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Date: March 7th 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. 7  
7 MARCH, 1943  
Free Issue


33 Enemy Planes Downed for Loss of Six

THE following joint official communique was issued at British Headquarters yesterday:—
     “The further reinforcement and consolidation of the bridgeheads established on the coast of EASTLAND is proceeding.
     “In the late afternoon of 5 March bridgeheads were firmly established over the river KENNET and bridging operations undertaken. Despite enemy delaying tactics and prepared demolitions, crossing of both infantry and armoured formations was successfully carried out and the BRITISH advance continued from first light on 6 March. It now appears that the enemy is withdrawing to prepared positions, and contact with his rear elements is being maintained.
     “During yesterday (March 5) air activity was slight on both sides Two enemy fighters attempting to attack one of our airfields were promptly shot down by our defensive patrols.
     ‘Last night, enemy bombers dropped bombs on two towns along the Southland frontier. Little damage was done and casualties were confined to the civil population.
     ‘Later information shows that the attack on the aerodrome reported in yesterday’s communique was extremely successful. It is now known that 13 enemy fighters were destroyed on the ground. The same escorting fighters returning to their base, encountered a further squadron of enemy fighters of the latest type and destroyed seven without loss to themselves.
     “It is also now known that on March 4 our defensive fighter patrols destroyed a further six enemy aircraft attempting to attack our aerodromes. In all daylight operations on March 4 we destroyed 33 enemy aircraft for a loss of six of our own.
     “During the night of March 4-5 small raids were made by enemy bombers on our frontier towns Little damage was done and two enemy bombers were destroyed by our night fighters.”

(By Our Military Correspondent)

THE official statement issued yesterday was cautious in tone, but may be regarded as encouraging. Particularly is this the case with regard to the situation on the Eastland coast. A really strong penetration in [?] will constitute a serious threat not only to the enemy’s left flank but also to his rear communications.
     There is no mention of the progress of our right flank elements but the thrust northwards by our forces to the west seems to be well maintained and, according to unofficial reports, to be accepted with reserve, the vital centre at Swindon was entered by our advanced units yesterday.
     A German report received yesterday stated that the “British appeared to be making a determined thrust towards Swindon and Reading.”
     The striking air losses suffered by the enemy on 4 March for so small a loss on our own part would seem to indicate a probability, at least, that we are rapidly establishing local, if not general, air superiority.
     The ultimate results of such a gain could hardly, of course, be over-estimated.


Some of our readers, drawing optimistic conclusions from the description of the 14-manpack in our issue of March 3, have been making rather plaintive inquiries for the cigarettes this pack contains. We are asked to point out that the pack issued in this exercise contains no such un-Spartan-like delicacies, but that its contents, though simpler, are equally nourishing.

[photograph below captioned:] Engineers of Gen. McNaughton’s army have successfully bridged a river and a Bren carrier proceeds rapidly “en voyage” to Von Rundstedt’s H.Q.

(From “Advance Post” Reporter)

“BRIDGEHEADS have been established in the areas of So and So.”
     Following up our advance troops yesterday I watched a unit of the Royal Canadian Engineers throw an F.B.E. bridge over the River Kennet in an amazingly short time.
     Retreating before our advance forces, the enemy had demolished the existing bridge, and there was no hope of repairing it quickly.
     The R.E. were soon on the scene, and a bull-doser cleared willows and tree-stumps from the river-side.
     Soon the pontoon boats were in position. This was an exceptionally good piece of work, because the river at this point was quite swift. An error of judgment at this stage would have resulted in much time being lost
     In the initial stages, when a sergeant was paddling a rubber dinghy to the opposite side of the river the strong current overturned his small craft.
     His swimming showed no signs of progress towards the bank. But nobody tried to rescue him. A bridge had to be built, and it was more important that someone else should hazard the river crossing in the recovered dinghy.
     And that is just what happened. Incidentally—the sergeant did get ashore.
     Once the boats were in position, the men made short work of getting the steel plates in position on top of them, and duckboards over the soft ground on either side completed the job.
     Immediately the bridge was ready it was in use, vehicles of all descriptions bucking and swaying as they crossed and roared away in pursuit of the retreating enemy.
     It was generally expected that the enemy would attempt to interfere with the erection by aerial bombardment, and he was actually over the scene more than once, but cover was good If he returned later in the day, he would get a warm reception from a battery of mobile anti-aircraft guns which had moved swiftly into position.


