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Date: March 13th 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. 13    
13 MARCH, 1943    
Free Issue

Huntingdon and Cambridge Occupied By Our Troops

THE German forces in Eastland have sued for an armistice, which has been granted on the lines of unconditional surrender.
     Huntingdon, Eastland’s capital, and Cambridge, the German military headquarters, have been occupied by British troops.
     A proclamation to the civilian population of Eastland has been made by the British Army Commander.
     “Cease Fire” was sounded at 0900 yesterday.
     The following joint official communique was issued at British Headquarters.
     “At 0900 hours to-day an armistice was granted to the German forces in Eastland.
     “At first light to-day British forces heavily attacked the enemy all along the front, our thrusts penetrated the German main defences in several places and the enemy appeared to be disintegrating.
     “At 0800 hours German plenipotentiaries, bearing a white flag, passed through the British lines and, as a result, the order to cease fire was given at 0900 hours.
     “Detailed terms of the armistice will be made public later, but they are such that further German resistance will be impossible. Advance troops of the British forces are expected to enter Huntingdon, the capital of Eastland, early this afternoon.
     “Our Air Forces have greatly contributed to the successful outcome of this campaign. Since the start of operations air superiority in the battle area has been our aim, and this we have gradually attained in spite of the enemy’s attempts at deception.
     “Rapid forward movement of our airfields in close support of our ground forces, the superiority of our equipment, and above all the skill of our pilots finally turned the scales in our favour.
     “As a result the rate of casualties to enemy aircraft increased to an extent which made it impossible for him to withstand our advance.
     “In yesterday’s operations very successful attacks were made on the enemy’s airfields. Many of his aircraft were destroyed on the ground. In all we destroyed 46 of his aircraft for a loss of 12 of our own.”

(By Our Military Correspondent)

     The German position was deteriorating from the hopeless to the desperate when the request for an armistice reached our headquarters.
     The remnants of the German infantry on our right flank, which had been ordered by Hitler to oppose our advance into Eastland “to the last man and the last shot,” were barely a brigade strong.
     They were opposed—in point of fact practically surrounded— by our own formations, which had also suffered losses, but not to anything like the same extent.
     The British had already started the “mopping up” process on the Grand Union Canal front, and in a few hours not a German would have been left alive or free on that sector.
     Towards the close of the final battle, which has continued with unabated fury for the past three days and nights, von Rundstedt had been reinforced by a fresh brigade of crack troops from the Russian front, but this desperate bid to avert the final catastrophe was unavailing, for this brigade was successfully held off from the main battle front by a British division.
     On our left flank, between Banbury and Northampton, our armoured troops had taken a heavy battering during the last few days in the big tank battle in which they were engaged with the enemy’s armour.
     One formation is understood to have lost 50 per cent. of its armoured fighting vehicles.
     Orders had been given, however, to the main formations of our armoured forces to charge straight through the gap made by our infantry for the enemy capital, and this was in process of being carried out when the fact of the armistice became known.
     In special messages to the troops, General Sir Bernard Paget, Air Marshal Barrett, and Lieut.-General McNaughton express their appreciation of the hardihood and the will-to-win shown by our troops.

[map captioned:] Well done, McNaughton’s men! Above map shows, in shaded area, the penetration you had made into Southland by March 1st. Below, the much larger shaded portion completely covering Southland and extending well into Eastland, with arrows showing line of continuing advance, shows area you had occupied, despite stiff resistance during those Spartan days—and nights, till the Nazis were granted an armistice yesterday.


     Even a General cannot make a telephone call in wartime without complying rigidly with the rules of the game. Lieut.-Gen. A. G. L. (“Andy”) McNaughton, G.O.C.-in-C. the British Army advancing through Eastland, had a long wait while his aide-de-camp placed a telephone call for him.
     Four of the six lines running out of that area went through “enemy” territory, and calls could not be placed through those lines unless vouched for by the Chief Umpire. That person sat at Gen. McNaughton’s side and listened to the General discussing plans with his staff and Corps headquarters staff, but he did not hasten the telephone message.
     It was typical of the Canadian General that he took the delay in good humour and used the intervening minutes to good purpose by discussing various angles of “Spartan.”


     Finishing their fight against a retreating enemy in a wave of glory, Canadian troops spent their last Spartan night continuing to harass the enemy with fighting patrols which returned to their units with prisoners and a considerable amount of booty, chiefly enemy light armoured and reconnaissance vehicles.
     Among the prisoners taken was a Lieutenant-Colonel of an enemy unit.
     He was captured by a Canadian patrol under Sgt. August “Gussy” McLeod of Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, along with two despatch riders carrying important messages.

