LRDG Preservation Society Blog

William Jock Carningham

Dec. 5th, 2021

Currently working on...

I have said it before but it needs to be repeated. I spend most of my free time “researching” Troopers that served with the LRDG. With today’s access to the internet; I have been able to access may things not available to me years ago.

Currently working on WOII John (Jock) Warnock Carningham #2022814. His primary unit was “Warwick Yeomanry”; secondary listed as Royal Armoured Corps.

I have him joining the LRDG on or about April 1941. He shows up in the photo of Y-Patrol at Kufra in 1941 (no date listed). Also showing up in the 7/31/1941 LRDG roll.

He again shows up in one of Dr. Lawson’s photo taken on 5/1/1942 with Y-2 Patrol. Promoted to Sergeant on 12/15/1942 per London Gazette. His name is mentioned in several published books.

I must assume that he was “mountain & ski” trained as he again shows up in the Dodecanese. There are several things that are confusing. In some internet documents, it shows him as a P.O.W. on 11/22/1943. But in the other 5 documents I was able to download from the internet didn't say anything about his service with the LRDG.

proposed lrdg memorial

Sept 29th 2021

LRDG Memorial Aims

As the saying goes “I’m getting long in the tooth”. Going to be 83 this coming November. In the last few years I have been trying to get a LRDG Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum. To honor all of those that served with the unit from its formation until it was disbanded in 1945.

The National Memorial Arboretum

Meg Kennedy Shaw (daughter of Wm. Kennedy Shaw) has been working with some contacts in the United Kingdom, and the Arboretum with the assistance of Kuno Gross. Several years ago I had a “concept” design of “Big Cairn” drawn up by Toby Gibson. This is by no means the ultimate design, but was my first idea.

There had been some push back from the SAS Association; stating that the LRDG already had two Memorials. One in Scotland at the David Stirling Commando Memorial.

And the other at Westminster Abbey.

But I would like to see one at the Arboretum and I would like to start a fund raiser to get this accomplished. I have no idea how much money would be needed to get this accomplished cost, but I do know that the PPA Preservation Society managed to get it done several years ago, under the leadership of Suzi (Roy) Patterson.

I would like get it started by seeing how much money we can raising by taking “pledges” for the Memorial. I’d like to get started with $1500.00 pledge in U.S. Dollars. One dollar for each of the Troopers that I have in my database.

Jack - LRDG Preservation Society

Sept 12th 2021

MVCC Newsletter - After Action Report!

Not sure if all of the ballots for “our election” are in yet, so I guess I need to do maybe my “last newsletter report”. And then hand over that responsibility to Charles Tope. That doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t see me write something about my "adventures to come"; that is if the Editor decides to print it.

Well even though the Covid virus seems to have again raised its head. I did manage to attend several events since all of the activity of Car Week. I dragged my eldest son (visiting from New Hampshire) to the Reid-Hillview Airport open house, on Aug. 28th. Doug Boales had several pieces from his Armor collection along with T-8, and I made my son learn about loading and unloading the Jeep off at an event which I took to display alongside T-8.

George Escobedo showed up but without his 1941 Chevy Truck, and everyone harassed him about it. But it was nice to see him anyway. It was poorly attended (by the public) this year when I compare it to the last time I was there. The strong rumor that the airport will soon be closed might have had something to do with it.

Then just this last Saturday: Sept.11th, there was “San Martin Airport & Museum Day” “Wings of History”. Not highly advertised but still well attended, must have been by “word of mouth”.

Doug again was present; with lots more of his heavy equipment, divided between the Museum (across the road from the airport) and an airport display. T-8 was again present with the Jeep, this time George Escobedo did show up with his beautiful 1941 Chevy Supply truck.

Throughout the day there were “parachute” divers, planes coming and going and late in the day an “aerobatic” show. Everything was over by 3:00 PM and so my trusty Trooper "John Dick” helped me load the Jeep and we headed home. Was all in all a very pleasant day.


lrdg preservation blog update image

Sep. 8 2021

LRDG Preservation Society Blog - Formerly the newsletter...

If anyone has checked this site on occasion during the last two years, you have most likely noticed that it had not been updated and it strongly appeared that the LRDG Preservation Society had ceased to exist or participate in any activities since that time.

