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Date: March 6th 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. 6
6 MARCH, 1943
Free Issue

[centred below headline is a drawing representative of southeastern England, with arrows indicating troop landings along the coast of “Eastland”]

Vital Key Points in Our Hands; Beach Landings Consolidated

THE following communique was issued at British H.Q. to-day :—
     Our troops have established bridgeheads at Skegness—Southwold—Aldeburgh and Clacton-on-Sea on the coast of Eastland. Stiff enemy resistance was encountered in the initial landings and the bridgeheads are being reinforced.
     Contact with GERMAN advance-guards was made in the early afternoon of 4th March, and the enemy’s main advance was halted at night-fall on the line of the rivers Thames and Kennet. Despite opposition, our forces succeeded in forcing the crossings at several places and bridgeheads have been established in the areas of Reading and Marlborough.
     Progress continues, and fierce fighting is anticipated.
     Since early on the morning of 4th March, our Air Force has been very active over the whole battle area. Reconnaissance flights covering the enemy’s lines of advance and communications were continued all day until dark.
     In the area between Woodstock and Chipping Norton, a force of our fighter-bombers with fighter escort found and bombed a heavy concentration of enemy M.T. Severe damage was caused to this concentration and many vehicles destroyed. On their return our escorting fighters caught, by surprise, a number of enemy fighters at an aerodrome in Oxfordshire and attacked them whilst still on the ground. It is believed that several enemy aircraft were destroyed.
     Defensive patrols by our fighters over aerodromes farther south destroyed five enemy aircraft and our ground defences shot down two more.
     Three of our aircraft are missing from reconnaissance.

(By Our Military Correspondent.)

THE news contained in the latest communique implies a striking and most heartening advance on our original positions, and on the line we held across mid-Southland (see map).
     To have stopped a determined enemy at nightfall in the Thames—[Kennet?] basin argues a mobility—not to say a virility—which those best qualified to judge the temper of our forces were well prepared for.
     Most important, perhaps, from the tactical viewpoint, we appear to have obtained a very firm footing on the heights of the Berkshire Downs, as may be clearly inferred from the statement that we have won, and are holding, the vital bridgehead at Marlborough. Only ten miles north of this town is the important key-communication centre of Swindon, which, without doubt, the enemy little thought to see threatened at so early a stage in the advance.
     To judge from the direction of the German advance and the apparent disposition of his main shock forces, it would appear that the Marlborough salient might constitute a real threat by our troops to cut his army in half on the advance line Salisbury—Oxford. It will be realised that, as we progress further northwards, our front will become proportionately narrower—a fact which will not have escaped the enemy’s notice and which von Runstedt will do his utmost to exploit.
     It is still not clear whether our landings on the Eastland coast, between the Thames estuary and Skegness, are intended as a serious threat to his forces concentrated in that area or merely as a diversionary tactic. It is interesting, however, to note that the bridgeheads already established on this front are being reinforced.
     There seems little doubt that once more we have got the Germans guessing.

(By Our Air Correspondent)

THE intensity of the air war has increased with that of the land fighting, and since the enemy crossed the frontier into Southland our fighters and fighter-bombers have been busily operating, and at night heavy bombers have attacked the German bases.
     Our reconnaissance aircraft flew over the enemy lines continuously from Thursday morning until dark, spotting the movement of transports and troops. At one point concentrations of Cruiser tanks and motor transports were located, and particular attention was paid to key bridges in the Thames Valley.
     A Spitfire squadron did an especially good piece of work when, [after?] accompanying Hurribombers on an attack against a concentration of transports, found an enemy airfield on the return trip and shot up aircraft on the landing ground.
     Canadian Mustangs have carried out [daring?] low-level reconnaissance flights, taking excellent pictures, which have been of great value to the intelligence staffs. One of the R.C.A.F. Mustangs had a “brush” with an enemy Ventura when he was making a reconnaisance flight. The pilot, formerly a professional hockey player, gave this account: “We were flying just over the treetops when I came across the Ventura There must have been something wrong with him, because I sat on his tail for fully 20 seconds before letting him have it. I think I got him all right.”
     The night bombing of towns taken over by the enemy has yielded good results on a number of industrial and other targets in Eastland.

