Army Bureau of Current Affairs

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The Army Bureau of Current Affairs, or ABCA, was an organisation set up to educate and raise morale amongst British servicemen in World War II.

ABCA issued pamphlets in units and promoted discussions, for instance about post-war reconstruction and the Beveridge report. It met with resistance from Winston Churchill, who felt it was a poor use of military time. The organisation is generally regarded as a factor in the landslide Labour Party victory in the post-war general election in 1945. ABCA organisers and teachers predominantly seem to have been left-wing, as were the soldiers who attended the classes, and classes became dominated by discussion of nationalisation and social justice. The service vote in the election that followed is said to have been the most dramatic reflection of the public mood, with as many as 80% of soldiers voting for the Labour Party according to some sources.

Some of the ABCA titles in the series WAR and CURRENT AFFAIRS are as follows: Apart from these pamphlets (usually containing 16 pages, including front and rear cover) there seems to have been a French-language version for Canadian French speaking troops. A completely different series is made for the Middle East but not many come onto the market.

A different approach for discussion was an ABCA issued wall chart, for use in barracks etc. Not many of these seem to have survived the war, however.

Last but not least a song book was released in 1944, called the ABCA song book. Edited by Capt. C. Hassall ... Musical arrangements by Lieut. E. Fenby,etc.[With a foreword by W. E. Williams, fondly known as "ABCA Bill", who had been closely involved with Allen Lane in 1935 founding Penguin Books and had created the Pelican imprint.]


A.B.C.A. pamphlets series WAR[edit]

1941 WAR[edit]

  • No. 1 20 September: News-facts for fighting men;
  • No. 2 4 October: News-facts for fighting men;
  • No. 3 18 October: News-facts for fighting men;
  • No. 4 1 November: News-facts for fighting men;
  • No. 5 15 November: News-facts for fighting men;
  • No. 6 29 November: News-facts for fighting men;
  • No. 7 13 December: News-facts for fighting men;
  • No. 8 27 December: News-facts for fighting men

1942 WAR[edit]

  • No. 9 10 January: News-facts for fighting men;
  • No. 10 24 January: News-facts for fighting men;
  • No. 11 7 February: News-facts for fighting men;
  • No. 12 21 February: Fifty-five days in Malaya;
  • No. 13 7 March: If invasion comes;
  • No. 14 21 March: The enemy in the east;
  • No. 15 4 April: The mind of a Nazi;
  • No. 16 18 April: The Libyan See-saw;
  • No. 17 2 May: The German army;
  • No. 18 16 May: How Russia fights;
  • No. 19 30 May: The Greeks fight on;
  • No. 20 13 June: In a desert battle;
  • No. 21 27 June: Libya, summer 1942;
  • No. 22 11 July: The thrust for Egypt;
  • No. 23 25 July: The U.S. Army;
  • No. 24 8 August: Guide for Jap invaders;
  • No. 25 22 August: The Merchant Navy;
  • No. 26 5 September: The Indian Army;
  • No. 27 19 September: Life in the R.A.C.;
  • No. 28 3 October: Dieppe Summary;
  • No. 29 17 October: The British Soldier;
  • No. 30 31 October: I didn’t think it mattered;
  • No. 31 14 November: Where did that one go (RA);
  • No. 32 28 November: The Airborne Forces;
  • No. 33 12 December: Desert song;
  • No. 34 26 December: Army Food (+ CMP+ selection);

1943 WAR[edit]

  • No. 35 9 January: The trouble with Italians;
  • No. 36 23 January: And what did you see?(RA);
  • No. 37 6 Febr: Little men, what now?;
  • No. 38 22 February: This is the Red Army;
  • No. 39 March 6, 1943: Battle report (16 p.);
  • No. 40 March 20, 1943: Pass the Ammunition (16 p.);
  • No. 41 3 April: "Be Mean and kill ‘em";
  • No. 42 17 April: He leads, the others follow;
  • No. 43 no details known;
  • No. 44 15 May: Casualty report;
  • No. 45 29 May: Operation Diary;
  • No. 46 12 June: The Royal Marines;
  • No. 47 26 June: The horse’s mouth ;
  • No. 48 10 July: Enemy: Japan;
  • No. 49 24 July: The documents in the case;
  • No. 50 7 August: Mediterranean Journey;
  • No. 51 21 August: The guards at Mareth;
  • No. 52 4 September: A night out in Sicily;
  • No. 53 18 September: ATS (progress report);
  • No. 54 2 October: Daylight bombing;
  • No. 55 16 October: Coastal Forces;
  • No. 56 30 October: Soldiers’ Battles;
  • No. 57 13 November: All orders faithfully executed (RE);
  • No. 58 27 November: When in Rome;
  • No. 59 11 December: Parachuting as a career;
  • No. 60 25 December: thought for food (and part two of Parachuting as a career.);

