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TITLE
The Salerno Mutiny (11 of 15)
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_HUGHFRASER_11
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Hugh Fraser
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1678
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: At the end of the formal proceedings, the actual court martial proceedings, there wasn't sort of an immediate decision?

No, there was what, what was known as a promulgation of sentence. Those of us who were NCOs - I don't know where the private soldiers went - but those of us who were NCOs we were taken apart from the rest. I finished up in a cell, all on my own, somewhere nearby - I think it was in a detention barracks somewhere - I don't know, but in any event I was kept in a cell, as were the other NCOs, they were kept in other cells, so for about two weeks I was in that cell awaiting what I now believe was the promulgation of sentence.

Interviewer: What was your feelings when you were confined to that cell?

I just felt like an animal in a cage and by that time, of course, I realised that something serious was going to happen that - I was in no doubt then that we were going to be found guilty. As I've said I was in this little cell, for two, for two weeks I think it was. I didn't see anybody other than the guards who came to give me a wee bit grub now and again. I think I've explained to other people that all I had to do was read my New Testament, which was rather strange, and I had a mess tin which I polished. That was, that was all that I was doing for a couple of weeks solitary in that cell - reading my New Testament and polishing this mess tin; must have been the shiniest in the whole of the British Army, I think. I did nothing else. That was it. In the cell, doing nothing, pacing back and fore like an animal in a cage, wondering what was going to happen. I wasn't very pleased with some of the guards who were in charge of us. Some of them were quite friendly to us. I think some of the guards, some of the guards in this place had been ex-, had been men who had seen some action before, and one or two of them were quite friendly with us, but in the main, they just didn't like us, full stop

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The Salerno Mutiny (11 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: At the end of the formal proceedings, the actual court martial proceedings, there wasn't sort of an immediate decision?<br /> <br /> No, there was what, what was known as a promulgation of sentence. Those of us who were NCOs - I don't know where the private soldiers went - but those of us who were NCOs we were taken apart from the rest. I finished up in a cell, all on my own, somewhere nearby - I think it was in a detention barracks somewhere - I don't know, but in any event I was kept in a cell, as were the other NCOs, they were kept in other cells, so for about two weeks I was in that cell awaiting what I now believe was the promulgation of sentence.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: What was your feelings when you were confined to that cell?<br /> <br /> I just felt like an animal in a cage and by that time, of course, I realised that something serious was going to happen that - I was in no doubt then that we were going to be found guilty. As I've said I was in this little cell, for two, for two weeks I think it was. I didn't see anybody other than the guards who came to give me a wee bit grub now and again. I think I've explained to other people that all I had to do was read my New Testament, which was rather strange, and I had a mess tin which I polished. That was, that was all that I was doing for a couple of weeks solitary in that cell - reading my New Testament and polishing this mess tin; must have been the shiniest in the whole of the British Army, I think. I did nothing else. That was it. In the cell, doing nothing, pacing back and fore like an animal in a cage, wondering what was going to happen. I wasn't very pleased with some of the guards who were in charge of us. Some of them were quite friendly to us. I think some of the guards, some of the guards in this place had been ex-, had been men who had seen some action before, and one or two of them were quite friendly with us, but in the main, they just didn't like us, full stop