The Suez Veterans Association

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Marriage between British Servicemen and Egyptian subjects

Greetings Old Comrades!

I have vivid memories of two former British Servicemen, both in late middle age, who had married Egyptian women between the wars and had settled in Egypt. By the late 1940s, both these guys were serving in the RAF Auxiliary Police (I'm not sure that was the exact name of this unit, but it carried out guard and security duties on most RAF bases I visited). The older of these men, a Welshman, was i/c the Auxiliries with a WO rank, the other a Senior NCO. Neither had been back to the UK for more than twenty years. I often saw them walking across the railway line to their homes in the nearby village at the end of their day's duty. They seemed content with their life, but I couldn't help wondering if they were really happy with the path they had chosen. By then, the writing was on the wall: Britain's days in Egypt were numbered. What fate befell these fellows (and there must have been many more ex-Brits in similar circumstances) when it all hit the fan in 1951 and outside labour was withdrawn from British bases, I shudder to contemplate. Even worse, I suspect, when the British finally withdrew from Egypt.

Does anyone else out there have similar memories, or perhaps of other Brits, contractors, etc., who had made their life in Egypt during the British Occupation, and by doing so had perhaps burnt their boats?
From my own experience, I would venture to suggest that the opportunities for British Servicemen to meet Egyptian women, were few, if any. Certainly after 1947 when British Forces withdrew to the Canal Zone, leaving Cairo and Alexandria virtually out of bounds.

But it did happen; I know personally of two cases ((no names, no pack drill.) - one an RAF WO, i/c an MT Section in the Ismailia area who had married an Egyptian girl in the early 1940s; the time I met him they had three kids and were living out in Arashia.
Another was an Airman at HQ;MEAF, also living out in Arashia who married an Egyptian girl he had met on one of those rare visits to Cairo in 1949-50. After it all hit the fan in October 1951, they together with all other living out families, were evacuated to their units, and later repatriated to UK.
Later, I heard of an Army NCO (a Guardsman?) at Abu Sultan who married an Egyptian woman, so such marriages did take place. I would be interested to hear of any other instances of this type of 'Anglo-Egyptian cooperation'...?

"Love finds a way...?"

A. Bystander, GSM.

* * * *

This article was first published in a now defunct Suez Vets-themed newsletter about 12-13 or more years ago, and more recently, elsewhere.

BB5

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