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'Keep the Flag Flying'
Opinions expressed in letters on these forum pages are those of each correspondent and are not necessarily those of any serving representative of
what was the ex Suez Veterans Association.
Were You there? I was!
John Golby, Robert Smith and Edward Hensman – Egypt
Bored by the tedium of their Suez Canal posting in Fayid, three soldiers, all from Hackney, east London, yearned for a bit of fun. They decided that even the wrath of the military that was bound to follow their escapade couldn’t be much worse than the sheer tedium of camp life in Fayid.
So, on Friday, April 7th, 1950, Gunners John Golby, 29, and Robert Smith, 23, of the Royal Artillery, and Driver Edward Hensman, 22, of the Royal Army Service Corps, “borrowed” an army jeep and set out for Cairo, some 70 miles away across the desert.
They and the jeep were soon missed, and the military police were alerted. This turned into a full scale alert when it was learned that the missing soldiers were armed with service revolvers and ammunition.
Arriving in Cairo, they parked the jeep, changed into civilian clothes and headed for the bars and brothels. They financed their outing by selling army greatcoats and other stolen equipment. When they ran out of money they discovered that someone had stolen the jeep. Looking for another vehicle, they went to a garage at night, and while Golby and Smith selected a car, Hensman shot the watchman twice. His second bullet was fatal, and the trio fled.
Next they sold their revolvers and stole a car. They were finally arrested in Ismalia, 25 miles north of Fayid, on April 17th.
The principal question that occupied the court-martial and eventually the minister of war in London was, did Golby and Smith know that Hensman would shoot to kill? Everyone was satisfied that they did know, and all three were found guilty of murder. There was to be no reprieve.
They were hanged at Fanara Military Prison on Thursday, August 31st, 1950. Their mothers, who had flown out from Britain, spent all the previous night praying for their sons in Cairo.
(© True Crime Library 2009)
STEN GUN SHOTS KILL TWO AT 'ALL-RANKS' PARTY—SOLDIER HELD
ISMAILIA, Egypt February 11, 1952—A BRITISH corporal has been arrested in the Canal Zone after shots fired during a mixed party in a NAAFI canteen. The shots killed an RASC captain and a corporal, and wounded two other soldiers.
The captain fell dead with six bullets in the stomach after a wild burst of firing from a Sten gun, says Press Exchange. The corporal who died was hit twice in the chest.
The unit's quartermaster was wounded in both legs. The other soldier hit was a private.
The party, for all ranks and their friends, was being held on Saturday night in the Royal Army Service Corps canteen near Suez. The place was crowded.
According to BUP (American) several members of the Women's Royal Army Corps were present.
An Army Court of Inquiry will be held
Names of the two men killed were given last night by Exchange as Captain H. Mason and Corporal P. J. Carter. The wounded were CQMS W. Beckett and Private Ottoway-Smith.
David Walker, Daily Mirror Correspondent, cabling from Ismailia, yesterday, said various straws in the wind indicated the possibility of a genuine easing of tension in Egypt. In Cairo the army is gradually disappearing from the streets and cinemas and racecourses have returned to normal.
In the Canal Zone. General Erskine had an important talk with Ghasaly Bey, Governor of Port Said. It is hoped the discussion will lead to a further improvement.
The Daily Mirror