November 2009

Continued production of an independent publication is an incredible achievement at any time, let alone in the time and places which played home to The B-Line office.

In 1942 my grandfather, Geoff Thomason, created and edited The B-Line for the men of the 48th Royal Tank Regiment B Squadron. In this endeavour
he was assisted by his tank commander, Capt Henry D Palmer and Alan Gilmore, who had been a Press Association reporter before the war.

Content was principally created by submissions of poetry, interviews, stories
and articles from the men in the squadron. The monthly magazine would follow the men of B Squadron through to the end of the war for 30 issues and one ‘souvenir number’.

As the B-Line Souvenir edition makes clear, “B-Lines have been produced in houses, in army huts, in tents, in tank bivouacs and in the open air; in the grounds of a Scottish castle, in a Tunisian orchard, in the arid wastelands of Algeria, in the ubiquitous vineyards of Italy, and in the Senio front line, less than a mile from the enemy.”

The 120 monthly copies of the magazine were printed by hand on a duplicating machine with all equipment and paper stock scrounged from wherever it could be found. Indeed the majority of the issues were produced on a portable French typewriter – a ‘present’ from the Afrika Korps.

Of the 30 issues produced I hold 28. Unfortu­nately it is unlikely that I will ever manage to track down the missing two. Sixty-four years have passed since the last pages rolled out of a battered duplicating machine in Italy, and time moves on each day, eroding links with the past.

Geoffrey Guy Thomason (1916 – 2001) co-edited The B-Line with Alan Gilmore from 1943 – 1945. He returned from the war to become the editor of the family run newspaper, The Middlesex Chronicle, printed at the Cedar Press in Hounslow, until it was sold in 1972.

Olie Kay is a Graphic Designer and Junior Fellow of Graphic Design at UWE in Bristol.

Olie Kay

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