and Ends too!
Sun Compass has been around for a very long time - the Vikings may
well have used them - but in the context of this website, it is their
use in the Second World War by those who navigated in the featureless
deserts of North Africa that is of interest.
Long Range Desert Group (LRDG), upon which the Rat Patrol is loosely
based, was most proficient in the use of the sun compass.
The device was ideally suited to the LRDG because of certain
advantages it has over the magnetic compass. Unlike the
magnetic compass, a sun compass is not influenced by electrical
fields generated by engines or by the proximity of a vehicle's
metal chassis. The founder of the LRDG, Major Ralph Bagnold,
perfected the device to suit the rigours of the LRDG, and a sun
compass was often bolted to the hoods or dashboards of the LRDG
vehicles to facilitate readings as they navigated through the
desert. To see a picture of a LRDG sun compass click here.
appears somehow magical that the Rat Patrol managed so well so often
without a sun compass - or without any other compass for that
matter. Only twice was a compass ever seen by Suncompass, and
both times it was a magnetic one. (see The
for one instance. To be fair, that time was a good time not
to use a sun compass, for sun compasses aren't all that helpful in
the middle of a blinding sandstorm)
read more about the LRDG and how they used the sun compass.
a place where you can learn more about the sun compass and even how
to use one.
to build your own sun compass (Link below is drawn from the internet
archives so may be slow to appear. Patience please.)
Fatal Reunion Raid
Rat Patrol are sent to collect a French rocket specialist escaping
from the Germans. Before they go on the mission Moffitt is
reunited with a former flame he had last seen over two
They met in France when he was wounded and unable to make his
way to Dunkirk.
The French underground was contacted to take him there.
May 1940 the British Expeditionary Force, sent to defend Belgium,
had been driven onto the beaches of Dunkirk on the coast of
France. There they stood, 338,000 of them with their backs to
the sea, the German army before them pounding them on the beaches -
with no way to escape. The Royal Navy could not rescue them all
and the call went out for British civilians to take up the
astronomical challenge of their rescue. More than 800 vessels,
from fishing boats to barges ventured into clear danger by sailing
across the English channel to aid the Royal Navy to rescue those
soldiers and take them home to fight another day.
Fatal Reunion Raid seems to have been a straggler who, because
of his leg wound, hadn't made it with his retreating army to the
beaches of Dunkirk. Arrangements had been made with the French
underground to get him there to be evacuated, and clearly he made it
somehow because he eventually ended up in North Africa with the Rat Patrol.
Fatal Reunion Raid
continued from above
Rat Patrol rescue the rocket fuel scientist and into the bargain a
rather disreputable German officer is disposed of. Moffitt bids
farewell to his former flame in
the Cafe Afrique.
Cafe where the Rat Patrol met and also where Moffitt and Gabrielle
met to say goodbye is the Cafe Afrique. Although hard to
read here, the words say 'AU SOUS SOL' which means 'basement'
or more literally, 'underground'.
Great Assassination Raid?
Kill or be Killed Raid
in disguise, is sent into German Headquarters to translate a
valuable old parchment that might contain information to aid the
Germans. His real identity is discovered before he can escape with
the vital information and Troy is under orders to assassinate Moffitt
rather than allow him to be taken for Gestapo interrogation.
to Lee Katzin, director of the Kill or Be Killed Raid, the
working title of that episode during filming was "The Great
Assassination Raid". That sounds like as appropriate
a title as the one chosen for the episode.
Last Chance Raid
Rat Patrol discover a German trap that would wipe out an approaching
British convoy. When their radio is destroyed and they are
unable to warn the British authorities of the trap, the Rat Patrol
find a creative solution. They decide to transmit a warning via
the nearby German radio station where
Windsor, a British-sounding turncoat, regularly gives voice to German
character of Windsor may have been fashioned after the real life
Nazi propaganda radio announcer, William Joyce, known in the Allied
world as Lord Haw Haw for his aristocratic nasal tone. Born in
New York of Irish parents, Joyce grew up in Ireland but chose in 1939
to take up residence in Berlin. There he gladly sided with
Hitler to make radio propaganda messages for the Nazis. One of
his better known legacies was the naming of the Australian soldiers
defending the sieged city of Tobruk against Rommel's army.
