Search The Archive

Search form

Collection Search
Date: March 8th 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. 8  
8 MARCH, 1943    
Free Issue

We Threaten Oxford From East and West

THE following official joint communique was issued from Advanced British H.Q. yesterday:—
     Operations on the Eastland coast are proceeding satisfactorily. The enemy has made several counter-attacks against the established bridgeheads, but all have been successfully broken up or held.
     From Aldeburgh our forces are pushing west towards Framlingham in spite of enemy resistance from the north. Leading troops from the Clacton-on-Sea bridgehead had reached Ardleigh by nightfall on 6 March.
     In Southland our advance continues.
     During 6 March the enemy withdrew to the line of the River Cherwell from Banbury to Oxford, which is held in some strength. East of this position an advance continues, and GERMAN forces are withdrawing rapidly in some disorder.
     Our advance has been delayed by enemy demolitions on a considerable scale, and his opposition has been slight. The necessity of re-establishing communications as we go forward has slowed down the rate of our advance. Reconstruction of communication has placed heavy demands on the Engineers’ transport and material.
     Throughout the whole of yesterday, 6 March, our Air Force was extremely active. Many reconnaissance sorties were made to locate enemy concentrations and other targets. Our fighters, fighter-bombers and light bombers were standing by at readiness, and frequent strikes were ordered as a result of reconnaissance reports.
     Our aircraft found two sites in the Whittlebury (Northants) area which the enemy appeared to be using as headquarters. Strikes by our fighters and fighter-bombers were made, and it is considered that both targets were hit, one of them with heavy bombs. Escorting fighters returning from one of these raids attacked some 12 ten-ton buses, leaving them all seriously damaged and, when near Oxford, engaged and destroyed five enemy fighters without loss to themselves.
     The principal attacks against M.T. were made against concentrations of some 400 vehicles in the Banbury area, 200 in the Berkhamstead area and, later in the day, against a further large concentration crowded together at crossroads near Banbury. Considerable damage was caused and dislocation of enemy movement resulted.
     In all, during yesterday, our fighters destroyed 13 enemy fighter and reconnaissance aircraft, and anti-aircraft defences destroyed a further one reconnaissance aircraft. From all of these operations four of our aircraft are missing.

By Our Military Correspondent

IT seems that our forward thrust towards the Eastland frontier has taken on the semblance of a two-pronged advance in strength, one east, and the other west, of Oxford, and that this City, held in some strength by the enemy, has become a salient of the “hedgehog” type which may be at any time threatened with encirclement by us, in the same way as the other Germany army at Stalingrad was cut off and reduced to surrender.
     This is admittedly surmise, and it may well be that we may be able to carry Oxford by assault. Our twofold thrust appears to be diverted towards Bedford on our right flank and Rugby and Leicester on our left.
     No information has come to hand regarding the position at Swindon and Banbury. It would be interesting to know whether those towns have fallen to our arms. If so, the fate of Oxford and the threat to the important communications centres of Bicester and Northampton would seem to be already in effect.

World War News

GERMANY.—R.A.F. made a very heavy and concentrated attack on Essen, from which 14 of our aircraft are missing. A terrific explosion occurred at the great Krupp works.
TUNIS.—Rommel attacked Eighth Army in strength at two points. The attack was everywhere held. Montgomery was fully prepared, and his guns wrought great havoc among enemy tanks, 21 of which are known to have been destroyed. French troops in Central Tunis have seized the important town of Ousseltia.
CANADA.—Mr. Churchill, in a message to Mr. Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada, says: “Now the days are brighter. You will be able to look back with just pride upon a record surpassed by none.”
FRANCE.—An new “whispering slogan” is circulating through the country—“Germany is at the end of her tether.”


