Pen & Sword's The Long Range Desert Group 1940-43

Author/Artists: Brendan O'Carroll


Pen & Sword


$28.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 218 pages, softcover, 7.5 x 9.5 inches
ISBN: 978-1-52-677741

Those who have spent time in the military know that life if pretty much regimented to one level or another. This is required to not only enhance military cohesion, but discipline as well. A soldier in the field often has to react rather than question if they want to survive in combat. There have been times where special units have been developed where the day to day regimentation is tossed aside and the unit's success is determined by the skill, bravery and loyalty to the group. Such is the case with the Long Range Desert Group.

These people were not the same as the SAS or SBS, even though they were British and Commonwealth soldiers. They had to be able to live in a harsh and hostile environment for long periods of time, reporting on enemy movements and doing their best to remain unseen. While they did engage in combat, especially as the unit grew in size, stealth was their main purpose. These groups were manned by men who were extremely phyically and mentally fit and able to operate in conditions of privation.

They always operated behind enemy lines. Sometimes in the deep desert of southern Libya, attaching Italian outposts and forcing the Italians to send more men and equipment to defend them. They also did raids to destroy supply dumps and in one fairly costly expedition, to an Italian air field to destroy planes and supplies. They also positioned themselves near the coastal road to report on movements of German and Italian troops, allowing the British to get a good estimate of what they were up against. Later in the desert campaign, they operated in Tunisia, mapping and leading troops to attack the Germans from areas they did not expect.

When the desert war was over, the LRDG was transformed from a mobile, behind the lines attack and reconnaissance force into a small group behind the lines commando force. This was completely different from their initial training as they no longer relied on vehicles to get them around but were on foot and operating in the islands of the Aegean.

This book in Pen and Sword's excellent 'Images of War' series concentrates on the men and machines of the LRDG. This includes operations not only in North Africa but the Greek islands as well. There are several sections, broken down by year and locale. Each is provided a brief historical background. Same for the overall book. However, the main focus of these books is images and in this were are provided plenty.

It makes for not only another superb addition to the series, but is one that I know enthusiasts and modelers will use for references. It is a book that I can easily recommend to you.

December 2020

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Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy at this link

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