Thinking he was belittling them, Joyce called them "the rats of
Tobruk" , but he misjudged the tenacious Aussies who quickly
adopted the name with pride. Joyce was captured in 1945
and hung by the British for treason in 1946.
Rat Patrol's Windsor's fate wasn't any more pleasant.
about the complex William Joyce at http://www.heretical.org/British/joyce.html
Street Urchin Raid
is sent into a neutral town to pick up some valuable aerial
photographs, but before
he can escape with them
he is grabbed by the Gestapo. The photographs wind up in the
hands of a ten year old 'neutral citizen' - a junior businessman with
thoughts of selling them to the highest bidder. The Rat Patrol
find and free Troy and then set about trying to locate
the boy with the photos before the Gestapo does.
The local sleazy bar is the most likely place to find the boy whose
sister belly dances there, so Troy and Moffitt settle down to watch
the show and wait for the 'neutral citizen' to show up.
white script for The Street Urchin Raid indicates that a
slight deviation was made from what appeared in the on air version of
the episode that Suncompass has seen. Whether this bit was
never filmed or whether it ended up on the cutting room floor, it
sounded to have been an interesting moment. Read it for
yourself just as was in the script:
- Troy & Moffitt
the booth. Troy fidgets, checks his watch. Moffitt is
fascinated by the writhings O.S. [off screen/out of shot]
Looking toward the door, Troy does a quick take.
comes the part where Hitch and Tully grab the boy, Tico, as he
enters the bar and everyone turns his full attention to the boy.
wrong with this picture, other than the fact that Dietrich is
wearing an American helmet and those aren't 'our boys' under those hats?
the bottom of this page.
feels quite confident that the ersatz Moffitt in this picture
is being portrayed by Gary Raymond's stunt double, Nick Dimitri.
The ersatz Troy is not
being played by Chris George's usual stunt double, Hal Needham, but
by an actor credited as Kurt Lewin]
The Holy War Raid)
Never Say Die Raid
and Hitch are captured by a German patrol and held with intent to
force them into relaying false information to Allied HQ. Patrol
and Tully must find some way into the German camp to free them.
Before they can do that, they pick up two surrendering Italian
soldiers who are weary of the war and their allies, the Germans.
prefer to sit out the rest of the conflict in a POW camp. The
Italians announce proudly that they belong to the 19th platoon of the Garibaldi
they quite happily assist the Allies to free Troy and Hitch.
there is a possible connection between the real Garibaldi Brigade
and the fictional Rat Patrol, and the thread between the two is
outlined in, Private
Army, a book written by Lt. Col.
Vladimir Peniakoff, better known as Popski.
was commander of a free-wheeling desert unit attached to the Long
Range Desert Group (LRDG) in North Africa . His 'private army'
was very like that of the fictional Rat Patrol - often autonomous and
devoted to spreading alarm and despondency wherever they could behind
enemy lines. Possibly the creator of The
Rat Patrol had Popski's private army in mind when he came up
with the series.
the war in North Africa wound down in May of 1943, Popski was sent
to Italy to continue raiding behind enemy lines, and there he found
assistance from Italian partisans, known as the Garibaldi
Brigade. The Garibaldi Brigade worked with the Allies to defeat
the enemy in their country.
like the real Garibaldi Brigade, the two Italian members of the
'Garibaldi Brigade' in the Never
Say Die Raid
were happy to help the Allies against the Germans.
compass would wager that Dean Hargrove, the writer of this episode,
had read Popski's book and that he did not randomly choose the name
'Garibaldi Brigade' for his fictitious Italian unit that was so eager
to help the fictitious Allied team - a team very like Popski's
a related point of interest, Popski's war adventures were a source
of considerable intrigue to Christopher George who played Sergeant
Troy (TV Collector Magazine No. 94 Aug 1998). Gary Raymond
(Sergeant Moffitt) also read Popski's book, Private
Army, when he was preparing for his
role as Moffitt. The connection between The Rat Patrol's
Garibaldi Brigade and real Garibaldi Brigade may not be so tenuous
Army by Vladimir Peniakoff , 1950,
Jonathan Cape, London. Alden Press
to brew up?
