Warfare Dilemma or Trauma ? To capture Port Said and Port Fouad on November 5th Operation Musketeer Part 10

Dr.Yahia Al Shaer

Mi Sergeant
MI.Net Member
Sep 14, 2020

Operation Musketeer
Part 10
Dilemma or Trauma ?

To capture Port Said and Port Fouad on November 5th

The Paras to capture Port Said and Port Fouad on November 5th

While Port Fouad was mainly defended by the weak and inexperienced ( aged) Police and some customs soldiers, Port Said was relatively and partially better equipped for such an attack than its sister city. The modern weapons distributed to the civilians in last minute actions have played a substantial role both in defending the city and in causing many - own - casualties.

The misunderstandings and rivalry for commanding the Joint Operations Centre, to direct all the Operations Allied Naval Forces, Allied Land Forces and Allied Air Forces to achieve the Operation Musketeer (revise) objectives between: General Andre Baufre (Fr) - assisted or motivated by General Jacques Massu - and Lt. General Sir Hugh Stockwell has begun.Who is Lt. General Sir Hugh Stockwell ?
An ex-Parachutiste, having commanded the 6th Airborne Division in Palestine in the difficult days of 1947 - 1948. He was well known to many of the younger Army officers who took part in "Musketeer" they recommended him as their Commandant at the R.M.A Sandhorst. He was the Commander of the Allied Naval Forces, Allied Land Forces and the Allied Air Forces and the Commander of the Joint Operations Centre of Operation Musketeer. His deputy was a French General Andre Baufre who has written a detailed and impressive book about the Operation Musketeer and detailed both his frustration and discontent with the British way of commanding the War against Port SaidDedicated operational tasks

Monday 5 November 1956 OPERATION Map the advancing arrows from seaThe 3rd Battalion, of the Parachute Regiment, in Cyprus On 3 November received their orders for Operation Musketeer, an invasion of Port Said set for 6 November. The jump was moved forward by 24 hours leaving the naval support, sailing from Malta, out of range for the first day of the invasion.

The aircraft used were Valettas carrying twenty jumpers and Hastings carrying thirty. At 0300hr they boarded the planes for the jump that was to take place just after dawn(demop).. Many men slept on the planes. On 5 November, 1956, 3 Para jumped from six hundred feet onto the El Gamil Airfield. P-Hr (parachute hour) was 0515. The winds were almost zero. Their Intelligence told them they would be outnumbered five to one. The Egyptians had an armoured division in the desert to the south of the town and a battalion group surrounding the airfield.British Parachute BattalionThe 3 rd Parachute Regiment (Br) of the 16th Independent Parachute Brigade. Jumps in Gamil to take an airstrip and marches east to take Port Said on the west side of the Canal (last drop)

The French Paras

2nd Regiment de Parachutists Coloniaux (Fr). Jumps on the south of Port Said on the west to take the Bridges and Water work. Jumps on the east side of the Canal to take Port Fouad, the Salinas and the south of the PF(i) parachuted Raswa bridge southern exit of Port-Said
(ii) parachuted Port-Fouad (south of the city) Additional French (2ème RPC/ 2nd Paratroops Regiment) were dropped over Port-Fouad late afternoon (15.15 Hrs) in order to help take the towns.

The French troops seized Port-Fouad and Raswa bridge, which controlled the access of Port-Saïd. Elements of 9th Independent Squadron R.E. Regiment Étranger and 1st (Guards) Independent Company dropped in to Raswa bridges area along with the French 2nd RPC.PHOTO of dropping 3Para from Valetta Transport and Support Units, Operation Musketeer

UnitTypeBaseEach carrying
RAF 30 Sqn ValettaC1Nicosia ex Dishforth30
84 Sqn ValettaC1Nicosia30
114 Sqn ValettaC1Nicosia ex Khormaksar30
70 Sqn HastingsC1Nicosia20
99 Sqn HastingsC1Nicosia ex Lyneham20
511 Sqn HastingsC1Nicosia ex Lyneham 20
JHUWhirlwind HAR2HMS Ocean Whirlwind HAR2
RN 845 NASWhirlwind HAS2HMS TheseusWhirlwind HAS2
British Army 1913 FltAuster AOP6Akrotiri, GamilAuster AOP6
Armée de l'Air ET 1/61 (61-N)NoratlasTymbou ex AlgiersNoratlas
ET 3/61 (61-Q)NoratlasTymbou ex AlgiersNoratlas
ET 1/62 (62-W)NoratlasTymbou ex ReimsNoratlas
ET 2/63 (63-L)Noratlas, C-47Tymbou ex OrléansNoratlas, C-47
ET 2/64 (64-P)Breguet 761Orléans Breguet 761
CEAMHD-32Tymbou ex Mont de MarsanHD-32
ALAT GH3Bell 47GGamil ex Algiers Bell 47G

