- Sep 14, 2020
Involved Troops exceed War plans
Navy, Air Forces and the Withdrawal
The War Campaign
The Military Intervention in Egypt was planned to initially take the form of bombing and would be followed by a period of psychological warfare during which aircraft would be used to drop leaflets, while spurious radio broadcasts would deceive and confuse the civilian population, whom would also be warned of further impending bombing. The RAF bombers from Malta and Cyprus would attack airfields and military installations, initially at night and from high altitude. Further targets would be attacked during the day by carrier-based strike aircraft, which would later be used to cover the invasion properly.. Once the EAF had been neutralised and the population confused, the invasion would begin with Para drops to the west of Port Said (British) and Para drops to the south of Port Said and on Port Fouad to the east (French); these drops would be followed up by seaborne troops who would push south down the Canal with armoured support.
The go ahead for Operation Musketeer (revised) was given at 1500 hours GMT on 31st October. The first airstrikes against Egyptian Targets ( Cairo Airport Almaza) were made by the RAF during the night of 31st(British Aircraft).The RAF bombing began at 18.30 Cairo local time on the evening of 31 October and from the 1st November the bomber attacks on EAF bases were complemented by daytime tactical strikes on a variety of targets by RAF, Royal Navy and French Navy fighters. Meanwhile 40 and 42 Commandos and the 6th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment 6 RTR have embarked in the Amphibious Warfare Squadron and sailed from Malta, followed on 3rd November by 45 Commandos in the Aircraft Carriers HMS Ocean and HMS Theseus.
Just for history. Did you press the wrong button ?
"....One pilot only, Flying Officer Dennis Kenyon, of Canberra WH 915, failed top take off and the squadron, on returning, found the bomber with the nose on the tarmac. - Hello, Denis, did you press the wrong button ?, - asked the commanding officer. Kenyon was subsequently court-martialled and given a year's imprisonment for not carrying out a warlike operation with outmost excertion. It was thought that he would plead that the operation against Egypt was wrong, and that because it was wrong, his orders were illegal. In fact, his position was rather confused; he said he had disagreed with the Suez Operation but had pressed the wrong button by accident. Evidence was given that he had not eaten or slept for two days. The case did not become the cause célèbre the authorities had feared. ". This is the story which no one knows, as Keith Kyle published it in his Book SUEZ.
Gamal Abdel Nasser has formed on the 9th August the Home National Army of Liberation consisting of trained ( Haras El Watany , National Guard Commandos). Some British nationals were arrested on August 28th on spy charges. Nassers addressed his famous speeches known as (we shall fight) to the Egyptian people during the Friday prayers in Al Azhar Mosque in Cairo, he underlined the fact that the Egyptians shall defend their freedom and independence to the last drop of blood. A stanch feeling of every Egyptian then. He declared the National Mobilisation, recalling the Reservists, the National Guards and announced state of emergency all over the country.
There were about 30.000 Egyptian troops in Sinai at the end of October. Force headquarters were in Ismailia, the 8th Infantry Division occupied the Gaza Strip and the 3rd Infantry Division ( of three infantry brigades and one armoured battalion), was deployed between defences in the Rafah, El Arish, Jebel Libni, Abu Aweigila and Kuseima areas. Of the troops actually deployed in Sinai the 3rd Infantry Division was probably the best formation. Its rank and file was conscripts but its officers were regular, its armoured equipment, artillery, weapons and AA guns were modern, - mainly Russian made -, and it was organised on British lines. In the Canal Zone ( deployed Area as of Km 40 South of Port Said ), immediate Egyptian reserves comprised the 2nd Infantry Division and an armoured brigade, behind them lay the 1st Infantry Division and the 4th Armoured Division near Cairo. As the tension eased during August and an immediate British attack against Egypt seemed hypothetical, most of the Egyptian heavy units were called back to the western side of the Suez Canal. But soon after the high tension between Egypt and Israel, Egypt ordered the reinforcement of the Sinai Garrisons, the 4th Armoured Division to cross the Canal and face the Israelis. These were no skirmishes any more.
Gamal Abdel Nasser realised the mistake of his initial assessment - that Britain will not attack Egypt -. But once he saw the jet bombers attacking the Cairo Airport located near to his house. Nasser knew, that only Egypt has had Jet Bombers in the Middle East Region. These were the Canberra the RAF flies not Israel. The Indonesian Ambassador - Nasser's guest on that evening- witnessed with him the beginning of the Anglo-French 7 days war against Egypt.
Nasser has realised the tactical military trap in which his Army was dragged in. His assumptions of a Tripartite Conspiracy were confirmed by the military events on this and the next day, that confirmed his deep suspicion of the Anglo-French-Israeli Alliance camouflaged by the Anglo-French ultimatum
- The Israeli military operations trespassing the boarders and Para drops in Mitla Pass areas on October 29th and French paratroops dropped from Nord-1500 Noratlas over Sinai.
- Some F-86Fs of the French Air Force also took part in the operation from Ramat-David and
- The heavy aerial attacks against Cairo Airports and the EAF basis
- The Egyptian destroyer Ibrahim el Awal off Haifa was attacked on October 31st at 2h 30 AM, by
the French destroyer DE Kersaint (D 622)
- The Egyptian Frigate Domiat was sunk by the British heavy cruiser Newfoundland in a short naval
attack in the red sea
- The bombardment of the Egyptian positions in Rafah on 1st November by the French Heavy Cruiser
Georges Leygues (C 604) supporting the Israeli artillery at Rafah
- The unsuccessful Air attack of Corsairs, took off from the French Aircraft Carrier Lafayette, trying to attack an Egyptian Russian made Destroyers patrolling the Egyptian waters opposite to the Delta without success.