AN aircraft appeared in the sky, first a small, dim outline, then assuming recognisable shape with disconcerting rapidity. Ground gunners over a wide area focussed their sights on it. Behind hillocks, round the boles of trees, from the corners of huts, from the flapping doors of tents scores of eyes were directed towards the silhouetted visitor.
     A Boston! Tension was relaxed. Gunners took their fingers away from triggers. Airmen returned to the interiors of their tents or continued unloading their trucks. And a wing-commander sighed with relief: the first of his squadrons was arriving from a rear airfield to its new operational base.
     The Boston landed, then another, and another. The sky above the new airfield seemed full of them. The air vibrated. They touched down in turn at half-minute intervals, taxied off the runway and dispersed themselves like rabbits running to earth. No sooner had they landed and roared across the grass than they had disappeared from sight. A modern conjuring trick.
     Out from their hiding places came pilots and their crews.
     “Well, we're here. Where do we eat. and when ?” said a young flight-lieutenant with a moustache that bristled like a hawthorn bush.
     “I've got everything but my soap. Where can I scrounge some soap?” was another question fired at anybody who happened to be listening.
     “Tents again, I suppose. Hope the tents get here before dark . . . ”
     This remark was interrupted by an engineer officer who asked permission from a Squadron Leader for the ground crews, who had been working unceasingly since dawn, to be served first at the evening meal outside the communal mobile kitchen. Permission was granted.
     The ground staff had certainly put in their 100 per cent. of work, preparing for the arrival of the squadrons. When the first Boston landed everything was ready to groom it for immediate operations and to keep it serviceable.
     The touch-down was the climax of many hours of preparation, begun when the reconnaissance party took over the Southland airfield and surveyed it in preparation for the advance party who came along with their lorry-loads of material.
     The R.A.F. Regiment had taken up defensive positions, with guns mounted at strategic points and mobile armour placed so that an attack could be countered at any side.
     Then had come the main party, with its technical staff, maintenance personnel, cooks and equipment. All had settled themselves down as if they had known the location for years instead of for hours, so complete and intensive had been their training.
     After the aircraft came the rear party, having cleaned up the airfield formerly occupied by the squadrons, and bringing along with them by road the tents and baggage.
     Within a short space of time this Southland airfield had become entirely British in character and equipment. In fact only an hour or so after the Bostons landed they were sent up to carry out an attack on enemy transports.

[photograph captioned:] Yesterday’s dramatic front line picture: Men of the R.C.E. carried on bridging unperturbed as a Nazi fighter-bomber attacked them. They left it to the R.A.F. Result can be seen.

B.B.C. Record Spartan

A B.B.C. broadcasting team is in the field with the British forces as they advance towards Eastland.
     The team, which is fully equipped for making records of interviews, running commentaries. battle sounds and news dispatches, comprises a special camouflaged recording-car and recording-van. Both are keeping in close touch with the advancing forces.
     The team includes Richard Dimbleby, B.B.C. senior news commentator, Wynford-Vaughan-Thomas, outside broadcasting commentator, and Robert Barr, war feature-writer, under the direction of S. J. de Lothiniere.
     On Saturday, commentator Vaughan-Thomas was with the bridge-building party at Treading as they completed the repair of the bridge, and made a commentary as the first of the light vehicles crossed the river.
     From there, the recording-van travelled west along the river to Pangbourne and was there during the dive-bombing of the new bridge and the air attacks on the transport waiting to cross.
     A full commentary made by Vaughan-Thomas while the planes were diving overhead was recorded and dispatched to the B.B.C.
     A complete account of the storming of Sonning Bridge was also recorded in the field.


     General Sir Bernard Paget, G.O.C.-in-C. Home Forces, and Sir James Grigg, Secretary of State for War, visited Spartan troops yesterday.
     The two distinguished visitors went to a Headquarters operations room where battle boards revealed the progress of our successes against the “enemy.”

By Our Air Correspondent

THE air war roared into its greatest activity so far on 6 March when morning, afternoon and evening our aircraft battered the enemy and spied out his secrets. A record number of sorties was set up, and the intelligence reports at the end of the day presented a fine balance sheet.
     It is too early to suggest that we have [air?] supremacy, but there are good reasons for optimism. Fighter, fighter-bomber and light bomber squadrons have shown that they are capable at any time of tackling both the enemy’s air and ground defences, and pilots brought back some remarkable accounts of successes
     Typical of the mobility of the air organisation and of the enthusiastic efficiency of the flying men is the experience of a Boston squadron. Orders were given to move from one Southland airfield to another which had just been prepared.
     Just before they were due to move the Boston pilots were told that an important enemy position had been located and that it was to be attacked immediately.
     Plans were made for the attack to be carried out, and for the bombers to land at their new airfield when the mission had been completed. Everything went according to schedule. The aircraft took off from their old base, attacked their objective, and then landed at the new airfield
     Not long after the Bostons had been dispersed and the crews were settling themselves into their new quarters another order came through. A concentration of enemy transport had been spotted at a cross-roads, making a vulnerable target. Crews hurried to their aircraft, and in a few minutes the Bostons had followed each other, nose to tail, into the air.
     They did not return until they had found and bombed their target, then the crews put their aircraft away for the night, had supper and settled themselves for sleep in tents in preparation for another full day’s work.
     The method of working has been for reconnaissance aircraft to scour the enemy’s lines, swooping low where necessary over his bases and transport lines to assess his strength and the direction of his movements.
     Meanwhile, the striking forces have been standing by—crews in their dispersal huts and tents ready to board their aircraft at a minute's notice—awaiting the location of targets.
     In this way tanks, hundreds of motor transports and other vehicles, and what is believed to have been a divisional headquarters were successfully bombed.
     Having escorted bombers to a certain objective, two squadrons of Spitfires shot up a collection of ten-ton buses on their return trip and shot down three enemy Mustangs and two Typhoons. All our fighters returned to base.
     At the end of the day the reports showed that we had destroyed 13 enemy aircraft for a loss of four of our own. One was also destroyed by our A.A. guns.
     The enemy was too busily engaged defending his own positions to pay serious attention to ours, but we kept up a continuous patrol of our own airfields to beat off his reconnaissance planes.