One h.p., But It Delivered The Goods
(By Lt. E. Quine)

SPARTAN has finished, the “Cease   Fire” has sounded, and here is the last story from a news-picture team which has operated together throughout the exercise.
     Returning from a tank clash near Towcester they were flashing along in a jeep when they came across a remarkable sight.
     Like Roman charioteers of old a 2nd-Lieut. and a B.S.M. of a Lt. Ack Ack Battery were galloping through the countryside in a pony and trap!
     2nd Lieut. Richard Murdock ([“Stinker”?] to his pals) and B.S.M. Flack were hugging a bend at speed. It was an unfair race and “Dobbin” gave in, after a grand fight.
     We had not known that a pony and trap had been included in our Order of Battle, but we have all heard about “secret weapons,” so who knows?
     But it was much simpler than this. A friendly Eastland farmer with a view to saving British petrol had placed his transport at the disposal of an L.A.A. battery guarding a British airfield in Eastland.
     With this transport Lieut. Murdoch made his rounds of the troops and saw that they all got their mail and their copies of “The Advance Post.”
     B.S.M. Flack looked to us like the epitome of the gladiators of old, while Lieut. Murdoch would lave made a good stand-in for Ben Hur himself and “Dobbin” the pony enjoyed it more than somewhat.
     “Don’t forget to put me on the front page, said “Dobbin” as we hurried away.
[photograph at bottom of page]

—But read this first

The Army Commander has directed that copies of “Advance Post” may be mailed to Canada through A.P.O. channels immediately.
Copies may NOT be mailed elsewhere overseas.
Until accounts of this Exercise have been published in the Press, copies may NOT be distributed to civilians here.


The following messages have been sent to “The Advance Post” by Gen. Sir Bernard Paget, G.O.C.-in-C., Home Forces, Air Marshal Sir Arthur S. Barrett, Air Officer C.-in-C., Army Cooperation Command of the Royal Air Force, and Lt.-Gen. A. G. L. McNaughton.

     “Though Exercise ‘Spartan’ has not been as spartan as I expected it to be from the point of view of the weather, it has been so from other points of view, and has proved that the Army at home is fit and tough and able to look after itself in the field.
     “We have all gained very valuable experience in fighting efficiency and in the team work of co-operation between all arms and services and between the Army and the Royal Air Force.
     “The Army fully appreciates the great help given by the Royal Air Force throughout the Exercise. The actual results of the organisation provided for the purpose of producing air support when and where required are very encouraging for the future.
     “We do not yet know when we shall get our long-awaited opportunity to take the field against our real enemies, but that opportunity will certainly come and may be at short notice; it will certainly also demand the Spartan qualities of discipline and high morale which success in a fight to the finish demands.
     “So let us make the most of the time that is left to us to apply the lessons we have learnt during this Exercise and to fit ourselves in every respect for the great task which lies ahead of us.
     “I congratulate all ranks on their achievements during ‘SPARTAN.’”

     “On conclusion of this Exercise, when Royal Air Force formations, squadrons and units have been operating under approximately field conditions in close contact with the Army it has been most encouraging to have seen the immense keenness and eagerness to adapt ourselves to conditions of living and maintenance which the Royal Air Force does not normally experience in this country.
     “This Exercise has, amongst other things, attempted to reproduce the conditions which are likely to obtain on foreign soil, and if the fitness of all concerned, and the keenness to learn to accustom ourselves to working under these conditions            any criterion, then I trust we shall have a successful and happy hunting when it comes to our turn.”

     “Spartan Exercise has come to a successful conclusion for the British forces. Not only has the military object of the campaign been achieved with the overthrow of the enemy and the domination of his capital, but also our troops have earned the abiding friendship of the citizens of the two countries they have freed.
     “In addition to ‘Spartan’ endurance of the hardships of the expedition, perfect courtesy and consideration have been shown by all ranks.
     “On behalf of the Commander-in-Chief, I both thank you for this and express my appreciation of the high standard of military efficiency and discipline which have been shown and demonstrated.”


     The biggest Exercise ever in this country.
     Longest in duration.
     No restriction on use of land.
     First time a daily newspaper on both sides (Well done “Bulldog”!