On the contrary; we have still been very active and participated in a number of events since that time. We actually participated in five events in 2019, only one in 2020 because of the pandemic, and so far four this year. The problem I was faced with was finding a “Web Master” to update the site on a regular basis. This was (and is) way above my pay grade. I can do many things with my computer, but web design and maintenance is not one of them.

The other problem was the cost; there are a number of annual recurring cost to maintaining a web site. Those I could afford, but to find someone, able to redo and maintain the site in professional manner was above my means. My last hope; earlier this year, was high hopes that my Grandson, with his recent degree in Computer Science, would be my savior. But it was even too difficult for his skill level.

So here I was “High & Dry”; and as most of the LRDG Preservation Society activity was on Facebook, I was seriously considering dropping the Website, but it had been one of the best means of making the LRDG Preservation Society known worldwide.

Then (God does work in mysterious ways) I get an email on Aug. 6th with the “heading”! “Update your website for free”. Now that really caught my attention. So is this for real, I don’t know this person for a “cake of soap”, is it a scam?

So I open the email and find this person had recently been reading up on the history of the LRDG and like many others, in the past, he stumbled across the Website. Complimented me on the content etc

"This is somewhat a peculiar email but I have recently been reading up on the history of the LRDG and came across your website, a fantastic encyclopaedia of all related to the LRDG. Thoroughly well done!

Without coming across the wrong way, I couldn't help but notice that the website is stuck in an age which has long since passed. I would like to redesign your website, for free, to make the website adhere to modern web standards and also make the website accessible across all devices (smartphones, tablets laptops and desktop computers).

This is a genuine offer, I will gladly generate some mock-ups to show you, with your permission, of course."

I look forward to your reply.

Kind regards,


Thanks for your support. Jack, Doug, Kim, Jerry and members of the LRDG Preservation Society.

LRDG 1942 truck

Jan. 29th 2019

Well the holidays are finally over. I am late getting this out but naturally have an excuse; I have been busy communicating to LRDG family members about their Fathers and Grandfathers that served with the LRDG and that takes up much of my free time.

Now I'm getting ready for the upcoming years activities, like last year there are many planned, not sure that we will be able to make them all but they are listed here. I had the jeep serviced and it is just awaiting in the garage for the first event.

Like last year the list will encompass both Northern and Southern California. Jerry Finney has taken charge of the Southern part of the state, as Kim has stepped down as the patrol leader. He (Kim) has sold his S.A.S. style jeep to a gentleman in Bakersfield. We were glad that it was not sold out of state. Doug Boales and I are in charge of the Northern part of the state. Doug will be bringing T-8 (Truck) to the events and I will be bringing T-12 (Jeep) to those events indicated. As you can see, there will be times when just one or the other may be attending an event. You will notice that a number of events are "pending" as either the date will change or we are waiting for more information. You can always e-mail me at or check out our Facebook page for the latest information and updates.

Thanks for your support. Jack, Doug, Kim, Jerry and members of the LRDG Preservation Society.

vehicles driving in sand

LRDG Correspondence


Hey guys, Kevin here (heavy guy from Arizona chapter). I've taken a principal job in Arizona and will start in a week. I don't have to maintain two homes and perhaps will have a bit more disposable income in the near future and I can get over to a couple shows again. I would like very much to see you and Rick again. The reason I wrote apart from letting you know what's going on is what appears to me to be an error on the web page.

With reference to Marlene Dietrich, She is probably the best known singer of Lili Marlene to we Americans. In Germany however... She started over there as a cabaret singer and movie actress. She was established in the US by the time the Nazis came to power. The Nazi's asked here to return to Germany and she responded by becoming a US citizen. She was not a favorite of official Germany. Lili Marlene is an extremely important song to come out of the North African campaign. It was used by a radio station (Nazi controlled) in Austria (I think) as a signoff in the early days of German involvement in North Africa. I can't recall the singer but I seem to recall she was Austrian and the recording was a couple years old and not popular when released. The legion is that it record was one of three found at the radio station (basement) when the German Army moved in. I believe it was Goebels that ordered the song not played as he found it to be too melancholy (he wanted inspiring music). By that time it had become too popular with the soldiers. The British also tuned into German broadcasts and they also found that the song struck a chord. Some officers were frustrated with their men sing German songs (in German) and English words were written (Two different versions seemed to have been popular. Both were rather similar but not the same.) After the Americans got to Africa a third English language version was written (back in the US) and recorded. This is the version Dietrich sings. She did sing this song for American troops during the war.

