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Date: March 10th 1943
Newspaper Article

[Editor’s Warning: Please note that while the “Advance Post” is a genuine WWII artifact, its content is a mixture of fact and fiction. Created as part of the training exercise “Operation Spartan,” the exercise-related articles are written so as to describe events as they are being experienced by the Spartan participants, in an environment where troops and supporting forces have been assigned roles within a fictional military scenario. It was published for internal military distribution among participants and was not intended for public circulation as a factual document.]



The Advance Post
Published by the British Army in the Field
No. 10
10 MARCH, 1943
Free Issue

Columns of Tanks and Motor Transport Bombed

THE following joint official communique was issued by British H.Q. in Southland yesterday:—
     The Eastland situation in the bridge-heads established on the coast is proceeding satisfactorily according to plan.
     During yesterday’s operations in the Aylesbury-Oxford area very heavy fighting developed. The enemy, by repeated counter-attacks, endeavoured to break the line held by the British forces. All were repulsed with heavy losses. In the area east of Aylesbury further advances were made in the face of determined opposition.
     Yesterday, our Air Force continued repeatedly to attack enemy motorised columns, tanks and armoured fighting, vehicles. The enemy Air Force has been thrown on the defensive, and caused little interference with our operations.
     Attacks were made on a site near Padbury, apparently being used as a headquarters, concentrations of M.T. near Aylesbury, Oxford and Bicester, and a column of some 30 tanks in this last area, which were being held up by our artillery, were also attacked. Many vehicles were destroyed and others damaged. In addition, two very successful attacks were made by our fighters and fighter-bombers on the enemy's armoured forces. Cannon fire and heavy bombs caused much destruction and damage, though in the last attack the onset of darkness made observation of results difficult.
     Full reports have not yet been, received. but present information shows that in yesterday’s operations we lost 13 aircraft and that four enemy aircraft were shot down in our offensive operations.

(By Our Military Correspondent)

THE tale of hard fighting, now well within Eastland territory, continues, and the initiative seems still to be with our invading forces. The enemy, having failed to break our line in the Oxford-Aylesbury area and to prevent our advance east of Aylesbury, will probably withdraw to his prepared positions on the line Banbury-Luton.
     On that line, as it appears, he must stand and fight with all the means at his disposal, and the most determined opposition must be expected.
     In the meantime, our seaborne invaders pushing in from the Eastland coast are making satisfactory progress and receiving constant reinforcements. Their threat to the enemy’s left flank and rear communications increases daily, and he can ill spare forces to contest their advance.
     In the air the enemy has been thrown on the defensive, and our larger proportion of losses in aircraft yesterday may be regarded as an indication of the fierce and continuous character of our attacks on enemy material.
     It would be interesting to know what is happening our left flank. The emphasis in the official communique has always been on the centre and the right, but it is obvious that our forces which captured Marlborough and Swindon last week have not been letting the grass grow under their feet, and that the promise of an advance by them, parallel with the Westland frontier, may spring an exceedingly unpleasant surprise for the enemy very soon.
     The Germans, from all accounts, are being hard put to it to hold back our infantry attack in the Aylesbury area, and may already have had to reinforce his hard-pressed divisions there with fresh forces from his right flank.
     But the result of the battle depends finally upon the clash of armoured forces. Until Von Rundstedt’s armour is brought to battle and smashed there can be no decision. General McNaughton’s tactics so far bear no small resemblance in broad outline to those of Gen. Montgomery before El Alamein. The methods adopted then can reasonably be expected to succeed to-day.


     The enemy's quick withdrawal from one sector was so confused that for a brief time he was on the same wireless wave-length as one of our units, and even exchanged conversation with one of our tank officers.
     “Where are you ?” asked the officer of the invading Allied Force.
     The answer came back, giving the location of the unit, but in code.
     “I can’t find my code in this tank. Give me your position in clear,” the officer replied. But the enemy evidently woke up just in time!
     It was revealed, however, that some vital information was obtained before the enemy changed his wave-length.

