Trooper Francis Mann
Unit : No.1 Section, "A" Troop, 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron
Army No. : 14282186
Awards : Distinguished Service Cross
Frank Mann was born in Bargeddie, Lanarkshire, on the 29th October 1923. He enlisted on the 17th September 1942, and upon completion of his training volunteered for the Airborne Forces and was posted to the 1st Airlanding Reconnaissance Squadron, serving with "A" Troop in North Africa and Italy in 1943. On his return to the UK, he was amongst the members of the Squadron who volunteered to be parachute trained, and he attended course 110 which ran from the 3rd to 15th April 1944; his instructors comments were: "Average performer, consistent and confident".
During Arnhem, Frank was a member of No.1 Section and part of Lance-Sergeant Maurice Riches jeep crew. He survived the whole action and, along with the rest of the crew, made a successful withdrawal back over the river on the night of the 25/26th September 1944. On the 28th October, a citation was put forward by Lance Sergeant Gwyn Williams for Mann to be awarded the Military Medal, but ultimately he was awarded the US Distinguished Service Cross instead on the 7th April 1945. His citation reads:
At Arnhem on 21st September 1944, Trooper Mann was detailed to take a P.I.A.T. up to 156 Battalion area as it was reported that a Self-Propelled Gun was moving up towards them. Eventually the Self-Propelled Gun was spotted. Trooper Mann crawled to within 50 yards of the vehicle with his P.I.A.T. With his first bomb he knocked out the tracked vehicle. The gun on the vehicle was still in action then opened fire at point blank range on Trooper Mann who was completely buried in his slit trench, by a double hit. However, he managed to get out under heavy fire and with great determination make his way back to Headquarters 156 Battalion where he reported to Major Powell. As a result of this act of outstanding bravery by Trooper Mann, the Self-Propelled Gun was eventually abandoned by the enemy and the position consolidated.
Frank Mann was discharged to the W(T) Reserve on the 14th April 1946. The following article was published in the 1st Airborne Reconnaissance Squadron Newsletter No.20, March 1987:
RACIAL PREJUDICE by Jim Taylor.
We seemed to have more than our fair share of Scots in our Troop, and although we lumped them all together as 'heathen foreigners' they seemed to have as much difficulty understanding each other as we did understanding them. I never met the Scot who could translate what Tam Pyper was saying when he had a cob on!
They were even nationalistic about their newspapers.
Whilst the more energetic of us were lying in our beds on a Sunday morning doing the crossword in the 'War Cry' or reading the 'News of the World' the Scots would be deep in the 'Wishaw and Bonkle Times' or the 'Sunday Post' chuckling at the antics of a misshapen anthropoid that went by the name of "Oor Wullie" and whose conversation was limited to "Jings", "Crivens" or "Och awa the noo"
At night, after a few pints in the local pub, they used to get all misty eyed about the 'heilands' and fiercely argue about tartans - and there was little point in telling them that tartans were basically the product of Queen Victoria's whim about dress, or that a kilt ought properly to reach down to their ankles - they refused to believe history and would proclaim that they were only in the Army to "help us oot".
Seeing them return from leave, awash with salty porridge, it is not difficult to understand the invasions immediately post-war when they came "doon for the fitba" with lunch in a bottle in a brown carrier bag - Scottish porridge gives one a terrible thirst.
I spent one leave in Scotland by accident. We were stationed at Newark and I wanted some of the Troop to come and see civilisation in London. They in turn, wanted to show me the bright lights of Scotland. Leave passes in hand we argued all the way to Newark Station, went into the nearest pub to finally sort it out, threw darts, played shove ha'penny and cut cards for a decision and at closing time were all square. We argued all the way back to Hawton camp. The following morning we started again and this time the cunning devils plied me with more liquor and after lunch in a drunken haze I capitulated, altered my pass from London to Glasgow, and boarded the tartan express. I spent a delightful leave with Jock Mann's family who treated me like royalty, although half way through Jock received a telegram that merely said 'Return Immediately' (and assuming that one had been sent to my address also) we sped back to Newark to find that the panic was for Jock to be presented with his American Distinguished Service Cross by some American General. If I had known I would have stayed in Scotland - salty porridge or not.
Thanks to Bob Hilton for this account.
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