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Oakham School Archives

Explore the history of the school through the documents and objects that have been left behind...

Introduction

The Suez Canal is located in Egypt and was not only a strategically important route, but also very economically beneficial to Britain, giving her access to oil and trade in the Middle East. A treaty was signed in 1936 which agreed that British forces could be kept in the area. However, this was resented by Egyptian nationalists and riots broke out from 1945 onwards. Between 1950 and 1956, violence increased leading to many injuries and servicemen being killed.

Colonel Nasser came to power in April 1954. He was a strong nationalist and began negotiations with the British to withdraw their troops. The first British troops left in May 1955 with the last units leaving in March 1956. The Suez Canal had been owned by the Suez Canal Company (controlled by the French and British). The British and Americans had decided not to fund Egypt’s efforts to build the Aswan High Dam, revoking on a previous promise due to growing ties between Egypt and the Soviet Union. Nasser was angered by this decision and decided that in retaliation, he would make Egyptian forces occupy the Suez Canal Company so that their profits could be filtered straight through into the Dam fund.

Fearing that they may loose their strategic and economic stake in the region, Britain and France, tried to deal with Nasser diplomatically at first. When this failed, both countries decided that military action was the only alternative and that Nasser should be deposed. Britain began to prepare its military including calling up over 20,000 reservists.

They found that Israel were supportive of deposing the Nasser regime in Egypt. On the 29th October 1956, the Israeli military invaded Egypt and headed for the canal. Britain and France called for a ceasefire between Israel and Egypt and withdrawal from the canal zone. If this was not complied with, then British and French forces would intervene. On the 5th-6th November, British and French forces landed at Port Said and Port Fuad. Allied air attacks were also ordered on Egypt.

Horrified, the United Nations (UN) threated Britain with sanctions should there be any civilian casualties. The US opposed the British intervention as they were worried that any support for the allied actions may push Arab states further into Soviet hands. Due to the threat of sanctions, economic pressure mounted on the UK and lots of the British’s reserves were lost. A ceasefire was called from midnight 7th November 1956. UN troops were brought in and on the 22nd December British and French troops were evacuated from the area.

This conflict continues to show Britain’s declining imperialist power and caused big problems in the UK with an economic crisis, rationing of petrol, and the resignation of the Prime Minister, Anthony Eden.  It threatened the good relationships that Britain had with the USA, Middle Eastern countries and even countries within the Commonwealth. Egypt kept control of the canal and limited the British’s access to trade in Asia.

 

Bibliography
  • ‘Suez Crisis’, Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/event/Suez-Crisis, accessed 19/01/2021
  • ‘Why was the Suez Crisis so important’, Imperial War Museum, https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/why-was-the-suez-crisis-so-important, [accessed 19/01/2021].
  • ‘Suez Crisis’, National Army Museum, https://www.nam.ac.uk/explore/suez-crisis, [accessed 19/01/2021]
  • Suez Canal Zone, National Army Museum, nam.ac.uk/explore/suez-canal-zone, [Accessed 19/01/2021]

Port Said

Old Oakhamians who fought at the Suez Canal

Christopher David Dunn

 

Life at Oakham

Christopher attended Oakham School between 1948 and 1952. He was in Deanscroft house.

  • Oakham Play Reading Society: Secretary - Winter 1948; Winter 1951.
  • Debating society: Winter 1951 – Spring 1952.

 

  • Drama: played a Sea Captain and Olivia in "Twelfth Night" – Spring 1949; played the Cook in "Unhampered" – Spring 1951; played Garn in "Robin Hood" – Spring 1951; played Ambrose Applejohn in "Ambrose Applejohn’s Adventure" – Spring 1952.
  • C.C.F.: promoted to Acting Lance Corporal – Summer 1950; promoted to Lance Corporal – Winter 1950; promoted to Corporal – Spring 1951; promoted to Sergeant – Winter 1951; obtained his Certificate 'A'.

 

  • Shooting C team: Winter 1950.
  • Shooting A team: Winter 1951.
  • Interhouse Rugby: played in Deanscroft team – Winter 1950.
  • Rugby 2nd XV: awarded Colours - Winter 1951.
  • Inerhouse Hockey: played in Deanscroft team - Spring 1951.
  • Hockey 2nd XI: awarded Colours – Spring 1951.
  • Hockey 1st XI: awarded Colours – Spring 1952.

