Mule Transport N Africa to Italy WW2 end

Discussion in 'RASC' started by Franko2000, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. Franko2000

    Franko2000 New Member

    I am trying to find info on my father's service during WW2. I have his old kit bag with a number on it but have not found any docs so far. I know he was in mule transport, was at Cassino and had Alpini troops with them after '43. Any pointers greatfully received. Regards.
  2. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member

    If you can tell us the number, that might help.

    You should get hold of his Service Record from the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow.

    His Service Record will tell us which unit and sub-unit he was in.

    If you fancy going to Cassino in 2019 for the 75th Anniversary then do get in touch. I will show you how and where the mule trains operated in support of the front line troops.


  3. Franko2000

    Franko2000 New Member

    My word that was quick. Yes interested in Cassino in 2019 and would be glad of a lead on the mule train routes. I don't have the number to hand but will get it. Many thanks Minden I await your further info.
  4. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

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  5. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

  6. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    My Father mentions Mules at Mount Camino which is just to the South East of Cassino (15 K as the crow flies) so if your father was with a Mule Coy he could have also been in that area.

    He said :- I was "volunteered" to carry supplies to troops on the mountain the mules could only get so far...…..

    From The Web
    A Mule Coy with 120 mules had been formed and a battalion of infantry men manhandled supplies ,water and ,ammunition to positions on Mount Camino...…

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
  7. Franko2000

    Franko2000 New Member

    Thanks for the info Redtop. I will keep this on file because as yet I have not got my father's service record and have just started on that odyssey. It could well be that my Dad was involved in that operation. He passed away in 1980 and I regret not finding out more - lots of questions but it seems like all of us with fathers who fought we asked the questions but invariably they wanted to forget. I have little more confirmed info than what I posted originally. However, please be aware I am grateful for all of these pieces of the jigsaw - I really haven't got all the pieces out of the box yet. He spoke of "Murder Mile" which was a stretch of straight highway on which the Germans had artillery trained. If you used this route you had to vary speed and track so they could not fix on you. If you drove constantly you would become a statistic. He generally spoke of amusing times but from recent info gained and what I see in documentaries the Italian campaign was not a holiday by any stretch of the imagination. I understand why the troops resented being termed D-Day Dodgers and their intense dislike of Lady Astor. He only spoke of her once and believe me it was not complimentary! Many thanks again.
  8. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Hi Franko

    Here's a general thread on mules that you might like:

  9. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Strong candidate here:

    The Mad Mile.jpg
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  10. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    From 30th March 1944, my father, Edmund, spent four weeks taking supplies across the Rapido Valley to his rifle company comrades who had moved onto the top of Monte Castellone (pt 771) overlooking the abbey of Monte Cassino.

    He started his daily journey from the supply point at San Michele (904228 - rG904228 on the Coordinates Translator) and remembered the first night of handover from French forces on Castellone:

    "I was taken with my supplies to San Michele and here I was allocated about 30 mules which I loaded with tools, food and water and some of the men’s kit. Following immediately behind the company in pitch darkness, we climbed down the hill and came to a mysterious cavern which I was told was called the 'Inferno'. From here, we continued towards the town of Cassino and crossed the Rapido by a stone bridge. When we were in the middle, a salvo of shells landed on the road. At this point, we had difficulty controlling the mules and the drivers.We set off again, slowly following the overladen soldiers. After getting so close to Monte Cassino that we felt we were almost under the monastery’s walls, we started climbing a precipitous path to Monte Castellone. We had to take particular care as the nervous muleteers were attempting to ditch their loads. I finally arrived at the top with about half a dozen mules. Loads were spread along the track behind us. The whole thing was a tactical mistake. The companies should have moved in first and the mule trains followed after they settled.”

    E Company’s position was the summit of Monte Castellone, and like the monastery hill, a foothill of Monte Cairo. It was located on a salient behind Monte Cassino that had been taken by French and American troops at tremendous cost. Slit trenches could not be dug in the rock, so sangars were built from the vast amount of rubble. The place stank. Holes could not be excavated and excrement was thrown everywhere. Each sangar had a large food tin as a latrine. Major Davies set the men to work to clear up the sordid mess after they had salvaged the abandoned mule loads.”

    I had to leave as dawn was breaking. If I was not back in the village of Caira, the battalion headquarters, before sunrise, I would have to walk across the wide valley in full daylight. I made my way from there back to the mule point at San Michele in a jeep. As soon as I arrived, I had to start preparing for the next trip. Daylight disclosed the full panorama of the vast battlefield. The valley of the Rapido was covered in smoke punctured by shell bursts. Monte Cairo dominated the landscape. The next evening’s journey was carried out more efficiently and a small escort accompanied us. Taking a different route, we avoided the stone bridge and the muleteers were not so panic-stricken. We arrived at the summit and discovered that nearly all the earlier loads had been rescued intact.”

    The route of supply can be traced on the attached map.

    Here's a photo I took across the Rapido valley from the San Michele area towards Cassino in 2011 - I think the trees/other vegetation may have grown a bit since 1944 !

    P1030966 (2).JPG

    ps A good additional description on the Mad Mile at Cassino can be found here:
    BBC - WW2 People's War - Monte Cassino - "Smoke Trains".

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
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  11. hutt

    hutt Member

    There are a couple of references to Mules in my fathers unit diary although probably a bit too far east for direct support for troops at Cassino.

    1503 Field Regt Pl. RASC. San Martino. 20th February 1944
    Extremely cold, slight snow. 12.15 Detail received for O.C to take 30x3 tonners from this unit, 18x3 tonners & 6x6 tonners from 1566 Pl to the Mule Camp Bari; pick up mules and take them to Campobasso. 12.45 30x3 tonners left for Bari via Campobasso where vehicles from 1566 Pl were to meet ours.

    Thats a lot of lorries!

    and a few days later

    24th February
    Dry but cold. 15.00 Vehicles return from Mule detail.

    I can't pin down where San Martino is but Campobasso to Bari is about 220km by Google

    Unfortunately I only have a diary for 1566 Pl while they were in North Africa
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