Magazine article Geographical

Desert Driver: Ralph Alger Bagnold Was the Founder and First Commander of the Long Range Desert Group, a British Army Unit That Worked Far Behind Enemy Lines in the Allied Desert Campaign during the Second World War. but He's Perhaps Best Known as a Pioneer of the Use of Vehicles in Desert Exploration, Developing Techniques and Devices That Are Still Being Used Today

Magazine article Geographical

Desert Driver: Ralph Alger Bagnold Was the Founder and First Commander of the Long Range Desert Group, a British Army Unit That Worked Far Behind Enemy Lines in the Allied Desert Campaign during the Second World War. but He's Perhaps Best Known as a Pioneer of the Use of Vehicles in Desert Exploration, Developing Techniques and Devices That Are Still Being Used Today

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

RIGHT: Brigadier Ralph Alger Bagnold (undated). The son of a British Army officer and brother of novelist Enid Bagnold (author of National Velvet), Bagnold served in the First World War before studying engineering at Cambridge University and returning to the Army. On rejoining, he was sent to Ireland and then Egypt, where he began exploring the desert in what he described as 'a sort of touring club'; BELOW: map reading at Sarra, Libyan Desert, 1932. Bagnold invented a sun compass that allowed a bearing to be calculated without recourse to traditional magnetic compasses, which were rendered inaccurate by the metal of the vehicles and iron deposits in the soil. While the 'driver was left to pick Iris own way', a navigator recorded mileage and bearings and 'at every halt, out came the map' and 'the last bit of course was plotted', wrote Bagnold in his autobiography; OPPOSITE, TOP LEFT: rock pillar, Libyan Desert, 1929-30. Bagnold first drove into the Libyan Desert--a forbidding dune-filled expanse that covers an area of more than a million square kilometres of western Egypt, eastern Libya and northwestern Sudan--in 1929, before going on to make the first recorded east-west crossing in 1932; OPPOSITE, TOP RIGHT: Ammonite Hill, Libyan Desert, 1929-30. Ammonite Hill is a limestone scarp in the great sand sea of Egypt and Libya that contains a mass of marine fossils; OPPOSITE, MIDDLE: extricating a light car from soft sand using rope ladders, Libyan Desert, 1929-30. …

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