[photograph of nurse Ann Esthesier]

LET us pay tribute to the civilian population of Southland. Their country is freed from the Huns, and now stories of civilian heroism are pouring into “The Advance Post” office.
     Outstanding was the bravery and devotion to duty of a 19-year-old Southland girl, Ann Esthesier, only daughter of a Southland farmer. It is a Florence Nightingale story of the war of liberation.
     Ann was finishing her probationary phase at one of her country’s biggest hospitals when war came to Southland, with the invasion by von Rundstedt followed by the relieving Canadians in their swift advance on Eastland.
     The Matron of the hospital told me of Ann’s deeds—stories of which are now ringing round Southland and which may well become legendary.
     “Soon after the Nazis entered our city air warfare started on a large scale, the city was bombed and its inhabitants suffered heavily,” said the Matron.
     “Ann worked tirelessly, and on the third night of the Nazi occupation the Luftwaffe rained incendiaries and bombs on the city, obviously by mistake, for they must have thought it was the forward limits of the British advance into our country.
     “Ann, who had had no sleep for 48 hours, led the party which climbed to the roof and extinguished the incendiaries which threatened to destroy our crowded hospital.
     “The next day the Nazis started to withdraw and when the first of the Canadian troops entered the outskirts, street fighting was bitter and bloody.
     “Ann went out into the streets and worked with the R.A.M.C., caring for the wounded far into the night till she finally collapsed. She had run the gauntlet of heavy street fighting with bullets and grenades coming from every darkened corner.”
     “The Advance Post” understands that Ann has been recommended for the highest decoration that Southland can award for civilian bravery.

World’s War News

TUNISIA: Axis forces which attacked the First Army in force near Tamera were driven back with severe losses after several hours’ heavy fighting. Two hundred prisoners were left in our hands. In the Gafsa area of Southern Tunisia French forces have occupied Tozeur, a town on the north-western shore of the Shott Jerid (salt lake).
The total of enemy tanks in our hands as the result of Rommel's fruitless attack on the Eighth Army on 6 March is now 50.
AIR WAR: Allied bombers and fighters on a sea sweep north of Cape Bon, south-east of Tunis, in a 30-minute air battle, shot down 17 Axis aircraft without loss. Two more enemy planes collided and crashed into the sea.
Eight-thousand-pound and 4,000-lb. bombs and thousands of incendiary bombs were showered on Nuremberg on Monday night. Other bombers attacked targets in Western Germany. An enemy aircraft was destroyed. Seven of our aircraft are missing.
Spitfires, in a daylight sweep over France yesterday, shot down an enemy plane.
RUSSIA: Two Russian forces are threatening Vyasma. One column is within 25 miles and another is 40 miles north.
HOME: In daylight yesterday two places on the south coast were bombed. There was a short alert in London, but no incidents.
London has already raised nearly half its target of £150,000,000 for “Wings For Victory” Week.

(By Our Air Correspondent)

TO use the words of an intelligence officer, assessing the day’s air war: “We smashed ’em good and hard.”
     He was referring to the activities of 8 March, but it might equally apply to any recent day. The German Air Force at its Eastland bases is obviously worried, unable to determine where we are going to strike next and incapable of giving adequate cover to the retreating array or to strike hard enough at our advance.
     Yesterday’s communique gives evidence of the variety of our aerial offensive—transports, troops, tanks, and a divisional headquarters being included in our many objectives.
     It was a dawn-to-dusk offensive, with fighter sweeps and reconnaissance patrols beginning early in the morning, and the numbers of attacking sorties piling up throughout the day.
     The “spotter” aircraft covered a wide area and, as a result, “strikes” were laid on in quick succession, sometimes two or three attacks being carried out simultaneously at scattered points.
     Enemy movements were rapid in places, so that when fighter-bombers or light bombers arrived at the notified place they found their target had shifted—but they searched and usually found it just the same.
     Boston and Hurribomber squadrons did an especially fine piece of work by attacking a Panzer force, despite its heavy protection by Bofors guns, and “bombs” caused considerable damage to the surprised enemy.
     A Spitfire squadron also gave useful air cover, at the request of the Army, to one of our advancing brigades.
     Within a few hours of arriving at an advanced airfield, Spitfires of a fighter squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force were flying again, escorting Bostons to attack the enemy’s retreating transport in Buckinghamshire.
     The pilots had just had time to get themselves settled in tents erected on thickly-wooded land by the time they were due to take off. Ground crews had meanwhile been working furiously to get the squadron's aircraft serviceable.
     They had, for instance, filled all the petrol tanks from four-gallon cans—a much more laborious procedure than pumping it in from a bowzer. But, by the time of take-off, every aircraft was ready to fly.
     After they had taken the Bostons successfully to their target, the Canadian Spitfires turned for home. On the way they sighted a large concentration of enemy motor transport retreating towards Eastland. Immediately they dived to attack it with their machine-guns and cannon.
     One of the pilots, known h the squadron as the “train-buster,” by reason of his numerous successful attacks on enemy railway locomotives in Northern France, declared that this line-up of transport made the prettiest sitting target for a Spitfire’s cannon that he had ever seen. “Those guys couldn’t move,” he said. “The road was all jammed up. We just went down and raked them from end to end.”
     Just after beating up the con-
(Continued overleaf).

