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TITLE
The Salerno Mutiny (5 of 15)
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_HUGHFRASER_05
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Hugh Fraser
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1669
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.

Interviewer: Now, throughout this Hugh there was no actual physical resistance. There was no armed rebellion as such?

That's correct. When the word mutiny is mentioned you perhaps think of, you know, Captain Blyth and the Bounty and men going about shouting and bawling and waving their swords and their guns about. This was the quietest mutiny which ever happened at any time. We stood still, there was no uproar, and as I've said again, and I'll repeat it, there was no coercion whatsoever. It was an individual effort. Each man - these men, they'd come through a hard war - they were fully capable of making up their own minds. And I've said, I was not going. I explained to the lads that I wasn't going, but if they wanted to go they could go. If they didn't want to go, well they could stand still with me. And it was the quietest mutiny that has ever been known. There was no shouting, no fury. It was all done very, very quietly.

Interviewer: And do you still maintain, Hugh, that there was no plot amongst the lads to say, right we're not going to go along with this? This was all individual decisions.

It was an individual effort. Each one of us, strange to say, we had our minds made up just more or less at the same time. From the time that announcement was made over the tannoy on the ship in the Mediterranean our minds were made up then. Each man had made his own mind up. There was no - no little groups discussing the thing saying, we should do this or we should do that. It was utterly and entirely an individual effort.

Interviewer: After those that agreed to leave the parade left, what was the format of the parade after that, Hugh?

Just the same as what it had been. Our morale was very, very, very low at the time because we were sleeping out in the open; we didn't have much food; and things were kinda rough.

Interviewer: Did you have all the equipment you needed?

I think I had a rifle; I'd no ammunition. Some of the other lads had no rifle, no ammunition. Some had ammunition, no rifles. It was a most disorganised affair altogether.

Interviewer: Do you think in that condition they'd have been fit to act as reinforcements for anyone else, Hugh?

Well, I certainly would have been fit. I was more or less fully fit; I still had one or two of my desert sores showing but I was fully fit to go to another unit. Lots of the lads weren't fully fit. Many of those who embarked on these ships away back in Tripoli should still have been hospital cases but, as I said away back, they were so keen to return to their own units, they came notwithstanding they were unfit

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The Salerno Mutiny (5 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 /> Interviewer: Now, throughout this Hugh there was no actual physical resistance. There was no armed rebellion as such?<br /> <br /> That's correct. When the word mutiny is mentioned you perhaps think of, you know, Captain Blyth and the Bounty and men going about shouting and bawling and waving their swords and their guns about. This was the quietest mutiny which ever happened at any time. We stood still, there was no uproar, and as I've said again, and I'll repeat it, there was no coercion whatsoever. It was an individual effort. Each man - these men, they'd come through a hard war - they were fully capable of making up their own minds. And I've said, I was not going. I explained to the lads that I wasn't going, but if they wanted to go they could go. If they didn't want to go, well they could stand still with me. And it was the quietest mutiny that has ever been known. There was no shouting, no fury. It was all done very, very quietly.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: And do you still maintain, Hugh, that there was no plot amongst the lads to say, right we're not going to go along with this? This was all individual decisions.<br /> <br /> It was an individual effort. Each one of us, strange to say, we had our minds made up just more or less at the same time. From the time that announcement was made over the tannoy on the ship in the Mediterranean our minds were made up then. Each man had made his own mind up. There was no - no little groups discussing the thing saying, we should do this or we should do that. It was utterly and entirely an individual effort.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: After those that agreed to leave the parade left, what was the format of the parade after that, Hugh?<br /> <br /> Just the same as what it had been. Our morale was very, very, very low at the time because we were sleeping out in the open; we didn't have much food; and things were kinda rough.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Did you have all the equipment you needed?<br /> <br /> I think I had a rifle; I'd no ammunition. Some of the other lads had no rifle, no ammunition. Some had ammunition, no rifles. It was a most disorganised affair altogether.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: Do you think in that condition they'd have been fit to act as reinforcements for anyone else, Hugh?<br /> <br /> Well, I certainly would have been fit. I was more or less fully fit; I still had one or two of my desert sores showing but I was fully fit to go to another unit. Lots of the lads weren't fully fit. Many of those who embarked on these ships away back in Tripoli should still have been hospital cases but, as I said away back, they were so keen to return to their own units, they came notwithstanding they were unfit