7th Oxs & Bucks Monte Camino November 1943

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by Condie, May 30, 2009.

  1. Condie

    Condie Member

    Hey Tom and Niccar,
    Dont suppose you had any dealings with the battle of Monte Camino. My Grt Uncle was 6th Black Watch attached to the 7th Ox & Bucks. KIA on 11th Nov 43.
    Hope to hear
  2. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Condie -
    I personally was still in North Africa at that time - clearing up the mess left by the 4th Brit. Div when they did their moonlight flit to Italy - along with the 6th Black Watch - the 11th Bde which had held the Oxs and Bucks had long since gone over to the 78th Div -and was replaced by 28th bde - sans the Ox and Bucks - who were then in 56th Div and had landed at Salerno......

    so my question is - why was a member of the 6th Black Watch of 12th bde and newly arrived 4th Division - killed attached to the Ox and bucks of 167th bde of 56th Div at Camino ? -

    and the 78th Div and 11th Bde were over on the East coast near the Sangro River ?

    Sounds all very odd ?

  3. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Gordon, I've moved this here. I didn't realise that it was 7/OBLI you were interested in and it was the Monte Camino battle. I have a few extracts from their diary for this period, which I will post a link to later.
  4. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

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  5. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    PauL -
    Can't read the extracts from the OBLI even after printing - is there in fact any reference of Black Watch personnel being attched to OBLI for that battle ... if so it was close to their arrival point in Italy with very little time to assimilate?

    There was usually a period where new arrivals were "broken" in for a few weeks before action - as it was I believe that the 4th Battle ( May '44) was the first significant move that 4th Brit was engaged in trying to meet the Poles coming down from the Monastery.

    They left North Africa overnight with little warning and the 21st Tank bde - which had been in 4th (Mixed) div - had the task of clearing all their gear into their kit bags for transmission to Italy - so perhaps there was a panic - and Xth Corps needed reinforcement for that Camino battle - can't find any refernce to that though - hence my dilemna

  6. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Paul -
    thank you - much better when you know how - one day I shall become aggk ...I should live that long !

    Still doesn't answer the question - were some of the 6th BW attached to OBLI for this battle ? Page 1 is still very difficult to read...
  8. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

  9. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Thank you Paul - much better !

  10. Condie

    Condie Member

    Hey Guys, thats awesome. Those pages were absolutely invaluable to my cause. Cheers.
    With regard to 6th BW being attached to the OBLI --- I think it happened when a request was sent through to Transit camp 155 in Tripoli for 1500 reserve troops to go to Salerno beachhead. That comm should have actually gone to Bizerta (I think) for some 8th Army reserves.
    6th BW were on prisoner watch around this time and I think they prob had time at camp 155
    I have assumed my Grt Unc was at camp 155 as I think thats where 6th BW were resting at that time. and as a new recruit was put forward for the draft. (I would love to get a view of the transit camp records to see if he was listed)
    These resrves were told they were being sent back to their own units. Half way to Salerno they were told that they were going to be attached to other units. The subsequent actions by those 1500 resulted in the 191 Salerno mutineers. A situation I am sure you know about.
    I guess my Grt Unc was then attached to 7th OBLI as his papers show.
    Does that all make sense to you guys????
  11. Condie

    Condie Member

    To add a few points to my reason for this thread.
    Following in the footsteps of my Grt Uncle (Gordon Donald McKenzie Condie)
    I only have a few details and some of his papers (Enlistment and posting list)
    15-7-43 He Embarked for N. Africa (Papers show RNYGZ - whatever that is)
    30-7-43 listed X(IV) (10 corps 4th Div I guess)
    8-8-43 posted 6th Btn (Assume Black watch)
    21-943 X(IV) Listed (This I am hoping is transit camp 155)
    1-10-43 Transferred OX & Bucks. (Must have been 7th because he was killed on Mt Camino 11-11-43 and thats the only Ox & Bucks that went there.)

    I have visited Cassino war cemetary and his grave. There are other 7th OBLI graves along with his. I went to where I thought Mt camino was but was not too certain. Now I want to go back and do the trip more acurately. I stayed in Cassino and went to the Monastry, now re-built. Man what a place and I could see some of the scenes that I now have more info on. I have great respect for all you guys who were there.
  12. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Condie -
    That would then explain how a Black Watch soldier got into the Ox and Bucks of 56th Div...it would appear .....

    That Salerno Mutiny was the worst case of British Army Justice ever made - According to the Adjutant General Gen, Adams who just happened to be in Algeria after the sentences were handed down and had the death sentences of three sergeants alleged 'ringleaders' commuted to life in a British prison.

