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TITLE
The Salerno Mutiny (2 of 15)
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_HUGHFRASER_02
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Hugh Fraser
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1664
KEYWORDS
mutinies
World War II
Second World War
Territorials
audio

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Hugh Fraser, a native of Inverness, was one of the soldiers involved in the Salerno Mutiny in September 1943, when 192 men refused to take orders during the Allied invasion of southern Italy. The mutineers had become separated from their units in North Africa. After being told they would be returning to their own regiments in Salerno, they discovered they were being grouped with American troops fighting for the city. The soldiers refused to comply, claiming they had been lied to, but they were subsequently tried and found guilty. Three sergeants were initially sentenced to death - subsequently commuted to twelve years' imprisonment. The corporals received sentences of ten years and the remainder, seven years. However, all sentences were subsequently formally suspended, dependant upon no further misconduct. An official pardon, however, was never received.

In this audio extract, originally recorded in the 1990s for 'Moray Firth People', Hugh relates his experience of the mutiny.

'We arrived at - I think it was Port Tufic, spent some time in the desert somewhere behind the Alamein Line and I, fortunately, I missed out on Alamein; I contracted a very severe dose of what was known as 'desert sores' so during the Battle of Alamein I was in hospital. So I missed that but very soon afterwards I rejoined the battalion and I was with them from there on, up through the desert, North Africa, across to Sicily, and once again I contracted a very severe dose of desert sores so I was sent to hospital across to Tripoli and I'm afraid it was there where this sad event more or less initiated.

Following discharge from the hospital in Tripoli I went to a transit camp - the notorious 155 transit camp. I can't remember how long I was there but I certainly remember one night, later on or perhaps early morning, we were all told to come out on parade. There was a large number of us - I can't remember how many - but I, I was curious as to where we were going so I spoke to the sergeant major who was in charge of the camp and I can remember the chap yet; I remember his name - it was Green - and I said to him, 'What's this all about? Are we going to back to our own units?' 'Yes, you are.' So that was fine. That was just what I and all the other lads who had been discharged from hospital wanted to do - get back to our own mates again and our own battalions and our own divisions. We were formed up on parade; our names were called. One of the chaps in my battalion, the Camerons, who hadn't been named on the draft, he was so keen to join that he came onto the draft unofficially. That was the case with all of us; we were keen to get back to our own mates again, no matter where they were. I personally, I'd no idea where the 5th Camerons were at that time. I left them in Sicily. As far as was aware they were still there. So this was fine. We were going back to our own mates again and that's just what we wanted'

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The Salerno Mutiny (2 of 15)

1990s

mutinies; World War II; Second World War; Territorials; audio

Moray Firth Radio

MFR: The Salerno Mutiny

Hugh Fraser, a native of Inverness, was one of the soldiers involved in the Salerno Mutiny in September 1943, when 192 men refused to take orders during the Allied invasion of southern Italy. The mutineers had become separated from their units in North Africa. After being told they would be returning to their own regiments in Salerno, they discovered they were being grouped with American troops fighting for the city. The soldiers refused to comply, claiming they had been lied to, but they were subsequently tried and found guilty. Three sergeants were initially sentenced to death - subsequently commuted to twelve years' imprisonment. The corporals received sentences of ten years and the remainder, seven years. However, all sentences were subsequently formally suspended, dependant upon no further misconduct. An official pardon, however, was never received.<br /> <br /> In this audio extract, originally recorded in the 1990s for 'Moray Firth People', Hugh relates his experience of the mutiny.<br /> <br /> 'We arrived at - I think it was Port Tufic, spent some time in the desert somewhere behind the Alamein Line and I, fortunately, I missed out on Alamein; I contracted a very severe dose of what was known as 'desert sores' so during the Battle of Alamein I was in hospital. So I missed that but very soon afterwards I rejoined the battalion and I was with them from there on, up through the desert, North Africa, across to Sicily, and once again I contracted a very severe dose of desert sores so I was sent to hospital across to Tripoli and I'm afraid it was there where this sad event more or less initiated.<br /> <br /> Following discharge from the hospital in Tripoli I went to a transit camp - the notorious 155 transit camp. I can't remember how long I was there but I certainly remember one night, later on or perhaps early morning, we were all told to come out on parade. There was a large number of us - I can't remember how many - but I, I was curious as to where we were going so I spoke to the sergeant major who was in charge of the camp and I can remember the chap yet; I remember his name - it was Green - and I said to him, 'What's this all about? Are we going to back to our own units?' 'Yes, you are.' So that was fine. That was just what I and all the other lads who had been discharged from hospital wanted to do - get back to our own mates again and our own battalions and our own divisions. We were formed up on parade; our names were called. One of the chaps in my battalion, the Camerons, who hadn't been named on the draft, he was so keen to join that he came onto the draft unofficially. That was the case with all of us; we were keen to get back to our own mates again, no matter where they were. I personally, I'd no idea where the 5th Camerons were at that time. I left them in Sicily. As far as was aware they were still there. So this was fine. We were going back to our own mates again and that's just what we wanted'