The Suez Veterans Association

The main aim of the Association is to re-kindle and promote a spirit of comradeship amongst those who served in the

Suez Canal Zone, Egypt.     

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My suez experience again.

In a thread on here I see the Suez area being described as a hellhole. This was not my experience.

Hell to me was some days at the Guards Depot, but the reward was that bearing that training and completing it made me part of a group of men who from 1642 have represented the Regiment Scots Guards.

My second meeting with hell was in February 1953, when I spent my eighteenth birthday on a seawall at Canvey Island filling sandbags to counter breaches in the seawall. Detailed to be on the seawall in the middle of the night, freezing cold, and not adequately dressed for the circumstances freezing cold, tired and just totally miserable, was indeed hell.

My Suez experience started with an exciting trip in a Hermes aircraft, my first ever flight, with destination unknown. I was able to see Paris from the air all bright lights, the Alps, and later a stop in Malta for a lovely breakfast. Rejoining our refuelled aircraft we had some sleep before landing in Fayid Egypt. Trucks to Port Said and arrival at 1st Bn Scots Guards camp. All tent accommodation and quite comfortable, of course the bright hot sunshine, lovely desert were refreshing after cold damp Edinburgh.

Our camp was excellent, of course being the Guards there was a large parade square, we had good medical facilities, an RAMC doctor, and numerous small shops owned and manned by friendly helpful Egyptians. We had a NAAFI, a soccer field, cricket pitch and running track, and a basketball court, I used all at some time. Our food was supplied by Regimental cooks eaten in a large tented dining area. We carried our own knife fork and spoon, plates and mug.

Our duties were pretty routine, we were more than prepared for anything after our intense fourteen week infantry combat training at Pirbright, and our duties were in truth basic considering the extent of our training. Guards of course were routine, escorts were a change, and allowed one to see much of the Canal Zone area. Training was ever present and schemes were held at all levels up to Brigade.

Our relationship with the Egyptians was good, they provided laundry services, and were expert at well starched K.D. the test being that the shorts if placed so would stand on their own. There was a barber, and a small store that sold Assis a cold drink, and other candy and stuff that teenage boys would enjoy.

When times were quiet we were allowed to walk out in threes in civilian clothes.For an eighteen year old it was an exciting experience to walk into Port Said, hear the calls from the minarets, see the laundry hanging outside the homes, and hear the Arab music playing from the homes. We also on occasion would walk down to the ferry and cross the harbour to Port Fouad, swimming from the beautiful beaches, being allowed from a distance because we were seen to be uncultured guardsmen and not members of some of the perceived to be more gentlemanly units but hey we saw women in bathing suits from a distance and that was fine.

I saw most of the Zone, done guards at El Firdan, TEK, and as said earlier escorts. One particular escort was to an airfield, it was a good distance .from Port Said and we got there at lunch time. The N.C.O we liased with about the supplies told us lunch would be served in the airmans dining room. We were somewhat lost because we had not brought any eating tools with us, and were totally amazed when we got our food and found the tools were already provided. I cannot recall the meal, but do recall our surprise when the custard that was served with the dessert was sweet, and had flavour, not something we were used to. Fortunately we were used to the looks of in some cases contempt as if we were something the camp dogs had brought in, but as guardsmen this was not unusual, and was put down by us as envy. We were young enough to believe everyone wanted to aspire to being a Guardsman. Ah youth.

There were times when it was not all good, times when someone had been killed, quite often when innocently enjoying the social practise of walking out and being abducted and killed, we were then put on full alert, and were prepared if available to extract a price for the act. Burying one of our own in Moascar was one of these incidents.

We did move to Moascar in 1954, much different to Port Said, literally hundreds of servicemen, in our area you had to listen for the Battalion bugle notes to ensure you only answered the unit calls. I am sure everyone knows that each unit had there own trill to the traditional calls so that you knewe that it was your unit calling.

In December 1954 we embarked on the SS Gorgia for the return to the U.K. On arrival home I was so proud to go to my Fathers work place and meet him, some of the other men were there. He and I were so proud, his boy had returned from overseas, he was now a corporal in the Scots Guards, on his left arm was a two year good conduct stripe, marksman on the rifle badge, LMG marksman badge, two stripes, 3rd infantry d

Re: My suez experience again. - by robert sharp - Feb 17, 2017 12:58am
Re: My suez experience again. - by Rod Amey - Feb 17, 2017 8:57am
Re: My suez experience again. - by robert sharp - Feb 17, 2017 2:29pm
Re: My suez experience again. - by Rod Amey - Feb 18, 2017 8:38am
Re: My suez experience again. - by John Grant - Feb 18, 2017 5:18pm
Re: My suez experience again. - by John Grant - Feb 20, 2017 8:37pm
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