Nit-picker's Bunker #1

 see more Suncompass nit-picks in 
Bunker #2

(Newest nit-picks are stored in Bunker #2)

If you don't want to read nit-picking, read no further.
Consider yourself warned.

Suncompass acknowledges that she has put The Rat Patrol episodes under a magnifying glass in a way that the series' creators could never have envisioned.  Although the items Suncompass has picked at have fulfilled the need in a series more focussed on action than accuracy, there are times when, in Suncompass's opinion, it might have been just as easy and just as much fun to have got it 'right'.


Probably the biggest historical bomb in The Rat Patrol is the implication that the American Army was in charge of the wartime desert patrols in North Africa, and that the British and the Commonwealth had no role in them or in their considerable successes.  This particular presentation caused the British government of the days when Rat Patrol was aired considerable indignation.  As a result, the series was subsequently pulled from British airwaves.

The American Army arrived in North Africa with Operation Torch on November 8, 1942 - about two years after the North African war had begun.  It is, therefore, difficult to explain how they could have been in charge of desert patrols such as the Rat Patrol on the date quoted for Moffitt's execution in The Double or Nothing Raid  - March 7, 1942.

"March 7, 1942"

Manipulation of history is not unheard of in the world of television.


Kill or be Killed Raid

The episode mission briefing
Sergeant Moffitt impersonates a German specialist in ancient languages on a special mission to translate a valuable parchment. The German officer in charge has high hopes that the parchment will hold the location of a source of water in an area that would allow the Germans to outflank the Allies and win the North African war. Optimistic?  Perhaps.

(From Kill or Be Killed Raid)

Although the map is fuzzy, one can see that it is a  map is of Tunisia and the German Colonel appears to be pointing somewhere just northeast of the blue seasonal 'lake' as shown on the map to the right.

Col. Schweiger points out that a source of water would allow them - the Germans - to outflank the enemy and possibly win the war in North Africa.  From his motions on the map it is clear that the front must lie within Tunisia.  Only in the final few months of the war in North Africa did the front fall within that country.  With the Americans coming at them from the west, the Free French from the southwest and the British from the south, the Germans were trapped against the Mediterranean and were ultimately pushed up to Cap Bon (at top of map) where they surrendered on May 13, 1943.  It is proposed by Suncompass that Col. Schweiger, in his confidence that a water source at that point in the war would have allowed the Germans to defeat the Allies in North Africa, was an overly optimistic fellow.  If he had been pointing at a map of Cyrenaica, Suncompass probably wouldn't have nit-picked at him.

See Bizerte at the northern edge of Tunisia on the map.  That is where Moffitt was going to pay an unhappy visit to the Gestapo had Troy not rescued him in this episode.



The Double or Nothing Raid

The episode mission briefing
Sergeant Moffitt has infiltrated a German camp but been captured while trying to escape with valuable documents.  Because he is in German uniform, he is considered to be a spy and is sentenced to be shot by firing squad on "March 7, 1942".  Although the Rat Patrol try, they fail to free him. The Germans change their minds about executing Moffitt and decide they are more interested in exchanging Moffitt for a captured German officer.  It is, of course, a trap. The 'Rats' with their commanding officer pore over a map showing where the prisoner exchange is to take place.

The red 'X' (where a matchbox was placed a moment later) evidently marks Hassi Messaoud Oasis where the prisoner exchange is to take place. 

There really is an area called Hassi Messaoud but it lies well inside Algeria (somewhere left of the words 'Grand Erg Oriental' on the map of Tunisia above).  There must be another Hassi Messaoud area in Libya though because the map they are poring over in the picture to the left looks considerably more like eastern Libya (Cyrenaica) and likely the area just south of Tobruk - the 'x' possibly being in the vicinity of Jaghbub.

Perhaps of some relevance - in March of 1942 when this episode was set, Rommel and the Afrika Korps had been halted west of a diagonal line at Gazala.  Gazala, a coastal town, lies north and west (left) of the red 'X' location (if Jaghbub).  The Germans and Italians held the territory to the west of the Gazala-Bir Hakim line while the British and Allied countries held all to the east (right).  If the location of the 'X' is approximately accurate (and it would fit with the mentioned date), the spot for the prisoner exchange may have fallen well inside Allied territory.




'Dietrich' is a difficult name to spell.  This appeared in the credits at the end of The Wildest Raid of All


Oops again

Dare Devil Rescue Raid


"Now you're going to have to find it. You're going to have to take us back two centuries."