G.O.C. Praises The Troops
Battle Drill Proved A Success

COMPLETE, confidence in the British and Dominion troops under his command was expressed by General Sir Bernard Paget, G.O.C.-in-C. Home Forces, during a visit to the British Forces in Southland yesterday when he received a large party of war and air correspondents, cameramen and broadcast commentators who are covering “Spartan” Exercise.
     “I am convinced of their capability to undertake a successful offensive action,” he said, and added that the exercise had proved the success of he battle drill which had been adopted some time ago.
     Referring to “Advance Post,” he said the news-sheet had been a help in keeping troops in the picture.
     Air Marshal Barratt (A.O.C. Army Co-operation Command) stressed the value of Composite Air Groups, which were profiting largely from lessons learned in the Middle East.
     “Soldiers,” he said, “do not always appreciate the extent to which aircraft can be damaged by small arms fire.
     During the battle of France, out of a formation of 16 aircraft which were attacked by small arms, 12 were forced down by damage before they reached their base.”

(By “Advance Post” Reporter)

Somewhere in Southland.—
Despite the fact that they were within the range of the enemy’s long-range guns, members of a Royal Canadian Army Service Corps detachment found time to prepare a hasty meal as they reconnoitred an area from which to work, while operations were going on about them.
     Seated about the fire were: Driver D. W. Clark, of Toronto; Sgt. W. Mahon, of Ottawa: Sgt. D. J. Williams, of London; Sgt. R. O. Berry, of Montreal; Sgt. J. H. Hanley, of Montreal: L/Cpl. O. G. Dawson, of Peace River, Alberta; Pte. C. R. Hubley, of Bridgewater, Ontario; Sgt. T. H. Perkins, of Verdun; and Driver P. C. Carbrey, of Montreal.
     The lad who made the tea forgot that the container in which he was boiling the water had been used for shaving that morning. There was a slight taste of soap in the coloured fluid, known for lack of a better name, as tea.
     But, gosh, it was good!

Pass round your copy of “Advance Post” when you’ve read it—supplies are limited and your pals want their share of it too.

[back page of Issue No. 10]

