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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Suez Veterans Association.
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MMG stood for "Missions to Mediterranian Garrisons". Each individual mission was run entirely by volunteer-ladies from the UK and they were a blessing (no pun intended).
The particular mission in the Suez Garrison was part of our REME camp's compound (it was smack in the middle of our eastern perimeter) and as such was part of our perimeter patrols' responsibility.
The Suez MMG consisted of a lovely single story stone-building in a palm shaded garden, with tropical styled Reading Room and a very nice canteen. It beat the NAAFI by a country mile (but no beer). I recall that the two ladies who ran it were known as "Miss Smith" (Edinburgh) and "Miss Farrell" (Nottingham).
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the serving staff were entirely Egyptian nationals and very courteous and attentive. It was the nearest thing to an officers mess we would ever see.
Sundays were reserved for activities more appropriate to what the MMG name implies.
I'm pleased to see there is still life out there, I used the MMGs a lot, they did beat a lot of eating places, regards NAAFI the only time I went there was on a weeks leave at Port Foud, Church of Scotland had a good one at Fayid/Fanara.
Best wishes to all.
Rod, the ladies in the MMG missions were all volunteers. Just think -- they actually volunteered to spend years in the Suez Canal Zone looking after us, instead of spending their lives with their families.
There were other people who volunteered - there was the entertainers who turned up and put on shows - up and down The Zone. I was lucky enough to see Ivy Benson and her band, Ronnie Ronalde, Joyce Grenfell and I think Les Dawson.
You mentioned another, the Church of Scotland -- they were called "The Jocks" in the Suez Garrison. The Salvation Army was everywhere and I think we just assumed they should have been there.
How many of us would have volunteered to spend a couple of years in The Zone? Not me - I had a calendar hanging on one of the posts in our tent and everybody circled their Demob Day.
I can still remember the gate being raised for that last time to let the 3 tonner leave for the airport, with its cargo of six happy bods sitting on their kit bags. I can still see the Hermes on the Tarmac waiting to fly us into London (I can even remember the name of the airline -- Airworks).
Miss Smith and Miss Farrell were still back in the Suez Garrison serving tea and sandwiches to our replacements.
Not the best years of my life, but they will always be with me . . . never to be forgotten.
Yes they were a great lot of people, to think of the conditions out there, they were made of hardy stock and voluntary too, I was semi voluntary a regular but if choice was mine I would have picked a better place, although my three years did me no harm, just got a great tan, which I get told off for when going to hospitals, not looking after my skin, but after explaining, get let off, my daughter had a holiday in Cyprus and took the trip to see the Pyramids and she said she did not know how we stood it, but it was people like those in Sally Anns, TheJocks, MMGs that helped us carry on, NAAFI did help with their Rest Centres for a weeks Leave, but we relied on Regimental Canteens.
Rod, if I had my choice of postings it would have been Malta (preferably doorman at the British Consulate).
Our troopship had a one-day stop in Valetta and we had a lovely time ashore before being summoned to leave by the sad moan of the foghorn from HMTS Lancashire. And then it was . . . "Next stop Port Said!!" and memories to last a lifetime (good and bad) which I wouldn't change for anything.
I loved Valetta and the people were very friendly to us when they heard we were enroute to the Canal Zone.
After a few days confined to camp at Port Said and I was on my way to REME Station Workshops (dropped off at the gate like the day's mail) in Suez at the southern tip of the Canal Zone, just before the Gulf of Suez. I got to swim in the Gulf about three times and sailed around it once aboard HMS Peacock, dropping depth charges all over the place (just the Brits flexing their muscles).
Not bad for a nineteen year old, whose knees were still pink.
When I got back home in 1953 I was twenty . . . going-on-twenty-five.
Jim, I can understand that, my late wife read a book about a priest in Malta and she asked if we could go there for a holiday, so we had a fortnight out there and we really enjoyed it, the people were friendly and helpful, my wife was in a wheelchair and at bus stops they used to carry the wheelchair on and off the bus for us, I too liked Valleta though rather hilly, the only thing I was not keen on was everybody driving in centre of the road until the last minute, so I realise why the bus drivers had religious icons hanging in the windscreen.
So I to would have had Malta or Cyprus but I did enjoy my time in Malaya although it was a bit hot and sticky.
Like you I was 25 when I returned, I was going to sign on for further service, but girlfriend said she did not want to be an Army wife so came out, she regretted it later when she saw my son and his time in service and his and his wife's married quarters, but that's life.
Rod, this thread you started is called "Memories" and you couldn't have picked a more appropriate title, because Memories is all we have left of this important sojourn in our lives. Or it would be all we had -- if it hadn't been for the tireless efforts of a group of veterans, like our own Tony Tolan, who took on the blind stubbornness of our government in Westminster and forced them to finally concede (from the comfort of the leather chairs in their London clubs) that we had earned a medal for our time in the deserts of the Suez Canal Zone.
However, back to "Memories":
we each had different experiences and, depending on where you were posted, they could be anything from downright squalid to living beside a Lido, with regular in-town visits. My own experiences were often of my own doing - good and bad. My camp was very small, we had less men than the crew of a WWII submarine. It's small size set it apart from what we usually associate with what is called "army life" e.g., rank meant very little ( first names were common) - it was difficult to put someone on a '252' and be sharing a beer with him that night.
I put my memory to test and started writing down the names of anyone I could recall from REME Station Workshops (Suez) and I came up with 44 and I don't think I missed a blessed soul (all ranks). Our total manpower was in the mid-forties.
Recalling each name was a great experience -- as I recalled their name, I heard their voice and their Geordie, Brummie or Glasgow accents and a fleeting look at a face from that time we spent in the Egyptian sun.
So Rod, "Thanks for the Memories" and Tony, thanks for the medal to pin on them.
I will keep them both.
And thank you Jim for the chat, names I served I can no longer recall, they dimmed with age, best wishes to you and all reading this.