The episode mission briefing
The Rat Patrol await the arrival of Moffitt's father, an anthropology professor at Cambridge University and sometime advisor to the British War Department.  The Moffitt senior is coming to the desert to help the Rat Patrol locate an ancient Roman road that will help the Allies move critical military supplies across the desert.  When the Moffitt senior's plane goes down, Troy and Moffitt junior have a heated discussion about who is going to find the Roman road. Troy wants Junior to find it and he says to Moffitt, "Now you're going to have to find it. You're going to have to take us back two centuries." Moffitt replies, "...But that road is centuries old. What's a few hours?"


"...But that road is centuries old."

Let us consider that ancient road these two were so keen to find.  Troy said it was two centuries old. Two centuries? Century means hundred.  Two hundred years?  That would mean the Romans were building that ancient road in the desert in the mid 1700s.  Is that really likely?

The "Roman road"

The Romans invaded Tripolitania in Libya in 106 B.C.E. (Before Common Era, the equivalent to B.C.) and its Libyan empire was at a peak by 2 C.E. (Common Era, the equivalent to A.D.).  The Roman empire in Libya was in the throes of collapse by the time the Vandals (a Germanic tribe) invaded portions of Libya in 429 C.E.. 

That ancient Roman road in question had to be over 1500 and probably closer to 2000 years old.

Suncompass might forgive Troy's confusion with the word 'century', but Moffitt really ought to have known better (his excuse would no doubt be that he had been a tad upset about his missing father)(is there an excuse for the episode writer though?).  The word that our boys would have been wiser to use was 'thousands' or millenia (from Latin for 'thousand'). Two thousand years.

Just one site of many with a brief history of Libya:

For a more detailed Libyan history:

To see pictures of some real Roman ruins and genuine Roman roads of Leptis Magna (an ancient city of Libya):

A fun place to explore the major Libyan city of Lepcis Magna as it was in Roman times:



When did you say you last saw David?

Field of Death Raid

from Field of Death Raid

The episode mission briefing
The Rat Patrol are attacked by a pair of Arabs, but naturally our boys have little difficulty overwhelming their attackers.  When the bodies are searched, the Rat Patrol find a photograph of Troy with his brother, David.  It comes out that Troy hasn't seen his brother since before the war. David had been in England when war was declared and joined the RAF (Royal Air Force) the very next day.


The nit-picker in Suncompass wonders just where and when that photograph (above) was supposed to have been taken.  We are told that Sam and David hadn't seen each other since war was declared.  Was the photo really taken before the war?  In the photo we see Sam Troy (in his Rat Patrol 'uniform') standing in the desert next to David who is garbed in what looks like an RAF uniform.  It seems fair, therefore, to assume David had already joined the RAF when the photograph was taken. 

If they'd just put them into 'civvies' for the photograph, Suncompass would not have had a nit-pickin' leg to stand on.


A 'Bloody' Bomb

B-Negative Raid

The episode mission briefing
The Rat Patrol are busy destroying a German convoy when a stray enemy bullet hits Moffitt.  He is seriously wounded and bleeding badly. They need a blood transfusion for him, but his blood type is very uncommon -  B-negative.  Troy has blood type A-positive, and Hitch and Tully have O-positive. Troy decides they will have to infiltrate Dietrich's nearby camp and 'steal' a donor with B-negative blood.

The problem for our lads seemed to lie in the fact that Moffitt needed a transfusion of blood and none of his patrol mates had the same blood type.  On the surface this seems to be a serious problem, but in actual fact it isn't.

If Troy, with type A blood, had donated to Moffitt it would have been very serious indeed and probably would have killed Moffitt.  But Hitch and Tully, with their type O blood, are what are termed 'Universal Donors'.  Type O blood has no surface antigens on the blood cells so either Hitch or Tully could have safely given blood to Moffitt or Troy, or anyone with one of the other blood groups - be that A, AB, B or O. 

But, you ask, what about that Rh-negative factor in Moffitt's blood?  The other fellows all had Rh-positive blood.  Doesn't that matter?

According to the web site below, the answer to that question is that even with the Rh-negative factor Moffitt probably could have had a transfusion from Hitch or Tully and probably suffered no lasting or long term effects.

Of course our lads didn't known all that stuff about blood so they fearlessly ventured into danger to find a donor in the German camp.  If they had known Hitch and Tully could have given blood to Moffitt then they wouldn't have gone to Dietrich looking for help and then found Fabian.  Although it would have been much easier to just let Tully or Hitch donate the blood, the episode would have been much shorter and wouldn't have been anything like as much fun for the viewer.  (and Fabian might still be with the Germans)

If the writer of the episode had only givenTully and Hitch blood types A and/or AB then Suncompass couldn't have nitpicked here.