The “biggest ever” exercise will be illustrated in a full page of pictures by our staff cameramen, taken on the battlefield. They will oppear in to-morrow’s issue of “The Advance Post.” Order your copy from the sergeant NOW!

World's War News

RUSSIA: The Red Army, by a double assault, has captured the town of Gzhatsk.
TUNISIA: While the Allies continue to press back the enemy in Central Tunisia—Pichon, at the southern end of the Ousseltia Ridge, has been recaptured – Arnim’s northern thrust along the coast from Mateur is making progress. First Army troops have been thrown back seven miles along the main coastal road to Tamera. On the Eighth Army front patrol activity continues.
R.A.F.: One hundred and fifty 4,000-lb. bombs were in the load of high explosives and incendiaries dropped in a 40minute raid on Essen, the great German armament centre, on Friday night. Fourteen of our aircraft are missing.
SOUTH-WEST PACIFIC: U.S. warships have sunk two Japanese destroyers. Following the final mopping-up of barges, lifeboats and rafts from the sunken ships of the Japanese convoy in the Bismarck Sea, scarcely a survivor is left.
ITALY: Naples harbour has been bombed again and fires started.
BURMA: Railway yards at Thazi junction have been bombed and in attack on enemy-occupied villages in the Akyab area two Japanese planes were shot down and others badly damaged.
HOME: London’s “Wings for Victory” Week opened yesterday. At the end of the day £30.000,000 had been subscribed.


Mother: Well Johnny, what did you learn at Sunday School this afternoon
Johnny: Teacher told us all about the ten Commandoes.

Town Stormed By French-Canadians

IN a day of heavy street-fighting and pitched battles in the hills, an Eastern Canadian infantry brigade established a vital bridgehead North of the Thames yesterday, and prepared the way for the massed offensive the British Army is now hurling against the enemy’s beleaguered left flank.
     I saw much of the daring action, which may prove to be one of the most important in the whole campaign.
     Attempting to cross the heavily-defended river near a famous resort, an Allied column reached its first objective, a main bridge, without opposition, but found the bridge had been demolished.
     A French-Canadian regiment “peeled off” from the column, and in a strenuous forced march crossed the river two miles upstream and invaded the town before the surprised foe could re-group his defences.
     The enemy resisted bitterly from hastily-improvised strong points, but our snipers, grenade-throwers and special “house-clearing” squads soon had them on the run.
     Many prisoners were taken, and within two hours of the engagement’s start, a constant trickle of captured vehicles heading toward our refueling depots told the rear of the Allied column that the Frenchmen had the situation well in hand
     As the French-Canadian regiment consolidated its position, the enemy gathered reinforcements for a counter-attack on the wooded slopes above the town.
     In the meantime, two more Eastern Canadian regiments followed the first across the river as the Hun rained bombs on the bridge that had become the spearhead’s last link with its main supply bases.
     Just as the last section of the last platoon hurtled across to take temporary cover in an innyard, a low-flying bomber scored a direct hit and the bridge was wrecked.
     The supporting regiments plunged on. North of the town they left the road and filed silently into the hills to make an encircling movement against the gathering German forces.
     When they attacked, the regiment holding the town moved out to meet them. The enemy fought back bitterly amid a minor hell of rifle, machine-gun and mortar fire, but eventually was forced to retire and the bridgehead was safe.
     One of our regiments suffered extremely heavy casualties. But the morale and fighting spirit of the attackers never wavered, even when the fire was at its heaviest.
     The only complaint in the whole brigade was uttered by an angry soldier of the first regiment “in,” who told of driving a thick-skinned and thick-headed enemy sniper from a house on the main street of the town.
     “I shoot ’im t’ree times with my rifle,” the French-Canadian told me indignantly. “But dat son of a gun keeps right on running”

(Ces nouvelles seront imprimées demain en francais.)

[back page of Issue No. 7]

