Mutiny aboard the Highland Chieftain troopship 1943.

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by RustyH, Oct 17, 2008.

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  1. Hello there just researching the Dorsets in Burma and keep coming across reference to this, apparently a mutiny over food however google fails to turn up anything else.

    So does arrse now anymore or have a link to it? Im particuarly interested in the consequences.

    Thanks for the Help
  2. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    I remember watching a Timewatch or something on this seems there were a couple of 'Mutinys' at the end of the war by men impatient to be home

    I think one was by an Army unit which was susequently broken up and posted throughout 8th Army
    Also the RAF had a few down tools moments at the end of the war

    Found this

    In the middle of January, 1946, the British authorities, who had always feared the possibility of revolt in their Indian units, were shocked by a mutiny amongst the British" - Michael Edwardes

    Only in 1946 did a series of mutinies have the effect of galvanising the British government. The first of these incidents, involving RAF servicemen enraged by delays in demobilisation and repatriation, was, in a sense, the most shocking. But units of the Indian Air Force were the next to mutiny, and much worse was to follow". - Denis Judd

    Men in the forces are trained to obey. Parades, kit inspections, saluting, polishing boots and buttons may have other justifications, but all are used to accustom men to instant obedience to the orders of their superiors. How, then, could twelve hundred RAF personnel at Drigh Road in January, 1946, come to defy their commanding officer and take part in what was technically a mutiny?
  3. There was a mutiny on a troopship (or centred around a troop ship) bound for Italy.

    Fortunantely there was a sensible officer on scene who no doubt realised that the lad´s were a bit "bomb happy". None got shot.

    I´ll dig up some info.
  4. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    I think that's the one I'm refering to
    IIRC it was either

    They were being broken up as a unit to be spread about the 8th Army
    Or they were broken up as a unit as punishment

    I think it came about because they had been at the sharp end for a couple of years and were expecting to withdraw and refit and then got shipped to Italy for the invasion

    Was it a Jock Regiment?
  5. Is this the one you were thinking of?

    Quote from Wikipedia:

    "The Salerno Mutiny was a mutiny by about 600 men of the British X Corps, who on September 16, 1943 refused assignment to new units as replacements during the Allied invasion of Italy.

    It was, specifically, men from the British 51st Highland Division and the 50th Northumbrian Division, including some veterans of the war in North Africa. About 1500 of them had sailed from Tripoli, on the understanding that they were to join the rest of their units, based in Sicily. Instead, once aboard ship, they were told that they were being taken to Salerno, to join the 46th Division, fighting as part of Lieut.-General Mark Clark's U.S. Fifth Army. Many of the soldiers felt they had been deliberately misled.

    Matters were made worse by the total lack of organisation when they reached Salerno, leaving them angry and frustrated. Most of the soldiers, a thousand or so fresh recruits, were taken off to join new units, leaving 500 veterans, 300 of whom were moved to a nearby field. They were still there by 20 September, refusing postings to unfamiliar units. They were addressed by the commander of X Corps, Lieut.-General Richard McCreery, who admitted that a mistake had been made, and promised that they would rejoin their old units once Salerno was secure. The men were also warned of the consequences of mutiny in wartime.

    Of the three hundred in the field, 108 decided to follow orders, leaving a hard core of 192. They were all charged with mutiny under the Army Act, the largest number of men accused at any one time in all of British military history. The accused were shipped to Algeria, where the courts-martial opened towards the end of October. All were found guilty, and three sergeants were sentenced to death. The sentences were subsequently suspended, though the men faced constant harassment for the rest of their military careers."

    The entry references the book "Mutiny at Salerno: An Injustice Exposed", by Saul David. I got it from the NAAFI at JHQ a couple of years ago. Fascinating book - shows just how badly the lads were treated IMHO.
  6. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    Thats the badger cheers matey
  7. May be of interest that the only British or Commonwealth troops executed for Mutiny during the Second World War were Ceylonese;

    From Wiki;
    Christmas Island was the one in the Indian Ocean and not, of course, the more famous nuclear testing island

    As for more recent Mutiny charges, I recall that circa 1960, a Pte D--------
    in an Infantry battalion (which recruited in the North West) was found guilty on an 'Incitement to Mutiny' charge and received, as best as I can remember, a 10 year stretch.
  8. it sounds similar to the returning wounded to the Western Front in WW1. Many Cockneys found themselves posted to Jock/Northern units and visa versa. Only at that time you were shot if you refused to comply

    My own Grandfather was luckier than most. He was in the 7th Londons (Middlesex) and wounded in Cambrai in 1917 and when he returned to active duty he found he was now in the Essex Reg
  9. For a reasonable account of the Salerno mutiny try:

    Saul, D. (1995): Mutiny at Salerno: An Injustice Exposed, London, Brasey's.
  10. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    IIRC that's why many WW1 soldiers have two or more numbers
    Each regiment would issue a number to the soldier so if you transferred regiments for any reason you might well get a new number

    As an aside many WW2 US veterans stated this was one of the worst things about being wounded most non airborne after discharge would be sent to a 'repple depple' and then to a completely new unit
  11. Thanks for the help but its not the Salerno mutiny I'm reffering to here's the extract form the discription of an oral history recording held by the Imperial War Museum;

    "Recollections of voyage with 8th Bn Devonshire Regt draft from GB to South Africa aboard, Highland Chieftain, 1943: conditions on board ship; mutiny by private soldiers in dining room over food. REEL 2 Continues: result of mutiny; cabbage-leaf demonstration during mutiny; performance of 'Lady in White' on arrival at Durban, South Africa"

    This is the incident and it seems to have been glossed over.

    Thanks for all your help so far.
  12. Rusty Have you contacted staff at the IW museum? I have always found them very helpful. Give the Army museum a check also.
  13. Thanks for the advice I might just get in touch. The only problem is this has nothing to do with my dissertation it just grabbed my interest so cant really afford to spend too much time on it!
  14. On a slightly different tack.
    Some 40 years or so ago I read 'The Life of Rifleman Bowerby" or similar title.
    His Battalion had fought through the Desert war, 8th Army and then where deployed to Italy.
    Memory says there was much disaffection and altho the troops did not actually Mutiny, When 'HM' visited the troops in the field, the men refused to Cheer when given the, Three Cheers for The King.