World's News

RUSSIA.—Exploiting the Rzhev victory the Red Army has recaptured 52 more towns and villages in the two thrusts towards Smolensk and Vyazma. Local successes are reported from the Ukraine and North-West Caucasus fronts.
TUNISIA.—Street fighting in Sedjenane has held Arnim’s attempt to push back the Allies’ northern wing in Tunisia. The Italians report an air raid on Naples.
PACIFIC.—The two remaining destroyers from the great Japanese [convoy?] destroyed in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea have been followed by Gen MacArthur’s air forces, bombed and sunk, while barges, lifeboats and rafts still afloat have also been strafed and sunk.
R.A.F.—Aircraft of Bomber Command laid mines in enemy waters and bombed objectives in Western Germany on Thursday night. One of our aircraft is missing.

[By?] “Advance Post” Correspondent

Despite the rigors of a campaign which is yet to hit its full stride, troops in this unit, known throughout Canada and commanded by a young lieutenant-colonel from Winnipeg, proved themselves typical Canadians. They found time to laugh at small jokes and to carry out the odd jobs about their encampment area.
     When an “Advance Post” reporter visited this unit one man was shaving while a bitterly cold north wind almost tore the whiskers from his face before the razor had a chance to do its work. He was shaving in cold water. He was D'Arcy McCoy, of Hollywood, and it wasn't a stage-prop setting. It was the real McCoy
     The unit, which once had “Donald Duck”—a stray duck— as a mascot, now has another pet. The newcomer is one of the Southland variety of reptiles, a tiny snake about eight inches long. Wilf. Lipton, of Flin-Flon, Manitoba, “captured” the reptile hiding under a washbasin, at least the Army equivalent to a washbasin—a petrol tin
     With Lieut. E. M. Jones, of St. Catharine’s, Ontario, as conducting officer, this correspondent was taken through the lines of the unit’s squadrons as they awaited the final word to start on the drive through enemy territory.
     Argentina “chicken”—bully beef to the unitiated—can be made into a delectable dish, in fact several delectable dishes. Ask Tprs. S. P. Hogberg, of Frontier, Sask., E. H. Hicks, of Sackville. N.B., G. T. Tingley, of Moncton, N.B., E. H. Gray, of Toronto, and E. L. Naugler, of Elm Creek, Man.
     These young men. representing widely-separated parts of Canada, pooled their Western and Eastern ideas to mix bully beef, hard tack and water with an occasional “scrounged” potato to concoct tasty dishes that would give an Army cook more ideas.

Q. : What happened on this day in 1936?

(By “Advance Post” Reporter)