-A second strike took off from the French Aircraft Carrier Lafayette against Alexandria EAF bases.
Nasser and Amer
The Egyptian Army must withdraw
The die had now been cast. Following the Communication directed to both sides in the Middle East war, bombs had been dropped on one of them, the one which had been attacked. And invaded.. The important thing for him, was to prevent the reinforced Egyptian Army being cut off in Sinai by a Franco-British landing on the Canal. He met his military advisers in the Ministry of Defence HQ, the office of Hakim Amer, the Egyptian Commander-in-Chief. Nasser insisted on an immediate and total withdrawal from Sinai. To this Amer was completely opposed - what will reflect upon the structure of the Underground Secret Resistance Organisation in Port Said later on -
Amer argued that such a withdrawal will demoralise fighting units which were locked in battle and fighting heroically against the Israelis.
Nasser had himself to issue the orders over the phone to the senior officer of the 4th Armoured Division, which had just moved into Sinai, to withdraw immediately. Amer showed his dissatisfaction and retreated to a secret
HQ location in the Delta, the orders of immediate retreat were dispatched to all the commanding senior officers
In Sinai and a non-organised chaotic retreat has begun.
The withdraw order was the only possible and tactical order any leader could take under the same circumstances as all western military experts certified later on. The Arabs, Oil Embargo, Russia and NasserNasser and the Arab world responded as one might expect they would -- with shock, repulsion, and anger. Nasser closed down the Canal, cutting the invasion force off from the oil needed to continue the operation for any extended period. The Egyptian people decisively rallied around their leader -- millions joined on to resist the invasion. The Baghdad Pact crumbled, as Iraq refused to sit with the British and severed ties with the French. The Libyan King Idris El Sanussi declined from any assistance to the Britain from British troops residing in his country
The Arab world surrounded Nasser with encouragement and cut the pipeline running from the Gulf to the Mediterranean. And Russia remained relatively quiet during the Crisis ( apart from letters sent on November 5, 1956to London and Paris threatening to launch "missiles attacks" against the two capital cities if the invasion did not end .
The only Superpower which helped to put an immediate peaceful settlement to the crisis was USA. With a "heavy heart" Dulles told the General Assembly: "the Israeli-French-British invasion is a grave error inconsistent with the principles and purposes of this charter. By this point however, US and UN pressure made the cease-fire agreement of November 6 inevitable, and the US position had been made painfully clear.
By doing nothing really yet appearing to seriously threaten the West, Russia stepped into the now gaping power vacuum that was the Middle East. Both during and after the Crisis, Nasser built up the Soviet role. This opened the door for a counter-balance to the US in the region -- which was exactly what both Nasser and the Soviets wanted.
The EAF Egyptian Air Force Bases locations
and strength on 29th October 1956
The EAF employed mixed British made and Russian fighters comprising 40 Vampire FB52s, nineteen Meteor F4/F8s and five Meteor NF13s, in addition to newer Russian fighters 45 MiG-15s, six MiG-17s, with. the more worrying 49 Il-28 bombers. The EAF transport force comprised about 20 each of the C-46, C-47 and Il-14 aircraft (Egyptian Aircraft)
|1956 Base Location
|Fayid (Suez Canal)
|Abu Sueir ( Suez Canal)
|Meteor F4, F8
|Fayid (Suez Canal)
|Kasfareet (Suez Canal)
Meteor F8, F7
|Fayid (Suez Canal)
|12 + 5 in reserve
|Luxor ( South)
|Refuge Il-28, MIG17
|Various light transports
The Egyptian Navy employed mixed British and Russian Vessels in addition to 2 newly purchased Russian Submarines and several Torpedo boats. The Egyptian naval Forces were comprising
4 Destroyers ( 3 Ex-British and 2 Ex-Russian)
3 Ex-British Corvettes
2 Ex-Russian Seagoing Submarines
1 Ex-Russian Coastal Submarine
2 Corvettes ( Ex-British)
12 Minesweepers (4 Ex-Russian Ocean Minesweepers, 8 Ex US Coastal Minesweepers),
8 Motor Torpedo Boats (2 Ex-Russian Motor Torpedo Boats, 2 Ex-British, 6 Ex-Yugoslavian)
3 Motor Launches ( Ex-British)
1 Tank Landing Craft
1 Transport Ship
1 Luxurious Yacht (former Royal Yacht of King Farouk)
|Abu Kir, El Nasser
|2 Ex-Russian "Skory Class"
|El Fateh, El Qaher,
|2 Ex-British "Z" Class
|1 Ex-British "Swan" Class
|Abu Kir, Rasheed
|3 Ex-British "River" Class
Domyat was sunk on 30th October during see battle while attacking HMS Newfoundland, in the Red Sea
|Mohamed Ali Ex-Ibrahim El Awal
|1 Ex-British "Hunt" Class
Attacked on October 31th, 2h 30 AM by French DE Kersaint (D 622) and Israelis She was disabled & captured
|1 Ex-British "Flower" Class
|1 Ex-British "Bangor" Class
|4 Ex-Russian T 43 Type
|Arish, Kaisaria, Malek Fouad, Rafah, Darfour, Kordofan, Naharia, Tor
|8 Ex US BYMS Type
|El Nasser, El Zafer
|2 Ex-British "D" Type
|2 Ex-Russian Type
|6 Ex-Yugoslavian Type
|Hamza, Sab El Bahr Sakr Al Behar
|3 Ex-British "B" Type
|Tank Landing Craft
|Ex-British "LCM" Type, Ex-LST 178
hit by British Venoms, sank as
block-ship, Bitter Lake, Suez Canal
|Royal Yacht build 1865