How Airfields Are Made On The Move

TRUCKS drew up at the side of the road, and I watched soldiers unpack an airfield and set it up on a long stretch of high ground. To those who have not seen the modern Army and Air Force at work, the preceding sentence may sound absurd, but nowadays surprises are no longer surprising.
     Combined headquarters had decided that an air base must be established well in advance of the captured Southland aerodromes to give better opportunity to our striking and reconnaissance aircraft. A site was chosen, and work began.
     Within an hour of the main party’s arrival the outline of a runway could be seen across the fields. Soon it stretched expanded. Work began in the early afternoon; and when the airfield was completed it had a portable runway—1,000 yards long and 50 yards wide—laid down, and temporary quarters erected for soldiers, airmen and staff.
“And we can do the work in much less time than that if necessary,” said a Major in charge.
     The airfield was ready for the landing and taking off of aircraft, and for all other operational requirements, with servicing commandoes at hand to keep the aircraft flying.
     Local farmers had witnessed a transformation that could only have been equalled if seeds had been planted one day and fully developed ears of wheat had been there the next.
     But the transformation was not as simple as it may sound. Its simplicity lay only in the detailed planning and expert organisation of both Army and R.A.F.—just another example of combined operations.
     First a reconnaissance party went out to examine the area where an airfield was needed, and having found one or two likely spots, their positions were pin-pointed on a large-scale map.
     Then came a Royal Engineers officer and an R.A.F. Squadron Leader—a young pilot with long operational experience—to approve a site, the Army representative from the constructional and land point of view, and the pilot from requirements of aircraft.
     This particular site was found to be free of mines or dangerous obstructions, such as buildings or trees. In enemy territory mines might have had to be cleared along with debris left by retreating troops.
     Soon hundreds of lorries were thundering up the road, carrying tons of rolls of reinforced wire carpets, tools and stores. First a roadway of wire strips was laid across the field from the road to enable the lorries to deposit their loads without churning up the land. The ground was levelled where necessary, and mechanical excavators stood by for heavier work. Then began the task of spreading the wire carpets to make a runway, linking them and stretching them.
     Meanwhile the R.A.F. Regiment gunners had taken up their position on all sides of the field, choosing the most advantageous sites to cover any line of attack by the enemy. While the airfield construction company, sappers and pioneers carried out their work, the gunners kept their eyes on the sky and the roads.
     No furnisher ever laid a Brussels or Kidderminster carpet more expertly than those men in khaki spread out their wire strips, without a kink or a twist.
     Then they linked the strips lengthwise, and when the runway was wide enough, the outer edges were battened down. All the work was done by hand, except for the necessary stretching, for which small tractors were used. Hard work, vital work, expertly and speedily done.


     Meet the private soldier’s man Jeeves.
     The Army christens each new Jeeves No. So-and-So “Canadian Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit.”
     Jeeves’ job is to supply every soldier in the field with hot showers and free laundry service, whether he’s campaigning in the frozen north or the African desert.
     If the soldier doesn’t meet with these luxuries as often as he’d like to, it’s more likely to be the result of military exigencies than any laxity bn the part of the contractor.
     In action the Mobile Laundry and Bath Unit maintains clothing exchange points where units in the field can swap dirty socks, underwear, shirts and blankets for clean re-issues fresh out of a portable, fully modern laundry.
     Each of the bath sections attached to a unit can set up six showers in as little as 30 minutes, heat water to any resuired temperature, and dunk grimy gladiators from nearby formations at the rate of 80 to 180 any hour.
     With proper co-operation from regiments, a whole division can be scrubbed as white as a chorus girl’s calf in a few days.

[cartoon captioned:] “And that, Sir, was MY arrangement of ‘sick and defaulters’!”


     Civilian pleasure in car driving and railway travel in Canada may be further curtailed.
     The oil controller has foreshadowed a further cut in the petrol allowance, and in the House of Commons a member has proposed the rationing of civilian railway travel.

[photograph captioned:] The Germans ploughed up this airfield in the “scorched earth policy of their evacuation from Southland, but it did not prevent this British bomber from finding a runway from which to “strafe” their retreat.

(From page one.)

voy, this pilot, together with a flight commander from the same squadron, spotted an enemy Mustang in the vicinity.
     “I thought it was one of our ‘Spits’ at first,” said the 'trainbuster.’ “Then I took another look at the wings and saw it was a Mustang. The next second, I saw the enemy markings, so I went in to attack.
     “But at that moment, I saw that the flight commander was getting into position to strike, so I waited my turn and followed him in. We both got in long bursts. The Mustang never had a chance. I don’t think he even saw us”
     The pilots were astonished at the poor fighter support which the enemy is putting up. “That single Mustang was all we ran into,” they said, “and the Bostons never saw a thing. It was a pretty lousy show on the part of the enemy.”
     When they returned from this sortie, the pilots went off into the woods for lunch at the open-air field kitchen. Around their camp site, they have built fireplaces form empty petrol cans and they sat around these warming their toes as they ate.