1944 WAR[edit]

No. 61 8 January: Seaward watch;

  • No. 62 22 January: Frankfurt revisited;
  • No. 63 5 February: Recce Corps;
  • No. 64 19 February: Strictly G.I.;
  • No. 65 4 March: Salerno Diary;
  • No. 66 18 March: Louder and Faster (AA);
  • No. 67 1 April: The man overhead;
  • No. 68 15 April: Self-preservation(booby traps);
  • No. 69 29 April: One more river;
  • No. 70 13 May: The other army;
  • No. 71 27 May: Next of kin;
  • No. 72 10 June: Up in Arms;
  • No. 73 June 24, 1944: Preparations (16 p.)
  • No. 74 No details available;
  • No. 75 5 August: The case against Private Abbott;
  • No. 76 19 August: Tiger, tiger, burning bright;
  • No. 77 2 September: Two sides of battle;
  • No. 78 16 September: The Captain in search of his youth;
  • No. 79 14 October: Not only concerned with food;
  • No. 80 28 October: Gentlemen, let us not hurry;
  • No. 81 11 November: Five years of war;
  • No. 82 25 November: Yes, if he has no fingernails;
  • No. 83 9 December: Arnhem, part I;
  • No. 84 23 December: Arnhem, part II;

1945 WAR[edit]

  • No. 85 6 January: Look Homeward, Jap;
  • No. 86 20 January: Antwerp;
  • No. 88 17 February: Riding high;
  • No. 89 3 March: The Philippines;
  • No. 90 17 March: The Red Army advances;
  • No. 91 31 March: Incidental explosion;
  • No. 93 28 April: Report (20 p.);
  • No. 94 12 May: Return via Dunkirk;
  • No. 95 May 26, 1945: From now on (16 p.);
  • No. 96 9 June: The road to Rangoon;
  • No. 97 23 June: Swan song.


A.B.C.A. series CURRENT AFFAIRS[edit]

1941 Current Affairs[edit]

  • No. 1 27 September: A background bulletin;
  • No. 2 11 October: A background bulletin;
  • No. 3 25 October: A background bulletin;
  • No. 4 8 November: A background bulletin;
  • No. 5 22 November: A background bulletin;
  • No. 6 6 December: A background bulletin;
  • No. 7 20 December: A background bulletin;

1942[edit]

  • No. 8 3 January: A background bulletin;
  • No. 9 17 January: A background bulletin;
  • No. 10 31 January: A background bulletin;
  • No. 11 14 February: A background bulletin;
  • No. 12 28 February: A background bulletin;
  • No. 13 14 March: A background bulletin;
  • No. 14 28 March: A background bulletin;
  • No. 15 11 April: A background bulletin;
  • No. 16 25 April: A background bulletin;
  • No. 17 9 May: South Africa and the War;
  • No. 18 23 May: Britain’s Acres go to War;
  • No. 19 6 June: Cripps on India;
  • No. 20 20 June: Women at War;
  • No. 21 4 July: Hitler’s Own War;
  • No. 22 18 July: Meet the Americans;
  • No. 23 1 August: The British Empire;
  • No. 24 15 August: The Chungking Angle;
  • No. 25 29 August: The Russian Background;
  • No. 26 12 September: Here are the Americans;
  • No. 27 26 September: Town Planning;
  • No. 28 10 October: What price Victory?;
  • No. 29 24 October: Development of Nazism;
  • No. 30 7 November: How can we abolish War?;
  • No. 31 21 November: Taking Stock;
  • No. 32 5 December: North Africa;
  • No. 33 19 December: The Beveridge report;

1943[edit]

