Warfare 6 RTR - Op Musketeer

Dr.Yahia Al Shaer

Mi Sergeant
MI.Net Member
Sep 14, 2020

SUEZ LANDING – Port Said 1956
As Remembered By Peter Milner


As Remembered By Peter Milner

Rather than wait for call-up, in Feb1954 I enlisted as a Regular. As a Regular you could choose what regiment you wanted so when asked I replied that if ever I had to go into combat I would rather ride than walk and not do too much drill like the infantry regiments. “What you need son is a tank regiment”.

So it was off to Catterick for 6 weeks GMT, followed by an 8 week radio operators course, a short break and then off to Munster, West Germany. I was assigned to 8 Troop, B Sqdn and within a month I was a wireless operator on my first exercise which lasted about 2 weeks. Being a crew member on a Centurion tank, life was good.. I then went on a driving and maintenance course which, as a 17 year old was really brilliant – driving a ‘Cent’ of 55 tons.

A further 4 weeks in the classroom followed by 4 weeks out in the countryside, I was then assigned as the troop officers driver. More exercises followed, including 2 weeks on the ranges. After being in Munster for about 15 months, I had completed further upgrading courses and had taken my pay to over £5 per week. I was now instructing learner drivers in between exercises but unfortunately the good times were about to come to an end in early 1956.

The regiment was called back to England but in Wiltshire we were a tank regiment with NO tanks, so to keep us on our toes we were given infantry training. This went on for about a month before the rumours started about some trouble in Egypt with Col. Nasser.

Suddenly tanks started to arrived from all over England but they were the old Centurions which had seen action in Korea with the 1st R.T.R. So we all got stuck in, cleaning, replacing engines, gun barrels etc and finally loaded them with ammunition with 60 rounds for the 20 pounders and 1000’s of rounds for 2 browning machine guns.

By now the tanks were looking very smart with a new paint job of coffee colour to match the desert and so the whole regiment was given a 72 hour pass. At that time I was courting a local girl (we have now been married 52 years) and I arranged to meet up with her and her parents who were staying in a caravan in Shropshire. On the Sunday morning we heard that 90,000 reservists had been recalled and when I got back home I had a telegram instructing me to return to my unit as soon as possible.

Back at camp all our kit was loaded in the tanks, which were then loaded onto tank transporters to go to Devonport to be loaded onto L.S.T’s. All the tank crews were transported by road to Plymouth and the Royal Marine barracks. After about five days, only a handful of tanks had arrived so orders were given for all drivers to go and unload the tanks and drive them back.

My tank was about 20 miles out of Plymouth and it was very enjoyable driving on tarmac roads. We were now able to load the tanks onto the L.S.T’s.

My own Squadron ‘B’ loaded up on HMS Suvla with men from the Royal West Kent and 40 Commando. The other 3 L.S.T’s were HMS Puncher, HMS Salerno and HMS Ravanger.

We left Devonport in late August 1956 at a top speed of approx. 6 knots. After about a week at sea someone asked “is this all of the task force? Just four L.S.T’s?” Our troop sergeant, a WWII veteran, replied “I think we will manage all right. We have a regiment of tanks, about 65 tanks, 40 Commando, men of the Parachute regiment, the West Kents, REME, Royal Engineers and also the French with small tanks.” What a surprise when a few days later we were joined by the aircraft carriers HMS Ocean, HMS Bulwark, HMS Albion, HMS Eagle, the submarine depot ship HMS Eddystone and also several mine sweepers and destroyers.

We, at last, reached the Grand Harbour of Malta. Tents were put up on Marsa Racecourse which was to be our home for the next two months. Malta was certainly not the place for tanks with very narrow streets and we had to be very careful when driving through the towns.

The Maltese people were very friendly and each evening schoolboys would come round the camp collecting laundry for their mothers, which would be returned the following evening for the sum of three shillings. It was now mid October and orders were given to break camp, load up everything and make our way to the docks and back onto the L.S.T’s. We were now on our way to Suez. We still thought that the landings would not take place but unfortunately we were wrong.

At 6:00 hrs next morning we were waiting off shore while the V Bombers dropped their bombs. At 6:30 hrs our L.S.T. hit the beach and opened the bow doors.

My friend, Cpl Tom Downey, went down the ramp first and fired the main armament, the 20 pounders. I followed only to be met by 3 Russian SU100 tanks. We fired at them and they obviously didn’t like the look of the Centurion with it’s far superior armament as they turned tail. We moved inland, supporting the Marines and the Para’s.

