Exercise SPARTAN

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Bob Chandler, Jul 19, 2007.

  1. Bob Chandler

    Bob Chandler Junior Member

    Looking for general information on Exercise Spartan, March 1943 - which units were involved (particularly British), where the exercise took place, etc. Have picked up odd bits & pieces 'googling' but nothing like an account of what happened.



    p.s. Did a search before posting, don't think I'm duplicating a question, apologies if I am.
  2. Kyt

    Kyt Very Senior Member

  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  4. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    The Exercise consisted of mainly Canadian Forces under General McNaughton, it had units of the RWF acting as guerrillas in opposition, the exercise among other things also tested the idea of the Jedburghs working with the resistance behind enemy lines.
    See attached file for details of this

    Attached Files:

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  5. Buteman

    Buteman 336/102 LAA Regiment (7 Lincolns), RA

  6. Timbtrucker

    Timbtrucker Junior Member

    My dad Stan was a Sniper in the Coldstream Guards 39- 45 in the 5th Battalion, he was in operation Spartan with the 5th. He said it was a big operation with umpire’s present.
  7. Chotie's Daughter

    Chotie's Daughter Chotie's Daughter

    I have come across an account of Exercise Spartan in the War Diary of the 43rd Recce:
    DOVER March 1943
    3rd 1700 Regt moves out of Barracks on Exercise "SPARTAN". Misty.
    4th Regt completed concentration for "SPARTAN".
    5th 1700 Regt left concentration area and advanced to new concentration area in area of Camberley. Fine.
    6th Regt. in harbour at ERLSWOOD, CAMBERLEY. Fine.
    7th 0200 Regt. moved from harbour at night to make contact with enemy (in seize and hold role). "A" and "C" Sqns up. "B2 Sqn in reserve.
    Regt withdraws to harbour at night. Fine, sharp frost.
    8th 0530 Regt moved from harbour in area STONOR and made good progress in advance against elements of 61 Div. "A" Sqn under Comd 129 Bde, remainder under Cmd 130 bde. Fine, sharp frost.
    9th Regt advanced to line of GRAND UNION CANAL where it was held up by blown bridges, infantry advanced through it to assault and form bridgehead for tanks to attack.
    10th Tanks and infantry advance at dawn and overrun 182 Bde. Recce Regt reverted to Div Control, protecting right flank. Held up by cratering AREA OF CHORLESBURY
    11th Regt advanced in northerly direction until halted on line of AMPTHILL by Div Comd's orders. Withdrawn at night to ALDBURY area. "F" Echelon ambushed by enemy infantry during night march. All personnel except recce party wiped out.
    12th Regt under Major Mason advanced to line of AMPTHILL. Exercise "Spartan" finished 0900 hrs. Return to ALDBURY. Fine & warm.
    13th 0545 Regt moved out of ALDBURY on returning to Barracks through LONDON. Arrived at station 1700 hrs.

    In "Record of a Reconnaissance Regiment - History of the 43rd" edited by Jeremy Taylor he writes "Exercise 'Spartan' will remain in the minds of those present as an aptly named endurance test ...."
  8. CommanderChuff

    CommanderChuff Senior Member

    Some more info on Spartan from the BBC who appeared to have pioneered the art of embedded reporters. Goodness the English are masters of the first time ...

    First Home Forces exercise for invasion of Europe, held on South Coast (3/43) SPAVEN; also used by BBC to exercise a new concept of reporting from the field, engineers to record the correspondence, and commentators gave eyewitness accounts of the fighting, feature writers re-constructed and dramatise particular scenes, the whole report flashed to Broadcasting House where the whole mass of material was censored and condensed into dummy newsreels and bulletins. Everything was done to replicate the war-zone even to the extent of rushing the bulletins though to the scheduled transmission times.
  9. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    27th February 1943
    Officers' Briefing
    Army Commander Lieut General JAH Gammell[1] CB D.S.O., M.C., addressed all officers of 61 Division at Colchester.
    Exercise SPARTAN
    Adjutant left on recce for Exercise "SPARTAN"
    145 (Berks Yeo) Fd Regt R.A. War Diary

