Suez Crisis 1956: A Midshipman's Journal of Service on H.M.S Bulwark
No Place. No Publisher. 1956.
Midshipman's Journal; small folio; original quarter cloth binding. 170 manuscript pages, several drawings of planes, hand drawn maps and diagrams numerous documents pasted in. The Journal of Midshipman J.E. Corkill, onboard the aircraft carrier H.M.S. Bulwark from 5th January 1956 to 22nd November 1956. The catalyst for the joint Israeli-British-French attack on Egypt was the nationalisation of the Suez Canal by Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in July 1956. The situation had been brewing for some time. Two years earlier, the Egyptian military had begun pressuring the British to end their military presence (which had been granted in the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty) in the canal zone. Nasser's armed forces also engaged in sporadic battles with Israeli soldiers along the border between the two countries, and the Egyptian leader did nothing to conceal his antipathy toward the Zionist nation. On October 29, 1956, Israeli armed forces pushed into Egypt toward the Suez Canal and soon were joined by French and British forces, which nearly brought the Soviet Union into the conflict, and damaged their relationships with the United States. In the end, the British, French and Israeli governments withdrew their troops in late 1956 and early 1957, largely because they failed to carry the support of American President Eisenhower. Corkill provides a lively account of life on board ship as well as running commentary on the political situation in Britain and internationally, particularly on Soviet problems in Poland and Hungary.
Sunday 28th July 1956:
"On return from leave we were informed that we were sailing for Portsmouth at 0500 on Sunday. We realised what this was for because the newspapers had announced that Colonel Nasser had decided to nationalise the Suez Canal. This is of course came as a great shock to the western world and this move can be taken as being one of the most dangerous moves designed to end world peace for some years."
Monday 5th November 1956:
"Another Wyvern was forced to ditch, after being on fire but the pilot was rescued by Eagle's chopper. We had a few wounded on board at the end of the day."
Wednesday 7th November 1956:
"I believe this last week has done Britain a lot of good and we must not back down, apologetically now and whatever happens the United States must not be allowed to dominate us again, after their performance over the past few months."
A fascinating read of the views of young officer who was actually there - with a view of this war which has not be shared by history. Interestingly the Journal ends abruptly and the last document is a roster of when he was due to be a watch the - 22nd November for which the entry is blank. I have not be able to trace any record of him after this date.