[back page of Issue No. 13]


THE Minstrel Boy went to this war, but his wild harp was not slung behind him—a replica of it was flying in the breeze on a pennant mounted on the bow of his tank.
     The “Minstrel Boy” is Major P. Carew, of Tipperary, Ireland, and his tank, “Munster,” bearing the three crowns of the Munster coat of arms, led the way as his squadron went into battle against the enemy.
     Following Major Carew's squadron as it moved into the long-sought battle with enemy armoured formations, an “Advance Post” correspondent, riding in a Jeep, had a ringside seat.
     Just a few minutes after that, the first shot was fired and when the tanks had moved on, the newspaperman’s Jeep passed an enemy light-tracked vehicle out of action at the side of a hedge-bound lane. The light enemy reconnaissance vehicle had been caught without a chance to escape.
     In less than 20 minutes after the tanks moved off, the sound of gunfire was heard as the Allied armour met the enemy. The fight soon developed into a running battle, with the enemy running away and the British tanks chasing them.
     The Canadians, meanwhile, keeping up with their British comrades, had not made contact with the enemy in force,
     Knocking out these vehicles prevented the enemy from obtaining information as to the direction from which the strongest blow was to be delivered. Thus, when the British advanced, the enemy was not prepared to meet them.
     During a lull in the fighting the “Advance Post” correspondent and his Jeep driver, feeling the pangs of hunger, stopped in a small wooded area to heat up a tin of “Argentina chicken” and beans. As the meal was being eaten, a flight of enemy aircraft swooped down on a nearby village stafing infantry who had been moving up to that area to follow behind the armour and mop up any enemy positions which might have been missed in the initial push
     The enemy planes inflicted some casualties, but they were beaten off, however, when our fighters appeared.
     The infantry kept moving up, and as this despatch was being written the “fighting troops” were moving behind the tanks and clearing up isolated enemy posts. So fast did the armour move forward that the enemy had no chance to blow bridges which had been prepared for demolition.


How The Army Got a Newspaper

THE story of ADVANCE POST’S growth from a bare idea to a living daily newspaper is one that has made military—and journalistic—history.
     The life of the newspaper, though short, has not been uneventful. Few other newspapers in history, one imagines, have quadrupled their circulation in three days from the date of the first issue.
     Few, if any, have become so widely known, nor exercised so unique an appeal in so short a time as a fortnight.
     None, probably, has numbered so many thousands of soldiers and airmen among its readers.
     The original intention was that the British Army should have a lithographed news-sheet which would both excite and maintain their interest in the Exercise just completed, as well as furnishing them with at least the world’s news headlines of the real war, day by day. In other words, to put you in the Exercise picture and keep you there, letting you see what was happening on the broad, as well as the narrow, front.
     From these modest beginnings the newspaper has grown daily, before our eyes. The “staff” at first comprised an editor only. Two Canadian journalists joined him, then two more, then a French Canadian.
     While the British staff was being gathered together—mainly from Southern Command—the Canadian boys worked like the Spartans they are to prepare “stock” copy for the first issue.
     Agreements were drawn up, Home Forces, the War Office and Paper Control brought in, and, with a bare two days to spare, all arrangements were made for the production of a complete bulletin-sized newspaper
     Meantime, the British staff (including a photographer) had arrived, a news editor and chief sub-editor were appointed, an office diary drawn up, and a conference arranged with the Canadian Army Post Office, who were to carry out the arduous and intricate duty of distributing and delivering the thousands of copies to its soldier readers.
     The editorial staff, the drivers, the distributors—everyone connected with the paper, except the actual printers—were all newspapermen with experience on English, Scottish and Canadian newspapers, and all were soldiers.
     Officers and other ranks alike took a full and equal share in gathering, writing, and subediting the news of the day. None had ever met. any of the others before.
     Broadly speaking, the set-up was that the paper should be planned daily, the copy subedited, and passed by the censor at Force Headquarters which, of course, was mobile.
     The paper was thus produced, at least on two occasions, while actually on the move. The prepared copy was then taken nightly a distance of nearly 70 miles to the printing office, where it passed into the expert hands of the newspaper firm which did the actual printing.
     No praise would compensate for the help given to Advance Post in that quarter, from the editorial, composing and machine-room staffs alike.
     The printed copies were then taken back another 85 miles, in one truck, to the Base Army Post Office. As these double nightly journeys were undertaken in complete black-out, on moonless nights, and through a battle zone where, although travelling “neutral,” the driver was liable to be held up by sentries at every bridge and crossroads, and as the complete circulation of the newspaper depended on the human and mechanical fallibility of this one truck, it will be realised that it was with something like relief that the copies of Advance Post for Headquarters circulation were received at breakfast each morning.
     Moreover, as the Force Headquarters moved further forward, the Base Post Office did not, so the nightly journey became progressively longer. Transport was ever the main headache.
     Transport for reporters obviously was too often not available, yet the reporters, and photographers, got out, and back, somehow, often starting with only a haversack, prepared to use their natural resource to get themselves “lifts,” and food, and some means of sending their stories and negatives back to Headquarters. One reporter at least had brushes with the “enemy.”
     The whole staff of the paper took its full share of the “Spartan” spirit. Advance Post was produced by wayside hedges, in huts, in an army lorry—anywhere and everywhere.
     An average of 4,000 miles daily has been covered by the staff in their hunt for copy and in the production of the paper, and practically every form of transport, from footslogging to a General’s car, from a pony-cart to a Jeep, has been used.
     It has been read by a more imposing clientele of red-tabbed Senior officers, probably, than any other paper, and sets of Advance Post have been ordered.
     If it has been as good fun to read as it has been to produce, then we, its producers, are well content.


