An LRDG trooper occupies a road watch. The shrub and shelter
half provide shelter from the sun and helps conceal him from observation.
A small survival or "bail out" kit rest next to his feet.
The sand offers no support for tent pegs so a heavy rock is used
to secure the tie-down line.
Getting To A Road Watch And
Not Being Discovered
The purpose of the road watch is explained further in the
Mission section and in the Kit Bag.
The purpose of this page explore getting to a road watch and not
being discovered. At times, the LRDG was several hundred miles away
from any support and their only hope for survival depended only
on the tools they brought with them and their own ingenuity. Above
all with any reconnaissance work, not being seen is the number one
When setting up a road watch, a position has to be carefully selected.
It must afford both a view of the road and a place of concealment
that does not appear obvious to the enemy. It is also important
to cover your tracks so that tell-tale signs do not give away your
location. For instance an airplane may fly over the desert and miss
a camouflaged vehicle because it takes up a space of 21x9 feet (7X3
meters) but it is not going to miss that obvious pair of parallel
lines that track for 60 miles (100km).
To remedy this, the LRDG would often drive past the location of
the desired road watch for some distance and then carefully drive
back over their own tracks to a place where they would cut off at
a 90 degree angle from the course they were on and move into a position
a few miles away. After doing so, they would then have to erase
the tracks from where they stopped back to the turn off point.
Once this is done, the truck would be camouflaged and the men would
choose the road watch position. The road watch site would be one
to three miles from the truck. As with the tracks left by the truck,
it was important to cover the tracks left going to and from the
road watch. If the soldiers at the road watch were discovered there
was the possibility their foot prints could be traced back to the
The position itself would also be camouflaged and concealed against
enemy aircraft and ground observation. Weapons and rations would
be buried nearby, and in some cases the two men on watch may be
in separate supporting spots to make it easier to hide and not allow
two men to get captured at the same time.
Once two men were in position they would be there for twenty four
hours, until relieved or in some cases would leave at a prescribed
time at which point they would head back to the truck or some rallying
position. Upon leaving the road watch position, it would be returned
to its original look. The most dangerous time was coming to going
from the road watch position. It was never safe to come back to
the same position because there was always the possibility that
it was discovered while you were gone however, sometimes the LRDG
had no choice.
Hiding in the open
A 30 CWT is camouflaged against ariel view. The truck may
be armed with a 20mm Breda. Shrubs and clothing have been used to
conceal the wheels and to breakup the outline of the vehicle. It
is difficult to say if this is the finished product for a long time
concealment or just a hasty job for a temporary halt. There are
stories of trucks with a simple net thrown over them not being seen
by enemy convoys passing within 500 yards (meters).
Located on the main coastal road between Tripoli and
Tobruk, Marble Arch was a symbol of Mussolini's conquest of
Libya. It is also the scene of the longest running and possibly
the most important road watch established by the LRDG. Beginning
in March of 1942 and running until 21 July 1942, the LRDG
ran a continuous road watch five miles east of the arch. Each
patrol would come out for an eleven day shift with the road
watch itself comprised of a two man team watching the road
for 24 hours at a stretch. During the day, the men hid in
a shelter similar to the one above, with one man watching
easterly traffic and the other, westerly. At night they could
move a round a bit, and typically one man would sleep and
the other watch. Traffic was said to have been busiest in
the morning and evening. If possible the men were to report
every detail down to bumper numbers, number of personnel,
type of equipment and any thing else that could be discovered.
Reports would be sent back to LRDG HQ's every night.
Read The Desert My Dwelling Place for more
info on this road watch
L'arco dei Fileni de Mussolini (Marble Arch)
The Arch was destroyed by Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi around 1970.
(image color enhanced)
A composite image showing detail of the Arch. The image is
actually a composite of two images. see the small insets below.
The real arch photo showed a convoy from a petrol company
passing through the arch around the time of World War II.
The other image is a T patrol just setting out on Patrol.
The combined image is in no way historically accurate and
should be seen for what it is, A whimsical composite of the
road and the men who watched it for an almost continuous five