Long Range Desert Group of WW2

Major R. A. Bagnold, Royal Corps of Signals instigated the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) on 10 Jul 1940. It’s main purpose was long range reconnaissance in the Libyan desert. The men quickly gained a reputation as the best navigators in the desert during WW2. The LRDG operated from Sep 1940 until Mar 1943. Technically it was part of the British Army but initially at least the LRDG was staffed by Kiwis of the 2 New Zealand Division.


Missions included:

  • Long range reconnaissance, intelligence gathering and route finding
  • Direct action with the enemy
  • Courier for British Agents and special forces (SAS, and Commando units)

Order of Battle

Bagnold originally requested Australian personnel from Queensland but the Australian government refused to release the troops. Bagnold’s second choice were Kiwis of the 2 New Zealand Division – the thinking being that their rural background would bring familiarity with vehicles. I guess he was right. In Nov 1940 the LRDG was expanded and British, Rhodesian and Indian personnel joined.

The order of battle changed over time but the basic structure was:

LRDG Generic Order of Battle

  • 1 x Headquarters with signals
  • 1 x Light repair section
  • 1 x Medical section
  • ?? Squadrons
    • ?? Fighting patrols
  • 1 x Heavy (Supply) section
  • 1 x Artillery section
    • 4.5″ or 25 pounder Howitzers, porteed


Combination of issue Khaki Drill and standard battle dress. Some green, tan or black denim overalls; the black overalls were used for night work. Hebron coat or Tropical overcoat for cold weather, i.e. desert nights. The Hebron coat was a goat skin jacket with white or black fleece. The overcoat was mustard brown and lined with kopak. Headdress was varied and included: Service Dress caps, forage, tam-o-shanters, berets, Transjordanian Frontier Services, tan gutrah and black ogal worn Arabic style. Footwear included ammunition boots, civilian chukka suede boots or chapplies (native sandals).

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