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TITLE
The Salerno Mutiny (14 of 15)
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_MFR_HUGHFRASER_14
PERIOD
1990s
CREATOR
Hugh Fraser
SOURCE
Moray Firth Radio
ASSET ID
1682
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.

'After some months in the prison - I can't remember how long, it wasn't so very long perhaps two or three months - I was taken in front of the person in charge of the prison. I was told I was being released on what was termed suspended sentence which meant that I was going to be released but any minor breakage of the law thereafter I was back to prison for ten years. So as I said, I was released on suspended sentence, I was taken back to Italy again. I was transferred to the 1st Battalion York and Lancs (the York and Lancashire Regiment). I served with them in Italy for quite a while until eventually at the Anzio beachhead, which wasn't very nice, I was wounded - I stopped a burst of machine gun fire across my chest. I was wounded.

Interviewer: You were lucky to have survived that?

Oh, I was very lucky. They say that you never see the shell or the bullets which gets you. I saw a line of tracer bullets coming towards me which were fired from quite close by. And I can see them yet, just coming towards me. And then I was lifted up off my feet, I was turned round two or three times, finished up on the ground. The bullets were still thump, thump, thumping into the ground and I was, I was in agony. The pain was all round my, all round my heart. I was actually convinced I was going to die. We were out on the patrol at the time, somewhere out between our own lines and the German lines. It was the middle of the night, dark, black as sin, and I was lying there utterly convinced I was going to die. I had no idea where I was or what I was going to do. I was going to lie there and just die, until eventually the officer who was in charge of the patrol he appeared from somewhere. He lifted me up and somehow got me back to our own lines again. How he managed to get me back I don't know because I was in agony. I got back to the front casualty clearing station and from there I was taken further back to the - a little hospital on the beach head, and then onto a ship and taken back - taken somewhere else to a hospital'

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The Salerno Mutiny (14 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 /> 'After some months in the prison - I can't remember how long, it wasn't so very long perhaps two or three months - I was taken in front of the person in charge of the prison. I was told I was being released on what was termed suspended sentence which meant that I was going to be released but any minor breakage of the law thereafter I was back to prison for ten years. So as I said, I was released on suspended sentence, I was taken back to Italy again. I was transferred to the 1st Battalion York and Lancs (the York and Lancashire Regiment). I served with them in Italy for quite a while until eventually at the Anzio beachhead, which wasn't very nice, I was wounded - I stopped a burst of machine gun fire across my chest. I was wounded.<br /> <br /> Interviewer: You were lucky to have survived that?<br /> <br /> Oh, I was very lucky. They say that you never see the shell or the bullets which gets you. I saw a line of tracer bullets coming towards me which were fired from quite close by. And I can see them yet, just coming towards me. And then I was lifted up off my feet, I was turned round two or three times, finished up on the ground. The bullets were still thump, thump, thumping into the ground and I was, I was in agony. The pain was all round my, all round my heart. I was actually convinced I was going to die. We were out on the patrol at the time, somewhere out between our own lines and the German lines. It was the middle of the night, dark, black as sin, and I was lying there utterly convinced I was going to die. I had no idea where I was or what I was going to do. I was going to lie there and just die, until eventually the officer who was in charge of the patrol he appeared from somewhere. He lifted me up and somehow got me back to our own lines again. How he managed to get me back I don't know because I was in agony. I got back to the front casualty clearing station and from there I was taken further back to the - a little hospital on the beach head, and then onto a ship and taken back - taken somewhere else to a hospital'