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Harry Harrison

National Service, Suez Canal Zone (Moascar and Aqaba), 1950 - 1951

I served as a National Serviceman with the 1st Battalion in Moascar and Aqaba 1950-1951. I have just deposited a copy of the 200 page account of my service, with photographs, entitled "A Squaddie in the Suez Canal Zone 1950-1951" with the Lincolnshire Archives, St Rumbold Street, Lincoln. This book is not formally published, and I have only very few copies for limited private circulation. I thought my old comrades might like to know of its existence, but intending readers will need to visit the Archives to see it. I can e-mail you a copy of the one page summary to include on the website if you would like it.

The book is mainly based on quotations from letters that I wrote home to his parents, so much of the content is now sixty years old. I guess many of my contemporaries mentioned in it are by now deceased, so the potential readership with knowledge of those times will be very limited in numbers. However, for those few who do remember those times, I would like them to have the opportunity to read the book. So I would be grateful if you would include the summary on the website. If you include my telephone number and my postal address, then I can respond to specific requests.

My very best wishes,
H W (Harry) Harrison
11 March 2012

Here is the summary:

A Squaddie in the Suez Canal Zone, 1950-1951

This illustrated monograph is about my full time National Service in the army between February 1950 and August 1951. Basic training took place with the 1st Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment at Budbrooke Barracks, Warwick. This was followed by an overseas posting to the 1st Battalion, The Royal Lincolnshire Regiment at Moascar, in the Suez Canal Zone, during the lull before the storm which led up to the evacuation of British troops in 1954 and the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Colonel Nasser in 1956.

After a few weeks in a Rifle Company I transferred to the Quartermaster's staff and ended my service abroad as a junior NCO on G 1098 clerical duties.

The main source of information for this account of my service is the collection of 319 letters which I wrote home regularly to my parents, dating from February 1950 to August 1951; I am very grateful that my mother saved them all. Besides family gossip, these letters contain the equivalent of a daily diary of events directly affecting me, and I used to consider them as such. I have also drawn upon over 100 photographs – and some sketches – to illustrate the text.

This monograph is very much a personal memoir. In reading the extracts from the letters please remember that I was just turned 18 years of age; I had only just left school and it was the first time I had been absent from home for any length of time. Nevertheless some pretty trenchant comments, particularly about people and their duties, even including a few peccadilloes, have survived, about whom and which obviously I felt rather strongly at the time.

This account of my service is arranged chronologically, divided into chapters covering basic training and travel to the Middle East, treatment in a British Military Hospital and Convalescent Depot, then back to Nelson Lines, Moascar Garrison, Middle East Land Forces, Kingdom of Egypt, where I spent most of my time. The Battalion moved to Aqaba in the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan in early June 1951, where I joined them a fortnight later.

This monograph ends with my voyage home in August 1951 and a few notes of my remaining eighteen months National Service in the Territorial Army until discharge on medical grounds.

Harry Harrison

11 March 2012

Enquiries:  My home address is: 21 Ashridge Drive, Bricket Wood, St Albans, AL2 3SR and my telephone number is 01923 677196.