Cops Who Pinpoint Your Route

BETTY GRABLE may have felt slight tinges of discomfort when a U.S. soldier, sailor, and marine allowed her to sit unceremoniously in a cooling mixture of wet concrete But Betty smiled and said she was going home to take a bath—(Ed.'s note —not exact quotation) — or words to that effect.
     Some of the boys who tag along with the Army feel the same discomfiture at times but they don’t have to smile and they don’t get chance to go home for a bath.
     Every movement of an Army has to develop into some sort of headache or pain in the neck for the Provost Corps or it isn’t considered a move at all.
     After several days of riding around the country straddling the saddle of a motor-bike a Provost Corps cyclist can tell you more about a pain in the neck, or even a pain that isn’t in the neck, than Betty Grable’s publicity men will ever be able to tell about the seat of the Hollywood star's discomfiture.
     By the time this gets to you, buddy, you’ll have seen so many Provosts riding about the country on motor-bikes that you’ll think the circus performers have come to town.
     They're putting on a show, sure, but it’s the kind of show that keeps the big show going.
     The Provost Corps has a job to do, an indispensable job, and the Provost people are doing it.
     To the average soldier the word ‘Provost” conjures up visions of a couple of husky lads patrolling a railway station or the main street in the nearest town.
     That’s only a minor detail. The real Provost job starts when such exercises as this get under way.       
     In a small office at Army H.Q. Major R. C. Risley, the D.P.M., [has?] been working for some weeks making the final preparations for the task that the Provost is doing on this exercise.
     Those boys who are wearing the seats out of their trousers on the saddle of a motor-bike know what roads you have to take, where you'll run into somebody else, where traffic jams are likely to take place and how to avoid them. It’s their business to place all those route marks you see along the road, direction arrows and other signs, as well as lanterns for night movement by road.
     Placing those things in position isn’t a particularly difficult task. The job after that is to see that the signs stay put, are [not?] turned around by fifth columnists or stolen. (Incidentally, many road directional signs, and particularly lanterns are stolen.)
     The Army’s “traffic cops” work day and night to ensure that traffic continues moving and that traffic jams do not develop
     One section of a Provost company may have as much as 80 miles of a given route to patrol. The patrol work includes many things, from watching all road signs and ascertaining that they are obeyed, to passing down instructions to stragglers.
     When movement of reinforcements and precious supplies continues unhampered toward the fighting troops up ahead, and the movement of wounded, prisoners of war and other traffic to the rear continues unhampered, it’s the Provost Corps’ turn to take the bows.
     It has been estimated that on this exercise each motor-bike will travel 3,000 or 4,000 miles and each rider will have at least a thousand miles of wear on that part of his anatomy that is in closes proximity to the saddle when riding.
     The weary wanderer who is looking for the nearest R.A.P. or the men bringing in the prisoners, depend to a great extent upon the Provost Corps for vital information and for needed directions
     As a fighting unit the Provosts are not sufficient in numbers to take on the enemy singlehanded, but as an integral part of our great fighting machine they are indispensable. Theirs is the hand that pours the oil into the working parts
     The Provosts have a score or more peace-time jobs to do, but when the chatter of the machineguns is heard you can bet that pair of socks with the holes in the toes that the Provosts had something to do with getting those machine-guns up into place.

“Spartan Times”

We welcome the appearance, on our editorial doorstep yesterday, of a copy of the “Spartan Times,” a daily news-sheet produced, like ourselves, on the battlefield. The Editors, in an appreciative letter about what they call our “excellent little paper,” affirm that “Advance Post” is not, in fact, “the first daily newspaper of its kind” to be printed specially for the purpose of a military exercise. The operative words are “of its kind.” No other such paper, to our knowledge has actually appeared in newspaper form, i.e., set and printed in a newspaper office, though the “Tripoli Times made history in this respect recently on the British entry into that city when Army journalists took over the plant of the “Corriere di Tripoli” and produced an English edition.

[cartoon with caption:] “Sorry Sarge, we’re dead!”


The ever-vigilant eyes of the Army are not always in front. The Army has more eyes than a peacock, and can see out of all of them.
     For instance, the officers and men of a rear echelon of an armoured formation spotted and captured three enemy vehicles which had evidently wandered from their own column into Allied territory.
     The three vehicles were first spotted by an officer riding on a motor-bike. He called up riflemen, who closed in on the vehicles, which the umpire ruled as captured.