  • No. 34 2 January: The Mediterranean;
  • No. 35 16 January: Rumour;
  • No. 36 30 January: North African Resources;
  • No. 37 13 February: The Nation’s health;
  • No. 38 27 February: The Middle East and Turkey;
  • No. 39 13 March: Spain;
  • No. 40 27 March: Latin America;
  • No. 41 10 April: Germany’s New Order;
  • No. 42 24 April: The Colonies;
  • No. 43 8 May: Problems in the Pacific;
  • No. 44 22 May: Women after the war;
  • No. 45 5 June: Social Security;
  • No. 46 3 July: Facts about Italy;
  • No. 47 17 July: Balkan Background;
  • No. 48 31 July: When the Lights go on;
  • No. 49 14 August: The trouble with Germans;
  • No. 50 28 August: You are going to Europe;
  • No. 51 11 September: What about our schools?;
  • No. 52 25 September: Transatlantic Soundings;
  • No. 53 9 October: Here’s Tae Us!;
  • No. 54 23 October: What we’ll Find in Europe;
  • No. 55 6 November: Are we United Nations;
  • No. 56 20 November: Building the Post-war Home;
  • No. 57 4 December: Farming in Soviet Russia;
  • No. 58 18 December: What about France:

1944 Current Affairs[edit]

  • No. 59 1 January: You and the Americans;
  • No. 60 15 January: Armies of Occupation;
  • No. 62 12 February: What we’ll Find in Germany;
  • No. 63 26 February: This Business of Public Opinion;
  • No. 64 11 March: The Yank in Britain;
  • No. 65 25 March: What is good food;
  • No. 66 8 April: Belgium and Holland;
  • No. 67 22 April: How about Japan;
  • No. 68 6 May: Partners in Battle;
  • No. 69 20 May: The Nazis in Scandinavia;
  • No. 70 3 June: Electing the President;
  • No. 71 17 June: Work for All;
  • No. 72 1 July: So you’re going to France;
  • No. 73 15 July: Partisan Setting!;
  • No. 74 29 July: Friends in Need;
  • No. 75 12 August: After the Blitz is Over?;
  • No. 76 26 August: Schools for Tomorrow;
  • No. 77 9 September: The Japanese Way;
  • No. 78 23 September: "Show me the way to go home";
  • No. 79 7 October: Brush-up for civvy street;
  • No. 80 21 October: Parisian come-back;
  • No. 81 4 November: a Weapon against want;
  • No. 82 18 November: What happened at home? (20p.);
  • No. 83 2 December: Fewer children;
  • No. 84 16 December: Men from the Dominions;
  • No. 85 30 December: The cinema and the public;

1945 Current Affairs[edit]

  • No. 86 13 January: Japanese purpose;
  • No. 87 January 27: What price Peace?;
  • No. 88 10 February: Chinese prospect;
  • No. 89 24 February: A practical democracy (on New Zealand) (20 p.);
  • No. 90 10 March: The more we are together;
  • No. 91 24 March: ‘Jolly Swagman’;
  • No. 92 no details
  • No. 93 21 April: Theirs is the Future;
  • No. 94 5 May: On thinking geographically;
  • No. 95 no details
  • No. 96 2 June: The artist and the public (20 p.);
  • No. B1 July 21: Bridging the Gap;
  • No. B2 Aug 4: A matter of choice (16 p.);
  • No. 3(B) 18 August: This business of migration (20 p.);
  • No. 4(B) 1 September: The prospect before us (16 p.)
  • No. 5(B) 15 September: We all go the same way home (16 p.)
  • No. 7(B) 13 October: Look before you leap! (30 p.)
  • No. 108(A) 17 November: South African Survey;
  • No. 10(B) 24 November: Hungry World;
  • No. 109(A) 1 December: Indian Background (20 p.);
  • No. 110(A) 15 December: Housing Brief (20 p.);
  • No. 12(B) 22 December: Work in hand (20 p.)
  • No. 112 12 January: Burning Issue (20 p.);
  • No. 117 "What Manchester thinks to-day..." (20 p.)

Note: between July and December 1945 ABCA ‘Current Affairs’ had a ‘B’-series in between the normal bi-weekly issue, with a B prefix for the book number.

External links[edit]