WE are ashore and have got a footing, something like a brigade of us, in Eastland territory, as the climax of a brilliantly successful combined operation.
     I am writing this in the kitchen of an abandoned cottage not far from Clacton. The tide of battle is moving westward, as more and more or our troops and armour disembark and push inland. For a fortnight we had been at sea in a stout ship, watched and warded by the Royal Navy. Yesterday it became certain that something big was about to happen, though, when night fell, there was still no variation of the bare seascape we had known around us for so many days. In the darkness, however, most of us sensed somehow that our course was changed and that we were moving into action.
     The expected order came, and in the dim light on board the parent ship the companion ladders to the deck were for a few minutes continuously filled with silent, steel-helmeted men in fighting order, streaming upwards. On deck they hastened in ordered groups into the long assault craft, now swung out from the ship’s side in the davits. I took my place, as I had done before in practices in this ship, but now I knew we were in for the real business. At such a time one may be pardoned for feeling just a little sick.
     There was a deathly quietness around us, save for the subdued whine of the lowering gear, the light shuffle of feet on the boards, and the gentle slap of the water against the now still ship.
     In a few minutes our craft, the soldiers in her packed in close- crouched lines, was away from the parent ship and moving towards a hostile shore. The night was black-dark and nothing whatever seemed to be happening, apart from our smooth movement and a host of half-stifled little human and boat sounds. So we went on for half-an-hour or more.
     Dawn approached, and the chances of a complete surprise seemed good when quite suddenly a searchlight glared, and caught us head-on. Blinding light was accompanied by a crash of noise but we held our course and grounded. The ramp went down and the assault troops scurried out to a sandy beach and deployed, every man making for the point his special training had taught him to look for.
     By now dawn was breaking, and I could see the other assault craft grounding, the troops running ashore, and behind us the motor landing craft and the escorting destroyers. I made for the cover of a beach wall and crouched sweating. The air was filled with the din of battle, though, strangely, there was little shouting. These Commandoes and assault troops fight with a silent intensity like bull-terriers
     I watched, furtively and fearfully, from my cover, a section outflanking a Hun machine-gun nest in the slope of a sand-dune. It was a classic of minor tactics. I saw the final dash-in with the bayonet, and again there was that almost eerie absence of vocal noise.
     When things quietened a bit I ventured out, my mind now fixed on finding some place under cover in which to write of what I had seen. When this dispatch will reach the “Post” I do not know, but in a few minutes I must get it back to the beach on its way. If it can convey only a little of the spirit of our men now, on Eastland soil I shall be content.

Like Russia, Canada has her “soldiers of the snows.” Picked from different units, Canadian ski-troopers are given careful training in the science of living outdoors in weather that is really cold. For days together they stay out in sub-zero temperatures, cooking all their meals on camp fires and sleeping in snow

[photograph of a group of soldiers unloading a tank from a transport vehicle, captioned:] Heavy tanks, like racehorses, are carried on the first stages of their journey into battle. Here is one being unloaded just behind our front line.


[back page of Issue No. 6]

By Ralph Allen.

THREE “Advance Post” correspondents, pressing toward the frontier in the early hours of the British advance, ran head-on into a heavily-armed enemy patrol and escaped by the skin of their jeep.
     The correspondents had bypassed a speeding allied column going north, and cut into a Thames-side town expecting to find our own troops in possession there. Instead, they found the town reeling under an Eastland air attack, many of its bridges demolished, its main roads blocked and its defenceless civilians taking what cover they could against continued bombings. An attack by ground forces was expected momentarily. The apprehensive authors did a hasty about turn and headed back toward their own lines.
     Seven miles along the road towards home, they stopped at Wokingham to inquire if any of our troops had been seen in the neighbourhood. Suddenly a formation of enemy scout cars and machine-gun carriers clattered around a corner and pulled up on the opposite side of the road.
     An Eastland officer dismounted and walked over to our jeep. He was a typical Eastland Nordic, tall and blonde, small-moustached. He spoke with the accent common to Eastland’s notorious Junkers class; sometimes this is called the Oxford accent.
     Looking our Commanding Editor ominously in the eye, he said:
     “I say, old chap, what in the world are you doing hyah?”
     We sat in grim-lipped silence, reflecting that but for our armed might this savage invader and hundreds like him might even now have our wives and daughters at the mercy of his story about the time he batted 87 not out at Winchester.
     The Eastlander spoke again.
     “Could I see your papers, old bean?”
     Here the superb presence of mind of our Commanding Editor rescued us from Heaven knows what unfathomed terrors. Our Commanding Editor, a fluent linguist, speaks Oxford almost as well as he speaks English.
     “Quate,” our Commanding Editor drawled coolly.
     The Eastland Officer studied our papers. After a tense, charged silence, he said: “Ah, newspaper chaps. I suppose that makes you neutrals, old Well, thing, carry on. But you really must be carefull, y’know.
     Our jeep shot down the road for home like a frightened bullet.

American canned beer in England. They drink what they can, and can what they can’t.
*   *      *   *
It is rumoured that German women are no longer allowed to wrap their meat ration in their ’bus tickets, as it keeps falling through the punch hole.
   *    *    *
The early bird catches the worm. “Yeah, we know—What worm ?”



