The Long Range Desert Group embarked on its first patrol in August 1940, reconnoitring Italian positions in the Libyan desert (roughly the same size in land mass as India) and so successful were the missions that followed that in November that year, Bagnold was promoted to acting Lt-Colonel, given permission to form two new patrols and instructed to launch a series of hit-and-run raids against Italian targets in Libya.
For his new recruits, Bagnold turned to the British army, forming two new patrols from the Guards (G Patrol) and from the Yeomanry Divisions (Y Patrol). For its inaugural operation, G Patrol was placed under the command of 44-year-old captain Pat Clayton, and given a target of Murzuk, a well-defended Italian fort in south-western Libya with an airfield close by. The fort was approximately 1,000 miles west of Cairo, a gruelling two-week journey for 76 raiders, who travelled in 23 vehicles.
On 11 January, the raiding party stopped for lunch just a few miles from Murzuk and finalised their plan for the attack; Clayton would lead the attack on the airfield while G Patrol targeted the fort.