"Town Major"

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by littleorme, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. littleorme

    littleorme Junior Member

    My step-father was posted to No 74 Town Major in Italy, in July 1944. following 4th Battle at Monte Cassino,
    Does anyone know where that unit might have been? Or description of the unit's responsibilities?
    Thanks in anticipation,
  2. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member

    Can I suggest that you obtain a copy of their War Diary - for the period that you mention this would be WO 170/3671.

    Both Andy at Drew 5233 and Lee at PsyWar.org will copy files at the National Archives
    Drew5233 and CL1 like this.
  3. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    My grandfather served with 2 FORESTERS and then became Town Major of Positano on the Sorrento Peninsula. After the Allies moved north, he was then moved to Siena.

    I never had a chance to ask him what on earth a Town Major did so if you find out anything, please do share it on this site.

    What was your step father's role at the Fourth Battle of Cassino?


  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Thanks Jonathan - Hi Clive, I've retired until the new year so if you can't wait until then Lee may be able to help you out.

    I've often wondered what a Town Major was. I suspect they were like the mayor until an approved one could be appointed?

  5. littleorme

    littleorme Junior Member

    Thanks for the replies. My step-father, John, joined The Welch Regiment in 1942 when he was 18 yrs old. He was transferred to 2 Royal Fusiliers in late 1943 shortly after arrival in North Africa. Later, as a fusilier in the 4th Battle of Cassino he was hospitalized, suffering from "exhaustion". In July 1944 he was posted as Chief Clerk to No 74 Town Major.
    I have a copy of his Service Record but it is not specific about where he was actually stationed. John would never say very much about his experiences, and as he died last year I can't ask him any more. For many years he made the pilgrimage to Cassino to honour the fallen, so I know it meant a lot to him.
    The War Diaries referred to, are they those of 2 Royal Fusiliers or Town Majors?
  6. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  7. littleorme

    littleorme Junior Member

    Hi Owen and Andy,
    Thanks for the info. I've checked John's Service Record. He was on the staff of No 74 Town Major, from July 1944 until late 1945 or possibly 1946, before heading to the UK.
    I'll sleep on it and then contact Andy/Lee.
    Many thanks.
  8. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  9. gmyles

    gmyles Senior Member


    Town Majors was the term given to the Military Officer given the responsibility for looking after the civilian population of a town or village.

    They were also the representative of the military power that was running their county after the axis powers left.

    It wasn't necessarily a job for Major's either. I have read documents that suggest that a Lt. looked after the Greek Island of Salamis as Town Major after the Germans left.

    I have read they were part peacekeeper, part magistrate, part Councillor, part Mayor. A real jack of all trades.

    Last edited: Dec 8, 2016
  10. littleorme

    littleorme Junior Member

    Thanks Gus,
    Another close look at John's Service Record showed a testimonial signed by Major H E Fason. This referred to the "place" as Naples.
    Bit more info!
  11. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    That sounds about right. My grandfather got a job as a District Officer in Northern Rhodesia with the Colonial Office after the war and I suspect that his experience as a Town Major helped him get the job.


  12. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    I am not surprised that your step father suffered from exhaustion after the Fourth Battle of Cassino - they had a really rough time of it. They crossed the Amazon bridge on the morning of 13 May 44 and pushed north west as part of a left hook to cut Route 6 and the railway line so as to trap the German forces in Cassino town.

    In pushing north west with the 16 Sherman tanks of A Squadron 2 Lothian & Border Horse in support, they ran into German machine fire coming from a fortified position on their right. This diverted them away from their objective because the fortified position had to be assaulted and taken. The tanks carried on without them all the way to the Pignataro-Cassino road.

    By evening, 2 R FUSILIERS had caught up and then dug in covering the road whilst the armour withdrew for the night. The battalion spent the night being shelled and mortared.

    And that was just their first day!

    If you ever think of going out to Cassino and seeing what 2 R FUSILIERS got up to then get in touch. I have an event going on 8-11 Jun 17.



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