English Version

Some other information: The song was originally a poem written by a German soldier in WWI. The name is a combination of two women he knew. the original poem and to a certain degree the WWII era German version is more "mystic" than the English language ones. In the original it was suggested that the soldier was going to die in battle but return to his love where she would be waiting by the lantern by the barracks. Also the turn for the original version was not the same as the one we know from WWII. Somewhere I have a tape of the author singing the original. The song was sung by most forces is the war including the Russians (I've never seen a translation of their version but I understand it tended to be a bit more "earthy" than the English language versions) The French did a translation and I have found reference to Edith Piaf suionguing it but have never seen a recording. The only French recording I have seen is by Suzy Soldat (got to be a stage name?) I've never felt like I wanted to cut loose with the $18 they want for the CD just to hear it. They were apparently a bunch of homegrown versions most of which you could not sing for your mother including one sung by American occupation troops in Germany which dealt with a prostitute and a chocolate bar. In Italy the allied troops adapted the tune to a song called "D-Day Dodgers", after someone in England (I forget who) suggested the troops in Italy got off easy not having to invade France. All of this information is your fault of course. As you got me more interested in the Brits in North Africa I felt like one needed to know about the song and I went looking for a recording. The first recording I found (several months later, as I wasn't sure what I was looking for) was the soundtrack from the Blue Angel, a Dietrich movie. I have since acquired eight or ten different recordings include four from Dietrich. I also have a Xerox of a book written on the song. As I am moving as I suggested earlier all that stuff is packed or I could give you a couple more names.

Anyway, I like the idea of playing Lili Marlene when the truck is displayed, especially the German version. I don't have audio capabilities on my computer but my guess is whoever is responsible for the recordings lifted them from "The Cosmopolitan Marlene Dietrich" CD. I am very amused by another cut on that CD - "Surrey With the Fringe on Top" sung in German. thanks for sending the newsletter. I really enjoy them and I think of you guys often. I'm still a fan of the LRDG and your efforts with the truck. When I get back to Arizona next week I will drop the E-mail address on this and use Say hi to Rick for me.

Kevin Canham

photo goes here

Jan. 22nd 2018

Sorry I'm late posting this year's newsletter, but a lot has been happening. As you saw on my Dec. 9th posting that I lost my very dear friend Rick Butler. At the same time I had been experiencing some serious health problems that the doctor's took their time in diagnosing. After going through a battery of test; from Sept to Dec. they finally decided that what I need was a 'pacemaker/defibrillator, which was placed on Jan. 9th. I am recovering nicely and can't tell you how much better that I am now feeling. Amazing what a small device can do to keep the heart ticking on a regular basis.

I have compiled a list of events for this coming year, encompassing both Northern and Southern California. Kim Calvert and Jerry Finney are in charge of the Southern part of the state, Doug Boles and I are in charge of the Northern part of the state. Doug will be bringing T-8 (Truck) to the events and I will be bringing T-12 (Jeep) to those events indicated. As you can see, there will be times when just one or the other will be attending an event.

Thanks for your support. Jack, Doug, Kim, Jerry and members of the LRDG Preservation Society

Send questions, comments, suggestions and information to Jack Valenti at the LRDG Preservation Society email address:

Join our Facebook Group!

rick butler close face Rick Butler standing next to LRDG truck

Dec 9th 2017

I usually have good news and report with some photos of this year's events. But on this date I lost one of my best friends; Rick Butler, who succumbed to my wishes in building a LRDG truck, as passed away. I have known him longer than I have been married (50 years); in fact he was the best man at our wedding.

If you look at some of the photos on these many pages you will find him and me at some of the many events that we participated in over these years. Over these past few years his health had deteriorated to the point where he was unable to bring the truck to any events.

It was one of the deciding factors in my decision to donate the T-8 truck to the Eagle Field Foundation (which was accomplished this November). I will post some upcoming events a little later.

Thanks for your support. Jack, Doug, Kim, Jerry and members of the LRDG Preservation Society.

archive photo 2016

Dec 11th 2016

Well today is my daughter's birthday, I won't embarrass her by telling her age, but she is soon to be a young grandmother. That will make me a Great Grandfather. I believe that Jan. 18th is the day. Hard to believe that my children's children are having babies. Anyway life goes on.

