John Hinton was my Grandfather. To him, this website is dedicated as he sadly died in January 2000, aged 78. This specific page contains details of his service, which may be of interest to some.
All of the information has been sourced from the Ministry of Defence and his “Service and Pay Book” (AB 64).
He enlisted on 03 June 1943 at Preston, Lancashire, after having served in the Home Guard (Wiltshire Regiment) from 31 May 1940. He was aged 21 and had previously been employed as a Tractor Driver, on his Father’s farm in Wanborough, Wiltshire. He was registered as single and living at home with his parents.
Upon enlistment, he went to the General Service Corps at 4 Primary Training Corps (4 PTC). While with 4 PTC, he was admitted to Hospital at Kirkham from 29 June to 6 July). 4 PTC was where he undertook basic training until he was transferred to the Cheshire Regiment on 28 July 1943.
This posting began at the No. 24 Machine Gun Training Centre. On 06 October 1943, he had completed 10 weeks Machine Gunner Training, after which he was allowed 9 days paid leave. On the 20 October he posted to 5 Cheshires, 80th (Reserve) Division, which was stationed on Anglesey in North Wales which acted as continuation training Battalion for all soldiers of the machine gun regiments. He was posted to D Company. He was classified as a Class I machine gunner, and received additional pay, with effect from 3 December 1943. He was in the reinforcements pool of the MMG Company at the time.
From 5 Cheshires, he went to 7 Bn Cheshire Regiment which was serving in the Mediterranean as the Divisional (MG) Battalion of the 5th Infantry Division. He disembarked from transit at Naples on 27 January 1944. During this service with the 7 Cheshires, it is likely he saw service in Italy at Garigliano (01 to 31 January 1944), Anzio (22 January to 22 May 1944) and Rome (22 May to 04 June 1944).
He was transferred to 1 Bn King’s Shropshire Light Infantry on 18 July 1944. 1 KSLI served in Italy as part of 3rd Infantry Brigade in the 1st Infantry Division. At the point of transfer, he is recorded as being MMG trained and a Driver Mechanic. Although 1 KSLI was not an MG Battalion, it does seem to have had a platoon of Vickers MGs in the support company. It’s not known whether John served with this platoon and used his MMG training or not.
Between 25 August 1944 and 22 September 1944, 1 Bn KSLI took part in action on the Gothic Line.
1 KSLI moved from Central Mediterranean Forces to Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on 18 February 1945. He went on leave to Egypt from 05 March 1945 to 12 March 1945. He was admitted to 3 Field Ambulance on 21 April 1945 and discharged two days later on 23 April. Some further leave followed on 20 May 1945.
He only spoke a little about his service in Italy, but some of what he talked of is shown in the illustrations in Jon’s Two Types. He wasn’t an officer but will have experienced many of the same problems as they did. A copy of Jon’s Two Types in Italy is available for download.
On 14 January 1946, he attended No. 90 Driver Mechanic Course at British Wing, Mechanic’s School, Middle East Training Centre. He passed with knowledge grade ‘B’.
After completing over two years service abroad, he embarked from the Mediterranean on 24 February 1946 as part of ‘Leave In Addition to Python’ 19. He disembarked at Southampton on 07 March 1946 and was attached to No. 3 Transit HQ.
He was relegated to Class “W/T” Tar (‘B’ Release) on 01 May 1946 and discharged from the Army. On 10 February 1954, he was allocated to Army General Reserve Group P and eligible for recall until he reached age 45. He was eventually discharged from all reserve liability on 30 June 1959.
For his military service, he was awarded the following:
- The 1939-45 Star
- The Italy Star
- The Defence Medal
- The War Medal 1939-45
In 1994, my Grandfather visited the Royal Marines’ Museum, Southsea, with me. Whilst walking around the museum, he noticed the Vickers MG that was on display and he promptly sat behind it and began to go through the drills, and even start to strip part of it down. Bearing in mind he hadn’t been behind one since his time in the army (around 50 years before), he remembered it quite well. Although I was interested in military items in general (hence the visit to the museum), this was the first time I had come across the Vickers.
This was the start of what is now the Vickers MG Collection & Research Association.
Thankfully, it was captured on film and the photo below is that moment in 1994.