In The Spotlight. 1130892 Gunner Alexander Munro War Service 1941 – 1946

In The Spotlight. 1130892 Gunner Alexander Munro War Service 1941 – 1946scan0001In the Spotlight is 1130892 Gunner Alexander Munro War Service 1941 to 1946

In November 1941 I was called up for military service to the 38th Signal Training Regt at Bedford Barracks Edinburgh. After 5 months training all types of Signalling Radio, Flags and Helio I passed out in April 1942, a proud Signaller and Driver. Because part of the training was learning to drive and maintenance of vehicles. For this we received cross flags of Buff and White and a steering wheel with the letters IC above it. When we saw older recruits with this we thought it meant (in charge). Instead it meant we had knowledge of internal combustion vehicles. For these two emblems we got 4 pence a day extra pay. There were 36 in our squad, after 5 months training we were all posted to different regiments. In April 8 of us were posted to 65th Field Regt RA who were in West Wickham, Kent. This was a London TA Regt from Lea Green Eltham. 8 Scots with our Scottish accents sent to a regiment with all London accents. We all had names Alex, Bill, John, Ross etc. but after a week we were all called JOCK for the remainder of our time. On our first exercise was a wireless O.P. It became a disaster; they could not understand our Scottish accents over the air and visa versa. We were all but on line maintenance. In May after two weeks’ embarkation leave we left the Clyde in the SS Mexico, it had been an American mail ship between Cuba and New York and had an all American crew. Everybody was down below in hammocks for 6 weeks as part of a large convoy. Part of the time it was PT followed by ABCA talks (army book current affairs) and loads of Morse practice where I could send and read 16 words per minute (dizzy weights) The usual path of the convoys Freetown, Capetown and up to Fort Tewfic in Egypt. Straight up the desert by train to Katatba Camp nothing there only tents and sand. We started more training in desert warfare and by this time we were getting understood by the London boys and we could understand them. I became part of the O.P (observation party) of A troop. By this time Rommel was on the attack Tobruk had fallen and he was on his way to El Alamein. Our first action was at the first battle at a place named Alam Halfa where he was halted. We were on the line at El Alamein and on our left was the Quattara Depression, which is not passable by heavy vehicles. One of the few times when I was called JOCK happened when, one evening as the sun was setting we were dive bombed by Stuka no warning what so ever. Every one dived to the nearest slit trench the raid only lasted 5 minutes in the middle of the raid I heard some one shouting JOCK, it was a sergeant in another trench telling me my trench was next to a limber which held all the charges for the shells. I could not get into his trench quick enough. Thank heavens for JOCK. I went through the desert campaign with the battles at Medinie, Wadi Akdret and Mareth- Line till we finished at Enfidville 20 miles from Tunis. 36 hours leave in Tunis and then back to Horns, which is about 15 miles from Tripoli. There we did our Invasion training and our Bren gun Carrier we had as an O.P truck was taken away and we were given a Honey Tank (Gen Stuart) Officer, driver, 2 signallers into a sardine tin. We had the tank water proofed, which entailed putting an aluminium funnel above the engine and above the tank. On landing this had to be taken off as soon as possible on landing. We were at sea for about a week and the Sicily landings had taken place in July we wondered why we had been at sea so long. One morning we woke up and we were part of another big convoy unknown to us we were on our way to the landing of Salerno. We got off the L.S.T. safely but we could not get the water proofing off. The driver and I were left in the tank while the Officer and Bill got out. 5minutes later all we heard was a bang they had got a bulldozer to put a chain over the aluminium and pulled it off the driver and I thought we had been hit. We made our way up Italy with battles at River Voltumo and eventually came to the River Garigiano, which was part of the Cassino front. We did not know how tough this was going to be. The mountain in front of us was Monte Camino. No more Bern -gun carriers or tanks it was footslogging up and down mountains I was feeling unwell around this time; one day after being relieved at the O.P. you were excused duty for 24hrs. I went into my slit trench and when I wasn’t out for lunch I told them I was not feeling well so he told me to go to the M.O. After examination he took my temperature. It was so high he told me to get my small pack from there I finished in C.C.S. then hospital for 2 weeks in Naples with (Malaria) then 10days convalescent in Sorrento. Soldiering was getting better. By this time the landings at Anzio had taken place I was taken Torre Anunzatta boarded a landing craft bound for Anzio. My Regt was not there and I was sent to the 80th Med Regt R.A. (Scottish Horse). On arrival the first chap I met asked me my name, I said Alex. From then on I never heard the name Jock again. I stayed with them fighting many battles on our way up the Adriatic until the war finished. When the war finished I came home on leave by overland in the back of 3ton Lorries, 12 soldiers to each truck. Everything was organised with overnight stops and food stops. Whilst on leave the Atom Bomb was dropped. As I was due to go back to Italy bound for the Far East this left me in Italy for another year before being demobbed. It was heaven, staying in hotels in Pinerola, San Remo, Alassio and Milan. I did not want to go home. After demob I joined the Scottish Horse Regt Association we have our reunion each year on Armistice weekend. My association with the Regt has lasted 70 years and for the last 30years I have laid the wreath at our Memorial and read the lesson at Dunkeld Cathedral Perthshire this being the Scottish Horse Regt, HQ. Also during the Armistice weekend the Scottish Horse Regt held a reunion dinner at the Blair Athol Hotel, Dunkeld for many, many years after the war years with members coming from Aberdeen and Glasgow by coach and many traveling by car from all over the UK as far away as London and Spain. Alex Munro Glasgow. Note: Alex has been a member of the Italy Star Association North of Scotland Branch since it was formed in November 1992 and Chairman for the last few years. He has revisited Italy many times with his family and with the North of Scotland Branch. Ian Leslie – Secretary

1 Comment

  1. Mhairi MCKEAN

    My father trained at Redford Barracks from December 1941 and then was posted to the 129th Field Regiment which went to Burma in 1942. I have a photo of a group of soldiers at Redford Barracks and wondered if it would be the group Alexander Munro was in? I tried to paste the photo in here but it wouldn’t let me.

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