Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The initiation of the Long Range Desert Group

The Long Range Desert Group were an early Special Forces unit that was authorized by General Wavell in 1939. Major R. A. Bagnold had spent the 1930's with his colleagues becoming adept at navigating the great sand deserts far from the coast. He made a proposal to General Wavell in 1939 for the formation of the unit if Italy entered the war. The French had such a unit, as well, but their exit from the war took them out of the equation. The initial formation was the Long Range Patrol Unit. The Australians were offered the opportunity to participate, but General Blamey didn't want his troops serving outside of Australian units. Three patrols were organized and included some 30 New Zealanders, as well as British soldiers. By November 1940, the men had achieved enough success that General Wavell authorized the expansion into the Long Range Desert Group. The 3rd Coldstream Guards and the 2nd Scots Guards contributed men for a new patrol.

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