ONCE upon a time (not so long ago nor far from here) there was a spy.
     He was paid by one of our enemies to get information about us. He had been promoted several times for supplying pictures of our equipment and news about what we were going to do.
     Once he even got a bonus and was made a Mark II. agent for finding out when a troop train was going to cross a certain bridge (a soldier told him in return for a glass of beer) and when the train came along the bridge wasnt there.
     The agent gave a dinner-party for his friends on his prize money and laughed all evening. He couldn’t tell them how funny the train looked after falling 150 feet into a river.
     Later on he was told to get some more information. That seemed easy to him. Soldiers trust everyone, and besides he just looked like an ordinary man —not the way spies are supposed to look. He told people he was an electrician, and he looked like one.
     The game worked well because all sentries and soldiers know that electricians are not spies First he tinkered with the lights of a Battalion Orderly Room in a permanent barracks, and at noon walked out with a good deal of careless talk he had overheard and a paper marked “SPARTAN—MOST SECRET.”
     Next he went to a Brigade Headquarters in a big house and said he always took care of the electric bells at this time of the year—no one knew differently until the Brigade Major missed a marked map showing the lay-out of the Brigade area.
     At Army Headquarters he did the same kind of thing for three days, wandering around, getting a look at odd papers in empty offices, talking to “the boys” at meal-times (he had some sandwiches to exchange for careless conversation).
     We are on his trail now but he is still at large—or could be. He could be an electrician, a plumber a farmer, an ATS or CWAC (or could he ?) But you know what, he can be anyone you don’t know.
     These things happen. THEY MUST NOT HAPPEN TO US.

Ice Hockey

     Detroit Red Wings won the National Ice Hockey League pennant on Thursday night, when they beat Toronto Maple Leafs 2—0 at Detroit.
     There is still a tussle going on between Toronto, Chicago and Montreal Canadiens to get into the Stanley Cup series, which comprises the first four clubs.
     In another match played on Thursday Montreal Canadiens drew with Chicago Black Hawks, each side scoring four times.
     Results of other games played on Thursday were:
     R.C.A.F. beat Montreal Army by eight goals to three in the first game of a best-of-three semi-final series in the Quebec Senior League.

Biggest Lesson of Spartan?

     Canadian troops have been in Gen. McNaughton’s Force in the campaign against Eastland; but British formations also were engaged, and the campaign has been the best opportunity since the war began for soldiers of Great Britain and Canada to live and work side by side in the field.
     The experience has been valuable and also refreshing. It has in many instances wiped out certain mutual misconceptions and engendered mutual respect for one another’s best qualities.
     Our reporters, some of them Canadian, some British, have seen much of this excellent spirit of cordial helpfulness and ready co-operation.
     No detached British soldier, officer or man, has been anything but welcome at sight in any Canadian field mess, however small or primitive, or to a lift in any Canadian vehicle that had room, and British troops were equally quick with the hand of good fellowship towards the Dominion soldiers.

[photograph captioned:] Jeep-ers, that’s me on the front!

Boxing Corporals in Oxford Bouts
(By “Advance Post” Reporter)

     On Thursday night I met two Canadians who have been keeping Tank men and Ordnance Corps personnel up to the standard required of a Spartan.
     The two—Cpls. Woodhouse and Roberts—took part in the boxing tournament at the Town Hall, Oxford. A draw was declared after Woodhouse's bout, but the referee's decision met with a mixed reception. Many of those seated round about me felt that Woodhouse’s showing in the last three rounds should just have given him the verdict. It was Woodhouse's second professional fight.
     Roberts soon established himself as a favourite with the crowd. His non-stop action soon had his young opponent in trouble, but the latter fought on very pluckily.
     It was obvious, however, at the beginning or the eighth round that Roberts was easily the master, and it came as no surprise when, during this round, the towel was thrown in by his opponent’s chief second.
     Roberts has taken part in several fights since coming to this country. He has lost on points to Jim Brady, Empire bantamweight champion, but has beaten Battling Jim Hayes, leading Leeds boxer.
     When I saw both after the show they were in fine spirits. They said: “A number of troops on the Exercise will remember us. We were given the task of keeping them physically fit while they were at our depot.”

[cartoon captioned:] I’m sorry, your Grace, but even allowing for displacement it is still over five inches.

[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.

Original Scans

Original Scans