We were going down the Main Street and in front of us was the Egyptian Customs & Excise warehouse. Many of you have probably seen the film ‘Kelly’s Heros’ with Clint Eastwood – well we didn’t shoot the doors off but just drove straight in! Our turret crew loaded the back decks with about 12 cases of brandy and a few thousand cigarettes and then went on our merry way.

The heat was so intense, approx 50 degrees inside the tank, so most of us were only wearing shorts and boots. By 18:00 hrs it was getting dark so we made camp and had something to eat. The O.C. of ‘B’ Sqdn came past and asked what we had on the back decks, we told him just a few cases of brandy and he told us to share them with the rest of the squadron.

Day 2, 7th November, following our first decent meal in 24 hours we were on the move assisting the infantry to clear the streets. Things were going quite well when I saw two Green Berets at the side of the tank, using it for cover. Straight away I recognised them as my friends from back home, Tony & John. I shouted at them “Do you two want a lift?” Tony shouted back “You said if you ever went to war then you would prefer to ride”.

By midday the heat was unbearable. A call came over the radio for assistance from the Royal Engineers who were acting as stevedor unloading the ships of supplies but were pinned down by two snipers in a mosque. One of our tanks went over and we heard the commander over the radio “Don’t bother with the Browning, put a 20 pounder in the breach and fire into the middle of the mosque” With that the building was demolished.

Later on that day, another message. This time from the Para’s who were pinned down by Egyptian troops on the East Side of Port Said in the cemetery. Four tanks from our troop got over there to assist. They obviously did not like the look of us as within half an hour they had withdrawn but sadly about 6 men lost their lives there.

After it was all over we had loads to stuff which was now useless and which was burnt on the beach. On the outskirts of the town was a rifle range, being about 60 ft wide by 30 ft high. We put a lot of the captured ammunition, land mines and anti-personnel mines at the foot of the wall and, with a demolitions expert, we ran the fuse wire about 250 yards – I have never heard such a noise, neither had the funeral party in the cemetery who came running out, screaming!

We were now doing escort duties to an RAF Airfield, some 6 miles up the coast road, with a Centurion front and rear and the vehicles in between us. A friend from another troop asked why our troop volunteers every day for escort duties and I told him that when we get to the RAF Camp we get fish and chips – which goes to prove the RAF are spoilt (no offence intended!).

Finally it was all over by mid December with Port Said looking like downtown Beirut. Once the Canal had been recaptured, we took up residence in a small school.

The time had now come to move out. All the tanks were on the beach awaiting the arrival of the L.S.T.’s. We were informed that it would be a three day wait so we decided to try and clean our kit. One of the lads headed off to the outskirts of Port Said to find something suitable to put our kit in. By now the town of Port Said had been flattened but somehow he managed to find a new metal dustbin which was duly half filled with sea water and a liberal amount of washing powder. We chucked in our K.D.’s, shirts and socks but made the mistake of putting our red T-shirts in as well. One of the officers passing by enquired what we were doing and when we explained that we were trying to freshen up our kit, he asked if we would mind if he could put of his in too.

The water in the bin was boiling nicely and after about half an hour we fished out our kit and hung it on the barrel of the gun to dry. It was then that it was noticed that everything had gone a shade of pink! We had a good laugh about it and decided that by the time we got to Gibraltar it would be December and we could put our uniforms back on. When I got back home in February my mum said that we had made the front page of the Sunday Pictorial (now the Sunday Mirror) with all our laundry hanging on the gun barrel!!

We were the last troops to leave the Canal Zone in mid December, arriving back in Malta on Christmas Day. The Royal Navy ‘did us proud’ with turkey and Christmas pudding. We left Malta on Boxing Day arriving back at Tilbury in mid January 1957.

By now we had left Gibraltar and off the coast of Portugal in the Bay of Biscay it was evil. As we got closer to home in calmer waters we were informed that we would have the Customs & Excise on board. We were advised that if we had any captured weapons then to chuck them out of the port holes.

Our biggest problem was the cigarettes. Most of us had about 30,000 of them, obtained not only from the Customs sheds but also we had a 50 can a day combat allowance plus 10 shillings a can of Hopleaf beer and a Mars Bar a day. My wireless operator asked where I was going to hide may fags, “In the gearbox compartment” I replied. The gearbox compartment is nearly big enough to put a Mini car in. Use your storage bins, I suggested but they were full of their own kit. “Why not put in the 20lb shells, prise the warhead off and you will get a couple of thousand in there.” A 20lb shell will not go off even if you drop it.

They are fired by a firing needle which puts an electrical charge, not by the percussion pin. It was quite a simple job to ease the warheads off with a screwdriver. Job done.

