Major Wars Of 20th Century
Years 1956 1956 Battle deaths 2,142 On October 29, Israel invaded the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula and made rapid progress towards the Canal Zone. As per the agreement, Britain and France offered to reoccupy the area and separate the warring armies. Nasser (whose nationalisation of the company had been greeted with delirium by Egyptian crowds) refused the offer, which gave the European powers a pretext for a joint invasion to regain control of the canal and topple the Nasser regime. To support the invasion, large air forces had been deployed to Cyprus and Malta by the UK and France and many aircraft carriers were deployed. The two regularly available airfields on Cyprus were so congested that a third field which was in dubious condition had to be brought into use for French aircraft. Even RAF Luqa on Malta was extremely crowded with RAF Bomber Command aircraft. The UK deployed HMS Eagle, Albion and Bulwark and France had FS Arromanches and Lafayette on station. In addition, two smaller British carriers were acting as jumping off points for the worlds first helicopter borne assault. The United Kingdom and France began to bomb Egypt on October 31 to force the reopening of the canal with Operation Musketeer. Nasser responded by sinking all 40 ships then present in the canal, closing it to further shipping until early 1957.On late 5 November the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment dropped at El Gamil Airfield, clearing the area and establishing a secure base for incoming support aircraft and reinforcements. At first light on the 6 November Commandos of No42 and 40 Commando Royal Marines stormed the beaches, using landing craft of WW2 vintage. Salvos from the battlegroup standing offshore opened fire, giving good covering fire for the landings and causing considerable damage to the Egyptian batteries and gun emplacements. The town of Port Said sustained great damage and was seen to be alight.
Meeting stiff resistance as they moved inland, No45 Commando assaulted by helicopter and upon landing, moved inland. Several helicopters were hit from shore batteries and casualties were sustained. Friendly fire from British carrier borne aircraft caused heavy casualties to 45 Commando and HQ. Street fighting and house clearing was the order of the day. Again, stiff opposition came from well entrenched sniper positions which caused a number of casualties.