Je visitais hier un regiment, d’infanterie de Montréal et je puis vous [assurer?] que les “gars de la rue Craig” sont un peu là. Ils occupent une position avancée sur la ligne de feu et leur officier commandant, m’a assuré [que?] ses hommes attendent avec impatience l'heure où ils pourront affronter l’ennemi.
“Tous font preuve d’une bonne volonté indéniable et d'un entrain qui ne se démentit jamais, en dépit des rigueurs inévitables de la vie sur le champs de bataille, me disait le colonel.”
Ce soir, nous faisons une marche d'une dizaine de milles, histoire de se dégourdir les jambes.
Le second en commandement a, à ce moment là, les deux pieds dans le plat, selon sa propre expression, au cours d’un grand lavage préparatoire à la marche. Il nous fait remarquer que les pieds constituent la partie la plus importante de l’anatomie du fantassin. “Nous avons pour nos pieds, dit-il, des soins plus attentifs que ceux de nos débutantes pour leur gentil minois.”
“Nous les traitons aux petits oignons, ajoute le capitaine Guy Laramée, padre de l’unité.”
A sept heures, tout le bataillon, sauf évidemment le personnel détaillé pour la garde, se mettait en marche, le commandant en tête. Même les “attachés,” le padre, le dentiste et l’officier des services auxilliaires étaient de la partie.
“Qu’arriverait-il si un ordre d’avancer vous parvenait au cours de la marche avons-nous demandé au commandant?
“Le trajet organisé ne nous éloigne jamais plus qu’à dix minutes de nos positions et nous nous bornons à parcourir quelques fois la périsphère de la zone qui nous est allouée. De plus, nos patrouilles parcourent le “no man’s land” toute la journée et à date ne nous ont rapporté aucun contact avec l’ennemi.”
Au retour, vers 2200 heures, après une bonne tasse de thé chaud, servie par Bayard, le “batman” du colonel, nous nous enroulons tant bien que mal dans nos couvertes et la conversation va bon train, même si elle est ponctuée par les ronflements de ceux que la marche et le grand air ont plus fatigués que d’autres.
L’adjudant, avait refuse l’invitation du commandant de se joindre à nous. “Si je couche ici, explique-t-il, je ne manquerai pas d’avoir à me lever au froid à cause d’appels télephoniques urgents. J’aime mieux aller m’étendre sous la tente qui me sert de bureau; la je n’ai qu’à m’allonger le bras si le téléphone sonne.”

[photograph captioned:] Men of the Army Postal Service now distribute your copy of “The Advance Post.” They are here seen at the Base Army Post Office “somewhere in Southland” getting your paper away with your mail. They also serve who only “sort the Post.”


UNABLE as you are to-day to attend Church Services, “ADVANCE POST” reporter has obtained from Chaplains their following messages to you:
     The Rev. H. E. Hone, M.A., Hon. C.F. (Surrogate).—“St. Paul says: ‘Endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.’ At this time we are all called upon, in greater or lesser degree, to endure hardness.
     “Is it worth while? It all depends why we should ‘endure hardness.’ We say it is to win the war but still more to win the peace That means we must prove ourselves worthy. We must make the sacrifices of war worth while
     “And that means, in our life and conduct, we must be what St. Paul calls ‘good soldiers of Jesus Christ. The first enemy to overcome is our own selfishness and self-indulgence. To be really good soldiers we must be good men—kind, helpful, faithful—men of our word.”
     Canon George Kieran-Hyland (R.C.):—“My dear friends and brothers in Jesus Christ: With a very full and grateful heart, I accept the honour offered to me to send to you a message on the occasion of your magnificent and courageous Exercise.
     “You are, I hear, filled with that exalted spirit which springs from a conviction of justice and truth. You are fully conscious of the supreme sacrifice which may be demanded of you, and you are ready to face all that may come your way.
     “Your strength is in the name of the Lord. Turn to Him with all your heart; make your peace with Him, the Prince of Peace; and He will, through your devotion and sacrifice, grant the world a glorious and a just and lasting peace.
     “Pray also to God’s most Holy Mother and the Queen of Peace will cast Her mantle of love around you and bring you home safe to the bosom of your families. May God bless and protect you and fill you with His love.”
Voici une traduction française du message ci-haut:
     “Mes chers amis et frères en Jesus-Christ, — C’est avec un cœur rempli de gratitude que j’accepte l’honneur qui m’est offert de vous envoyer un message à l’occasion de votre magnifique et courageux ‘exercice.’
     “L’on me dit que vous êtes animés de cet esprit excellent qui jaillit d’une conviction basée sur la justice et la verité. Vous êtes tout-a-fait conscients du suprême sacrifice qui peut être exigé de vous et vous êtes prêts à faire face à tout ce qui peut survenir.
     “Votre force se trouve dans le nom du Seigneur. Tournez-vous vers Lui de tout votre cœur; faites votre paix avec Lui, le Prince de la Paix; et, par votre dévotion et vos sacrifices, Il donnera au monde une paix glorieuse, juste et durable.
     “Priez aussi la très Saint Mère de Dieu et la Reine de la Paix vous couvrira de son manteau d’amour et vous ramènera sains et saufs chez vous, dans le sein de vos familles. Que Dieu vous bénisse, vous protège et vous ren plisse de son amour. . .”