First time deployment 106mm Recoilless Rifle

The Musketeer Operation has witnessed a first time deployment premiere for specific weapon. It was the first time the British ever dropped the 106mm Recoilless Rifle. The 106mm was an anti-tank gun built by the Americans. It fired a 105mm round (the name 106 was so the ammunition wouldn't be confused with Artillery rounds) and had a .50 cal spotting rifle mounted on top. The two rifles were zeroed together so their rounds had the same trajectory. The weapon would be aimed at the target, a .50 cal spotting round would be fired and if it hit the main gun would fire. This gave it a very high accuracy rating. During the fighting, a group of Paras captured an Egyptian SU 100 (a Soviet self propelled anti-tank gun) and were driving it back to British lines when it was seen by members of the anti-tank platoon. They fired one spotting round that missed. The second one hit and they were a split second from destroying it when someone recognised the driver and called cease-fireThe Paras operational Tactics
OPERATION Map with curved arrows around Port Fouad from south. The British to the West The drop was attacked by Egyptian Battery 32-barrelled rocket launchers near Shanty Town West of Port Said covering El Gamil Area and dug-in SU-100 Self-propelled Tracked artillery. Machine guns positioned atop the roofs of the Control tower, the passenger hall and in two pile boxes around the airfield. The runway was blocked by sand filled Barrels (former Oil drums). The orders to 3 Para called for"A" Coy , to capture the control tower buildings and then secure a bridge at the west end of the field. Before take-off aerial photos showed the bridge had already been destroyed.

"B" Coy , to capture the buildings at the east end of the airfield. Many members of "B" Coylanded right on the Egyptian position and were engaged in immediate hand to hand combat. "B" Coy lost five to ten percent of their men within seconds. The British method of packing their weapons in SIMMs containers caused great difficulty for those who found themselves under fire even before they landed. The north and south side of the airfield were bounded by water

"C" Coy, to act as a reserve force and assist in capturing the buildings. The Paras captured the airfield in about forty five minutes and had it ready to use by noon. The runways were too short for the British transport planes so all their reinforcements and supplies had to be parachuted in .PHOTO of 3Para on El Gamil AirfieldThe French to the south and Port FouadThe French 2 Regiment Parachutiste Coloniauxin addition to 100 soldiers of the 11 Demi-Brigade Parachutiste de Choc flew in at 400 feet and dropped onto a DZ that was only 500 yards long and 200 yards wide, jumping onto a narrow strip of sand beside the Canal and later at Port Fouad. They immediately came under mortar and machine gun fire..

The drop was attacked by Egyptian dug-in SU-100 Self-propelled Tracked artillery. Machine guns positioned in pile boxes around both the main and the secondary Bridges, the Water works and the interior basins by the Egyptian defenders from 2 Troops of the 4th Infantry Battalion which arrived to Port Said on 31st October , one Reserve Troop and the occupants of the HQ of 4th Infantry Battalion positioned in the Raswa area South of Port Said. The secondary bridge was blown up from his flying command post, their commander saw the paratroopers were in trouble so he called in air strikes against the Egyptian positions. With the air support, Les Paras overcame the opposition and moved north to the bridges across the Junction Canal that controlled access to Port Said from the south. One of the two bridges was already destroyed and the other was under fire from SU-100 tanks on the golf course to the north. The French Paratroops have always been known for their daring. Under cover of the air attack, they raced forward and captured the objective. This assured the break-out from Port Said once the amphibious landing took place the next dayPHOTO of French Paras in Port Fouad on the field The British 16th Parachute Regiment at the time of Musketeer

On November 5th of Although the 16th Brigade did not go into Suez as a whole unit, the 3rd Battalion along with elements of 23rd Parachute Field Ambulance and 9th Independent Squadron R.E. went in on the 5th of November Including supporting arms etc, there were about 668 men along with seven jeeps (all recovered from an army scrap yard in Cyprus after it was discovered that the Austin Champs were too large to be airdropped from the Hastings), four trailers, six 106-mm anti-tank guns, and about 176 supply containers (demop). Elements of 9th Independent Squadron R.E. and 1st (Guards) Independent Company dropped in to Raswa bridges area along with the French 2nd RPC. The Parachute Regiment at the time of Musketeer consisted of two Brigades one regular and one Territorial and of course the Regimental depot at Aldershot which trained new recruits to the regiment. The 16th Independent Parachute Brigade comprised of Functional units.

The 16th Independent Parachute Brigade comprised ofFunctional units
1st Battalion 1Para
2nd Battalion 2Para
3rd Battalion 3Para
23 Parachute Field Ambulance
Royal Army Medical Corps
9th Independent Squadron
Royal Engineers
33rd Parachute Light Regiment
Royal Artillery
1st (Guards) Independent Parachute Company (Pathfinders)
Various other supporting arms drawn from
Royal Army Service Corps
Military Police
Royal Signals


Dr. Yahia Al Shaer