TO-DAY the British army is the best-fed army in the world. But food, petrol and ammunition are not the only regular commodities required by the troops to fight battles.
     There is a great list of R.E. stores—wire, explosives, bridging equipment; Ordnance stores —clothing, respirators, equipment, weapons and a thousand other things. The great R.E.M.E. workshops require to be transported, too.
     Year by year the transport of war materials more and more attains the stature of a Colossus. Look at these comparative figures.
1866A Prussian division required in stores each day . . . . . . . . 40 tons
1914—A French army corps required in stores each day  . .  120 tons
1918—A French division required in stores each day . . . . . . 200 tons.
1942—A British division requires in stores each day. Well, a good deal more. You know what security is!
     And like that well-known figure we are still going strong!
     Now, remember that so far we have only talked about the forward fighting troops. In the back areas there are even more men requiring more food, thousands of tons of stores, and performing an essential job toward winning the battle.
     During Italy's one “glorious” War—the one against the Abyssinians—it was no feat of arms that won the battle. It was the building of a road—a job at which Italians have been very good for such a long time.
     There were 170,000 men employed building this road during the actual Italian advance. But, in view of recent Italian performances in retreat, it is possible the zeal they showed in building this road was, well, just in case it might be necessary, you know.
     Seriously, good roads are essential to good supply. Good aerodromes are essential to fighter cover for the troops. And both these usually have to be built or developed.
     So, remember a few of these things when the supplies lorry doesn’t always arrive on time, or the wire hasn’t come up as quickly as it should, or the ammunition arrives in the middle of the night, or you run out of petrol at some time.
     Nothing is perfect, but you may always rest assured that the Services behind are sparing no effort to get the goods up to the boys at the front. And, so far, the goods have always been delivered, and mostly on time.

[Photograph of a group of air and ground crew preparing for a flight. Captioned:]
Off on a Spartan sortie – mechanics putting final touches to a fighter while pilots are briefed for a “recco” flip over Eastland yesterday.


A mesure que progresse l’attaque qui doit mener les troupes britanniques aux ports de Huntingdon, capitale de l’Eastland, la tactique du Commandement suprême se précise.
     Le communiqué officiel d'hier midi rapporte que nos troupes ont établi des têtes de pont à Skegness-Southwold-Aldeburgh et Clacton-on-Sea, sur la cote de l’Eastland.
     Les premiers débarquements subirent une résistance acharnée de l’ennemie et nos renforts ne cessent de consolider les positions que nous avons conquises.
     Au debut de l’après-midi du 4 mars, nous avons pris contact avec des avant-gardes allemandes et à la tombee du jour, la principale avance de l’ennemie était enrayée le long de la ligne des rivières Tamise et Kennet.
     Malgre l’opposition ennemie, nos forces ont réussi à traverser la rivière à plusiers endroits et ont établi des têtes de pont dans les environs de Reading et de Marlborough.
     La bataille progresse et l’on s’attend à de dur combats.
L'aviation Active.
     Notre aviation ne cesse de patrouiller la zone complète de la bataille.
     A partir du matin jusqu’à ce qu’il fasse trop noir, de envolées de reconnaissance ont, le 4 mars, parcuru les lignes de communications et d’avance ennemies.
     Dans la région entre Woodstock et Chipping Norton, un certain nombre de nos bombardiers de combat, escortés par des avions de combat, ont découvert et bombardé une concentration de quelques 300 véhicules ennemis, et y ont causé d’énormes dommages. Au retour, nos avions de combat ont surpris une formation de combat ennemie sur un aérodrome et l’ont attaquée alors qu’elle était encore sur le terrain. L’on croit que plusiers appareils ennemis ont été detruits.
     Nos appareils de combat ont pratiqué des [patrouilles?] défensives au-dessus de deux autres, aerodromes et ont détruit cinq avions ennemis tandis que notre défense anti-aérienne en descendait deux autres.
     Trois de nos appareils ne sont pas revenus d’envolées de reconnaissance.

