Canal Zone Egypt

This had followed tension in Persia after British alarm at the nationalisation of its oil industry and fears for the safety of British nationals. The Brigade deployed to Cyprus in June aboard the Aircraft Carriers HMS Triumph and Warrior, the situation proving to be a false alarm.

This time the three Parachute Battalions joined over 70,000 British troops stationed in the Canal Zone, taking over responsibility for the docks. The 33rd Parachute Field Regiment RA took over the security of the Ordnance Depot at Geneifa.

In January 1952 the Brigade was deployed west of Suez alongside other British forces to deter an Egyptian Army advance against the Suez Canal. Tension was such that 1 PARA was on stand-by to conduct a possible airborne operation against Cairo, supported by 3 PARA and a Squadron of the Royal Tank Regiment, if British nationals were threatened.

The conventional threat eased but terrorist attacks against British military establishments in the Canal Zone increased while the Egyptian Police refused to cooperate in maintaining security. Events came to a head during resistance to a 2 and 3 PARA cordon and search operation in Ismailia the same month during which four terrorists were killed and 12 captured for the loss of one officer. The 1st Lancashire Fusiliers meanwhile fought a bloody battle to occupy a police barracks, supported by a Centurion tank, resulting in the killing or wounding of 95 policemen at a cost of four dead and 1 wounded.

16th Independent Parachute Brigade assumed responsibility for all Ismailia and the surrounding district, mounting patrols, cordon and searches, guards and convoy duties. It was fully committed on such internal security duties for two years. Despite the heavy commitments brigade units trained regularly in Cyprus, Jordan and the Sinai desert.

Pegasus Village described as ‘a scrounging operation on a heroic scale’ was built by 9th Independent Parachute Squadron RE and Battalion Pioneers to create bungalow quarters for families whose husbands had been on ‘emergency tour’ for considerable periods. 40 Bungalows were built for a small village created on an island in Lake Timsah near Ismailia in 1953 and more added before the completion of the tour in 1954.  

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