Looking over what I posted last year about this time; we attended eight out of the twelve I posted. S-Patrol (Los Angeles area) did the Desert Battle, Planes of Fame in Chino, and the Ft. Mac event. I along with several faithful troopers did the MVCC Camp Delta meet, participated in the parades in Seaside, Monterey on the 4th of July and the Veteran's day parade in Salinas. The biggest event however was the MVPA Convention at the Alameda County Fair Grounds that was held on Aug.11th - 13th, where we garnered a first prize for the best display.

archive photo 2016

There are too many persons to mention and I would hate to miss mentioning one. But thanks to all of you who helped in any way.

Now on to other subject; there were several new books that came out in 2015 and 2016 that those interested in the LRDG might want to add to their library. The first one is "Ghost Patrol" by John Sadler, there is a lot of previously published information in this book, delivered in a different manner.

The next title is "The Men Who Made the SAS - The History of the Long Range Desert Group", by Gavin Mortimer. Gavin is a prolific writer of books that deal with Special Forces. He is currently working on another title about the LRDG that is supposed to be out in March 2017.

The last title is "Operation Agreement" by John Sadler, I enjoyed this much better than John's Ghost Patrol. I feel that there was more research and was better written. This covers the disastrous Tobruk Raid with the LRDG, S.I.G. and Commando Units on the ground and the Royal Navy from the sea.

There may be some last minute changes and I will post them on the site and on Facebook. One last thing; I before I leave the scheduling; for the last several years, a friend that lives in Australia has been trying to get me to bring the truck to the New Zealand Consulate General Office, at 2425 Olympic Boulevard Santa Monica, CA. on ANZAC Day. Which is celebrated both in Australia and New Zealand on April 25th each year. In the past our MVCC meet always interfered but this year it looks like it might be possible. So after the MVCC Meet in Petaluma, if I can arrange transportation of the truck, I'll take it and my jeep there to celebrate ANZAC day. Hopefully those Troopers that live in the L.A. Basin will join me with their vehicles too.

Thanks for your support. Jack, Kim, Rick and all of the members of the LRDG Preservation Society

Nov 30th 2015

Well there has been a lot of activity this year with the LRDG Preservation Society year. T-Patrol attended eight different venues and S-Patrol attended at least four that I know of. (Two desert battles in California City, Planes of Fame in Chino and Ft. MacArthur Days). S-Patrol always has had a better attendance at their events as they have more Troopers in the area. I usually have a few dedicated Troopers that show up and support our efforts here in the northern part of the state.

There have been some challenges this year also; our original long time LRDG fitter and builder of T-8 (Rick) has had some health challenges this past year. He was recently hospitalized for a 'gallstone attach'. What is more important is that his memory and mental acuity is noticeably deteriorating. He therefore has been unable physically to continue any work on the T-9 Radio truck; so I had to make some tough decision. Either to abandon the project completely; pay big bucks to have someone else finish it, or lastly turn the project over to someone interested enough to finish it.

So after much consideration I decided that I did not currently have the financial ability to pay someone to finish it and was abhorred to just abandon it; so that left me with the last choice, to see if I could find someone with enough interest and commiserate people with the skills and funds to complete the project. I approached several over a period of several months that showed interest but they were heavily involved in several other projects and were unable to complete it in time for the MVPA Convention, next Aug 11th-13th, which was one of my conditions. I finally found just the outfit; that has the people and finances to complete T-9.

Doug Boales is the President of Eagle Field Foundation. Eagle Field is a former 1942 Army Air Force Training base which is located in Firebaugh, Ca. which is just south of Dos Palos, and Los Banos, California. Currently it has the only original large wooden hanger from that era in the United States. Doug primary interest is in Post WW II Armour; he has worked in the past closely with Jacques Littlefield and the Littlefield Museum and has extensive mechanical abilities and talented people to assist him. If anyone would like to assist him in the project I'm sure he would appreciate any help. Let me know and I will see that you can contact him. He has taken both trucks to Eagle Field on the weekend of Nov 28th; to do some much needed repairs and repaint T-8 in time for the April Tower Park event; and then finish T-9 in time for the MVPA Convention in August 11-13th.

