part of the greatest conflict known to mankind. There are accounts for the activities of each particular day and timelines for subjects and personalities. It is the of this website intent to provide an unbiased account of the war. Analysis, effects caused by an event, or prior or subsequent pertinent events are presented separately and indicated as text that is italicized.

 
   
  Copyright 2011
WW2timelines.com
Contact us using our email page