    [1] G.O.C. XII Corps
  10. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    View attachment 113940 View attachment 113940 2nd March 1943
    Exercise SPARTAN
    Regiment leaves Southend on Exercise "SPARTAN", 61 Infantry Division forming part of German forces in occupation of Eastern England.
    145 (Berks Yeo) Fd Regt RA War Diary
    Route to EX SPARTAN . Rayleigh ----- Concentration Area Riddle Clayton ( 10 miles west of Aylesbury). Regtl order of march 395 - 509 – 396. There will be a minimum of movement within the Concentration area as air recce on both sides starts on night 3/4th March 1943.
    396 Bty Orders
  11. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    I managed to leave this off my last post

    The Berkshire Yeomanry on Exercise SPARTAN March 1943 25 pdr firing - Berks Yeo Ex Spartan March 1943 (3).jpg

    Berks Yeomanry Museum
    Be you Berkshire ?
  12. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    Kearvell BSM J. 396 Bty Sgt Mess. Antrim Castle Stables Oct 1941.jpg
    BSM Jack Pryor of 396 Bty

    3-6th March 1943
    Exercise Spartan
    61 Infantry Division on the move in Bucks and Berks
    145 (Berks Yeo) Fd Regt RA War Diary
    I remember one scheme in particular which had one or two interesting events. the codename of the scheme [Exercise "SPARTAN"] was meant to imply that it would be very severe and, as it was planned from time to time that cookhouses would be taken away from Units for a minimum of two days, we were instructed that on no account was anyone to buy food or accept gifts of food from the civilian population.
    So far as we were concerned the scheme started in the area of Foxhill near Swindon in Wiltshire. From there we moved roughly north-eastwards which meant that we came fairly near home and in particular I remember our spending a couple of days at Buckland. A little later we found ourselves in a lane at East Hagbourne and, as things seemed to be settling down for the night, I strode my bike and rode off to Ardington for a couple of hours. However, on my return to the lane I found it completely empty and I hadn’t a clue where the Unit had gone. So I carried on going north-eastwards and caught up with them over the River Thames. Somewhere near Wittenham we did a special river crossing exercise using unusual buoyancy aids such as straw bales, empty oil drums and the like. I had to drive an 8cwt lorry over the river with two straw bales lashed to each side covered with ground sheets and one of the unforgettable sensations of my life was driving the lorry down the slope and straight into the river and thrashing my way to the other side. BSM Jack Kearvell (396 Bty) Recollections
  13. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    6-9th March 1943
    Exercise Spartan
    183 Infantry Brigade takes up defensive position in Aylesbury. First contact with enemy made.
    145 (Berks Yeo) Field Regt RA War Diary
    We eventually got to the centre of Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire and formed a ‘prickly pear’ i.e. we acted as if completely surrounded. I was based in the Odeon Cinema car park and I sighted a Bren gun on the cinema roof, which was reached through the projection room. So when I could scramble some spare time I would go up to the projection room and watch a film! Looking through the little holes in the wall you could see some of our blokes scattered through the place (the management left an exit door open) even some of the cooks in their whites. It was at this location that the scheme umpires took the cookhouse away for a couple of days, which wasn’t much fun, although the town centre pubs cottoned on and, although they had no food they provided liquid and solid refreshment of a sort and conspired to keep it invisible. I remember the BSM of 395 Battery telling me he was driving up the road from the town centre to the Prison and, as he passed a Council Depot, several dustmen came out of the yard, crossed the road and went into a café. When he had passed he had a feeling that there was something familiar about them and he waited up the street watching the café. Eventually the workmen left the café, re-crossed the road to the yard and shortly after several of 395's vehicles came out of the yard and headed off up the road! He was so impressed by their ingenuity that he didn’t do anything about it. Shortly after this we got the cooks back and they were placed in a little green lane which ran between the Women’s Prison and a Home for Disabled Children, tucked right under the Prison wall. At the bottom of the lane was a little farm on which the prisoners worked. In particular I remember talking to a warder at the little cow shed where one of the prisoners was milking cows. “You wouldn’t think that she had murdered her own child, would you!” The Matron at the Home was very kind to us and let us have hot baths in the Home, which was worth its weight in gold after about 10 days of very rough living. I remember too Dan Moss carving carrots into appropriate shapes and throwing them over the Prison wall to the female inmates with appropriate messages tied to them! And I remember that he got the odd reply or two, one of which detailed how that night he could help her to escape! Jack Kearvell recollections
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  14. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    9th March 1943
    Exercise Spartan
    183 Infantry Brigade moves out from Aylesbury. First contact made with the enemy.
    145 (Berks Yeo) Field Regt RA War Diary
  15. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    10th March 1943
    Exercise Spartan
    61 Infantry Division badly knocked up by enemy. Isolated units, including whole of the Regiment withdrawn to Woburn area, where remnants of 61 Division come under command 49 Division. 145 (Berks Yeo) Field Regt RA War Diary
  16. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    11th March 1943
    Exercise Spartan
    Whole of day spent in firing Div concentration mainly on enemy AVFs
    145 (Berks Yeo) Fd Regt War Diary
  17. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