With all that said I would like to strongly encourage others in California, Oregon, Washington and any other part of the world that has a LRDG, S.A.S and P.P.A. style jeeps to plan on attending the convention. We have already picked out a flat area for our display and will hopefully setting up our largest desert display ever. And those without vehicles are also invited to attend in appropriate LRDG desert attire.

There may be some last minute changes and I will post them on the site and /or on the Facebook site. One last thing; I (we) would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy & Prosperous New Year. Thanks for your support. Jack, Kim, Rick and all of the members of the LRDG Preservation Society.

archive photo 2016

How To

How To - Transform your US GPW/MB Jeep to LRDG configuration

By Dan

Please note this is the second restoration I’ve completed. However, a first for a NON-US Jeep.

To start right off, you found your new jeep and it’s in the driveway now. Prep work varies and can be somewhat involved and daunting. Springs, wheel wells, gas tank tub and axles need to be cleaned. This vehicle had minimal work with exception to the wheel wells.


Once all the bugs were out, I start the process of stripping it down. This jeep required a new starter motor and the carburetor needed a major cleaning. I opted to continue with the main work while waiting on the ordered parts.

If you haven’t made these decisions it’s time to start.

I had a good idea of what I wanted my jeep to look like before I found it.

What do you plan to do?

  • An abandoned SAS jeep – recovered by the LRDG?
  • Or one delivered directly to the LRDG from the US?
  • There’s a difference. The later allowing you to keep some areas OD, such as under the bonnet, wheel wells, gas tank area, tool boxes and glove box in addition to much of the underside and insides of the rims.

    I chose to do the second option, a USA to LRDG with a camouflage pattern known to be used by G patrol. G is one of the two patrols in B Squadron, the other being Y patrol. I tend to like the out of the ordinary.

    Now is the time to decide on the color scheme.

  • Solid (Desert Sand)
  • OR

  • Camouflage
  • Caunter camouflage was not an option for a jeep other than the BRC’s. I had to keep in mind and accept that the time period is March 1942 to June 1942.

    More decisions to make:

  • Are you going to use the windshield or not? I live in CA and CA law requires “one must be attached” for use on the public streets and freeways. Doesn’t matter if it’s up or down though.
  • Are you going to put the 5 gal water cans on the steps or not? To be more accurate, there should be one on each side. This now dictates your windshield be down if kept or removed completely.
  • The next step was to strip her down to basically the bare bones. This jeep only had a few things to remove, civilian turn signals, tail lights, commercial seats, as they were all wrong and the fender blackout light. The pintel and bumperettes were on hand but never mounted.

    Nonessential parts for both LRDG and SAS are;

    Top bows, corner grab handles, reflectors, back seat, rear view mirror. The shovel brace is in the way of the extra gas can and will have to be removed as well. The axe should be removed and replaced with a pick somewhere on the vehicle. In my research I read that a lack of trees in North Africa didn’t require one and were discarded but the pick was often use for getting in and out of the wadi. The mounts for the axe will be used still.

    All knobs were removed; lever boots and the gages were masked, for painting.

    Once the jeep was prepped, and ready to paint, having a general plan at the onset makes it a lot easier. However availability of the paint color becomes a priority. For the base coat, I decided on Desert Sand. It’s one of three options for the main base color. Pink and Dark Yellow were my other options. Flat pink in rattler cans was not available but a satin base was.

    Once the painting began I decided to do the cockpit and tub first, once finished, the seats were added as they became available.

    The outside was next; working from rear to the front. At this point I also mounted the bumperettes and pintle to break up the monotony of all that painting. These can stay on for the rest of the process or removed at your discretion.

    Painting the wheels and wheel wells made a nice change pace; what I liked to do is paint one wheel a completely different color than the vehicle. I did this one wheel pink.

    Once the sides and rear were primed, I began work on the hood and fender tops.

    I had decided early that I would mount a 5 gallon water can on each step (foot rest) and since Ca. law requires a windshield, the only way it would work is with the windshield in the lowered position. The side mounted cans were quite common with the LRDG vehicles.

    Completely primed and ready for the final painting; this is where the fun begins. I had made sure to mask the lights, blackouts and grille. I also took extra time to paint the front areas to see how it was going to look. It also allowed me to see where I needed extra sanding. At this time the jeep was beginning to take on its own “distinctive look”.

    This is what it looked like after the base coats were applied. You can also see the experiment of pink on the cross member and grille.

