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David Mowat


Soldiering duty in Suez, 1952

Black and white photograph of David Mowat and colleagues working in the Suez Canal, 1954.
David, sitting on the left with the telephone to his ear, at work in Suez. © David Mowat

I was signed up as a conscript in the army back in 1951. I was too young to go to Korea so instead I was sent to Suez, as a linesman in the third GHQ regiment. That was in November 1952. I was demobbed in 1954, two years before the Suez Crisis but even then there were rumours that the Egyptians wanted to take over the canal. For me, however, it was a good time. My work was maintaining the communication cables at the military base at Fayed, just below the Great Bitter Lake, which is about half way down the canal. It was an interesting place to be. We saw all the ships on the canal and there was a bit of a breeze off the water even in the hot months. We did all the usual soldiering duties - drills, inspections, guard's duties. And we developed a great sense of camaraderie, we were all mates, like brothers, really. In the two years that I was there, I never saw anything untoward, there was a fairly low level of unrest, but nothing serious.

By the time the Suez Crisis erupted in 1956, I was back in Sheffield, married and although I thought about going back, my wife wasn't keen on it. Still, my years of service taught me discipline and to keep myself out of mischief!

I recently attended a ceremony at the Town Hall where I was presented with a medal by the Lord Mayor for serving as a soldier in the Suez Canal Zone, in the 1950s. It made me feel very proud.

Extract from an interview with David Mowat by Nikky Wilson for an article in the Burngreave Messenger, December 2006.