A.: Germany re-occupied the Rhineland.

Canadian “Champ” Stakes Title
     Jackie Callura the Canadian holder of the world featherweight title (according to the National Boxing Association) has agrees to put his title at stake at Boston over 15 rounds on 18 March against Jackie Wilson, of Pittsburgh.
     Callura took the title from Wilson on 18 January, when he gained a points decision.
     The New York State Athletic Commission recognise Willie Pep as featherweight champion.

Victoria Army’s 18-5 Victory
     Victoria Army, champions of the Vancouver Senior Ice-Hockey League, beat R.C.A.F., champions of the British Columbia Senior League, in the second game of a best-of-seven final series by the wide margin of 18 goals to 5.
     Other results include:
     National League : Montreal Canadians, 7; New York Rangers, 2
     American League : Buffalo, 6; Providence, 4.
     Indianapolis, 8; Pittsburgh, 0.
     Quebec Senior League : Cornwall Army, 5; Ottawa Commandos, 2.

[cartoon captioned:] What with motor-bikes keeping you awake all night and U-bouts in our pond in the morning – I don’t like it!


     All day and far into the frosty night the Canadian forces of the centre moved towards Eastland encountering blown-up bridges, air activity and enemy recce cars on the northern edge of the movement. Skirting the many-pronged push, we got some very large ideas of the immense amount of power, petrol and pains needed to keep an army on the move.
     From a jeep side view, however, it appeared to be a fair sort of a tour for the average soldier—aside from the necessity of being on the alert for attack from above. The Ack-Ack men bore the brunt of this duty of course, and each stop in the convoy found the Bofers men in their gun-seats — fortunately saving wear and tear by leaving the wheels attached—gun carriers and tanks rattled along as though eager to get up to the widening spaces of the war area, where they could take off across country and to hell with traffic regulations.
     *   *      *   *
     The specialised services, engineers, medical, service corps, and ordnance, were sailing along with full vans, while the infantry men were getting a good view of the terrain from a variety of vehicles.
     Speed of the advance and consequent lack of sleep for the advancers of recent nights made this daylight move (with the sun warming up somewhat) an opportunity for some shut-eye, and mingled with the hum of the motors and the roar of the D.R.’s machines as they patrolled the winding lanes were the snores of the troops. Grab a sleep or a meal while it is going is a motto that could adorn the side of any billet or bivouac.
     *   *      *   *
     As dusk came down the Southland slopes, the fanning out process commenced as news of the advancing enemy came down the columns. And now comes the real test of organisation as the advance units filter into the bridgehead territory.
     Southland Army, or that part of it just back of the front line, took to the timber at dawn to-day, and practically vanished from view to await the next night's forward thrust.
     Whether they had come hell-bent in Kent, or a scurry through Surrey, or made it hot-pants through Hants, they seemed full of beans, in more ways than one, as they faded into the general background beneath their perfect camouflage—then camouflaged the camouflage.
     *   *      *   *
     To do any news gathering tor the “Advance Post” we had to dive into the hedgerows like rabbits or search through the long grass for the various regimental headquarters.
     *   *      *   *
     Unless you see it happening it is almost impossible to believe that so many men and vehicles could do a dim-out. Have never seen anything like it except at Davie Garritys the night it was raided. Getting in for a story is also a most trying task, and we are glad our birth-mark is so placed that we only had to take off our tunic and three sweaters—only one year of door-to-door selling of magazines to put ourself through college (any magazine—any college)—kept us plugging away as we sped through Southland, a map in one hand and a jeep in the other.
     Co-ordinates of units as given to us by Divisional H.Q. were invariably perfect and an invaluable aid once we got on to the idea of invisible infantry. In the deeper concealment one would come across a file of men lined up for grub. We made seven of these lines in person, and the rations were fair.
     *   *      *   *
      Another group would be moving off for a wash, and others were squatted by a ditch making motions of shaving—which seemed like a bit of swank on such a bleak morn.
     *   *      *   *
     In the dark recesses of trucks men were working, and here and there a small fire marked where some welding was being done. Army life appeared to be going on about as usual, with the sergt.-majors manfully restraining themselves from shouting for a spot of squad drill. Special security men were peering out everywhere at intruders, it seemed, and two famous Canadian Scottish infantry outfits were amongst those present.


