Monday, January 21, 2008

The quest for sources...

So far I have collected a number of sources that do a pretty good job of documenting LRDG and SAS operations against Rommel and the Italians. The Phantom Major, also titled Stirling's Desert Raiders in previous editions, provides perhaps the most detailed account of the missions that Sadler took part in as either a LRDG navigator, or a member of Stirling's unit once he switched to L Detachment, SAS.

LRDG Rhodesia, The Barce Raid, Stirling's Men, Born of the Desert: With the SAS in North Africa and the works of Lloyd-Owen and Shaw provide more background material and depth. A copy of the LRDG Training Notes, graciously provided by Jack Valenti of the LRDG Preservation Society has provided some very rich primary source detail that otherwise proved difficult to find. Ralph Bagnold's various Royal Geographical Society articles have provided insight into many of the basic principles that the LRDG was built upon, as well as the personality required of these hard men who sailed the sand seas in search of the enemy.

Special Forces in the Desert War 1940-1943 (Public Record Office War Histories) has proven to be a very detailed text that I have poured through repeatedly to cross-reference various raids, actions, and "beat ups" that caused Rommel significant concern druing each of his advances against Commonwealth forces.

Along the way, I've come to own a Howard Mk II sun compass, if for no other reason that to learn the principles by which Sadler was able to plot courses across hundreds of miles of fairly sparse landscapes. At some point I ran across a US aviator's survival map of North Africa, and it is surprisingly detailed considering the expanse of ground it was designed to cover. Copies of that chart now serve as the plotting boards that I have set up to lay out the start points, routes, rendezvous points, and objectives of the many SAS missions.

There are a number of other books that I expect to arrive across the next few weeks. They were purchased after I started a closer review of the material I had on hand, as well as the footnotes from the Clive Gower-Collins article posted to Military History Online: Raids, Road Watches, and Reconnaissance: New Zealand's involvement in the Long Range Desert Group in North Africa, 1940-1943. This article alone provides a significant amount of information that pulls together quotes and passages from other texts and provide an accurate timeline of events. Although Sadler was not a New Zealander, Gower-Collins article provides a peek at the operational and strategic-level impact that the LRDG and SAS had during those tenuous months.

So, why am I telling you all this, you may ask? Well, I am still on the hunt for more primary source materials, particularly photographs that may not have been printed, as well as any letters or texts that reference Sadler. If you happen to come across this site and I triggers a flashback that you have some papers or photos tucked away in a trunk, then I would love to correspond with you and determine if you own something that could help me with the book.

Perhaps most helpful would be actual maps from that era, or at least xerox copies of a map that represents the quality of map that Sadler would have used.

I've yet to complete my plans for travel to the Imperial War Museum for what will certainly be a lengthy visit. I've also been a tad bit negligent in returning correspondence to the Desert Raiders Society. I made a contact there who knows of Sadler's whereabouts and runs across him occasionally; my success in this project requires a face-to-face with Sadler and an interview, without a doubt.


Dave said...

You better get your finger out. Sadler is no spring chicken !!

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to find more info on Mike Sadler, he was on British TV documentary called 'SAS the Originals, a few years ago. I cant find much on him but there is lots on other SAS original members.
rob uk

Anonymous said...

Are you still interested? Mike Sadler is still very much alive, he is a relation by marriage, and I could put you in touch with him.