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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(1) You are correct I never saw a silver bullet train carrying Farouk and Farida to board ship, as I came to Canal Zone from Benghazi the LST Humphfrey Gale and arrived in Moascar by convoy.
(2) I cannot remember saying we repaired cables in the desert, we did do cable patrols, looking for anyone who may damage cables, also we did keep roads clear of sand though. What bladder problem I had I cannot remember,although I did have severe diarhea twice, nor can I remember repairing can openers although I still have one of the compo ones still.
Where you got the ideas of rescuing Para's in the desert I don't know, There was a chap from my time in civvy street before I joined the Army who was in the Sinai but I never met him there or rescued him.
So the reason you are so scathing in your remarks I can not understand, my training consisted, of driver B2, Vehicle Mech A3, Sapper B3, Marksman on Rifle, Bren Gun, and Mk4 Sten gun, any other things you accredit me to, I do not claim to, so where you get you information from, it's wrong.
Rod, I don't think Charles was referring to you, I think his train comment was aimed at another poster, I also remember very well that the rescue of Paras at least in one case was claimed by a member of the RAF who shortly after his arrival in Egypt was sent on this particular mission shortly after getting off an aircraft from U.K. and putting up tents and digging their toilets. There may be something in there I am not sure that relates to you and your time I don't know, I know as a highly trained infantry man I on the old Forum was surprised at some of the things non infantry personnel were asked to do. I know that when we went out for something we had the arms and ammunition and extensive training to do it. We each carried our own supplies and and in addition carried extra mortar shells, bren mags, and other items. When taking up a position for the night we if preparing a camp scene did so and positions were delegated with precise arcs of fire, there was always a bren gunner and his number two, who changed if necessary the magazine, the barrel the extras that we carried, we all knew our responsibility if am emergency arose.
There have been without a doubt some extreme stories of adventure by some who to be kind were only guilty of exaggeration,I know I became to the annoyance of quite a few a consistent critic, but I don't mind, I never tried to tell anyone how to repair an airfield runway, Inever suggested I could repair, drive or otherwise utilise a vehicle better, I would never try to tell a Royal Engineer how to do his skilled job, I just took exception to those telling me how they done my highly trained job as if it was something you learned in the back of the NAAFI, some it has to be stated were absolute lies, proven by their ignorance of the facts. For example the missing Paras, I am sure they have the same pride as the Guards. and the ;ast thing they would have done is call for help, especially from Airfield Construction. Two if the men were lost how were the Airfield Construction personnel going to find them faster that the Paras or any of the other infantry personnel who were available by the thousands.
A long way round to give my understanding of waht Charles was trying to say and I honestly don't think it was aimed at you. But thats the SVA, I was hoping for some peaceful rapport, but I guess its not to be. Well I am trying, and I know to some I am very trying but thats O.K. just gort my second great grandchild anybody else got some.
Yes I have just found that out from John Grant via email, it was misleading just following my recent post and not addressed to a named person, so all is well.
Sorry to be repetitive Rod but on rereading Charles Lewis post I suspect his ire was raised at the named Jim Watson. I think you were the unfortunate but mistaken victim of placement of your and Charles's posts ,his only mention of you was in fact with deference as I saw it.Unless there are circumstances of which I am not aware I think this is probably a genuine mistake, and that there was no attempt to be critical of you, it was all possibly some parts also in error aimed at another member.
Just to keep the pot boiling, I will comment on my post Canal days. I joined the Edinburgh City Police in September 1955. I would say the majority of the men I worked with wore medal ribbons from some campaign or other. Many of course WW2 veterans, and many Korean veterans, also some with a ribbon for their service in Malaya. In conversation with less informed I related my service in the Canal Zone, to be asked but you didn't get a medal like so and so,the desert and the ocean it must have been like a holiday camp, even some of the guys returning by ship from the Far East commented on how nice an area it looked. I am eternally grateful to the willing and hard working volunteers who finally got us what we had deserved, I will always have a grudge at those who deprived us of the rightful award we should have had, possibly if they had done what they were supposed to I when in uniform would not have to explain, badly, why my service was not recognised.
