Teller II

Teller II was a Brigade exercise, carried out in the summer of 1943, to practise all aspects of an attack by night on a strongly defended enemy position. In particular, the following stages of the attack were to be exercised:
1. The initial attack by a Brigade
2. Passing through of a reserve Battalion to continue the attack at first light
3. The move forward of supporting arms through gaps created in British and enemy minefields under the cover of darkness.

The narrative for the exercise stated that a British Army advancing east was facing a German Army on a general line running south to north through Leiston to Blythburgh. The front had now been stabilised for 10 days, allowing the enemy to construct strong field defences which were protected by mine and wire obstacles. It had been decided to break through these enemy defences on the night of 29/30 June and morning of 30 June.

Military Training Pamphlet No 2 – The Offensive, published in June 1943 clearly outlines the value of a night attack:

“The advantages of attacking by night to secure bridgeheads over obstacles, and to gain other initial objectives, are so great that major attacks by night, or in conditions of poor visibility, will be the rule rather than the exception.”

There were obvious advantages to attacking at night – the enemy’s fire plan would be rigid, firing on fixed lines unless searchlights were employed and that the attacker would usually be able to establish themselves before the enemy could launch an effective counter attack as he would initially be lacking information to carry this out in the confusion of darkness.

Of course, there were potential disadvantages for the attacker:

“...Infantry would suffer from difficulties of movement and control inherent in darkness, unless these difficulties have been overcome by through training.”

This statement clearly emphasises the need for training in such operations, such as was carried out in Teller II.

Teller II was a two sided exercise i.e. some troops were detailed to represent the enemy. An artillery barrage is superimposed on the map of the exercise and an artillery timetable is given but it is uncertain if this was a real live firing barrage or imaginary. It is hard to see how troops could have been used to represent the enemy while live firing was taking place on enemy positions!

The Exercise took part on an area of Westleton Heath, which at the time was one of the areas secured by 54th Division Battle School. The area was later to be included in the Dunwich Battle Training Area.

Troops taking part were from 198th Brigade of 54th Division with 8th King’s and 6th Borders delivering the attack on the first objective (line D / Brown line on map) and 2nd Herts passing through to advance on the final objective (Yellow line on map). A bearer section from 162nd Field Ambulance was to move forward with each Battalion. The enemy was to be represented by a company from 8th Kings. The exercise director was the Commander 198th Brigade. Chief Umpire was Lt. Col. K.S. Binny, 8th Kings. Each Battalion was to detail its own umpires (at Battalion level, company level and platoon level).

The exercise commenced with the troops moving from their concentration areas to the F.U.P. (Forming Up Point) for the attack, indicated by line B on the map. The attack was to be opened by an artillery barrage from the field artillery (150 Field Regt.) at Z – 5 (line C on map). At Zero, the barrage was to advance from line C at 100 yards in four minutes. The barrage was to halt between Z +28 and Z + 68 but firing was to continue at a slow rate. At Zero, the forward companies (two from each of 8th Kings and 6th Borders) were to advance from the F.U.P. and by Z + 28 were to have captured and be consolidating the first objective (line D / Brown line on map). At Z + 68 the reserve companies were to pass through the forward companies and advance on the second objective, supported by a barrage starting at Z + 68 and advancing 100 yards in four minutes. At Z + 84 the reserve companies were to be on the second objective and the artillery was to cease fire. The reserve companies were to consolidate the second objective, supported by the anti-tank troops. The 2nd Herts were to move up to the second objective and continue the advance at Z + 204, supported by the artillery which was to recommence firing on line E then advance at 100 yards in four minutes, closing on Line G at Z + 232. . At Z + 232, 2nd Herts were to have captured the final objective and were to consolidate the position supported by anti-tank guns.

Above: Map showing Exercise Teller II

The attack was to be further supported from fire by a 4.2” mortar company and a medium machine gun company. The mortars were to concentrate on the area between lines D and E from Z – 5 to Zero and between lines E and F from Zero to Zero + 60. It is interesting to note that if the gird reference for the location of the 4.2” mortars is correct and they were live firing, they would have been firing right over Westleton village! The 4.2” mortar was a high trajectory weapon, firing 8 to 10 rounds per minute and had a range of 4,100 yards. It had an all round danger area of 200 yards and hence was not to be fired close to friendly infantry. This is apparent in the exercise as the mortars were to lift to the second objective from zero. Following this programme they were to move forward to the junction of the “right vehicle route” and the first objective (line D) by truck. The medium machine guns were to fire a timed programme as for the artillery barrage (see above). On completion of this they were to move up to the junction of the “left vehicle route” and line D by truck.

Brigade HQ was at The Grange, Westleton. An advance HQ was to move forward on the capture of the second objective. An Advance Dressing Station was set up in Westleton village.

AA support was represented by one 20mm A.A. platoon. They were to provide A.A. protection for Brigade HQ, the two gaps created through the enemy minefield and a key road junction.

These exercises always seem rather simplistic but it should be remembered that such exercises were to practice command and control rather than small unit tactics. Small unit tactics would be taught in field craft and battle drill training for section and platoons.

As with most exercises in War Diaries, no conclusions or lessons learned from the exercise are given.

Above: Left - aerial photo of the site of Teller II today with the exercise superimposed. Right - aerial photo of the site in 1945.

Archaeology

There are numerous weapon-slits, crawl trenches and other earthworks within the Teller II area but it is uncertain if they relate to the exercise. The documents for this exercise indicate that wire was put up along the “enemy” front and rear obstacles but there is no suggestion that earthworks were dug to represent enemy localities. It is possible some of the earthworks could have been dug by the two battalions delivering the initial attack and then digging in as a many are clustered around the first objective (line D). However it should also be remembered that the area was later incorporated into the Dunwich Battle Training Area and used for training right through 1944. The area to the east of the second objective (line E) is now all forestry and despite intensive searching no evidence of training earthworks has been found.

Above: Map of Teller II with GPS plot of weapon slits, crawl trenches and other earth works mapped over the last three years. Each waypoint marks a slit trench or other earthwork while the blue lines mark the course of a crawl trench.

Teller II GPS Plot
teller2base1overlay
teller 2 1945 aerial
Teller II GPS Plot Overlay

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