THE SUN IS A COMPASS. Now available in paperback, audiobook, and ebook! Check your local bookseller or order online now: Bookshop.org. Little, Brown Spark March 2019, THE SUN IS A COMPASS chronicles a 4,000-mile human-powered expedition from the Pacific rainforest to the Arctic coast. The Sun Is A Compass. For fans of Hope Jahren, Helen MacDonald, and Cheryl Strayed, the gripping story of a biologist’s journey from Washington State to high above the Arctic Circle — traveling across remote and rugged terrain solely by human power — to rediscover birds. Rays Of The Sun 'It is a very good feeling when in the morning the rays of the sun hit your face and you feel totally awake and refreshed. Just like the rays of the sun, this Pass4sure.com was also a very refreshing entry in my life, mainly because the material that I used through this Pass4sure.com's help was the one that got me to clear my COMPASS admission test. For Sun sights, it is more usual to calculate the ITP of a morning sight and then calculate the transferred position for the Sun's Meridian Passage (Noon.) The difference between calculated and observed latitudes provides a longitude using “Plane Sailing.” With a little practice, this will be found to be a faster, not to mention. 8 Use the hemisphere model and/or data table to complete the following tables. 1) Sun’s Position – state the compass direction for the position of the sun at sunrise, sunset and 12 noon.
The Long Range Desert Group were masters of navigation and one of Britain’s most famous special forces. They owed much of their success to the scientific talents of their first commander, Major Ralph Bagnold, whose sun-compass invention revolutionised desert travel.
Long Range Desert Group lorry fitted with three sets of twin Vickers Class K-guns, c1942
Long Range Desert Group lorry fitted with three sets of twin Vickers Class K-guns, c1942
Founded in July 1940 by Royal Engineers officer Major Ralph Bagnold, the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) specialised in raids and reconnaissance behind enemy lines. Masters of desert navigation, they relied on lightly-armed jeeps and lorries to traverse the Sahara and gather intelligence.
Bagnold’s men were energetic, innovative, self-reliant, physically and mentally tough, and able to live and fight in seclusion in the wilderness. Many volunteers came from Commonwealth units, as Bagnold believed these men had the required characteristics.
Gunner Jimmy Patch
Listen to Jimmy Patch describing his Second World War experiences as a member of the Long Range Desert Group in an interview recorded in 1994.
The LRDG’s ‘Road Watch’ reports on Axis troop movements were vital to Allied successes in North Africa. Important raids included the attack on Barce airfield in Libya in September 1942 that destroyed 16 planes. The LRDG also drove Special Air Service raiders behind enemy lines.
Following victory in North Africa in 1943, LRDG personnel were transferred to the Aegean, where they undertook more raids and reported on enemy shipping movements.
Vickers Class K light machine gun used by the LRDG, c1940
Part of an Italian aircraft destroyed by the LRDG, c1940
What animal does the badge of the Long Range Desert Group depict?
The LRDG's badge was designed by one of its earliest recruits, a New Zealander called Gunner C Grimsey. He was stung three times by a scorpion while serving in the North African desert.
Ralph Bagnold had pioneered successful desert exploration during the 1930s. He made the first recorded east-to-west crossing of the Libyan Desert in 1932, using Model A Fords, and had carried out scientific work on the physics of sand and the movements of sand dunes.
He also invented the technique of driving with reduced tyre pressures over loose sand and at speed over sand dunes. Both methods later became standard for desert travel.
'Never in our peacetime travels had we imagined that war could ever reach the enormous empty solitudes of the inner desert, walled off by sheer distance, lack of water, and impassable seas of sand dunes. Little did we dream that any of the special equipment and techniques we evolved for long-distance travel, and for navigation, would ever be put to serious use.' Brigadier Ralph Bagnold, 1945
Bagnold also developed a way of conserving the precious water that was lost - usually from an overflow pipe - when vehicle radiators boiled over.
His innovation was to connect the overflow pipe to a can half full of water on the front of the vehicle so that the boiling water would condense in the can. When this water also began to boil over, the driver would turn his vehicle into the wind. After a short time, all the water would be sucked back into the radiator, filling it up again.
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An LRDG jeep armed with twin Vickers Class K-guns, c1942
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In an era before satellite navigation a good compass was essential in the barren and featureless North African desert, most of which was unmapped. During his early travels, Bagnold had used a magnetic aero-compass, lent to him by the Royal Geographical Society.
The compass was mounted on his vehicle, but he could not compensate it properly due to the magnetic influence of the car’s metal. Bagnold was often forced to stop his car and take bearings away from the vehicle. He also found that the iron ore deposits sometimes found in desert regions affected this instrument.
Bagnold sun compass used by the LRDG’s Indian Squadron, c1942
The LRDG also experimented with different sun-compasses. These were unaffected by magnetism, but had to be reset in line with the sun whenever they changed course to traverse rough terrain or avoid enemy troops. This again delayed the progress of their convoys.
Bagnold therefore invented a new sun-compass that could be used while still driving. This worked by turning its disc to match the approximate azimuth of the sun (taken from tables of different dates and latitudes) at regular times.
'Simply, it was a knitting needle set vertically in the centre of a horizontal disc, three inches in diameter... The face of the disc was graduated in 360 degrees of bearing, and the disc could be rotated in its fixed mounting to follow the sun through the day from east through south to west, according to a card giving the sun's azimuth every 10 minutes of the day.' Brigadier Ralph Bagnold, 1945
Bagnold had his compass fitted to the dashboards of the LRDG's vehicles. The one shown above was used by members of the LRDG’s Indian Squadron. Its navigators could now continuously log bearing and mileage regardless of any changes in course. This record permitted a reliable plot to be made of their preceding route at every halt.
