13 user 7 critic

Desert Patrol (1958)

Sea of Sand (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 8 December 1961 (USA)
Sent to destroy a Nazi petrol dump in the North African desert, a British commando team unexpectedly discovers a large Nazi tank unit, and must inform headquarters in time.


Guy Green


Robert Westerby (screenplay), Sean Fielding (original story)
Nominated for 3 BAFTA Film Awards. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Richard Attenborough ... Brody
John Gregson ... Capt. Williams
Michael Craig ... Capt. Cotton
Vincent Ball Vincent Ball ... Sgt. Nesbitt
Percy Herbert ... White
Barry Foster ... Cpl. Matheson
George Murcell ... Cpl. Simms
Andrew Faulds ... Sgt. Parker
Ray McAnally ... Sgt. Hardy
Harold Goodwin ... Road Watch
Tony Thawnton Tony Thawnton ... Capt. Tom
Wolf Frees ... German Sergeant
George Mikell George Mikell ... German Officer


A small British Army team is sent to destroy a German petrol dump as part of the preparation for a major attack in the North African campaign. While they are there, they spot a large number of tanks and realize that Army intelligence must be informed or some Tommies are going to be in for a nasty surprise. The Germans are equally determined that they should not reach their base, and a tense chase across the desert is the result. Written by Mark Thompson <mrt@oasis.icl.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They fought the kind of war that wasn't in the book...aware that one false move meant instant disaster - and death! See more »


Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


During WWII producer Monty Berman was a member of the Army Film and Photographic Unit and met Sean Fielding, a senior army observer officer in Cairo. After the war Sean wrote a 10 page idea for a film based on the long range desert group and sent it to Monty who put it in his desk. Some 10 years later he sent it to screen writer Robert Westerby who by chance had previously written a screen play on similar lines and welcomed the chance to cooperate. It was decided that the only way the film could be made was to shoot it on the actual locations. That involved flying about 1!/2 tons of property & gear to Libya+ large quantities of heavy equipment from Italy. 10 actors & 30 technicians were flown to N. Africa & the war office promised cooperation in Libya. On the 1st day they experienced some of the problems that would beset them throughout filming when a sand storm blew up and stopped filming for the day. One of the problems was to find 15 cwt trucks of the type used during the war but all seemed to have disappeared. The problem was solved by purchasing 30 cwt trucks and chopping 2 foot off the backs. Comparing them to photographs of the war time trucks they looked the same. The War Office made the 1st Battalion of The Kings Royal Rifle Corps & The Tripolitania District Signals Troop available for valuable & practical help. Some of the riflemen were enrolled to play Germans. A great deal of filming was done in the mountain region of Tripolitania, which was where Guy Green shot scenes for 'The Way Ahead'. A British army truck was supposed to have been set on fire by German bullets and the petrol tank holed. An oil 'bomb' was placed on the front of the truck and set alight and the truck's path was plotted to pass as close as possible to the camera. However as it approached there was a rush of unexpected flame and fragments of the bomb hurled a few feet in front pf the camera crew. The desert wind swept the flames to the umbrella shading the camera from the intense sun & in a moment the unit was enveloped in fire. See more »


Truck 3 can be seen with a loose bonnet (hood) from the start of the patrol and when truck 1 bogs down in the sand, truck 3 can be seen hitting a rut and the bonnet (hood) jumping up and almost falling off. See more »


Brody: You'd all be standing there with guns in your hands if I hadn't shot him.
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Featured in Remembering John Gregson (2019) See more »


Heard on radio
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User Reviews

Stiff upper lips all round
16 October 2016 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

SEA OF SAND is, unsurprisingly, another North African WW2 movie. Although they made literally dozens of such productions over the years, I never get tired of them as they have such great backdrops against which to present war-time action. This one's a very typical piece from the period, filled with a kind of brisk efficiency which goes hand-in-hand with the no-nonsense British cast.

The story follows the misadventures of a team of British soldiers sent behind enemy lines to blow up a fuel depot. They end discovering a massive depot of tanks ready to strike against Allied forces and, with their radio out, they must return to their own side to spread word of their discovery. The only problem is that the Nazi forces are well aware of this, sending soldiers out in pursuit.

SEA OF SAND is an admirably tough movie. There's little room for sentiment here, just necessity of getting the job done. The ensemble cast is fine with Michael Craig and John Gregson particularly standing out and more minor parts for the likes of Richard Attenborough (surprisingly underutilised in a comic part), Barry Foster, Ray McAnally, and Percy Herbert. I was delighted to spot an uncredited Dermot Walsh playing the guy who sends the team on their mission. It's solid stuff, at times exciting, heroic, tragic, and harrowing.

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English | German

Release Date:

8 December 1961 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Desert Patrol See more »

Filming Locations:

Tripolitania, Libya

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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