Up to 6,000 British troops from the 1st Infantry Division were flown in to the Suez Canal Zone of Egypt as Egyptian resentment to the British presence in the area continued to grow. Royal Air Force Handley-Page Hastings and Vickers Valetta aircraft brought in most of the 3rd Battalion, Coldstream Guards from Tripoli in Libya as part of an effort to try to quell anti-British disturbances in the region although this would ultimately have the opposite effect.
In October 1951, the Egyptian government had dissolved the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, the terms of which granted Britain a lease on the Suez base for an additional 20 years. However Britain refused to withdraw her garrison from Suez citing that the original agreement still stood. Local Egyptians began to refuse to cooperate with British forces and there were numerous strikes amongst Egyptian workers servicing British assets along the canal.
In the first week of November additional men and equipment would arrive from the 3rd Battalion, Grenadier Guards and 1st Battalion, The Cameron Highlanders. 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 security forces however British forces remained.
On January 25th 1952, British forces attempted to disarm Egyptian police officers at the barracks in Ismailia following repeated clashes. The police refused and in the gun battle that followed, 41 Egyptians were killed. This sparked anti-Western riots in Cairo which saw the deaths of several foreigners, including 11 British citizens, in retaliation. This proved to be a catalyst for the removal of the Egyptian monarchy which opened the door for a military coup by the Egyptian nationalist ‘Free Officers Movement’ on July 23rd 1952. Among its ranks was future Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser.
Exercise Olive Grove has been undertaken by members of 3 Para who have been working with Jordan’s elite Quick Reaction Force on developing a range of infantry skills against the backdrop of the country’s harsh desert climate.
Major Rick Lewin, Officer Commanding of C Company, 3 Para told said:
What we’re trying to do is demonstrate the way we operate and give the Jordanians an opportunity to decide if they like that. Simultaneously, our soldiers are doing precisely the same thing, they’re watching the Jordanians whose shooting on the range is incredibly accurate, and also they were moving through the cover incredibly efficiently and quickly, so this is very much going both ways all the way through.
The UK government was made aware of the protests when a letter of complaint was delivered to the British ambassador in Buenos Aires. In it the Argentinian foreign minister, Susana Malcorra, declared the exercise scheduled to start later this coming week as “illegitimate” and that “the behaviour of the United Kingdom contradicts the principle of the peaceful settlement of controversies supported unanimously by countries in the region.”
The letter also made specific note of British forces conducting live firing tests of a Rapier Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) system. This weapon was responsible for destroying or damaging five Argentine warplanes during the Falklands War in 1982 (the exact figures are disputed but the weapon gained a certain level of notoriety regardless in Argentina).
An MoD spokesperson responded by saying that the exercises were routine being intended to maintain the skills and test the effectiveness of the British garrison that has been guarding the islands since the Argentine invasion 34 years ago. Despite being repelled by a British taskforce the Argentinians maintain a desire to claim the islands for themselves, a cause which has grown in intensity in recent years as oil deposits continue to be found in the region. In January of this year, approximately 500 million barrels worth of oil was discovered in the Elaine oilfield to the north of the islands.
HMS Clyde (shipspotting.com)
Mrs Malcorra’s letter is an unfortunate step back in Argentine-UK relations after efforts by both parties in the last year to repair the diplomatic damage caused by the presidency of Cristina Kirchner. President Kirchner launched an aggressive foreign policy against the UK regarding ownership of the islands, going as far as asking the new Argentina-born Pope to intervene in support of her country’s claim. Of considerable concern to the UK during this time were the efforts Buenos Aires took to encourage support for their claim from neighbouring Latin American countries resulting in the British warship HMS Clyde being refused permission to dock in Brazil in 2011 because it was on Falklands protection duties.
The situation became so serious that the Falkland Islanders conducted a referendum in 2013 regarding their future in which they voted overwhelmingly to remain a British overseas territory hoping that this would send a message to the Argentinians that they need to accept their position.
Since the presidency was assumed by Mauricio Macri, the situation has improved with new trade deals covering oil, fishing, navigation and trade in and around the islands between both parties. However it is quite clear that the sovereignty of the islands is still an emotive issue in Argentina and that seems unlikely to change in the near future.
It has been reported in the British media that soldiers will no longer have to undergo “excessive” physical exercise or even be shouted at by an NCO as part of a punishment. Known as a “beasting”, the changes have come about following an inquest in to the death of Private Gavin Williams who died in 2006 during one such “beasting”.
The inquest concluded that Private Williams had died after being forced to do intensive exercise after turning up for duty intoxicated with a mix of alcohol and ecstasy and setting off a fire extinguisher at his Wiltshire Barracks. He had also been absent without leave and had missed guard duty. The “beasting” he received included lifting weights and undertaking a gym session with a physical training instructor during which he died. The inquest stated that the Army had let down Private Williams by not taking in to account his physical condition during the session.
Additionally, at the Army’s training centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire, it has been claimed that out-of-hours inspections, swearing and shouting in recruit’s faces has all been banned.
A number of observers have stated that the Army’s culture needs to change particularly when it comes to the treatment of new recruits going through training. There have been a number of fatalities in recent years during such training bringing the Army and the MoD’s health and safety procedures in to question. Traditionalists, however have argued that the new measures will go too far and soften the Army up.
A collection of pictures of Jet Provost T.3A XN586 (91) on display at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey.
All photos were taken on April 5th 2016
Photos: Tony Wilkins
This Jet Provost was built in 1961 and was delivered to the RAF in May of that year. It served at RAF Cranwell through the first half of the 1960s before being bounced back and fore various training units until its flying career came to an end in 1990 and was then used as a ground instructional airframe at RAF Cosford. It was sold to Global Aviation in 1993 before being used by Brooklands College again as a ground instructional airframe. In 2014 it went on display at the Brooklands Museum.
For a more detailed look at the aircraft’s history as well as pictures of it in service visit Jetprovostfile.org
If you have photographs or articles you wish to contribute to Defence of the Realm than you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. If successful you will of course be given full credit for your contribution and can even promote your own website/blog/social media account.