hi - if you are still interested, my father was in 13th. He also had spells in 2nd. He is 85 now and in good nick, dodgy knees notwithstanding. The old bugger can be a bit unforthcoming (aren't they all ?) but if you give me some contact details I will do my best to twist his arm for you. I don't recognise Putot en Auge but the rest are familiar. My email is Christophermwm@btinternet.com. You know about the little local difficulty in Malaya ?
263A ? And 263 in the court-martial ? May I please ask if this is a coincidence or a connection ?
ps Surely not the Me263A ! This place is a real education. Just reading the quotations is fascinating. My Latin is up to speed, but what is the meaning of WHAT SHUFFLE BAR'S ?? And here is where I show myself to be a real prick - the alleged words of Francois 1 were I believe 'fors' and not 'hors'. Same sentiment however.
So can you please give me some pointers on how best to get on with the people here. I would really like to. And in the unlikely event that I can be of any service that would, as they say, be an honour. I would offer you ' Santayana is perhaps best known today for his remark that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", and the line "only the dead have seen the end of war"the latter often falsely attributed to Plato.' You gentlemen know the truth of that. Would that the politicians did.
first up , a black cat but on yellow not red ? So no connection with the 56th of George Macdonald Fraser ?
back to the matter in hand. When I took my dad down to Maerdy in the Rhonnda in March, I finally took some notes. He had shown me the little triangle with his number a while ago, and both my wife and I immediately urged him that it should end up in an appropriate museum. It's a little piece of history and as such not insignificant. I like how he tells how the senior officer presiding over the court-martial got very stroppy about that.
If I am out of order with any of the rest, then I apologise now, but here goes. Muar. The CO had left and the ex-rugby international 2i/c was frankly not up to it. Flooding with the tide twice a day. Is it really true that the only concession was a few canoes to keep kit dry ? So, strike. Except the Army calls that a mutiny. When 12th and 7th were asked to take 13th into close arrest, polite responses to the effect that was probably not a good idea. Dad remembers it as the 2nd Infantry Div that did the deed. I ought to cross-check that but sure you will put me straight. Six suspected ringleaders including my old man off to Singapore, not Changi but wherever the Kempetai did their evil work, for a lengthy spell in solitary. But nobody was saying anything. Not clear what holiday camp the rest of you were in.
So the Field General Court-Martial. The old man insists the full term is used, and it does have a ring to it. With lots of hard labour handed out, to be served outside the UK. That sounds particularly nasty. But Bessie Braddock, Winston Churchill and the Daily Mirror play merry hell and the whole thing gets quashed. That bit I have read up on, in Hansard. Except the authorities being the authorities decide that the 13th is surplus to requirements and you get disbanded in Palestine, where Dad ends up in the South Staffs under a decent bloke name of Lonsdale I have read about but not yet got organised to see in 'Theirs is the Glory.' And the Church wasn't open when I was in Oosterbeek in April, something I will correct at a later date.
Again apologies for any inaccuracy and please no offence intended to anybody. Given Channel Four did what I as a civvy thought was quite a good piece of work with 'The Promise', I have wondered about the possibilities in that story. Complete with prologue including the mortar platoon not being too happy about laying down fire on a suspect Kampong when the infantry advance turned out to be Japanese.
Except Dad says the whole thing is taboo in the Regiment. Gentlemen this is the 21st Century, and you do not have all the time in the world. If there is not already an oral history in existence I urge that there should be one. I have some time on my hands and via a friend of my wife access to some professionals in the field.
As always my apologies when I talk crap or act like a prick. It is really nice to feel welcome around here, something I could never have anticipated. If I have got that one wrong please put me straight pdq because I absolutely do not want to piss off any of you lot. You feel practically like my uncles !
I once worked with a bloke who said he'd been in 13 Para; it was a menial job (the one we were doing when I met him) and I thought he was an embittered alcoholic. He'd joined them after the Rhine crossings. I didn't then know about the local difficulties. I can't recall his name it is 30+ years ago.
