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TITLE
The Salerno Mutiny (12 of 15)
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_HUGHFRASER_12
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Hugh Fraser
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1679
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.

I was taken in front of the - an officer somewhere in that camp. I was told that I'd been found guilty of the charge of mutiny. I was to be reduced to the ranks and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment with penal servitude. There's no such thing nowadays, of course, as penal servitude but in their terms it's just hard labour, ten years' hard labour. And then sometime later on I did learn that - Oh, I'm almost in tears when I think about it - the sergeants who had been similarly confined in a cell, each one in a cell by himself, they had been found guilty of course, like me, and they were sentenced to death. Three of the finest men I've ever known. There was Milne, Pettit and Middleton - I'll never forget them. I know that the chap Innes is now dead - I don't know what happened to the other two, they're probably dead and gone by this time too - I just don't know. But how they must have felt I just - I can't - I just can't fathom it out at all, to be told they were sentenced to death, and it was with no recommendation to mercy.

Interviewer: No recommendation?

No recommendation to mercy. So that was their death sentence qualified to that extent. They were convinced they were going to be put up against a wall and shot.

Interviewer: Were there any moves to appeal against the sentence?

I didn't know what an appeal was then. I didn't know there was such a thing as an appeal. As I said, I was told I was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment with penal servitude. That was it. I was going to be behind bars. I was going to be in prison for the next ten years. No, an appeal - I didn't know what an appeal was then; I'd no knowledge of the law whatsoever. And nobody came to - nobody came to say, 'Look, we're going to appeal against this'. It was all cut and dried, I think, in any event. We were going to be found guilty long before we came to trial

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The Salerno Mutiny (12 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 /> I was taken in front of the - an officer somewhere in that camp. I was told that I'd been found guilty of the charge of mutiny. I was to be reduced to the ranks and sentenced to ten years' imprisonment with penal servitude. There's no such thing nowadays, of course, as penal servitude but in their terms it's just hard labour, ten years' hard labour. And then sometime later on I did learn that - Oh, I'm almost in tears when I think about it - the sergeants who had been similarly confined in a cell, each one in a cell by himself, they had been found guilty of course, like me, and they were sentenced to death. Three of the finest men I've ever known. There was Milne, Pettit and Middleton - I'll never forget them. I know that the chap Innes is now dead - I don't know what happened to the other two, they're probably dead and gone by this time too - I just don't know. But how they must have felt I just - I can't - I just can't fathom it out at all, to be told they were sentenced to death, and it was with no recommendation to mercy. <br /> <br /> Interviewer: No recommendation?<br /> <br /> No recommendation to mercy. So that was their death sentence qualified to that extent. They were convinced they were going to be put up against a wall and shot. <br /> <br /> Interviewer: Were there any moves to appeal against the sentence?<br /> <br /> I didn't know what an appeal was then. I didn't know there was such a thing as an appeal. As I said, I was told I was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment with penal servitude. That was it. I was going to be behind bars. I was going to be in prison for the next ten years. No, an appeal - I didn't know what an appeal was then; I'd no knowledge of the law whatsoever. And nobody came to - nobody came to say, 'Look, we're going to appeal against this'. It was all cut and dried, I think, in any event. We were going to be found guilty long before we came to trial