     There is a story going about the field to the effect that one Canadian unit, from Western Ontario, is going to get a new emblem—a goat, rampant on a bristly chin!
The reason—since the exercise began, the C.O. has been so busy he has grown a beautiful goatee!

Bel Exploit

UN régiment canadiens- français de Montréal dont les exploits légendaires a Dieppe passeront certainement à l’histoire s’est de nouveau couvert de gloire vendredi dernier alors que le rôle héroique qu’il a joué dans l’offensive contre le flanc gauche des forces ennemies constituera à coup sur un facteur vital de la compagne contre l’armée allemande eh Eastland.
     Apres une journée marquée par de violents combats de rue, une brigade d’infanterie de l’est du Canada a finalement réussi à établir des positions avancées au nord de la Tamise grâce à la hardiesse de ce regiment.
     Apres avoir atteint la rivière, malgré les défenses élaborées de l’ennemi, une colonne alliée se rendit à son principal objectif, un pont important, mais pour y découvrir que les Allemands l’avait fait sauter avant de déguerpir.
     Le regiment en question se détacha alors de la colonne et âpres une marche forcée réussit à traverser la rivière deux milles plus haut et envahit la ville, semant la confusion chez les troupes ennemies qui n’avaient pas encore eu le temps d'organiser leur defense.
     Malgré une résistance achar-
     Nos franctireurs, aidés par des équipes spéciales armées de grenades eurent tôt fait de mettre les Allemands en déroute.
     Un nombre considerable de prisonniers furent captures et plusieurs véhicules ennemis s’ajoutent aux dépouilles déjà grandes dont regorgent nos dépots.
     Les forces adversaires tentèrent de se regrouper enbue d’une contre-attaque, mais les deux autres régiments de la brigade, ayant réussi a traverser à leur tour, contournèrent la ville et l’ennemi se voyait bientot pris entre deux feux.
     Dans un secteur voisin, un autre régiment canadien-français de Montreal subit le gros du choc d’une contre-attaque Allemande. Faisant preuve d’une bravoure irresistible devant un ennemi grandement supérieur en nombre, ce régiment réussit à contenir la ruée ennemi jusqu’à ce que nos renforts fussent arrivés sur les lieux, mais malheureusement les pertes d'hommes et de matériel furent très lourdes.

Printed by the OXFORD TIMES, LTD., the Newspaper House, Oxford, and published by the Director of Public Relations, War Office.

[back page of Issue No. 8]


     “Exercise Spartan” will go down in history as “the biggest ever.”
     We are all entering into it in the “Sprit of Attack.” The lessons learned will enable us to play our parts when the day arrives. Our first issue made the clarion call, “Be a Spartan.” These souvenir pictures of the exercises show how we have lived up to this call so far. Carry on and good luck!

[top row photograph captions, left to right:]

  • LIEUT.-GEN. A. G. L. McNAUGHTON, G.O.C., British Army in Southland, says On to Eastland.”
  • These men are going to fight Von Rundstedt “clean.” A great thing these Mobile Bath Units.
  • “ONWARD” is motto of Calgary Regiment—and he means it.
  • Security the keynote. A C.M.P. checks a driver en route to the front.

[second row photograph captions, left to right:]

  • These Canadian tank men talk over the problems of the impending advance. they are proud of “Angela,” their Churchill.
  • R.A.F. Regiment officers check their Spartan rations. It isn’t the Army only which marches on its stomach.
  • Forget it—you can get back to Romance when it’s over. Let battle commence!

[third row photograph captions, left to right:]

  • Bridging will be a feature of the exercise. here is an initial crossing by the Royal Canadian Engineers.
  • The bridge is built but, unlike Rome, in much less than a day! The D.R. leads the first convoy across.
  • The Engineers are satisfied with their bridge and enjoy an al fresco meal as they watch the convoy proceed “on to Eastland.”

[bottom row photograph captions, left to right:]

  • Meanwhile “The Advance Post’ keeps the R.A.F. in the picture of the ground battle.
  • And soon Eastland will know these days again—peace, plenty and “Harvest Home.”
  • —and Gen. McNaughton intends to see that it gets it. !
Original Scans

Original Scans