Unfortunately our wireless operator could only get about half of his cigarettes back out. The gunner joked that the shelf life of the ammo was only about 3 years so some commander will be out on the ranges, probably saying ‘range 1200 yards – fire’ and 1000 Capstan Full Strength will pop out of the barrel.

We, of course, would never get to see this – we would be long gone – but it was fun to imagine this. You may be wondering where we got all these cigarettes from? They were a mixture of Cravan A, Camel and Capstan.

We just happened to come across the Customs & Excise buildings in Port Said, plus we got 50 cigarettes, a Mars Bar and 10 shillings combat pay every day – not quite as rewarding as Kellys Heroes as we couldn’t find any gold bars!!

Two weeks later, March 1957, I was due to de-mob. The sad part is that, for such a short war – approx 3 weeks for us – we left behind about 20 men. Us tankies lost one, but the Paras, Marines and Infantry lost more. A totally fruitless mission as President Nassar was back in control.

The war in the Middle East has been going on since the days of Mosses, some 2000 years ago, when it was said “follow me to the promised land” and they have been wandering ever since.

This is just a small insight into the daily life of a tank crew. Our Regiment is still on active service today in Afghanistan.

Dr. Yahia Al Shaer
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Suez Crisis 1956 Troops assisted by CID officers from Cyprus search Arab Town district of Port Said for the kidnappers of Lieutenant Moorhouse​


Suez Crisis 1956 A Centurion tank lends support to Commando troops who are carrying out a systematic search of all the homes​


Suez Crisis 1956 Egyptian refugees remove their belongings in a cart as a Centurion tank lends support to Commando troops who are carrying out a systematic search of all the homes in Port Said for arms​


Suez Crisis 1956 Demonstrations and riots as United Nations forces enter Port Said​


Suez Crisis 1956 Anti war rally in Trafalgar Square 1956 November 1956​

Dr. Yahia Al Shaer
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British Commandos Searching Ruins​

British commandos search ruins for Egyptians and firearms.




A french M47 in Port Fouad on eastern side pf the Suez Canal.

Notice, the Navyhouse building in the back (across the Suez Canalm which was overcome by the Brits on Wednesday 07th. November 1956
See also the sand shields attached to the rear sides. They were used to recover the tank in case it got stuck in the desert sand






British patrols the city"s streets


British soldier, checks a fishermann at the bank of
Elmanzala Lakem after the Brits noticed, the possibilities to sneek
into the city from Egyptian Delta using the boats

Dr. Yahia Al Shaer
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Royal Scots Marching into Port Said​

The 1st Battalion of the Royal Scots march into Port Said during the Suez Crisis of 1956


Helicopters of 45 RMC English Military Forces In Suez 1956​

Passing near the statue of Ferdinand DE LESSEPS at Port Said, near the Suez Canal, on November6th., , 1956. for ( First worldwide Heliolanding ) on the area west of the Statue​


They were used later to evacuate the deads and the injured​

Transport des blessés par hélicoptère
Militaires transportant un blessé sur un brancard vers un hélicopère de la Royal Navy, pendant la crise de Suez, à Port-Saïd, Egypte, le 10 novembre 1956

Dr. Yahia Al Shaer



Port Said​

19th November 1956: A British soldier and some armed Egyptian Boys in the streets of Port Said after the bombardment and air attack.​

Dr. Yahia Al Shaer


British RTR-6 Centorion Tank,opposite to Abbasi Mosque
and the entrance to the damaged blocks
RCM Soldiers are at the main North-South street ,
(Mohammed Aly Street ) which leads to El Raswa Area, then to Ismailia-Suez-
as well as to Cairo and the rest of Egypt




French AMX-13 Tank in the main west-east street
in Port Said ( opposite to our City Home )




RTR-6 Centorions, advancing through Fouad Street
from north to south of the city on their way to the Navy House
then further to join the French Paras in Raswa Area
to ADVANCE south to Ismailia / Suez and Cairo


Westerng Journalists gathering at their main HQ
(The Eastern Hotel )in Fouad Street
east of the city, to be Brits gathering


at the main crossroads of Mohammad Aly (north-South)
and Saad Zaghloul (West-Est) of the city







Royal Marine Andrew Hall accompanies Sister Mary Joseph on her rounds at a Ameery hospital in Port Said​

Notice accompaning a dog, with no caution to the laying injuried children
( a carelssness behavior, which caused additional anger in the city )

But ther had been another good HUMAIN BEHAVIOURS from

the British Soldiers to city citizens


British MP accompanying an European Family, on
its way to leave Port Said for ever​

Dr. Yahia Al Shaer


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