a vehicle can be considered gear check out Suncompass's Nuts
and Bolts page too.
Moment of Truce Raid
Rat Patrol and a few Germans with Dietrich are forced into an uneasy
truce and trapped by a large force of irate Arabs. As they wait
for some escape plan to come to mind, Sergeant Troy sends Hitch to
make coffee. Hitch starts a fire and carefully pours water from
a large container set by his side.
brew up some coffee, Hitch."
about that water-filled container Hitch used? It isn't a
flimsy, that much is sure, but maybe it should have been. The
fellow on the right is pouring from a British 'flimsy'.
the early desert war the container Hitch would probably have used
what was known as a 'flimsy' (or flimsey). The British called
them flimsies for good reason. The 'flimsy' was a boxy cubical
shape made of thin flexible metal that didn't stand up well to the
rigours of rough travel or bulk shipments. Apparently
considerable quantities of fuel were lost through leakage from such cans.
courtesy of Jack Valenti of LRDG Preservaton Society (http://www.lrdg.org/)
British flimsy in use.
thoroughly disliked as liquid containers, 'flimsies' were
appreciated when filled with sand and used as 'bricks' for defence,
or when cut apart to hold a petrol-fueled fire (a benghazi
burner). As soon as the British saw the superior design of
the jerry can (which may, despite its name, have been invented by the
Italians) for petrol and water, they copied it, right to the last
detail, and immediately started those containers into
production. In the meantime they captured all the German and
Italian jerry cans they could find. The American versions
of the jerry can didn't come into production until too late for the
North African campaign.
from the North African desert collection of Prof. Vance Haynes,
courtesy of Jack Valenti of the LRDG Preservation Society (http://www.lrdg.org/)
left to right: the 'POL' - Petrol-Oil-Liquid - container;
British Flimsy; 'Improved' British Flimsy (stronger metal); German
can used by Hitch for the water for coffee is definitely a
jerry can. Is it one that the Rat Patrol 'liberated' from the
Germans? If so, it might have still been painted sand colour
because that was the colour the Afrika Korps painted their jerry
cans. [And if you've been watching you will have seen that in this
episode the Jerry jerry cans were indeed sand coloured!]
more information on the history and ingenious design of the Jerry
Can see http://web.archive.org/web/20030625194512/http://www.jed.simonides.org/misc/jerrycans/jerrycans.html
the above url is currently accessible only through the archive.org
facilities - it may be slow to load and pictures may not appear. Text
episode mission briefing
German bullet cuts Moffitt down
losing blood fast. Troy checks Moffitt's dog tags
to see if any of the patrol members have the same blood type.
Unfortunately Moffitt has a rare blood type - B-negative. Troy
is desperate to find a suitable blood donor, so desperate in fact
that he is prepared to go into Dietrich's camp to find one.
Moffitt is British, it is clear in the episode that, for whatever
reason, he isn't wearing British dog tags. Here is what the
British ID discs looked like in World War Two. (the shown religion [C
of E for Church of England] and identity number for Moffitt have been
tag was green/grey and the other a sort of reddish colour. They were
made of some hard synthetic material (The Canadian dogtags Suncompass
has seen, and which look very similar, are made of a bakelite
material. It may be that the red one was meant to be fire proof
while the green one was rot proof.).
see a picture of real British dog tags and others see:
will note that British tags do not give the blood type (which
is one good thing about Moffitt not wearing British dog tags in this episode)
finding a donor with Moffitt's rare blood type really worth such
gnashing of teeth? Find out here.
Thine Enemy Raid
episode mission briefing
Rat Patrol destroy a medical supply convoy but when they stop to
investigate, Troy accidentally shoots and seriously wounds a German
nurse. Filled with remorse, he is determined to make it 'right' by
taking her into a nearby German field hospital.
nurse clearly has an identity disc, or Erkennungsmarke,
around her neck. The disc she wears is more or less in keeping
with that used by the German army.
issued in 1939, all military personnel were required to wear the
oval identification tag at all times. It was about 50 mm
(2") across and was made of thin aluminum, zinc, steel, or tin
and perforated across the horizontal. Above and below the
perforation would be listed the same information - the soldier's
number, blood type, and the soldier's initial replacement unit.
see the real thing and for more information about German military
identification check out: http://www.feldgrau.com/soldier-id.html
nurse's disc can be seen to have the three horizontal gaps in the
middle and the holes at the top and bottom.
she had died (and we don't know if she did), the tag would have been
broken in two. One part to go to the HQ for records.
