The Long Range Desert Group in the Aegean

  • Author: Brendan O’Carroll
  • Publisher: Pen & Swords, 2020), 280 pages, numerous photographs
  • Price: £25.00 (Hardback)
  • ISBN:  9781526777379

Publishers’ blurb … Shortly after the invasion of Sicily and to distract German attention from the Italian campaign, Churchill ordered the occupation of the Dodecanese Islands in the Aegean. The Long Range Desert Group, retraining in Lebanon, were now part of Raiding Forces, Middle East, along with the Special Boat Service and No 30 Commando. In support of 3,000 regulars in 234 Brigade, the LRDG landed covertly on Leros establishing observation posts, reporting movement of enemy shipping and aircraft. In October the LRDG were ordered to assault the island of Levitha losing forty highly skilled men killed or captured. The Germans invaded Leros with overwhelming force on 12 November 1943, five days later the battle was over. While many British troops were captured most of the LRDG and SBS escaped. Their individual stories make for enthralling reading. A measure of the intensity of the fighting is the fact that the LRDG lost more men in three months in the Aegean than in three years in the desert operating behind enemy lines. The author, an acknowledged expert on the LRDG uses official sources, both British and German, and individual accounts to piece together the full story of this dramatic, costly but little-known campaign. It is a valuable addition to the history of special forces in the Second World War.


Author Brendan O’Carroll is prolific author on the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), and this is no exception. Until now there is little in the annals of the LRDG history that cover their exploits post the desert war in North Africa. O’Carroll completes the story in his usual engaging literary style to retell this special unit’s story from training in the Lebanon to their operations in the Aegean. The first thing I do with a new book is look at the photographic plates, biblography and the appendix, a good sign of a book being well researched with new sources. This one does not disappoint.  The photographs are excellent, many never before published, the appendix includes equipment carried, operational orders, the Roll of honour and also a roll of New Zealand, British, and Rhodesians, including those captured and killed. The biography gives a wide range of sources, including some rare post-war memoirs. Well written with many first-hand accounts from veteran interviews and post-war memoirs. This makes it a go-to book for everything you ever wanted to know about the LRDG in the Aegean.  For the LRDG, their adventures in the Aegean were mostly ill-fated, in a campaign that was largely unnecessary and poorly planned. The LRDG suffered more casualties in three months during these operations than it had in the three years that it had spent campaigning in North Africa between 1940-43. Recommended to anyone with an interest in the LRDG and special operations during the Second World War.

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