Sorties at Tree-top Level

With Spitfire squadrons providing escort cover, Mustangs of Canadian Army co-operation units fanned wide over enemy territory as they carried out mass tactical reconnaissance sorties at tree-top level.
     The presence of so many high-speed fighter aircraft roaring over the scene of ground battle presented an animated sky picture for the forces below.
     The operation was not without its spectacular moments, with enemy aircraft coming up to engage the fighter escort. Casualties were recorded on both sides, through air combat and “ack-ack” opposition.
     Considerable information was brought back by the Mustang pilots as they searched the roads for M.T. movement, and closely scrutinised woodland for concentrations of armour, as well as took note of troops setting up defences.
     Flight Lieut. J. A. Amos, a flight commander with one of the R.C.A.F. Mustang squadrons, detected a battery of 25-pounders south-west of a wood near Bicester. Flying Officers G. A. Rogers (Toronto) and A. T. Carlson (Calgary), flying as a section, reported a large mechanised column moving southwards towards the battle line in the same locality. Water tank trailers were among the equipment.
     Seven of our aircraft did not return from yesterday’s “recce” operations, which witnessed the greatest number of sorties carried out since the bridgehead was established.

Fought Against Us in Last War

     In the last war he fought against us. This war he is fighting for us. This story was told me by an Austrian, a member of a Western Canadian Highland Regiment taking part in this Exercise.
     He is all for us, he said. He can hardly speak a word of English. But he could give me the impression that, as he gave Germany his services in the last war, there was nothing he would not do for the British in this war.

Round the Airfields
(By P./O. Snooper)

BEING unable to take along their Chippendale and Queen Anne furniture, certain officers of the R.A.F. Regiment have converted a couple of drainpipes and a plank into a table. It’s of no particular period, but you might call it Spartan style.
     The elegant lines of the drainpipes and the utilitarian simplicity of the plank will probably create a vogue in office furniture.
     Anyway, it’s still a table. And a stub of candle stuck on the wood embellishes the ensemble.
          *   *      *   *
     Believe it or not, a few AC2’s found time to make some artificial flowers.
     Some genius discovered that the fibre of a certain type of rush, growing beside the camp, lent itself to twisting and twirling. With neat loops and knots he turned out a wild rose, using a snippet from a cigarette carton for the centre.
     Backed by a sprig of fern it made a pretty posy. Everybody who saw it decided to have a try, and the fashion has spread.
          *   *      *   *
     To-day’s best line-shoots:
     “I flew so low over Eastland that I leaned out of my Mustang and snatched up a tuft of grass.”
     “They peppered me with bullets, and the wings were so full of holes that they cast no shadow on the ground.”
          *   *      *   *
     They’re telling a story of a dispatch rider who was sent to an airfield to deliver a message to the officer commanding Bofors guns. He returned after several hours with the complaint: “I’ve found Spitfires and Bostons, but there aren’t any Bofors aircraft on the aerodrome.”
          *   *      *   *
     When the Duke of Gloucester visited combined headquarters, the R.A.F. sentry at the door of the Air Vice-Marshal’s hut challenged him with a Sten gun. “I didn’t know who he was,” said the sentry later.