Bagnold compass instructions and correction tables for local solar time and the sun's azimuth, 1942
‘The compass we used was invented by Bagnold, and the advantage that it gave us over the sun-compasses used by the rest of the Army lay in the fact that it showed the true bearing of the course followed at any moment, whereas the other types only made certain that if the sun’s shadow fell on the correct time-graduation the truck was following a set course.
This meant that if one had to change course for any reason (and this happened all the time in rough country or sand dunes), the truck had to be halted and the compass set again. This was all very time consuming, and I have never understood why the Army did not adopt the Bagnold sun-compass, which was far simpler to operate, absolutely “soldier-proof” and, I would have thought, cheaper to produce.’ LRDG veteran Major-General David Lloyd Owen, 1958
Special Operations Executive
Formed in 1940, SOE was an underground army that waged a secret war in enemy-occupied Europe and Asia. Its agents demonstrated incredible courage and resourcefulness in their guerrilla war.Story
Origins of the Special Forces
During the Second World War, Britain created a range of special units who undertook a variety of daring operations against the Axis Powers. The bravery and commitment of these forces has become the stuff of legend.Story
In 1940, the British established a new raiding and reconnaissance force. Well-trained and highly mobile, they were to carry on the war against the Axis after the evacuation from Dunkirk.Story
The struggle for North Africa
The grim struggle that rolled back and forth across the North African desert from 1940 to 1943 resulted in the first major Allied victory of the Second World War.story
Special Air Service
Created during the Second World War, the SAS operated behind enemy lines in North Africa and Europe. Today, its highly trained men are renowned for their skills in covert surveillance, close combat fighting and hostage rescue.Story
David Stirling: The Phantom Major
Colonel David Stirling was a pioneer of British Special Forces. In 1941, he founded the Special Air Service (SAS) in Egypt to undertake small-scale raids behind enemy lines.
We knew our bodies wouldn't stay strong forever. Inevitably, our responsibilities would grow; our freedom would shrink. I would never again be a thirty-three-year-old on the brink of finishing her Ph.D., childless, disillusioned by the prospect of an academic career, and convinced that whatever it was I needed could be found between two distant places on the map, one a coastal town where I had met my husband, the other a remote, ice-locked land I'd never seen.
I'm shivering before I step into the river. When I begin to wade, the mud soft and forgiving beneath my feet, icy water seeps quickly up my pant legs. My muscles stiffen in response, my knees suddenly wooden, my groin aching. Several steps later I lose contact with the bottom as the current tugs on my hips.
Immediately, I'm being carried downstream, farther from Pat but no closer to the other side. I need to start swimming, and fast. I lace my arms backward through the straps of my pack and attempt to balance my chest on top of the buoyant load as though it is a kickboard. For a moment, this seems to be working. I'm floating and kicking. But my upper body is perched so high above the surface that I can't get any purchase with my flailing legs.
I try again. Lowering my body and leveraging my chin against the bottom of my pack, I kick like hell. I can barely see above the pack, and when I crane my neck, breathing hard, I realize I'm paralleling the shore. I reorient myself and try once more. I flutter my feet but nothing happens. I kick from my hips, but I only move farther downstream. This isn't working. Hurry up.
As I'm floundering, I think of my mom, queen of the breaststroke. Frog kicks? Maybe? After my first contorted attempts, I find a way to use not just my legs but my arms, sliding abbreviated strokes through the shoulder straps. I direct my pack with my chin. It works. I can move and steer and begin to propel myself toward the middle of the channel. Soon, Pat yells from the bluff above that I've made it halfway.
I cheer myself on silently, focusing the only part of my gaze that isn't blocked by my pack onto the trees that are growing larger with each stroke. I can see my progress. Better. Almost there. A surge of confidence follows, and I slow my frantic motions enough to catch my breath. Seconds later, I hit a stiff eddy line. A dozen yards from shore, the swirling water leaves me nearly stationary. Pat shouts something unintelligible. I try to stand up, but a small creek joins the river here and the water is surprisingly deep.
Pat yells again. This time, I hear 'Get up!'—but I can't. I'm suddenly afraid. And starting to tire. My inner voice wavers. If you stop now. You. Will. Wash. Away. Act, don't think, Caroline. I force my mind to go still. Robotic. Kick hard. Harder. I try to touch down again, but feel only water beneath my feet.
I close my eyes and channel everything into my legs. Do it. Or else.
After several more attempts, I feel a release. I have finally managed to break through the eddy. As soon as I find contact with the muddy bottom, I wade out of the water and flop onto the shore. I take several breaths lying down, staring up at the sky. When I raise my head and look across the river, I see Pat pump his fist into the air, celebrating for me. I'm only partially relieved. The swim was much worse than I had imagined. Now I have to watch Pat take a turn. He's a strong swimmer, but the river's stronger.
As I stand up and move away from the river's edge, Pat finishes stuffing the last items into his pack. It takes forever. He seals his pack, then opens it up again, retrieving something he left behind on the ground. He arranges and rearranges his load, my anxiety building with each adjustment. When he finally scrambles down the cutbank, he looks small and the river huge.
Within seconds of wading into the water, he's kicking his legs and windmilling his right arm, holding the pack with his left. But I'm not sure his one-armed crawl is working. All but the top of his head is obscured by splashing. Partway across, he switches arms. He slows for a moment and begins to drift downstream. 'Come on, Pat,' I yell, willing away the excruciating minutes of watching him struggle, and he begins to windmill again. When he's finally near enough for me to see his face, his expression terrifies me.
Excerpted from The Sun Is a Compass by Caroline Van Hemert . Copyright © 2019 by Caroline Van Hemert . Excerpted by permission of Little Brown & Company. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.