    At this stage the cockpit was touched up and tape removed, knobs put back on as they came available. Note the glove box is still OD as are the rear tool boxes and undersides of all the fender tops. The spare tire was mounted once the brace was made to secure it safely. Some stowage is added to the back (mainly to make room available).

    Next is the process of getting the camouflage on. You can see I opted for pink and two other colors.

    I wanted to make sure that I always had enough gas on board; at least 2 x 5 gallon cans, plus the two water cans. In addition I’ve added two cans on the rear carrier instead of one. The black tops on the rear two indicate that they are not to be used in the jeep but, rather for brew up given the cans not clean enough to put into the fuel system. Some photos show extra fuel carried on a rear rack built by the fitter or two to three cans on the front cross member. I’ve mounted a box there for now. Even recovered SAS jeeps were eventually stripped of their 13 cans and the payload was usually minimal. These were scout vehicles, not miniature Chevy Trucks.

    At this stage I finally made the straps for the water cans to be secured to the sides. And the process of applying the next color of the camouflage scheme, Light Grey or Gray. Against the sand base color it turns or appears to be a light blue, which is fine as references state the gray/grey did that with sun exposure.

    After this was completed I went back over the camouflage and sprayed more sand to break up the grey and pink. The pink and grey had all blended together and just didn’t appear right to me. Once satisfied with that result the final color was added. This was actually picked up the day before it was applied due to the difficulty in locating a flat color version. Gloss was all I was able to find until I discovered this Bright Green paint which is usually used for chalk boards. Finally when the paint dried; I then put on the windshield and added the cover. The jeep then had to be inspected by a DMV official as part of the registration and title process. The water cans were also painted in camouflage a few days later.


    Jeep still needs side grab handles but are due in any day as of 09/12.

    My next step involves arming the jeep. Again, remembering this is an LRDG vehicle and not SAS. Depending on the time frame this will help determine the weapons choice. I have opted for the Twin Vickers K gun set up, a personal favorite of mine and currently made available by one of our LRDGPS personnel. The mount and a new pair of K guns are being made at the present time. I contemplated a Lewis Gun for the rear but they are only available in plastic. Another option that I’m concerting for a rearward gun is the 30 Cal. found in aircraft, which is different from the Infantry model M-1917, which took two hands positioned as on the 50 cal. Both the 30 and 50 Cal. machine guns were usually recovered from numerous crashed aircraft sites and later modified from electric firing mechanism to manual by the fitters. For a post North Africa jeep with the ILRS a Bren can be fitted. ILRS was the only unit to have the Bren’s in use. Since I’m LRDG, Y Patrol, 1942, the Bren would not be correct.

    NO PICS AVAILABLE AT THE MOMENT – Weapons due by end of October - W/S is still in the works.

    Things to look for and start picking up for your jeep are:

    Large pack with L Straps, Small packs with braces, Canteens/Water bottles with carriers and braces, Binocular case and brace, Wireless Radio and should be Morse code types only. These were the type used by the LRDG and an important item on patrol and used in the jeeps as well as the communication truck. I found a Fuller Phone, the model used in North Africa and made with the ability of transmitting and receiving from great distances. Added Netting and/or burlap sheets for additional camouflage; they also come in handy if you need to make repairs as a ground sheet.

    A condenser mounted to the grille. This seems to have been a very common practice on all vehicles in the LRDG and SAS for desert use as on all of the LRDG trucks.

    And one of the most important items is the Sun Compass or Ships Navigation Compass.

    Click images to enlarge


    How To

    How To - Re-building the Breda M37

    (into Propane firing Gas Non-gun, keeping it de-milled)

    The last time we all met (some of us for the first time) at Our October Marching Through History event. Jack had told me he brought a project for me to work on. Through e-mails over the last year or so Jack learned that I was a Tool Maker- C.N.C. machinist and now Manufacturing Supervisor for a major Aero Space Fastener company. I had told him that I have been a machinist for 25 years now. Even through our e-mails I sensed a sparkle in Jack’s eyes. At that time I had no idea that I would get to work on such an outstanding project.

    As our fantastic weekend was winding down Jack produced 3 wooden boxes with Italian writing on them. As we opened the boxes Jack was explaining that inside the largest of the 3 boxes was a Breda Modello 37 machine gun in a de-milled condition. Until that weekend I had no idea what de-milled meant but opening the big box was like opening a treasure box. There it was the receiver in 3 pieces looking like there had been an explosion inside the box ripping apart the components of the gun.

