Captain A.R. Mountford - Anzio, Cassino and Cairo. Looking for info.

Discussion in 'Royal Signals' started by Tom Mountford, Apr 16, 2013.

  1. Tom Mountford

    Tom Mountford New Member

    I'm wondering if anyone can shed further light on my grandfather's time during WW2, his name was Arnold Mountford and he was living in Staffordshire. I was recently given a family photo album he had compiled of his time in Egypt and various other places in the Middle East between 1944 and 1947. He was apparently a Captain, and from his photos I gathered that he had a permanent office in Cairo (I'm guessing either B.T.E or GHQ ME). Whilst trying to research this period in his life I found an undated photograph of him in regular British Army uniform standing amid rubble, the photo is simply titled 'Cassino'. Looking into the history of Anzio/Cassino I can only draw the conclusion that he was in the North Staffordshire Regiment, and likely the 2nd Battalion - but I've not yet found anything conclusive.

    Seeing action in Anzio/Cassino would fill a gap between late 1943 and April 1944 that is unaccounted for. According to Forces War Records the only A.Mountford who served in Italy was a Corporal with the Royal Corps of Signals. I'm guessing he was possibly promoted and moved out of Italy to Cairo a few months ahead of the rest of the Battalion.

    Arnold died in 1990. Other than some anecdotes about keeping Churchill entertained during a sea crossing/delivering messages to a ship Churchill was on he was very tight-lipped about anything that had happened during the war, I didn't even know he'd been in Italy. My father recalls finding a 'gets you anywhere' pass in one of my grandfather's jacket pockets, apparently signed by General Alexander. It would be great to get to the bottom of what he was actually doing for all those years!
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

  3. idler

    idler GeneralList

    A very quick and very rough search of the London Gazette throws up an Arnold Robert Mountford (righthand column, lines 9-10), commissioned into the Royal Artillery in 1943. A further search on the service number doesn't bring up any other hits (though it's not foolproof by any means).
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The 2nd Battalion of the North Staffs were part of 1st Division in North Africa - they did not fight in Sicily but were called upon to land at Anzio - NOT Cassino - from there they went off past Rome to Florence when in January '45 they

    found themselves in Palestine- so as Idler points out - he MIGHT have been commissioned into the Artillery prior to Anzio which was in late January '44 - service records are mandatory to sort out his movements

  5. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    If he was a Cpl in the Royal Signals, it is unlikely that he would have had any connection with 2 N STAFFS. The only chance would be that he was serving as an attached soldier - each infantry battalion had a Rear Link Detatchmnt that ran the communications between Battalion HQ and Brigade HQ - is this case HQ 2 Infantry Brigade.

    2 N STAFFS were practically destroyed on the night of 8 Feb 44 whilst protecting the left shoulder of the 1 British Infantry Division's salient at Anzio. The Germans infiltrated their two forward Companies and overran most of the rest of the battalion who were sitting on Buonriposo Ridge.

    I suspect that he did not serve at Cassino but merely passed through after the event. Cassino fell on 18 May 44 so it would have been after that - there was a lot of military tourism in the aftermath because the nbattlecsat on Route 6 that came up from Naples which was the primary supply port for Italy.

    If you get his record from the MoD as suggested, it will tell you which artillery unit he served in. From there you can get the unit's War Diaries - Drew 5322 runs a cracking service, which includes the lists of all Officers on the unit strength.

    If you discover that he was at Salerno, Anzio or Cassino then do come back to me.


  6. Tom Mountford

    Tom Mountford New Member

    Wow! I genuinely don't know how to thank you all, I wasn't sure I'd even get any responses - yet I've found out more from you chaps than I have in a couple of weeks of searching records!

    North Staffs does now sound like a red herring, my theory started to come unstuck as the earliest of Arnold's photos of Cairo are April 1944 - which puts him a very long way from Cassino when it fell. Most of the album seems to be of himself and others posing at tourist attractions around Egypt and Israel - so I suspect you've hit the nail on the head that he was just passing through at some point. I'll scan the photos and post them here as some of them are group shots. There's also a photo of a chap named 'Lieutenant Peck'. Apparently my grandfather was working with an Australian whilst in Cairo - and I believe this to be Lieutenant John Peck who seems to have quite an active and colourful service record.

    Clive - I had no idea I could request service records from the MoD, it definitely sounds like my next course of action - and should shed light on comments I remember my grandmother making, "He was probably one of the youngest Captains in the army" (that's an intriguing one!) and "He could speak excellent French from his time there" There's also a family story that he and a colleague narrowly escaped death having both popped out for lunch when the King David Hotel in Jerusalem was bombed - although I suspect I'll never be able to find out whether that was something of an embellishment of the truth.

    Thank you all again - I'll post more as I find anything of substance.

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