Dentistry for Troops in the Field

TO Brig. F. M. Lott, two years ago professor of prosthetic dentistry at the University of Toronto, a Signals officer in the last war, and now director of dental services, a bad tooth is a great deal more than a painful nuisance. “In the last war,” he said, “it is estimated that from 2,000 to 5,000 men were looking for a dental officer every day, and that meant that almost a complete brigade was immobilised.
     “It is the intention of the Canadian Dental Corps to see that such wastage of manpower does not occur again. In this war there will be no need for long, fruitless searches for a place where a dentist can be found.
     “We need qualified dentists badly. There is on record the report of one officer who completed 96 operations in one day, which could constitute something of a record. They will see action—make no mistake about that. The mobile dental unit will always be within easy reach of the troops it serves, and with bombings, paratroops and long- range artillery the men who look after it will have their share of excitement.”
     The Canadian Dental Corps is unusual in that it is a separate service working for the Army, Navy and Air Force and responsible to the general staff for the dental health of all personnel.
     The general policy is to take dentistry to the soldier whether he is up the line or at the base. To do this every dental officer in the field is equipped with a mobile dental clinic.
     When occasion demands there is an extra emergency kit which enables the dental officer to go right up the line and thus prevent any dental casualties.


In one Canadian headquarters, which moved into position by night, an umpire ruled the following day that their position had been spotted by enemy aircraft.
     Acting rapidly, orders were issued and slit-trenches dug. The umpire ruled that enemy planes subsequently appearing did so to machine-gun the troops—but the prompt action of the defenders resulted in a decision of “no casualties.”

Fine Work of Base Army Post Office

LETTERS, letter-cards, parcels and postcards in thousands.
     That was what I saw when I paid a visit to the B.A.P.O.— Base Army Post Office to you.
     Hundreds of mailbags slung on frames, bearing the names of Corps, Divisions, Brigades and Regiments, right down to the individual unit. The sorters were all employed by the G.P.O. before the war, and they are expert at sorting your mail. Concentrating only on the job in hand, they sorted and sorted, systematically, and with a precision almost uncanny. Letters, with a deft flick of the wrist, “stooged” around the room, finally “nose-diving” into the correct bag. The slogan here is: “The lads must get their mail on time.”
     For obvious reasons I cannot disclose the number of bags dealt with, but the number passes the thousand mark every day. We give special thanks to the A.P.O. staff, for it is through them, at no little inconvenience to themselves, that you get your copy of “The Advance Post” (the circulation of which has risen enormously).
     The mail is sorted while most of you are still in the arms of Morpheus, the bags being left open, ready to receive your copies of “The Advance Post.” which arrive after a hectic journey in the wee sma’ hours.
     The bundles are speedily cut and the number of copies allocated to your unit counted out, packed in the bags and off, on their way to you.


I WAS comfortable enough in a cosy little place I found—once I got the family of hedgehogs to move over.
     [Came?] out once at 0600 hours, but saw my shadow and went back in again. After this war I shall be able to settle down in a hollow tree. And raise a family and a mortgage.
     Ran into some action during the day with flying detachments of the enemy going by, causing us to blaze away with nearly all our ammunition coupons
          *   *      *   *
     Worked our way to a river, but found bridge blown up. At least that is what the Umpire said—although the bridge was there with a strip of concertina-wire across it to indicate the explosion. From an invisible aeroplane we dropped a plank and a rope to indicate a pontoon bridge that had been made by an invisible engineering corps, and continued [?] way.
          *   *      *   *
     Some pitched battles took place in a town for the possession of a Church Army hostel. We intend to dig in here.
          *   *      *   *
     No complaints so far except one shipment of bully beef was found to have turned rusty. We don’t object to iron rations but don’t like it when it corrodes our teeth.
          *   *      *   *
     Had a visit from two reporters from the new army paper “The Advance Post.” They were looking for a gun-crew to join after a week of writing stories about our war without being allowed to name any units Probably using invisible ink.
          *   *      *   *
     So we struggle on through the exercise towards the North, feeling all the while that we may one day ask a native: “How far is it to Glasgow, Mac?’ and when he answers “Ja,” we shall know we ain't fooling.
          *   *      *   *
     The only real mishap to-day occurred when we missed some important messages from H.Q. Our carrier pigeon was several hours late.
     When questioned, the bird said: “It was such a nice day I thought I would walk.”

[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.

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