    In the next box was a complete Tool Kit for the M.G. with many spare parts, oiler boxes, dozens of springs, 2 or 3 firing pins and ejectors. Along with all the wrenches, screwdrivers everything that was needed to put it all back together.

    In the third and final box was a strange looking Tri Pod. (More on this later)

    Jack asked me if I would or could put it back together for him. I jumped at the chance.I took everything home and started doing research on the gun, tri- pod and the tool box.

    The first thing I wanted to make sure of is that it was legal for me living in Orange County CA to even posses such a gun even in pieces, so my research started there. I made some phone calls to the ATF and found out that so far what I had was legal because in this condition it is considered a non gun.

    De-milling is a process that is strictly regulated by law enforcement. The receiver must be flame cut in 3 exact locations removing at least 3/8 of an inch of material in the process. All other components were in mint condition.

    I discovered that Jack had purchased this gun and all accessories from I.M.A. which is a re-enactors dream web-site that I am sure most if not all of you have seen.

    I started looking on the internet for pictures, mechanical drawings, blueprints what ever I could find. Photos and sketches are abundant. Unfortunately I could not find any mechanical drawings for this M.G. so some artistic license would be needed because I really had no idea what the missing flame cut parts looked like.

    The next order of business was to remove all the flame cut areas of the receiver. I used a special gun that we have at work to tell me what kind of material (metal) the gun was made with. You simply turn on the gun hold it to the metal surface and within 10 seconds it can tell you what kind of metal it was made from. In this case it was 4340 steel. A very mild form of tool steel. The metal had also been heat treated to a Rock Well hardness of 41. Pretty typical for this type of material. The problem is that once they started the flame cut operation the material was super heated which causes the metal to become even harder. At the flame cut area the R/C was 63, that’s hard and hard to machine. Solid carbide cutters called End Mills would be needed to cut away the welded, flame cut- heated area. The receiver pieces were difficult to clamp in a vice because of all the irregular shapes. (You need to set the parts flat, straight and parallel in the vice to insure straight cuts with the end mill in a milling machine). Once all 3 pieces were milled I then took them to the surface grinder to create a smooth, flat surface.

    I then put the 3 pieces of the receiver together using the top of the receiver as a guide to hold all the milled pieces together. From there I was able to measure with Calipers the gaps that were left due to the flame cutting and re-machining process. One gap was .675 of an inch. Another was .875 and the other .950. Now I new the thicknesses of the replacement pieces I would need to machine. With the top of the receiver off and looking down on the receiver it looks kind of like the letter U, so I needed to machine 3 “U” shaped pieces that I am calling Bridges because that is exactly what they are. These pieces will bridge the gaps of the missing receiver. (See photos).

    I found some scrap 4340 material in the Tool Room and went to work machining the bridges. These bridges I machined were left a little bigger in width and finished in thickness and height. The reason I left these pieces heavy (Bigger) is that once they are welded into place I want to be able to machine them down to the finished dimensions of the receiver. Once these bridges were complete I started on the welding process.

    First I did a lot of test fitting of all the parts. Putting the entire gun together with interior as well as exterior components. The first problem I saw was that the flame cutting process removed more than ½ the threads that the barrel screws into. I did not want to have to re-machine new threads so I was very concerned about the barrel not wanting to stay together. I was able to overcome that obstacle and the barrel stays on just fine. With the top cap of the receiver on and all parts clamped together using wood working clamps the receiver was one piece (as long as you didn’t bump it). I than began to tack weld each piece into position. Stopping to test fit pieces and check for interior movement. Some metal thicknesses were very thin and the last thing I wanted to do is blow a hole in the receiver using too much heat. When possible I cold welded as not to have that happen. I tried to run a penetrating full bead of weld around each piece as not to have too many ugly looking gaps and lines. I do not claim to be much of a welder so I must thank Don Warner for his help and assistance in the welding process. The most difficult part of this process so far was keeping it all lined up so that there would not be any big mismatches in the receiver. At this point what I did not realize was that due to the flame cutting process some of the receiver had warped so I new the finish maching would not be easy. With all pieces welded in place I began to re-machine the receiver. This proved to be difficult because the odd shape of the receiver made it very hard to indicate all surfaces flat and parallel which is important as not to have too much undercutting or leaving a bump of material here or there. Remember I mentioned Artistic License at the beginning of this report. Machining the welded pieces was pretty straight forward until the finish passes. I had done the best I could while indicating all the surfaces. Most areas were within + or - .010 but some were worse. All I could do was machine down to the original surface and try not to undercut the receiver. Once machining was complete I used a die grinder to smooth out any mismatches and hide the lines where the weld met the receiver. After this I used a finish sander to smooth over the marks left from the die grinder. Once that was all complete I bead blasted the entire surface of the receiver to give it a more uniform looking surface. Next I had to decide what type of finish (color) to use. Bluing would not look right against the rest of the 70+ year old gun. I decided to send it out for Black Oxide treatment. I won’t go into the process but when finished it would have a tough almost impossible to scratch black finish.

