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1951: 6,000 British troops flown into Egypt

VIDEO : British troops secure Suez Canal zone

Up to 6,000 British troops from the 1st Infantry Division have arrived at Fayid in the Canal Zone of Egypt.

It is the last phase of what has been described as the biggest airlift of troops since World War II.

Hastings and Valetta aircraft brought in most of the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards from Tripoli in Libya, in an effort to try to quell anti-British disturbances in the region.

Over the next few days they will be joined by the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards and 1st Battalion, The Cameron Highlanders.

Strikes bring chaos

Some of the planes arriving with troops are expected to take back British service families.

They have been ordered to leave because their safety cannot be guaranteed as there is no more housing left in protected areas.

Many of them have been living here for as long as 20 years and have been subjected to intimidation by local Egyptians as anti-British demonstrations increase daily and workers go on strike.

There are reports of chaos and confusion in the ports of Suez and Port Said as Egyptians downed tools. Clerks at the passport and immigration office at Port Said are also on strike.

Ships coming through the Suez Canal, under British control since 1875, are unable to unload goods and are having to continue their journey fully loaded.

This has also affected goods intended for Egypt itself. The Times reports at least one ship carrying equipment for the Egyptian forces and state railways had to go on to the Far East without dropping off its cargo.

Last night in Cairo, the Minister of the Interior Fuad Serag ed-Din Pasha, was asked his opinion on Pakistan's offer to mediate in the crisis.

He said Egypt had already made its demands clear but would be willing to negotiate if Britain carried out a complete evacuation of its forces in Egypt as was agreed in 1946.

He blamed the British for the Egyptian army's difficulty in defending the Suez Canal and said it had not yet received weapons which had already been paid for.

Meanwhile the dissident Wafd Party has called on Arab nations to break off diplomatic relations with Britain.

In Context
Three weeks later Britain was forced to move out thousands of its citizens trapped in their homes by sporadic gun battles between British soldiers and Egyptian police.

A military coup in 1952 ended the period of constitutional monarchy in 1953 and Arab nationalist Abdel Nasser came to power in 1954.

Two years later he astonished the British and French by nationalising the Suez Canal, provoking an invasion by Israeli and Anglo-French forces, which were forced by the UN to withdraw.

The nationalist Wafd party was formed in 1924, two years after Egypt gained its independence from Britain. It dominated Egyptian politics until the 1952 coup when it was dissolved but re-emerged in opposition in 1984.


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