Hour Glass Raid
Rat Patrol are sent to an
field hospital to check
out a suspected German
agent. When they arrive, the doctor tells them that the agent
has died, but at the same moment there is a perplexingly ineffectual
attack on the hospital. While the Rat Patrol is busy defending
the hospital, Dietrich 'captures' the doctor and whisks him away
under false pretext. A sandstorm blows up quickly, forcing the
Rat Patrol to shelter with the medical personnel (lovely nursing
might have been added encouragement). While they wait for the
storm to end, they pick up a German message on the radio
urgent call from Dietrich. He has
had a serious kubelwagen accident...
message from Dietrich
to reports from individuals who fought in the second world war, dust
and sandstorms caused electrical disturbances that made radio
communication impossible. The Rat Patrol were very lucky
indeed to have heard Dietrich's radio distress call in the middle of
Hour Glass Raid
continued from above
the approximate location of Dietrich's accident in hand, the Rat
Patrol head out into the sandstorm to find Dietrich and hopefully
rescue the kidnapped doctor. They are guided by Troy's magnetic
to reports, sandstorms make magnetic compasses
erratic. The Rat Patrol were, given the conditions,
surprisingly fortunate to have found Dietrich by using a magnetic
compass. No doubt Troy was very adept. Even if
they'd had a sun compass,
a device that would not have been affected by fields generated by the
dust, it would have been of little use in a sandstorm (no sun).
But even in times of full sun, Suncompass does not recall ever seeing
a sun compass in use even though the real Long Range Desert Group
(LRDG) made good use of them.
Of course the Rat Patrol was always very lucky in pretty much
everything they attempted - never was a mission lost. But
that's '60s TV - the white hats were always very lucky.
Something the black-bereted Moffitt might have made note of, given
how unlucky he often was in his run-ins with the enemy.
with his magnetic compass
magnetic compass in use in The Fatal Chase Raid as he plots
their position in relation to an Oasis where they hope to find
Uhm...if he's taking a compass reading from that magnetic compass
he'd be wise to first move it well away from the jeep hood (upon
which it rests in the picture) because of the effect of the metal on
the compass needle.
authentic Bagnold sun compass.
kind permission of Jack Valenti of the LRDG Preservation Society to
the left is a photo of a real LRDG suncompass like the one that
Bagnold perfected for the LRDG (Long Range Desert Group). This
is just the sort of navigational gadget critical to the LRDG but that
was never used on The Rat Patrol.
more fascinating information (and books and photos) about the LRDG
and the LRDG Preservation Society be sure to check out: http://www.lrdg.org/
to the right is another view of Bagnold's sun compass, photo taken
at the Imperial War Museum in London, England.
Hour Glass Raid
continued from above
the Rat Patrol slog through the sandstorm, narrowing in on
Dietrich's location using
the Germans also pick up Dietrich's location and demise from his
radio message. The efficient German radio operator finds Dietrich's
location with pinpoint accuracy on the map
in their field headquarters.
is exactly where you can find Dietrich.
at the scale of the map onto which Dietrich's location was pointed
out by the radio operator, it is darn near impossible to imagine they
could find him from that. (The shaded area of the map is the
entire country of Libya!) The operator might as well have said to his
comrade, "Go find Dietrich. He is about here, somewhere in this
200 square mile area in northern Libya." That the Germans got as
close to finding Dietrich as they did in this episode, is astounding,
and evidence of their superior map reading skills.
particular map shows up in other episodes. Watch for it.]
Reading - 101
Pipeline to Disaster Raid
Rat Patrol is sent to find an officer from the British intelligence
who had to bail out forty miles north of Hassi
Oasis [remember that oasis name because it pops up again in other episodes].
He carries, in his head, the valuable map coordinates for
a pipeline that must not fall into German hands. Although seriously
wounded, he manages to give the Rat Patrol the map coordinates, but
with his injuries his judgement is impaired and it isn't long before
mutiny is being discussed.
map coordinates that caused all the trouble are based on the
Military Grid Reference System (very like the civil system -
UTM). If you remember your high school mathematics it is a
system that isn't hard to sort out because it is similar to a
Cartesian graph with x and y axes.
maps have a grid pattern laid on them with lines numbered from the
bottom left corner.
first four numbers the Colonel gave to the Rat Patrol were easting
numbers (x axis) - 8765. That he gave four and not two or three
numerals means the location could be more precisely located.
The second group of four numbers were the northing coordinates (y
axis) - 5471.
