Sunday, 20 February 2011
Having found the Fort, but been unable to photograph it without permission from ‘the top’ our next goal was to find the hanger that had been attacked so successfully on January 11th 1941. Pat Clayton and his party headed east towards the Airfield - little more that a cleared stretch of sand. They found the hanger with three Ghibli aircraft inside, but encountered some opposition from the Italians guarding the area, losing two of their own men. The French Colonel, d'Ornano and a member of T Patrol. We hoped to be more lucky! I am again grateful to Dr Martin Sterry for spending time searching both the 1958 Aerial Photograph and the contemporary Google Earth images to locate, what he thought, looked like 50m x 20m structure ‘with well defined edges’. Martin supplied a waypoint and we headed for it, turning south off the tarmac and out into open farmland. The hanger was soon visible, but surrounded by high hedges and looked harder to access than it had been in 1941. We stopped and asked a farmer how to get into it and he replied ‘Ahhh The old Italian Airfield?’. We had found it and here are a selection of pictures, the new ones showing it as it is today and the old B&W from Bill Kennedy-Shaw’s excellent 1945 book, ‘LRDG’. Just visible on the B&W are the two windows set high in the west facing (towards the town) wall.
It was an emotive experience to stand on the very spot, exactly 70 years on - to the hour! We hope to have many similar high points on the Easter trip to Egypt. One place still available!
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Fresh as a daisy after a 2000 mile haul back from Libya in my Land Rover, I presented a Podcast via Overland Live, administered in UK by the veritable Martin Solms in London. This relatively new means of communication allows the use of ‘meeting’ software to allow like minder people to broadcast their stories of Overland Travel to an International audience. It can also be watched retrospectively as a recorded item. Click here!
If you would like to watch/hear me talk about my recent trip to Libya and the motives behind the LRDG Expedition this Easter, please go to this link - You would be well advised to skip the first 10 minutes as we had a few ‘tekkies’.
As you enter Murzuq from the Sebha Road, as the LRDG did exactly 70 years ago, on January 11th., the ‘Fort’ is to the west of the town - A Medieval construction in pretty good condition and something of a tourist attraction. (featured in an earlier Blog) A hand painted sign proclaims ‘Fort - Murzuq’ so it would be a fair assumption that this was the fort the LRDG attacked on that victorious day in 1941. But standing there in the square it didn’t add up. It all the references I have read, nothing is mentioned of a Mosque, yet it dominates the central square. Also, in Bill Kennedy-Shaw’s book LRDG, he says the road led straight to the Fort. This road took in several turns! Within our team of Archaeologists we are lucky to have Dr. Martin Sterry. Martin’s specialist subject is the analysis of ariel photography in search of Archaeological sites and, by chance, he had a 1958 ariel photograph of Murzuq. On it can clearly be seen the old sand track into town, leading to another fort. This second fort is a more likely candidate, as it is still a military establishment today, meaning I was unable to get permission to photograph even the exterior, which may have shown a bit of original damage. I did, however, grab a shot as we drove along the very approach road the LRDG must have driven along as they ‘managed a good shot at the tower’. It is also far closer to the Airfield - something else mentioned in other reports.
So I present to you, probably for the first time, pictures of the Fort the LRDG attacked on January 11th, 1941.
Hope I don’t get a knock on the door from giving away any secrets!
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
As our departure date draws ever nearer we are proud to display a magnificent map created by Louise Limb. It embraces all the exciting aspects of our planned trip. The history, the adventure, desert themes and those all important LRDG wrecks.
More soon on my visit to Murzuq and some new material relating to the famous LRDG raid in 1941.
Think I'll order eight Tee-shirts with this map on!