Saturday, November 10, 2012

LRDG I.

This is coolbert:

The Commander!!

"Never in our peacetime travels had we imagined that war could ever reach the enormous empty solitudes of the inner desert, walled off by sheer distance, lack of water, and impassable seas of sand dunes. Little did we dream that any of the special equipment and techniques we had evolved for very long-distance travel, and for navigation, would ever be put to serious use." - - Ralph Bagnold.

Here begins a series of blog entries the subject of which is the British Long Range Desert Group [LRDG] from the era of the Second World War [WW2].

That commander of the LRDG General Ralph Bagnold a man of protean intellect and curiosity. A man of all seasons it would seem. A man:

* By training and education an engineer.
* An explorer.
* An inventor.
* A military officer of some repute.
* A scientist.

"Brigadier Ralph Alger Bagnold . . .  (3 April 1896 – 28 May 1990) was the founder and first commander of the British Army's Long Range Desert Group [LRDG] during World War II."

"He is also generally considered to have been a pioneer of desert exploration, an acclaim earned for his activities during the 1930s."

Bagnold and his cohorts having worked out in those years prior to WW2 the various means, methods, techniques for motorized transport to be used with effectiveness in the desert vastness of the Sahara. Terrain hitherto previously only accessible by camel caravan and then with difficulty NOW through the use of the modern motor vehicle and the internal combustion engine the approach, the entry, the overland travel feasible where previously NOT SO!

Means, methods and techniques for motorized transport as useful in the harsh and unforgiving desert terrain of the Sahara and as APPLIED BY THOSE MILITARY COMBAT UNITS OF THE LRDG!

AND ONLY from this latest issue of the National Geographic this item:

"The Sahara is traversed by endless rows of dunes called barchans. The world means 'crescent-shaped dune' . . . Ralph Bagnold, a British Army officer who pioneered motorized travel in the Libyan Desert in the 1920's and 30's . . . described barchans as a life-forms - - they move, multiply, maintain structure, and adapt to their environment."

As noted by Ralph Bagnold, the dunes of the Sahara having attributes of a LIVING BEING! NOT necessarily a life-form as that term generally, ordinarily and normally understood but having SOME attributes as is described for what is alive and living!

Those means, methods and techniques for motorized transport in the desert previously inaccessible but only by the most extreme means ALSO pioneered by the Italians. The  Italian fascist military forces occupying Libya also perceiving a need for and developing in their own right motorized military units able to operate in the desert. This of course the Auto-Saharan Company. Before there was Bagnold and LRDG there was Auto-Saharan!

"The Auto-Saharan Companies (Compagnie Auto-Avio-Sahariane) were Italian military units specialised in long range patrols of the Sahara Desert."

"The Saharan companies were first formed in 1923 with the purpose of patrolling the space among the Italian forts in the Libyan Sahara desert."

"In concept, the Auto-Saharan Company was similar to the British Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) which was created (as a partial copy) in 1940"

Ralph Bagnold the brother of the famous sister Enid. Or is it Enid Bagnold the sister of the famous brother Ralph?

Those English also coming from an island nation with a cool and damp climate for whatever reason or combination of reasons have a special affinity for the desert landscape and the hotter and drier the better? I am thinking of persons such as St. John Philby, T.E. Lawrence, Gertrude Bell, Wilfred Thesiger. AND General Ralph Bagnold!

coolbert.



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