of Fire Raid
episode mission briefing
joins the three man Rat Patrol to help them locate a fuel and ammo
dump buried deep within enemy territory. En route,
the desert night particularly cold so
asks Troy for permission to brew up - make a cup of tea. Troy
politely declines Moffitt's
offer of a cup of tea,
but perhaps they could have found something else that would have
appealed to him more - and I
don't mean coffee.
coffee' - from Exhibit A Raid
Rat Patrol 'rats' might well have had an option other than
tea or coffee that would have appealed to Troy. The real Long
Range Desert Group (LRDG) made room to cart around a stoneware jar or
two of rum for the cold nights [we all know now
that alcohol is not at all the thing to combat the cold. Tea is much
better and perhaps Moffitt knew that.].
Bagnold, founder of the LRDG, insisted that a rum ration be allowed
for his men for those cold desert nights, and they were given just
that - a daily rum ration.
the LRDG rum jar and read a most interesting bit about it at
One that Got Away Raid
Sigrune lightning bolt symbol of the SS appeared on collars and
signs in a few
Rat Patrol episodes.
But were the SS in North Africa during the war?
by all accounts, did not want the Waffen-SS, the armed branch of the
SS, involved in his desert campaign and evidently he got his
way. There is, however, evidence to suggest that other branches
of the SS were present in North Africa during the war.
Double Jeopardy Raid
the plot for this Raid? Read Suncompass's review of it here.]
the war, internment/concentration and forced labour camps were set
up in a number of Libyan and Tunisian locations - including one deep
in the Libyan desert - where thousands were put to labouring for the
Axis powers. Hundreds died from conditions and illness.
Suncompass does not know that the SS ran and staffed the camps, but
may have, given their involvement with similar camps in Europe.
June of 1942, SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer (Lieutenant Colonel) Walter
Rauff took up his SD duties as commander of the Security Police
(a branch of the SS) in Tunisia. The presence of Rauff suggests
that the SS was, to some extent, active at least in Tunisia. As
well as the forced labour and internment camps, by late 1942 there
were plans to build gas chambers in Tunisia, but when the war in
North Africa began soon after to turn against the Axis, they were not built.
more information (including a fuzzy map showing locations of the
concentration camps in North Africa) see:
Til Death Do Us Part Episode
episode mission briefing
the Rat Patrol are on their way to meet a contact, Troy is wounded
and seeks refuge in the home of a neutral Irish woman. Her goal
is to teach the local Arabs to read and write, and she is
particularly pleased with the progress of one young student. As
it turns out, the student is Troy's contact but the
has also attracted the negative attention of the Germans who 'mark'
him with the Star
is unclear to Suncompass as to whether the use of the 'yellow badge'
was restricted to Tunisia or whether it was also used in Libya. It
appears from the link below that marking Jews with a 'yellow badge'
was a fact in Tunisia from November 1942 (about the time of the
Operation Torch invasion) to May 1943 when the Axis powers
surrendered in North Africa.
more, see: http://www.u.arizona.edu/~shaked/Holocaust/lectures/lec12b.html
you have read this far you might be wondering at the choice of
colours for these web pages. There is, believe it or not, a
rhyme and reason for their selection. The grey for this
webpage, for example, is one of the colours used by the LRDG for
painting their vehicles, as are the colours for most of the other
pages of this website - the pink of the Meteorology page, the yellowy
colour of the Location page, the pale blue of the Geology page, the
greenish colour of the Gear page, the plum colour of the
Quartermaster page - all are said to have been used by the LRDG for
painting their vehicles to help them blend in with the desert background.
episode mission briefing
small local village is in the
throes of a
and the Red Cross is called in to innoculate
the populace against the dreaded disease. All is going well
until a mad German SS Captain arrives and kidnaps the Red Cross
workers and the valuable serum. Dietrich approaches him, but to
secure the release of the neutrals and the vaccine, Dietrich
is forced to make a bargain - an unsavory
one. Dietrich kidnaps
turns him over
to the SS Captain, but the
officer does not honour his side of the bargain.
