The Tank Museum | A Fascinating Insight into a WW2 Soldier's Information Feed

A Fascinating Insight into a WW2 Soldier's Information Feed

The Museum's collection of the WW2 British Army magazines.

20th January 2020

AIM high! These images come from a set of four compilation volumes of the Army Illustrated Magazine (AIM for short) in The Tank Museum’s Archive. 

The volumes feature magazines dating from August 1943 to August 1945 and are a fascinating insight into the regular soldier’s information feed. There is a wonderful ad-hoc feel to the magazines. Whilst clearly trying to keep troops up-to-date on campaign progress and technology development, certain topics keep reappearing through which we can glean what AIM considered most important. For instance, the sheer amount of articles that appear on booby trap designs, booby trapped buildings and disguised anti-personnel explosives, demonstrate concern with the 'cat and mouse' like efforts of Axis troops on the defensive. These is even a warning about seven second fuse bombs disguised as chocolate bars! 

AIM High Magazine

However, equally present though perhaps less obvious, AIM included several articles such as the fictional account ‘Memoirs of a Mosquito’ to encourage troops to use their mosquito cream and keep their nets good order, highlighting the impact of malaria.

Interestingly, the August 1943 issue includes an article titled ‘Tiger Tanks –the Truth’ and appears to be an early attempt to tackle the Tiger Myth. Referring to the Tiger being a “Bogey of the Press”, the article writes that “in irresponsible and uniformed circles” it had been called a “horror tank” despite the “more important details of the tank becoming known for some time”. Perhaps hoping to install greater confidence in troops facing a Tiger, the article includes a breakdown of characteristics of the tank andAIM Mosquito how this information was obtained with the last section covering the best methods to knock-out the tank.

Of course, not all articles were serious and one such example is ‘Jealous Pigeons Fly the Fastest’ and the news that an RAF messenger pigeon recorded speeds of 68.7 miles per hour – all thanks to a dose of chicanery. The trick being that if any male should develop fondness for a “lady in the loft”, he would be shown the female before being sent out on his message. With the result being that he returned far quicker than expected. However, should his affections fade, then a third pigeon would be brought in, “and the messenger is allowed to see his girl friend with the handsome stranger before he leaves.” The article ends with the rye observation “He usually sets a new record on the way home.”

AIM magazines included 10 minute quizzes, even the odd crossword and humorous cartoons, but it was all with the sole purpose of equipping the soldier with knowledge to use in the field. Helpful one-page guides complete with diagrams and photographs were included in each issue and covered a range of topics such as ‘Learn to use the Enemy Weapons’ and ‘How to Search the Enemy’. Every magazine features a fascinating section called the ‘Experience Pool’, where the editor prints useful tips and tricks sent in by soldiers that range from paraffin oil on typewriter ribbons as an effective ‘ribbon-reviver’, to anti-waste measures.