Suncompass thinks it is a darn good idea to always have a couple of people with type O blood in a patrol.  You'd have a handy donor compatible for any of your wounded if you needed one.

And something else about this episode that Suncompass has been considering (don't sigh.  You didn't have to read this if you didn't want to) ....given that the Rh component in blood was only identified in 1940, would our lads necessarily have known their Rh factor?  (A vet that Suncompass asked said that his dogtags included his blood type, but not the Rh factor.)  And would Dietrich really have been so very 'up' on the discovery of the Rh factor and the relative commonness of the negative factor? 

For more about blood transfusions, including the impact of the Rh factor in transfusions [about half way down in the section and called Delayed hemolytic reactions] :
[Note: the above url is currently only accessible through the archiving facilities of  The page may be slow to load.]

[many thanks to NG for locating the above link and explaining the 'bloody' stuff to Suncompass]


Oops too. Is that a microphone boom I see?

Field of Death Raid

The episode mission briefing
A particularly evil German officer has kidnapped Troy's younger brother David intending to use him as bait to trap Troy.  Rather than let a distressed Troy rush headlong into the trap (a field of mines) to rescue David, Moffitt punches Troy, knocking him to the ground.  As he helps Troy up, in the bottom right corner of the screen bobbles what Suncompass guesses is a boom microphone.  Oops. [see circled item]


Who is that and what is he doing on top of the electrician's van?

The Two if By Sea Raid

The episode mission briefing
Troy and Hitch steal the van of a shifty French electrician so Moffitt can use it to infiltrate a German lighthouse.  Alone Moffitt drives the van up the winding coastal road toward the lighthouse but shadows make Suncompass wonder if he really is alone - it looks like someone is on top of his van. [see the pointing hand]



Do you have a date?

The Gunrunner Raid

The episode mission briefing
The Rat Patrol is captured by a traitor who has given up flying for the Allies and turned to gunrunning for the Germans.  He is annoyed with the continued destruction by the Rat Patrol of his inventory of weaponry he sells to the Germans.  He invites Troy and Moffitt to join him and make themselves rich. 

(Suncompass is sure you know what their answer will be)

In the scene pictured above Ned says, "This is what we might call Exhibit A.  A United States Army Air Force flying jacket, circa November 1942.  Belonging to one Edwin 'Ned' Cunningham. Fourteen missions over North Africa..."

Suncompass does not quibble with his November 1942 date. That date fits history.  The problem arises with the other dates Ned quoted earlier in the same scene when he was complaining about times when the Rat Patrol had destroyed his armaments destined for sale to the Germans.  Those dates he quoted?  August 11, September 4, and September 27.

If Ned was shot down circa November 1942 as he said, then it would stand to reason that he got into the gunrunning business with the Germans in North Africa AFTER that time.  Therefore August 11, September 4, and September 27 must all have been in 1943.  It is a wonder Ned could find any Germans in North Africa on those dates in any position to purchase anything because the war in North Africa ended in May 1943.  Any remaining Germans would have been in POW camps.

If only Ned had said the pesky Rat Patrol raids had happened in January, February, March or April. Then Suncompass might have let it go.


And just where is your hat, Dietrich?

The Violent Truce Raid

The episode mission briefing:
Moffitt tries to save Deitrich's wounded men from receiving contaminated plasma and his reward is to be threatened with a court martial.  Troy calls in Dietrich to clear Moffitt of all charges, but the senior British officer in command decides Dietrich will not be released to return to his unit.  He will be kept as a prisoner.  In a desperate dash for freedom, Dietrich tumbles from a jeep and loses his hat.  When the British officer finally admits he has made a mistake, Dietrich salutes him despite not being in full uniform.

According to Paul Brickhill, author of The Great Escape (classified as fiction but recounts the true story of a mass escape from a German POW camp.), Dietrich, technically not in full uniform, should not have saluted the British officer.

A quotation from the book:

" . .Von Lindeiner [the camp Kommandant] was very correct.  It is military etiquette in a prison camp for a captive officer to salute a captor officer and be saluted in turn.  But you must never salute without a cap on (except in the U.S.) and there were only a few caps in the whole of north camp. So whenever Von Lindeiner came into the compound, the bare-headed prisoners who passed him would nod politely, and the impeccable Prussian would salute the scruffy prisoner who, like as not, had a great hole in the seat of his pants, and two days' stubble because he'd been using the same razor blade for a month.  It was an intriguing situation, a touch of ritual and civilized sanity." 