     Miss Lillian Aie, of Yorkton, is believed to be the first Chinese girl to join the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in Saskatchewan (and possibly in Canada). She was born at Ashcroft, British Columbia, and speaks English and Chinese equally well.

Activities Of Spartan Gremlin

REPORTS just received indicate that a new species of Gremlin is operating in Southland territory now occupied by the British Expeditionary Force. These new Gremlins, hitherto unknown even to the most erudite of Gremlinologers, are believed to be the species Gremlin Lacedaemonius, or Spartan Gremlin. They are marked by their extreme hardihood, taciturnity and relentless perseverance.
     So far, scientists have succeeded in collecting only sparse details about the Spartan Gremlin, but it appears certain that its activities on the ground are more extensive than those of the other better-known species.
     For instance, the Spartan Gremlin has a particular penchant for orderly rooms and offices on R.A.F. stations in Southland, and especially in the orderly rooms of squadrons on the move. Apparently, Gremlin Lacedaemonius dislikes being disturbed, and wreaks his vengeance by seeking out the most important documents and hiding them, or even by removing them altogether. He also habituates mobile signal vans and seizes on important signals the moment they arrive, carrying them off to inaccessible places.
     The younger members of this species inhabit field kitchens, and appear to be given over to spiteful habits. Quite unwitting victims may fall prey to a young Spartan [Gremlin’s?] spite. When this happens, the outraged Gremlin gathers up his friends, and they conceal themselves under dishes and in other strategic points around the field kitchen. One of them watches the queue shuffling by the serving counter.
     When the selected victim arrives to receive his serving, the watching Gremlin signals to all his concealed comrades. They immediately pounce on all the food in sight, and under the very eyes of the cooks abstract every last morsel. The result is the victim is told that the rations are all gone. He can’t understand it; neither can the cooks; neither can the officer in charge of rations, because all had been sure there were plenty of rations for everyone.
     A particularly vicious subspecies of Gremlin Lacedaemonius is Gremlin Polaris, or Arctic Gremlin. He thrives in cold weather, and has a peculiar psychological quirk which makes him become infuriated when he sees anyone warm and comfortable. The native haunts of Gremlin Polaris are tented camps, Nissen huts and bivouac areas He usually operates in squadrons of 12, and seeks out sleeping troops and airmen who appear to have made themselves comfortable.
     One flight is detailed by the squadron commander to creep along the lines of snoring innocents and remove their blankets one by one. The other flight meanwhile abstracts all the hot coals from the fire, leaving nothing but an icy mass of clinkers. When this has been done, the whole squadron retires to a convenient vantage point and watches with sinister glee while the sleepers fidget in their sleep and finally wake up frozen to the marrow.
     It is feared that other types of Gremlin may be operating in the Southland area. Posters have mysteriously appeared on the doors of all “Naafis” and “Sally Anns,” which read, “Out of bounds to all exercise troops.” It is freely believed by experts that this may be the work of undiscovered Gremlins. Research is continuing!      
     [Editor’s note: square brackets around this paragraph are as printed in the original:] [**The species Gremlin, which includes many sub-species—notably the Petrol Boozer, Hopschneider, Twasitt and various other types—is well known in the Royal Air Force, to which it has hitherto confined its activities. It is notorious for drilling holes in petrol tanks, drinking petrol, snatching runways from beneath the wheels of landing aircraft, dancing up and down on the elevators and causing tail-flutter and many other activities too numerous to mention]

[bottom left corner of page:] Printed by the Oxford Times, Ltd., the Newspaper House, Oxford, and published by the Direction of Public Relations, War Office. 



[Editor's note: Mailed home by Robert Duncan on March 23, 1943, issues 6, 7, 8 and 9 were sent together in one envelope.]

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