    The other 190 odd were sent to units in Italy but after their records followed them - their lives were a misery and many deserted - a full pardon is still awaited for those men.

    The true facts were of course that the reinforcements for Xth Corps in 5th US Army were held in Tunisia and Algeria - whereas the reinforcements for 8th Army were in Tripoli etc 51st - 50th -7th armoured Divs et al - so someone got their wires crossed and it was the 8th army returnees who were shipped into Salerno - to which they objected - hence the Mutiny.....

    So the question remains - How did a Black Watch soldier from 4th Division of North Africa resting and guarding near Bizerta in Tunisia end up with the Ox and Bucks after Salerno ??

    Unless another Draft was sent out from Bizerta or Bone at the same time ???

    Can you scan the relevant page of his records ?? Try the "Salerno Mutiny " by Saul David - ISBN - 1 - 85753 - 146 - 9 for the full story of that tragedy at Salerno.

  13. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Condie -
    If I may - I'd like to interpret your abbreviations on your uncles service records

    1) - 15th July '43he sailed on draft # RNYGZ as a reinforcement for 1st Army after the campaign had finished in the May. probably on SS Franconia which had a regular run out there - Liverpool - Gourock - Algiers the back to do it again !

    2) - probably landed at Algiers and went to Maison Carree Infantry transit camp
    six mile out of Eastern Algiers
    3) - X (1V) is a reserve category - mustn't assume now must we ?

    4) - posted to 6th batt. Black Watch - in 12th bde 0f 4th (Mixed) division

    5) - 21-943 - TAKEN OFF reserve X(1V)

    6) - more likely to be a camp just outside of Bone(Annaba) 21st Tanks were at Penthevre - all of 4th Div were in that area at that time - 25th Tanks were hanging around to the West of Bone

    7) - more than likely he was transferred on 1st oct as it took a few days to get to Italy - then up to join a battalion.

    Hope this helps a bit

    Condie likes this.
  14. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Condie -
    knew it would come to me given some time - the 25th Tanks were at Ain Mokra which is to the west of Bone - at that time - after the war and the freedom battles with France - the name Bone was changed to Annaba -

    by the way - after he was transeferred to OBLI - he no longer was a Black Watch Soldier - but an OX and Bucks ....this is where the original confusion set in ....

    The 6th batt Black Watch stayed in 4th Div all through Italy and finished the war in Greece... and Monte Camino is SW of Cassino

  15. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Condie -

    The plot thickens – extract from “Mutiny at Salerno” –
    “ Who were the officers who ordered the switch ? The obvious candidate was Gen Alexander. Certainly Gen Adams did. Monty on the other hand thought it was Maj. Gen Charles Miller – Alex Admin chief ….as monty wrote to gen Adams
    A ) – reinforcements were urgently required for British Divisions in the 5th Army on the Naples front.
    B) – Charles miller could not find enough men from their own reinforcements, and so he ordered up certain men from my depots in Tripoli.
    C) – before taking action in B – he did not consult me ,nor did he consult Alexander.

    IF I had known what was to be done I would have said No .Alexander would also have said No; I am sure of this as we have discussed it it together afterwards ’
    Was Charles Miller the culprit – it would appear so as the signals were classified with the prefix – MGA = Major General Administration. !
    There were around 4000 men available at the depot in Phillipville - near Bone in Algeria – so 1500 would not have been a problem.
    Also the 4th Div which was understrength at that time was designated a reinforcement pool – so it is possible that your uncle was drafted at this time also as there were drafts from 20th September until 2nd October .From Phillipville – the 4th Div were stationed at Bougie at that time.
    Chapter two –
    “Situated at the seaside of Tripoli the 155th reinforcement camp was a vast tented metropolis holding at that time – 9000 men ….
    from 8th army …..sick – recovering wounded etc – and told they would be joining their own regiments….The big lie by the Commandant and staff of camp 155.

  16. Paul Reed

    Paul Reed Ubique

    Attached are two Google Earth place markers for the start of the route up to Monte Camino and the area of the Monte Camino battlefield. Myself and Owen visited this site last May. If you have GE installed on your PC, clicking on these will open it automatically and take you straight there.

    Below is a photo looking up from the mule track up to Monte Camino, covered in mist when we were there.


