Private Roy Harding, 1st Battalion, the Queen's Royal Regiment, and Royal Fusiliers, remembers his recall as a reservist to serve in the Suez campaign, 1956.
Roy Harding
Private Roy Harding

Then I got demobbed in the end of June, I had quite a bit of leave due to me. Then Suez started up and as I was on because I was doing 3 years with the colours and 4 on reserve, August Bank Holiday Monday which always fell then on the 1st Monday in August a telegram shot through the door, would I report immediately to Connaught Barracks, Dover, the Royal Fusiliers. So next day I jumped on the train, went down to Dover and I thought “Oh, my Lord, it has started all over again”. The trucks were outside waiting to pick us up. They were all painted sand colour. They took us to Connaught Barracks and you never saw such a rabble in all your lives. There again I was A platoon C company and we were nearly all reservists. They tried to put us on guard one night - you never saw such a shower in all your life. We didn’t blanco, we didn’t pull our boots up. The orderly officer came to inspect us and he just turned around and said march them off sergeant. He just could not be bothered with us. Then we were at Dover for about a fortnight and then somebody thought it would be a good idea to take us down to Salisbury to Bulford. What a place. We were under canvas, we had to have palliasses stuffed with straw on duck boards and they used to try, our company commander thought it would be a good idea to do night exercises on Salisbury Plain where they used to take us out at night and [noise] section we used to lose the company and find the nearest pub. We spent half the night in the pub and then try and join the company but that was OK. Then we came back to Dover, I think we were down at Salisbury for about a fortnight and we went back to Dover and then the word came that we were to embark for Egypt and we went down to Southampton and boarded the 'New Australia', we sailed for Egypt but nothing was really happening then, we didn’t know if we were going in or not. Anyhow we got as far as Malta and we laid off Malta. Though we did not land we laid off waiting instructions. Then the instructions came through from Sir Anthony Eden who was Prime Minster then said “Right, go”. So we sailed for the Suez. I think it was HMS Bulwark she went out there. Several destroyers went, could not remember their names, but they did some barrage and then the paratroopers they went in first. There was the Royal Fusiliers, the Royal West Kents, I can’t remember the other regiment but anyhow the paratroopers went in and they went up, through Port Said and they drove the Egyptians back as far as Alcantara. We came up behind and we dug in at Alcantara right alongside the Suez canal and the railway and we dug in there for about 2½ weeks and then United Nations they came by train down and they took out rail lines. The Egyptians were about 500 yards and we heard a United Nations lorry park right in the middle of us so we had the Egyptians 500 yards, and then we had the Royal Fusiliers with this United Nations lorry with its United Nations flags flying in between us. So …. nobody really had a [gull hitter] then we went back into Port Said and we took over a technical college as a barracks. What a place that was. Then we used to go around Port Said looking for Egyptian troops. We used to go in, one or two of the houses we went in the family had fled. One bungalow we went into, he must have been an officer because on the floor when he went in was an officer’s uniform so he either got out of that and became a civilian, nobody knows, but they never seemed to clear up because when the destroyer send over shells and that to start with they killed a lot of the cattle and when we were up in Alcantara for about 2½ weeks we came back, nobody cleared the cattle up they were still lying in the streets.