Easting is always given before northing and there are always an even
number of total digits in the map coordinates.
more details on how to read map coordinates see: http://www.eoascientific.com/cartography/aaMaps_M3_grid_Z.htm
your way to the enemy
'em Back Alive Raid
episode mission briefing
Rat Patrol have been ordered to capture a German doctor who has been
doing research with radium. While Troy makes off with the
doctor and the radium, the other three members of the patrol are
captured by Dietrich. When they refuse to divulge Troy's
location, he allows the three to escape and then he follows them,
knowing full well they will radio Troy. When they do, he makes
use of a gadget called an RDF (Radio Detection Finder) and his skills
at triangulation to find where Troy is transmitting from.
making his triangulation
is how RDF and triangulation may be used to find a radio transmitter.
RDF (radio detection finder) such as Dietrich had in the back
of the truck can determine the direction to the source of a radio
transmission. It can't determine how far it is away though - just the direction.
determine the distance to the transmitter, there must be at least
two directional readings taken by the RDF at two different known
positions. The transmitter (in this caseTroy) must stay on the
air long enough for the RDF to make those two separate readings.
Dietrich was told that Troy was transmitting, he ordered the
operator to take an RDF directional reading. Then either he
moved the truck to a second location, or another RDF was in a
separate known location to take a second reading. With two directions
given from two known positions, it was just a matter of Dietrich
drawing the lines on his map. Where the lines crossed was where
the transmitter was set up. Now you can see the three points of
the triangle of triangulation. Dietrich then knew exactly where
Troy was. Too bad for Dietrich that he didn't also know that Troy was
intentionally drawing him into a trap.
and their many uses
of Fire (pilot)
Rat Patrol lose one of their number and a replacement arrives in the
person of Moffitt. With a mission to find and destroy a buried
petrol and ammo dump well inside German territory, they need his
desert skills to help them. On the way they are forced to halt
in the chill of the desert night and Moffitt asks Troy for permission
to 'brew up'. Troy tells him to go ahead and use the TNT.
He says that cut up small it makes a good fire. Moffitt goes
ahead and does just that. Or does he?
Moffitt may have been whittling away at TNT for his fire, one
wonders why he didn't just use a little of their gasoline to make a Benghazi
burner or perhaps use some plastic
explosives instead of the TNT. Plastic explosives (composite
explosives named C1, C2, C3, etc.) in use during the war would have
made an excellent fuel for the fire, and we know that the Rat Patrol
using plastic explosive to set a charge
to Disaster Raid
good site about explosives
clearly asks Moffitt for C3 in the Darkest Raid so they can blow the
safe that holds diamonds confiscated by the Germans.
is a Libyan port city well within the North African theatre of
action (see Location map) and gave its
name to a special sort of stove. Moffitt in Chase of Fire Raid
might have heated water for a brew up by cutting a 'flimsy'
open, putting in some sand, and adding petrol to it. Once
ignited, it made a Benghazi Burner/cooker - a good little stove for
cooking or making tea.
'Benghazi' described at: http://web.archive.org/web/20030203153937/http://freepages.family.rootsweb.com/~sarker/Sound/Sound_Tobruk.html
the above url is currently only accessible through the archiving
facilities of archive.org. The page may be slow to load.]
an aside, the town Benghazi was mentioned by Gribbs in The Fatal
Chase Raid as a place of departure for some heavy German
hardware. As a port city and often in the hands of the Germans, that
sounds quite plausible.
and Gribs with their Molotovs
Rat Patrol help a number of American POWs escape but end up
travelling with three disagreeable ones. When one of their
jeeps breaks down and they run low on water, they search for water at
a German-held oasis. In their arsenal are the makings for
Molotov Cocktails which they make good use of.
and Tex with their Molotovs
was the name of the Russian Secretary of War and Foreign Minister
during the second world war. How did his name come to be
applied to the cheap and potent anti-tank weapon? One story
goes that during 1941 when the Germans slashed the Russian defences
and captured many of their border ammunitions' depots, the Russians
had to come up with something to use against the Panzers - and the
Molotov Cocktail was born. Another story says that the Finnish,
in their efforts to repel the Red Army during the winter war (1939),
devised and even mass produced the incendiary weapon and coined the
term 'Molotov Cocktail'. It is likely that the petrol bombs
were in use prior to the second world war - in the Spanish Civil War.
history, and use, with a drawing:
can't help wondering where the Rat Patrol found all those bottles to
make the Molotov Cocktails. They were supposedly rattling around in
their single jeep. Are they beer bottles? Rum bottles?
Linament bottles? Or do they have the spare room to carry around a
bunch of empty bottles as part of their standard equipment?