    Attached Files:

  17. Condie

    Condie Member

    Hey Guys, Thanks again, maybe the fog is lifting a bit.
    Thanks for the Photo Paul, it looks good

    Tom, hope I get this right but am attaching his papers showing postings etc.
    Also, due to the time of embarking for N.Africa I had taken that he would have left fron Clyde. The nearest sailing to that time was Convoy WS32 - KMF20 and I had taken that he may have been on SS Orion which had become a troopship during that time. (later to be one of the Australia £10 transports I believe) Arriving Algiers on 25th July. (info taken from Arnold Hague Convoy database from Arnold Hague convoy database - KMF convoys
    After that it could well be that he followed the route you have stated, thanks for that. I suppose it has to be a bit of an assumption though.

    As his papers have him on 'list' 21st Sept and the only way he could get to be at Salerno and join up with the Ox & Bucks by 1-10, who were moving out of Naples around that time I think, would be if he had been on one of the 3 ships sent to Tripoli and back to Salerno beachhead for the re-inforcements (that were not then needed by the 15th and became the mutineers). Strangely enough, I reckon, he may have been on the Charybdis which was actually an escort ship for the KMF20 convoy when he first travelled to Algiers. The reason for that thinking is from Saul David book 'Mutiny at Salerno' and the official records which indicate that the Charybdis carried Black Watch troops.

    I guess I stand to be corrected on any point here but that does seem to fit the scene.

    What do you make of the attached

    So some of the pieces are slowly falling into place

    Attached Files:

  18. Condie

    Condie Member

    Just one other quickie that one of you may be able to shed light on.
    I am planning a visit to the Records office and hopfully trying to pre book some docs. I have tried the Gold service without success.
    Documents as follows:-
    WO169/10180 6 Black Watch July-Dec '43
    WO169/10278 7 OBLI Jan -Dec '43 (the one you have given sight of)
    wO169/13554 155 Transit Camp May - Dec '43
    ADM 237/1617 WS 32 & KMF20 convoy 1943

    It would seem that the only records for SS Orion are return journeys and not outgoing -- Strange Eh!
    I am hoping that I might at least find His name somewhere in those documents that will confirm he was in a certain place at a certain time. In your experience, do you think I might be successful.
    By the way, In the 7 OBLI pages that you kindly put out for me, the officers who were killed were mentioned by name but the others were noted as O R's. Can you tell me what the abbreviation means and why these were not listed by name. I thought war diaries showed that kind of specific information.

    Many thanks by the way, for your continued commitment to this thread.
    It would be nice to expand on the Mutiny aspect. It seems to me that someone else needs to champion the cause of those fellows who were dealt such a great injustice
  19. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Conte -
    you will find that 0R's - Other Ranks - as opposed to Officers and senior N.C.O;s are not listed - unless they are up for a Victoria Cross - otherwise they are cannon fodder and never mentioned - or hardly ever in war Diaries etc - so you might be ' whistling Dixie' if you think you will find his name listed - anywhere -

    I also think you are jumping in on your assumptions again with his trip to Tripoli and back to Salerno - he would have left Phillipviolle on the 1st Oct - just as 7th Arrmoured were entering Naples - the Mutiny was in the middle of September - when he was still in North Africa - so as the man says " Non Possumus" - I think they landed at Salerno - went into transit camp until he could join the OBLI -

    after Naples as that was a hell hole for weeks - with the whole population being doused with DDT to kill off the lice - fleas - what have you - and not too many people were allowed in for some time afterwards - until they got the sewers organised again - we landed down the side of a sunken ship ! Took months to clear that place ! it was agood place to stay away from

    One point of great interest to me is that he joined on the same day I did - and followed a similar pattern of six weeks indoctrination in the general service primary training wing - then he went off for a further six months advanced Infantry training before letting him loose overseas -whereas I went on for Tank training

    The other point is that he was born in Kennoway Fife as I was born in Cowdenbeath - also in Fife.....
  20. Condie

    Condie Member

    I bow to your first hand knowledge of that time. I will take it that he probably followed the route you have highlighted. I would not have known otherwise.

    How strange that there are those similarities, same day enlisting, same training camp etc.
    Do you think your paths would have crossed at some time.
    Apparently my grt Unc was a boxing fanatic and won some fights. Word has it that he was a Champion for the Regiment.
    Only what I heard though.

    My Grandfather (GDM's Brother) lived in Windygates and his son (my father) ended up as a semi Pro footballer playing left back for Raith Rovers. David Condie
    He came to England in 1952 to play for Folkstone and Chelmsford.
    I still have relatives in Windygates and Kennoway and Pitlochry Perth.

    My Mothers side come from Newcastle originally but my grandfather (also Black Watch) lived in Burntisland, my grand mother lived throughout the war and up to the 70's in Burntisland

    I reckon if my parents had not come south due to football, then I would be a true scot residing in Fife, a place that I hold very dear and that has many great memories for me as a child.

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