The B-Line

As it fought its way across North Africa and Italy during WWII, one squadron of the Tank Regiment still found time to design and publish its own monthly magazine

Issue 5, June 1943

Continued production of an independent publication is an achievement in itself, let alone in the time and places which played home to The B-Line office. This month’s Monograph features images from Olie Kay’s collection of his grandfather’s magazine, created for the 48th Royal Tank Regiment B Squadron during WWII…

A few months ago, Kay came into the CR office with his precious collection of magazines; each one a little battered and faded, with staples showing signs of rust, but genreally in good condition considering they were all over sixty years old. Kay explained how The B-Line was the creation of his grandfather who used a duplicating machine to produce runs of 120 copies a month during active service in Tunisia, Algeria and Italy.

“In 1942 my grandfather, Geoff Thomason, created and edited The B-Line for the men of the 48th Royal Tank Regiment B Squadron,” explains Kay, a graphic designer and junior fellow of graphic design at UWE in Bristol. “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.”

Issue 9, October 1943

“Content was principally created by submissions of poetry, interviews, stories and articles from the men in the squadron,” says Kay. “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 B-Line 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.”

Issue 11, December 1943 – the “Christmas number”, each was individually hand-coloured

“Of the 30 issues produced,” Kay continues, “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.

14 covers and one spread from Kay’s collection of The B-Line feature in this month’s Monograph, free with subscriber copies of CR November. Many thanks to Olie for contacting us about the collection. His own work is available to view at oliekay.com.

Issue 18, July 1944

Issue 19, August 1944

Issue 20, September 1944

Issue 21, October 1944

Issue 30, August 1945

 

 

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