 

  • House Prefect.

Oakham School Magazine Review

Spring 1952 Hockey Review: “His play has steadily improved throughout the season. He has become a clever tackler and is adept at eluding the tackle-back; in addition he stops the ball well and passes accurately, but he could be more constructive in attack and quicker to recover in defence”.

 

After Oakham

Christopher served as Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, The Green Howards, taking part in the Suez Canal Crisis.

Green Howards Badge

The cap badge of the Green Howards.

John Arthur Good

 

Life at Oakham

John attended Oakham School between 1938 and 1941. He was in Hodge Wing and then School House.

  • Drama: played a gentlewoman attendant to Lady Macbeth in "Macbeth" – Spring 1939.
  • C.C.F.: promoted to Lance Corporal – Summer 1941; obtained his Certificate 'A'.

 

  • Languages Form Prize: Winter 1939.
  • House prefect.

 

  • Cricket 1st XI: Summer 1940 – awarded Colours - Summer 1941.

Oakham School Cricket 1st XI, 1940 - John is sat at the front on the left.

Oakham School Cricket 1st XI, 1941 - John is standing third from the right.

  • Interhouse Cricket: played in School House team - Winter 1941.

Oakham School Magazine Reviews

Summer 1940 Cricket Review: “ A much improved batsman, who is now learning to hit the ball: quite a good field”.

Good’s batting average in Summer 1940: 7 innings, 1 time not out, 32 highest score, 98 runs, and an average of 16.33.

Good’s batting average in Summer 1941: 10 innings, 0 times not out, 169 runs, 38 highest score, and an average of 16.90.

Summer 1941 Cricket Review: “a steady and consistent opening bat; has a tendency to lose his wicket by trying to sweep a straight ball to leg: a fair field, but must learn to throw”.

 

After Oakham

Good served in the Second World War as a Lieutenant in the Royal Marines.

John would also serve as a Captain in the Royal Marine Commandos during the Suez Crisis.

Royal Marines Badge

The badge of the Royal Marines. 

Colin David Knights

 

Life at Oakham

Colin attended Oakham School between 1948 and 1954. He was a Day boy.

  • Boxing: reached the junior final – Summer 1950.

 

  • Form 5B Prize: Summer 1951.
  • C.C.F.: obtained his Certificates 'A' and 'T'.

 

After Oakham

Colin went to the Rugby College of Technology and studied Engineering BSc. He became an engineer in an electric company.

Colin served on HMS Albion off Port Said.

Guy Smith

 

Life at Oakham

Guy attended Oakham School between 1943 and 1950. He was a member of Junior House and then Wharflands.

  • Drama: played Bob Cratchit in the Junior House production of "A Christmas Carol" – Summer 1946; assisted in the making the puppets for "Macbeth" and was on the technical staff – Summer 1947; played Mrs Bardell in "Bardell versus Pickwick" – Winter 1948; played Curio in "Twelfth Night" – Spring 1949; played a General in the Royal Assault at Arms – Spring 1950.
  • Christmas Entertainment: part of the Hodge Wing entertainment – Winter 1947.
  • Music: played the flute in concert - Spring  1950; Winter 1950.
  • C.C.F.: promoted to Lance Corporal - Spring 1950; promoted to Corporal - Summer 1950.

 

  • Boxing: reached the senior final – Summer 1948.
  • Interhouse Hockey: reached the final with Wharflands - Spring 1950.
  • Fives: Winter 1950.

 

  • Debating Society: Winter 1948.
  • Field Society: Winter 1949 – Summer 1950.
  • Geography Society: Summer 1950.

 

  • Form 5B Prize: Summer 1950.

 

After Oakham

Guy served in the Royal Navy on HMS Eagle off Port Said.

David Staples

 

Life at Oakham

David attended Oakham School between 1948 and 1952. He was a Day boy.

  • Railway Society: Winter 1950.
  • Drama: played Property Master in "Lucky Dip" – Spring 1951; Stage Staff in the production of  "Ambrose Applejohn’s Adventure" – Spring 1952.
  • C.C.F.: obtained his Certificate 'A'.

 

After Oakham

David went to Jesus College, Oxford University to study Theology (BA, MA and BD). He worked as a clergyman, a rural dean and the Canon of Sheffield Cathedral.

During the Suez Crisis, David was a Private in the 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Royal Warwickshire Badge

The cap badge of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.