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TITLE
The Salerno Mutiny (7 of 15)
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_HUGHFRASER_07
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Hugh Fraser
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1672
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: What were your own feelings when you went into the prisoner - the prison section?

Well, as I've said, I was certainly and completely demoralised but I had a funny sort of feeling that eventually things would turn out alright. I couldn't contemplate being charged with the charge of mutiny, with the ultimate sentence of death. I thought that somehow, somehow things would turn out alright and the error of the ways of those high-ranking officers back in Tripoli would be found out and we would be returned to our own units. I didn't think that we would be tried for any - well, perhaps refusing to obey an order - but even that I didn't think would have been appropriate.

Interviewer: How were you treated by the troops that were posted to guard you?

Some of them were alright to us; others just weren't very pleasant at all. There were various cat calls of refusing to fight, refusing to pick up arms, but overall, the majority seemed to treat us alright.

Interviewer: And were you generally treated ok in the camp; did you get your full rations?

No, no. As far as I remember we were on the hard tack - bully and biscuits. We'd no cigarettes. Cigarettes weren't issued to us which - a cigarette was a great comfort in those times - being a smoker of course. But the food we got, as far as I remember, it was just the basics - bully beef and hard biscuits. We'd no cover from any shell fire, what have you. In fact, a couple of shells landed when we were being taken to the prisoner of war cage and somebody, somebody was injured. But no, we'd no protection from any sort of shellfire at all. We were just out on the open ground inside this barbed wire cage, like a bunch of lions

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The Salerno Mutiny (7 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: What were your own feelings when you went into the prisoner - the prison section?<br /> <br /> Well, as I've said, I was certainly and completely demoralised but I had a funny sort of feeling that eventually things would turn out alright. I couldn't contemplate being charged with the charge of mutiny, with the ultimate sentence of death. I thought that somehow, somehow things would turn out alright and the error of the ways of those high-ranking officers back in Tripoli would be found out and we would be returned to our own units. I didn't think that we would be tried for any - well, perhaps refusing to obey an order - but even that I didn't think would have been appropriate.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: How were you treated by the troops that were posted to guard you?<br /> <br /> Some of them were alright to us; others just weren't very pleasant at all. There were various cat calls of refusing to fight, refusing to pick up arms, but overall, the majority seemed to treat us alright.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: And were you generally treated ok in the camp; did you get your full rations?<br /> <br /> No, no. As far as I remember we were on the hard tack - bully and biscuits. We'd no cigarettes. Cigarettes weren't issued to us which - a cigarette was a great comfort in those times - being a smoker of course. But the food we got, as far as I remember, it was just the basics - bully beef and hard biscuits. We'd no cover from any shell fire, what have you. In fact, a couple of shells landed when we were being taken to the prisoner of war cage and somebody, somebody was injured. But no, we'd no protection from any sort of shellfire at all. We were just out on the open ground inside this barbed wire cage, like a bunch of lions