Nos avions a l’attaque

VOICI le texte du communiqué officiel de notre armée, émis a midi le 9 Mars, 1943:
     Sur les têtes de pont établies sur la côte de l'Eastland, les opérations se continuent avec succès selon le plan prédéterminé.
     Le secteur AYLESBURY-OXFORD a été hier le théâtre de violents engagements. L’ennemi a tenté de nombreuses contre-attaques sur les lignes britanniques, mais toutes ont été repoussées en lui causant de lourdes pertes. Malgré une vigoureuse opposition, notre armée s’est frayé de nouvelles avances dans la région a l'est de AYLESBURY.
     Hier, le 8 Mars, notre aviation n’a cessé d’attaquer les colonnes motorisées, les tanks et les véhicules blindés de l’ennemi. Les appareils allemands se sont contentés de jouer un role défensif et n’ont que très peu dérangé nos opérations.
Prés de PADBURY, nos appareils ont attaqué un site servant apparemment de quartiers-généraux. Ils ont de plus pris comme cibles des concentrations de véhicules près de AYLESBURY, OXFORD et BICESTER. Dans cette dernière région ils attaquèrent une colonne de quelques trente tanks dont l’avance était retenue par notre artillerie. Plusieurs véhicules ont été detruits; d’autres out été endommagés.
     Les forces blindées de l’ennemi ont de plus été la proie de fructueuses attaques par nos avions de combat. Le feu nourri de leurs canons ainsi que les lourdes bombes qu’ils échappèrent ont semé la destruction et de grands dommages. Dans cette dernière attaque, l’observation des résultats fur rendue difficile par l’arrivée de l’obscurité.
     Tous les rapports ne sont pas encore entrés, mais d’après les informations présentes, les opérations d’hier nous ont couté 13 appareils. Quatre avions ennemis ont été detruits.

How R.A.F. Regt. Covers Pilots
(By “Advance Post” Reporter.)

     Little has been written so far about the R.A.F. Regiment, although they are playing a very important part in this Exercise. In order to find out exactly what they are doing I yesterday visited a Southland aerodrome which, only the previous day, had been taken over for operational purposes. It is from this ’drome that the Bostons are doing such good work.
     The aerodrome itself is not yet completed, although the main runways have been laid, but a tour of the outer perimeter and adjoining countryside assured me that, thanks to the R.A.F. Regiment, the danger of the aerodrome being captured in a surprise attack, either airborne or from the land, is minimised.
     The place positively bristles with guns of various types. The composition of an R.A.F. Regiment squadron compares broadly with that of an infantry company, but it differs somewhat in its armaments.
     In addition to the normal infantry weapons such as rifles, Bren guns, mortars and grenades, it is provided with light armoured fighting vehicles, which are dispersed at strategical points around the ’drome, and it also has what are known as “flak” wagons mounting A.A. guns. These guns can be operated from the truck or taken down and used on the ground.
     The main idea is that when a ’drome is taken over, the R.A.F. Regiment construct a series of strong points covering the main runways.
     These are sited to give all-round protection, and when they are completed the Regiment is withdrawn to a selected concentration area.
     In the event of an attack, the strong points are manned by the station personnel of the ’drome, and the R.A.F. Regiment squadron, fully mobile, can be rushed to any point where danger is most acute.

“Dames” Took the Trees Away

THE sergeant at a Canadian divisional headquarters thought he had heard every known alibi, until he questioned a driver about failure to conceal his vehicle.
     “I did hide it, Sarge, right under a bunch of fir trees,” the driver said. “But a bunch of ‘dames’ came along and took the trees away.”
     Upon investigation the driver’s story proved to be not the most original fantasy of 1943, but a simple statement of fact.
     The “dames” were a detachment of the Women's Timber Corps, a branch of the Women’s Land Army.
     By pure coincidence, the fine stand of evergreens which Divisional H.Q. had chosen to hide its rendezvous from enemy air observers had also been chosen by the Women’s Timber Corps for speedy conversion into pit props, telephone poles and wood pulp.
     Almost as fast as H.Q. deployed its motor transport under the natural camouflage the lady lumberjacks chopped down, trimmed and lugged the camouflage away by tractor.
     The lady lumberjacks were very sporting about it. When the situation was explained to them they consented to transfer their activities a few hundred yards down the road—and the war proceeded.

Fifty-five-year-old Sergt. Schumann, now at Honolulu, is the only soldier in the U.S. Army allowed to salute with his left hand. He was given permission when he re-enlisted in 1919 after his arm had been partially crippled in earlier service.

[bottom left corner of page:] Printed by the OXFORD TIMES, LTD. the Newspaper House, Oxford, and published by the Director of Public Relations, War Office.



[Editor's note: Mailed home by Robert Duncan on March 23, 1943, issues 10, 11, 12 and 13 were sent together in one envelope.]

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