  18. andrewgfrench

    andrewgfrench Member

    Thanks Swiper -
    A most opportune posting, as I have just about come to the end of my war diary entries. I'll look at the link over the weekend.
    Pity that Bob, who started this topic doesn't seem to have seen my postings as the Berks Yeo were his father's regiment
  19. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    WW2today website : Exercise Spartan tests D-Day forces in Britain

    Plans for the invasion of occupied Europe were now advancing in Britain. Although much remained to be decided, the long term objective of the Allies was to strike, over land, at the heart of Germany itself.

    In preparation for this the largest offensive military exercise ever undertaken in Britain was mounted in the first half of March 1943. Large numbers of tanks were involved in making an ‘armoured thrust’ across the south of England. Bridges that had been ‘destroyed by the the enemy’ were replaced with temporary military structures.


    And additionally in the 24th L War Diary:


    1/3/43 The Commanding Officer and 8 Officers of the Regiment left as umpires on GHQ Exercise “Spartan”.

    7/3/43 The Technical and Signals Officers went as observers on Exercise “Spartan”


    IWM Film: EXERCISE SPARTAN [Main Title]
    (Albeit not currently available on line)

    The footage is grouped under headings such as "Road Movements", "Bridging", "Concealment" and examples of good and bad practice are shown and commented upon. The regiments of those who perform well are named.
    (Reel 1) Road movements, bridging: a number of examples of bunching, poor traffic control, general incompetence etc are shown. Means of crossing streams using pontoon and bailey bridges, and boats are shown.
    (Reel 2) Concealment, roadblocks, alertness: half-hearted camouflaging is pointed out (washing hanging on netting lines and troops cooking and eating out in the open). A scout car is successfully put out of action at a roadblock. Instances of negligence include sleeping troops, unattended rifles, troops and vehicles ignoring air attacks.
    (Reel 3) Cooperation, artillery deployment: good and bad examples of setting up observation posts, then some examples of deploying light, medium and heavy guns (mostly well done) are given.
    (Reel 4) Battle discipline, tactics, realism: troops are shown crossing fields (against the skyline), searching a house (badly), executing an attack (well), setting up anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns (some errors here such as driving vehicles straight across fields).
    (Reel 5) Defensive positions, tanks: troops are seen digging in and disguising the spoil, and the infantry and Churchill tanks form up for a big attack (more examples of good and bad concealment are shown). This reel also includes some general scenes of filling in time - shoe repair, haircutting, maintenance work - and some bad umpiring - umpires giving away positions, and a burning haystack caused by a carelessly thrown thunderflash.
    (Reel 6) Tank attack, general interest: the tanks go into action against a position held by the infantry (various sitting targets are pointed out). Tanks ignoring the umpires instructions to 'play dead' ("sheer stupidity") and telephone lines laid across roads are included. Some miscellaneous items include an Auster light aircraft used for observation, tank recovery operations, messenger dogs, medical work. The film concludes with the "battalion who wouldn't be beaten" (the 4th Welsh) seen improvising a method of crossing a river.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2020
  20. Our Tone

    Our Tone New Member

    From 693 (AW) Coy RE, {AW= Artisan Works, Coy=company,RE=Royal Engineers} War Diary 20 March 1943:
    Coy was building tunnels for Combined Ops HQ under Dover Castle, and had been interrupted by 'MOBILIZATION' exercise, "Owing to exercise SPARTAN however little service was obtained from DAIME 12 Coprs, whose office was unable to provide for zeroing of new brens and rifles or for an armourers inspection of small arms."

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