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George Steer was a journalist for 'The Times' and later the 'Daily Telegraph'. He famously reported on the Italian invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 and the Spanish Civil war, particularly the bombing of Guernica on 26 April 1937.
During the Second World War Steer organised forward propaganda in Ethiopia and then worked for the Special Operations Executive in the Middle East. In 1943 he was transferred to India and working with Alec Peterson set up the Indian Forward Broadcasting Units (IFBU).
He and three others were killed in a vehicle accident on Christmas day 1944.
The following letter written by Alec Peterson puts on record his valuable contribution to the forming of the Indian Field Broadcasting Units.
H.Q. Force 136.
11th January, 1945.
To: A/DP (through B/B.100)
From: B/B.210. [A. D. C. Peterson]
The official details of the death of Lieut.-Colonel G.L. Steer have no doubt reached you through A.G's branch; I feel however that someone should put on record the great service which he has done for S.O.E. and particularly propaganda work out here.
Without Steer I do not think there would have been any British forward propaganda units in this area. He arrived in the theatre in the spring of 1943, direct from the Middle East, and went immediately into the field, with an improvised Forward Propaganda Unit. Since that time the whole training and technique of these units has been that which he worked out in the first Arakan and Manipur campaigns; but it has been much more than technique. His great personal qualities of courage and sympathy made him an ideal leader not only of British officers, but also of the many Orientals, Korean, Indian and Assamese, who served under him. Without the very deep personal loyalty to him which everyone in the I.F.B.Us felt, these units could never have achieved the results they did or faced the difficulties with which they were beset, without losing some of the enthusiasm and spirit of co-operation which have carried them through. At the same time Steer by his own example, his appreciation of military problems and sincere devotion to his cause was able to dispel much of the prejudice against "propaganda" which so often arises in a military Headquarters.
We shall not be able to replace him, but he has left his work in the hands of a group of officers whom he has trained himself, and at a stage when the greatest difficulties have been overcome. The Units which are taking the field now are the very best evidence of his service.
[Source: TNA HS 9/1410/9, Steer's SOE personal file, transcribed by www.psywar.org]