Raids, road watches, and reconnaisance : an analysis of the New Zealand contribution to the Long Range Desert Group in North Africa, 1940-1943 : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University
Brain-child of a Royal Signals officer, Major Ralph Bagnold, the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG)
The unit title was the Long Range Patrol for the first six months of its existence, thereafter the unit was expanded and given the new designation the Long Range Desert Group. was formed in Egypt in June 1940 to meet the British Middle East Command's urgent need for reliable tactical intelligence. Bagnold's Commander-in-Chief, General Archibald Wavell, recognised the dangerously impoverished state of Britain's intelligence resources early in the Desert War and authorised the formation of the unit, charging it with the responsibility for conducting reconnaissance deep in the Libyan Desert. An acute shortage of British manpower at the time and the fortuitous presence of the under-utilised 1
Echelon of the 2
New Zealand Expeditionary Force, led to New Zealand making a strong commitment in personnel to the LRDG which lasted throughout the three years of the desert campaign. This study seeks to assess the significance of the New Zealand contribution to the Long Range Desert Group in North Africa, 1940-1943. Few published works deal with the LRDG directly. Most references to the Group occur in general treatments of the North African campaign
, For example, W.G.F. Jackson, The North African Campaign 1940-43, London: B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1975; Adrian Gilbert, The Imperial War Museum Book of the Desert War, London: Sidgewick and Jackson, 1992; R. J. M. Loughnan, Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War, 1939-1945: Divisional Cavalry, Wellington (NZ): War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1963. or works on related subjects such as intelligence histories
, F.H. Hinsley, British Intelligence in the Second World War: Its Influence on Strategy and Operations, Vol. I, London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1979. Hinsley, British Intelligence in the Second World War: Its Influence on Strategy and Operations, Vol. II, 1981. Hinsley, British Intelligence in the Second World War: Its Influence on Strategy and Operations, Vol. III (Part I), 1984; R. Bennett, Behind the Battle: Intelligence in the War with Germany, 1939-1945, London: Pimlico, 1999. accounts of so-called 'special forces' and irregular warfare
. Virginia Cowles, The Phantom Major: The Story of David Stirling and the S.A.S. Regiment, London: Arms and Armour Press Ltd., 1986; A. Hoe, David Stirling: The Authorised Biography of the Creator of the S.A.S, London: Little, Brown and Company, 1992. Typically, these either mention the LRDG in passing, or describe the Group's contribution to specific operations, without offering substantial details or evaluation. There are exceptions; Playfair's The Mediterranean and Middle East also gives a brief explanation of the unit's origin and mentions a couple of notable operations.
I.S.O. Playfair, The Mediterranean and Middle East, Vol. I: The Early Successes Against Italy (to May 1941), London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1954, pp.294-7, Playfair, The Mediterranean and Middle East, Vol. II: The Germans Come to the help of their Ally (1941), 1956; Adrian Gilbert, The Imperial War Museum Book of the Desert War, London: Sidgewick and Jackson, 1992. Secondary works solely concerned with the LRDG are rare. Most of these, like that by Jenner and List, tend toward descriptions of technical matters, and make only general, if enthusiastic, observations on the value of LRDG operations as a whole.
B. Jenner, and D. List, The Long Range Desert Group, London: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1983. Largely, the secondary works address the narrative aspects of the LRDG's history.
R.L. Kay, Long Range Desert Group in Libya, 1940-41, Wellington (NZ): War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1949. Kay, Long Range Desert Group in the Mediterranean, Wellington (NZ): War History Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1950. Korero, Kiwi Bedouin: A Korero Report, Korero, (A.E.W.S. [Army Education and Welfare Service] Background Bulletin), 2:20 (1944), pp. 3-6. They do not offer any deeper analysis and for the most part rely heavily upon the handful of published biographies of former LRDG members.