The British were the first to organize proper deep desert raiding forces beginning with the Long Range Desert Group, also known as the LRDG.ten Dismounted LRDG/SAS teams
Before the war, Major Ralph Bagnold pioneered some of the critical developments necessary for motorized travel across the formidable Sahara Desert. Building on his achievements and innovations, such as the famous Bagnold Sundial Compass, the British deployed several raiding forces in the Libyan desert.
The original formation was the Long Range Desert Group, which conducted its first missions in late 1940. From then on, the LRDG operated with the Free French based in Chad and helped conduct a hugely successful raid against Murzuk in preparation for the French attack on Kufra the following month.
As the war raged on, the LRDG was joined by the Special Air Service (SAS) and other small forces such as Popski’s Private Army. All of these proved themselves to be quite adept at taking the battle to the enemy’s rear echelon troops. By the end of 1942 the LRDG and SAS had achieved great success. The two forces complemented each other well as the LRDG preferred more passive missions such as intelligence gathering, while the SAS took on the more active and destructive missions.
Their impact on the campaigns along the coastline cannot be overlooked as the raids took a heavy toll on Axis aircraft, supplies, and reinforcements. The Germans and Italians were forced to commit more and more troops to protect their rear, which helped give the British the initiative they so badly needed in the North African campaign.
The British desert raiders were an inspiration to many other armies in the war and soon other countries, such as the United States, sought to replicate the raiders’ successes.
ten Small bases