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Second LRDG attempt to kill the Desert Fox

After the first attempt of Long Range Desert Group (LRGD) to kill Rommel failed, the idea immediately arose to continue the operation. After half of the LRGD was destroyed during the last mission, the other half remained at the rally point in Bir El Anson. After the evacuation of the wounded Jake Isonsmith, Major Maine who had previously led the SAS group, was appointed the commander of the combined SAS, T1, T3 and P1 groups. Also, the LRGD received fresh reinforcements from Cairo.

On November 8, 1942, Major Maine figured out how to continue the mission. He pointed on a map to El Ageila in Libya, which was 200 km southwest of their current position: "Rommel will return there. He has to be there because he has no other line of defense all the way to Tripoli ... And we don't need the Air Force. Why do we need planes if they shot us instead of the Germans?"

LRDG plans

Already on the way the plans changed: instead of El Ageila, Major Maine decided to go to Benghazi, since the main supply port of the Afrika Korps was located there. Cairo agreed to the changed, while Cairo believed that Rommel, given his illness, had to visit a hospital in Benghazi during the retreat.

On the way, Senior Lieutenant Tinker's T2 group, which had arrived from Cairo via Kafr, joined the LRDG groups. The group consisted of 12 people, one of whom was a Russian immigrant Major Popsky (Russian name Vladimir Penyakov), accompanied by 2 Bedouins. On the third day, the LRDG split up and moved towards Benghazi along different roads.

Suddenly, the LRDG received an order from the 8th Montgomery Army to attack airfields in Benin. 8th Army Headquarters decided that since the Axis troops were still far from the site of the operation, it would be best to use the LRDG to strike aircraft and aviation workshops, so as not to waste time while Rommel went to them to trap.


All the crews suffered casualties during the raid. The raid of the reconnaissance aircraft and the fall of the car into the cliff deprived 6 people and half of the cars from the LRDG. The commandos tried their best, but they realized that the mission was becoming an increasingly dubious gamble. The first to arrive at the target were groups T1, SAS and P1, which mined the airfield while the guards were resting. Soon deafening explosions raised the entire security of the airfield, but it was too late, as the saboteurs fled along the Bedouin trail leading into the desert. This alarm caught the T3 group by surprise, since having arrived late, they arrived at the airfield already during the explosions and alarm. Group T3 took a battle with the Italian airport security in which it lost half of its ammunition, one car and one person. After that, the T3 group left the pursuit for 2 days.

LRDG destroys aircrafts


The Sidi Mammod oasis was chosen to meet all groups. The Germans figured out the rally point and outstripped the British. The first commandos who arrived at the oasis were destroyed, and the oasis was set on fire. When all the groups reconnected not far from the oasis, the LRDG forces were reduced to a total of 5 trucks, 4 SUV's and 22 people, and overall command was transferred to Nick Wilder. The personnel of the LRDG suffered from wounds and diseases. Major Maine's SAS and Tinker's T2 groups never arrived at the rally point. Continuing the mission to eliminate Rommel was also impossible, given that half of the Afrika Korps were already looking for the commandos.

All groups of the LRDG split up and planned to get together in Bir Khemet. All groups were hunted by special forces "288" and aviation. Most of all failure befell the group T3. As a result, one rainy night they were washed away by a deluge in the cave in which they were hiding. They had one truck left, but food and weapons were carried away by the stream of water. After repairing the truck, 4 days later, T3 left the gorge and arrived Bir Khemet in 2 days.

Afrika Korps life in the desert


In Bir Khemet Bedouins approached them and asked: "Inglesi?" The commando responded positively and decided to ask if they knew about the existence of other groups: "Wilder, Isonsmith, Maine, Tinker, Popsky." After they heard "Popsky", the Arabs shone with happiness. They knew Popsky. They loved Popsky. The Arabs reported that 2 nights ago they had the honor of serving bread with him. After that, the Arabs took T3 to the caves of the Bir Khemet mountains, where the exhausted commandos waited for the evacuation transport for 5 days, during which the Arabs, despite their poverty, supplied them with food.

The second attempt of the LRDG to eliminate Rommel ended. Unfortunately for the brave commandos of the LRDG, Montgomery's desire to drive the Axis troops to the west as soon as possible ruined all plans, giving an additional task which revealed the presence of commandos in the rear of the Axis troops. The LRDG consisting of almost 60 people left for the desert to complete the assignment on October 20, 1942, and by December 10, a third of the personnel had returned to the location of the 8th Alliance Army. All of the survivors were injured, exhausted, and severely ill. For 2 months in the desert, the LRDG actually did only one thing: blew up the airfield and aviation workshops. Once again, through the fault of the command, the efficiency of the selected commandos was not worth the number of casualties of the personnel.

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