It is then up to the Rat Patrol to rescue not just the serum and the
remaining neutral, but Moffitt too
- and all before the serum goes bad.
through the centuries has been a horrific killer - in war and
peacetime - killing many who lived in close quarters, be they
soldiers at war, prisoners in jails, or the poor in slums. More
people have died from typhus than killed by bullets or swords in battle.
could bring an army to its knees without a shot being fired, but it
was not until the early years of the 1900s that the causative agent
was finally discovered. It turned out to be lice.
doses of typhus vaccine were distributed to the soldiers and
civilians in North Africa and Europe during the second world war, but
often the civilian population was protected in another fashion -
through the use of DDT, the then new miracle insecticide.
to delouse someone, their clothes were removed and dusted with DDT,
but with the modesty of the Arab population that wasn't practical. A
solution was found. By tightly tying the fabric of their
robes at the ankles and wrists, modesty could be preserved and the
DDT in dust form could be puffed inside the robes at the
collars. That effectively killed any lice that might be there
and by killing the lice, a typhus epidemic could be prevented.
an epidemic was already underway, a quicker method was needed to
halt the disease, and the fastest way was to innoculate the
population with a typhus serum.
distribution of typhus serum by the Red Cross seems to be what is
happening in The Decoy Raid because the town is said to be
experiencing a typhus 'emergency'. Presumably the members of
the Rat Patrol had already been vaccinated against typhus so were not
in danger of contracting it.
time component on the expiration of the serum that Troy mentions in
the episode might be related to the fact that modern typhus
vaccine must be kept refrigerated. Even if those crates of
serum in the Red Cross truck were packed with ice, it would have all
melted after some hours, perhaps allowing the serum to 'go bad'.
what we know now about DDT, the story about the testing of it as
told in the url below might curl your toes. You can also read
more details about how the DDT was administered to the civilians in
North Africa during the war. See Part 3 of the long text [note:
this url is only accesible currently through the facilities of
archive.org . It may be slow to load.]
interesting site about the history of military medicine with mention
Double Jeopardy Raid
episode mission briefing:
Rat Patrol are directed to give top secret information to a group of
partisans - very young partisans. Despite misgivings,
Troy does as he has been ordered.
He passes along information about the 'big offensive',
but soon his concerns become reality. The Rat Patrol must break
into an SS fort and rescue the head partisan before he can give away
secrets about the 'big offensive'.
a detailed description of this raid see Suncompass's review of it here.]
symbol painted on the partisans' vehicle as they flee from their
rescue mission (pictured above) is a clear indicator of their
allegiances. In 1940 it was decided that the Free France
fighters under de Gaulle needed their own cross to stand against the
Nazi swastika. The Cross of Lorraine was adopted by all the Free
French forces and used on their aircraft and naval vessels - and
evidently on the transport of these particular partisans too.
is not a movie officionado but has heard that the Cross of Lorraine
as indicating support for the Free France cause appears in critical
places of the movie 'Casablanca'. Watch for it. Today the Cross
of Lorraine is seen often in the global fight against tuberculosis
and lung disease.]
more about the history and use of the Cross of Lorraine by the Free
Cross of Lorraine
a Good Thing
Life for a Life Raid
episode mission briefing:
Rat Patrol, waiting for an Arabic ally to deliver a top secret map,
find that instead of a map they wind up with a very very pregnant
Arabic woman. Not only that, they are being chased by none
other than Dietrich, their usual nemesis. With
the woman in
labour at the worst possible time, they seek shelter and radio
an ambulance for her. The ambulance, clearly marked
no sooner arrives that
it is blown
to smithereens by the enemy.
1864, twelve nations signed an international treaty designed to
improve conditions for those injured on the battlefield. This
treaty marked the first Geneva convention and from it was born the
red cross symbol laid on a white background to represent the
neutrality of medical personnel and facilities. (This red cross
is also known as the Geneva Cross. ) By the terms of that first
Geneva Convention all those in facilities bearing the sign of the
cross are protected from attack. The same rules apply to the
red crescent on a white background.
the Geneva Convention says,
"Medical equipment must not be intentionally destroyed and
medical establishments and vehicles must not be attacked, damaged or
prevented from operating even if, for the moment, they do not contain patients."
the thinking was when the intentional destruction of that ambulance
was ordered, it wasn't of upholding the Geneva Convention.
more about the Red Cross today see:
to question above
to wearing Troy's Digger Hat
and Ends too!