 - from The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill.

For more about the real Great Escape - the real POWs; who made it and who didn't; the conditions; the plan; the tunnels; the conditions; the guards and murderers, as well as how the 1963 movie of the same name compares to reality - check out this excellent site:

Thanks to J.W. for pointing out this Oops.


Only the shadow knows

The Blind Man's Bluff Raid

The episode mission briefing:
A surprise attack by Dietrich and his men separates Troy from the rest of the patrol.  They can't find him and he can't find them. He wanders about in the blinding sun and heat until he collapses on the sand alone - and blind.

But is he really alone?

Troy collapses onto the sand more than once.  Here we see him on the sand but to his left we see a distinctly unnatural-looking shadow. What is casting that shadow?  His ultimate captors?  If so, why was Troy free to get up and stagger about more in the next scene?  Suncompass suspects it was likely one of the filming crew, possibly even the cameraman, getting in for a tight shot.  But only the shadow will know for sure.

Thanks to C.L.W. and S.E. for spotting this Oops.


"Take a load off whenever you can, I always say." - Suncompass

The Delilah Raid

The episode mission briefing:
The patrol attack and mostly destroy a small German convoy but discover in with the valuable cargo, a young French woman - a prisoner of the Germans. She is not, however, quite what she claims to be and at one point tries to escape from the Rat Patrol to meet her German lover.  It is during this escape attempt that an unusual item can be seen in the back of the truck she is driving.


the entire chair as it might look

The picture above, taken through the windshield of the truck, is a little fuzzy, but if you squint your eyes you can see the young woman at the wheel with her head turned to look out the window to the right.  On the left Troy (his hat identifiable) clambers through the opening from the back of the truck into the cab beside her.  Looking past Troy one can see quite clearly a chair in the back of the truck.
      From the picture on the right of the same truck moments before, it is obvious there is no chair there.
      Heaven only knows why a chair appeared where one was not before.  It isn't the sort of equipment one might expect to be in the truck, but Suncompass supposes that Sgt. Troy might have wanted to take 'a load off' while they set up the shot.

Thanks to the W.C.R. and S.E. for picking up this Oops.


Excuse me, sir, where did you say they were meeting?

The Fifth Wheel Raid

Capt Boggs briefs the lads

The episode mission briefing:
A British Colonel, travelling in enemy territory, has either been captured by the Germans or is defecting with secret information about upcoming Allied Operation Cora (don't ask Suncompass how Troy knew about it if it was so top secret). The Rat Patrol are sent in to rescue the Colonel ...or silence him before he can spill the secret to the enemy. 

As they are being briefed, Captain Boggs tells the lads that Colonel Jamieson,"...was returning from a general staff meeting in Tunis." 

Tunis? Tunis is the capital city of Tunisia and is located near the northern tip of the country (see the map above).  As history would have it, when Tunis was in the hands of the Allies then almost everything in North Africa was in Allied hands - for Tunis was captured by the Allies on May 7, 1943, literally days before all German forces in North Africa surrendered (May 13th). 

Suncompass wonders where the Colonel could have been going after his Tunis meeting that took him (not on the coast road we are told) through German-held territory? This makes Suncompass scratch her head. That late in the war, the Germans still in North Africa had been squished up against the Mediterranean Sea in the extreme northeastern part of Tunisia (see Cape Bon on the map) so was it likely they were roaming about (not on the coast road) south of Tunis and kidnapping colonels where the Allied forces had taken control?  Suncompass thinks not and respectfully suggests that the secret meeting was so secret that even Boggs wasn't told where it really was being held.  If only Boggs had said Tripoli or Tobruk or even Timbuktoo, Suncompass would (probably) have kept her nit-picking thoughts to herself.


See more nit-picks in Bunker #2


If nit-picking is your joy, check out the odd 'oops' brought to light in the
'Nuts and Bolts - dropped from some Rat Patrol  vehicles' section. 


If you think you've seen an 'oops' in the series, let Suncompass check it out. 


Suncompass maintains that flaws in no way diminish enjoyment of the series. 

In fact, some even make the series more entertaining. 

Almost forty years after its creation, The Rat Patrol still packs a tank-sized wallop of entertainment - just as it was meant to do.
Above all, enjoy watching!



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