I had been in Canada for over twenty years and retired from a police career when I got a phone call from a man I did not know, he explained he was a Suez veteran and had heard I was also, and would I be willing to have my name entered on a medal petition, of course I was glad to do so, I am firmly convinced that it was the addition of my name that was the catalyst for the medal award, but seek no thanks or praise my modesty will not permit it.
My highlight was a few years later, my wife and I were invited to an RCMP formal function, as I was a retired officer I was entitled as I did to wear my mess uniform.On it proudly were my Canal Zone medal, Queens Jubilee Medal, and my Canadian police medal, and delightfully enough the one that was most often asked about was my Canal Zone medal, and requests as to what it was for, of course as a good soldier would do I got the light swinging and the bucket of sand out and related tales that Rudyard kiplking if alive would have gained awards for., Just joking.
My time in Suez was an unusual army experience, and I was lucky to land it.
I landed in Port Said mid-April 1952 just a few weeks from my nineteenth birthday. Just a few days after disembarking from HMTS Lancashire (well past its Buy-Before-Date) I found myself in the back of a Bedford 3 ton lorry headed for Suez - with six others. I had no idea where that was. Half way there we stopped by the roadside for a cup of char and I was given a rifle and assigned to lookout on the top of a giant sand dune.
I had no idea what I was looking for, if an old goat-herder had come in sight I think I would have been shooting.
After a few hours we pulled up outside a camp gate, my bag was thrown out and I followed it. The sign beside the gate said I had arrived at “REME Station Workshops - Suez”. It felt like the middle of nowhere. Sand everywhere and all I could see was a brick vehicle workshop and a few tents behind it (six tents in total) and a ten-bed barrack room. I was to spend the next year and a half in a tent.
Here is where I was lucky: the camp was small and it turned out the total number of bods was between fifty and sixty ( including NCOs and one officer). Smaller than the crew of a submarine - and all tradesmen. I was soon to find out, because of its small size, that there was no separation of Other Ranks and NCOs . . . one evening mess, one snooker table, one dart board and one mess-hall. Of necessity we drank together and socialized together. We addressed each other by name, Geordie, Taffy, Jock etc., regardless of rank - - but never within earshot of the “OldMan”.
It took me a while to get used to it - but it worked: We ate together ( we had four sergeants and they had one separate table in the mess hall with meals served) but we worked together, drank together, shared tents and went out together. My tent, which consisted of two tents in tandem, housed 2 lance-corporals, one corporal and about six other-ranks. I don’t think rank-separation would have worked.
Our Captain (the “OldMan”) was smart enough not to allow any latitude with him. He never entered the mess and enforced strict protocol in his presence, which was almost limited to pay-day and Saturday morning square bashing parades.
He had his family with him and lived in married quarters in the garrison and this helped him maintain his distance from the camp night-life.
It was quite different from the Royal Berkshires over the wire and The Cheshires on the other side of us. We could see how it could have been.
As I said in the beginning, “I was lucky to land it”.
The interest is not what I thought it would be, thats too bad. It would be an opportunity and interesting to see how people are now, what they are doing and all being I suppose retired possibly some career moves. The Canal Zone although important in our lives, is really miniscule when you think of the many years since.
Bob, did I just hear “Lights-out” being played?
. . . I hope not.
Jim. I actually thought lights out had been played some time ago, and just let curiousity get the better of me and dialled in. I was happy to see the new posts and had to re register to post but did so. It looks like it was all for nought though too bad.
I see you guys had a great summer, our grandaughter is there attending University, actually she has graduated with her Masters in science. She has applied for medical school in B.C but it is tough to get in, although we are critically short of doctors. She will wait in Toronto as she still has a lease on her apartment and has a couple of jobs and is a volunteer at the hospital. She has been laughing at us because of the weather and the smoke here from all the fires. Well I am sure this is not what was wanted but I will take the opportunity while I can.