    As you can see from the finished photos it looks pretty darn good.

    All in all this was a great project for me to work on and I just want to say thanks to Jack for having faith that I could get it done.

    About half way through this project we decided that we would create a Propane firing mechanism for this gun. That will be my next installment on this project.

    Click images to enlarge


    The Formation of LRDG Units

    Text from Tamiya Plastic Model Co. Insert (Japan)

    The military value of motor vehicles in desert terrain had been proven to some extent during World War I. British Forces had used such vehicles as Rolls-Royce Armored cars and Ford Model T light trucks with great success. One British staff officer who was greatly influenced was Archibald Wavell and when he became one of the British Army's senior generals in the late 1930s he was receptive to ideas using small motorized units. In October, 1935 Lieutenant Fox Davies of the Durham Light Infantry wrote to General Wavell and suggested using "guerilla" type troops to operate behind enemy lines. Wavell thought "motor guerillas" would be a good idea and in 1936 he had Fox Davies placed in command of a unit which was sent behind the "enemy lines", with great success, in a military exercise. A British group of explorers led by R.A. Bagnold made many expeditions into the desert in the late 19930s from Egypt, studying the desert and it's characteristics, and perfected ways of navigating across the vast desert wastes like a mariner at sea. In 1940 Italy declared war on Great Britain and the Italian forces in Libya posed an immediate potential threat to the British in Egypt, and to the Suez Canal the gateway to the East. General Wavell was the British Commander-in-Chief in Egypt at the time and he took R. A. Bagnold into the Army as an officer and gave him the job of forming a motor patrol.

    The LRDG was very much like a "private army", formed to meet the particular conditions of desert warfare. Major Bagnold (as he then was) acquired suitable vehicles and the Chevrolet 15 cwt truck used by the Egyptian Army suited his needs. This was a standard "platoon" truck on a Canadian-built Chevrolet chassis, fitted with desert tires and with an open body big enough to hold the stores and equipment needed for long trips into the desert. For desert operations with a very heavy load, they had extra leaves inserted into the springs, desert type tires, wire-less, and a condenser fitted on the running board and connected to the radiator to conserve cooling water. Doors and door pillars were removed, extra spare wheels fitted and pintle mounts were added for machine guns and antitank rifles. The load carried might be up to two tons, consisting of food, fuel ammunition, water and explosives for demolition work. Sand-mats of canvas and steel channels were carried to assist vehicles through the many shifting sands and dunes. A sun compass was usually carried in the dashboard, a Bagnold invention and theodolites and sextants were used to fix positions. The Long Range Desert Group's task for most of the time was watching, waiting, plotting enemy movements and reporting back by radio. The LRDG took delivery of new vehicles in May 1942, namely 30cwt types with military general service steel bodies. These were sturdier than the original type of vehicle and more spacious. Built by Chevrolet (Canada) these were simple a desert service version of the standard production Chevrolet types. Because the LRDG was made up of volunteers it never really had regimental status. The men wore whatever clothes were comfortable. Beards and other non-regulation military practices were common, adding much to the "piratical" flavor and swash-buckling image of the LRDG force.

    Vehicle Data

    1. Chevrolet 30 cwt 4 x 2 General Service Lorry
    2. Wheel base: 134 inches
    3. Net Weight: 6,540 lbs
    4. Engine: 6 cylinder petrol of 235.5 capacity. 80 BHP at 3,100 rpm
    5. Gears: 4 forward, 1 reverse.
    6. Tires: 10.50 x 16 Runflat type.