Nevil Shute's autobiography contains a brief description of a 'mutiny' in which he'd been a participant after WW1. A rupert became irate and pointed his revolver; the platoon levelled their rifles. The rupert was posted, the army kept it quiet and everyone was honourably discharged asap. Quite sensible, under the circumstances; the war was over, they were all very pissed off and the Spanish flu was still killing thousands of squaddies.
I was told by a 2 Para bloke that it wasn't the 'Royal Parachute Regiment' because 2 Para had mutinied in Palestine (an urban myth, I think). He was proud of it and probably would have had it on the battle honours.
The battalion arrived at Muar Camp from Java on the night of 5th May, and was shortly afterwards joined by a draft of 120 men, 50 straight from this country and 70 who had been away from the battalion for the previous six months due to illness. Muar is a tented camp and conditions were undoubtedly bad, and although it had been previously occupied by another unit from whom this battalion took over, much required to be done to bring it up to a reasonable standard of habitation. It lacked proper facilities for washing, feeding, cooking and recreation and there was not electric light in all tents. There were several reasons for the bad conditions of the camp, the most important of which were that the changeover from the war to the peacetime system of administration was in the transitional stage and a certain failure on the part of the battalion, and advance party in particular, to help themselves. The commanding officer, however, took immediate steps to have these conditions improved after the battalion's arrival, but there was a heavy fall of rain which was quite unexpected and which caused living conditions in the camp to deteriorate considerably.
On the evening of 13th May there was a certain amount of discontent in the canteen and the word "strike" was mentioned. Later the lights were put out and someone asked those present if they were prepared to stick to what had been arranged. At about 7 a.m. on 14th May, about 260 men congregated on the sea wall in a sullen mood, and when ordered to disperse by the orderly officer made no move. They later moved to the canteen and here they were addressed by the commanding officer who told them that they should air their grievances in the proper way, that he could not entertain collective grievances, and that if they refused to return to duty they would be guilty of mutiny. He gave them a direct order to 39 return to their companies. As the men did not respond to this order the commanding officer reported the matter to his superior commander. During the afternoon the divisional commander arrived and addressed the men, who had again assembled on the sea wall. The commanding officer then put out company markers and ordered the men to fall in. They did not do so, and the divisional commander ordered another battalion to take them into custody. None of the officers or N.C.Os. took part in the mutiny, nor had they any previous knowledge that it was going to occur.
Two Courts of Inquiry were assembled on 17th and 22nd May; one to inquire into the causes of the mutiny and the other to inquire into the conditions in Muar Camp. As a result it was decided that all the 258 men concerned must be brought to trial for mutiny. The trial commenced on 12th August and was completed on 19th September. Of the 258 men charged three were acquitted and all the remainder were convicted. Of these, eight were sentenced to 5 years' penal servitude and to be discharged with ignominy. The General to 3 years' penal servitude and to be dis-carged with ignominy. The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief as Confirming Officer did not confirm the proceedings in the case of 12 accused who were accordingly released, and in the remaining 243 cases commuted all the sentences to 2 years' imprisonment with hard labour and to be discharged with ignominy.
Two Courts of Inquiry were assembled on 17th and 22nd May; one to inquire into the causes of the mutiny and the other to inquire into the conditions in Muar Camp. As a result it was decided that all the 258 men concerned must be brought to trial for mutiny. The trial commenced on 12th August and was completed on 19th September. Of the 258 men charged three were acquitted and all the remainder were convicted. Of these, eight were sentenced to 5 years' penal servitude and to be discharged with ignominy. The General to 3 years' penal servitude and to be dis-carged with ignominy. The General Officer Commanding-in-Chief as Confirming Officer did not confirm the proceedings in the case of 12 accused who were accordingly released, and in the remaining 243 cases commuted all the sentences to 2 years' imprisonment with hard labour and to be discharged with ignominy
Subsequent to that, all the sentences were quashed, 'due to substantial irregularities in the trial'
The difference in the numbers 263 v 258 is because five soldiers among the 263 were unable to attend the court martial due to being in hospital. The charges against the five were suspended (effectively, dropped)