Return to the Canal Zone

Some of the group on a past reunion. Below, Alf Avison
Some of the group on a past reunion. Below, Alf Avison

FORMER servicemen who defended the Suez Canal in the 1950s are being issued with a repeat invitation to take part in a reunion.

Former squaddie Alf Avison, 76, is once again inviting people from Hartlepool and East Durham who were drafted in to defend the Canal Zone area in Egypt.

Mr Avison has organised gatherings for former service personnel around the areas of the Suez Canal Zone area “emergency” since he retired.

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At its peak, the Canal Zone area “emergency” saw 800,000 servicemen and women drafted to patrol the region, which came under attack from the Egyptian Government after it went back on a treaty that said British troops could retain a military base there until 1956.

Mr Avison, from the Middle East Land Forces Association, was called up for national service in 1954 and was posted to GHQ Fayid Canal Zone with the Royal Army Service Corps before moving on to Cyprus.

As a hobby he arranges annual visits to Egypt’s Fayid and Ismailia area and he has appealed for people from Hartlepool and East Durham to join in.

Mr Avison, a retired industrial relations consultant and former trade union official, said: “I am organising a group visit back to the Egyptian Canal Zone and I know that many service people who live in the Hartlepool Mail’s circulation area were stationed there during the troubled times of the 1950s.

“Many of our service personnel died and are buried in the cemeteries that we visit – Ismailia, Fayid, Moascar and Tel-el-Kebir.

“I can take complimentary photographs of any friends or loved ones’ graves if any of the Mail’s readers would like me to.”

People who join the reunion trip will be staying at a hotel in Ismailia overlooking Lake Timsa and visiting other places in the Canal Zone.

Places are limited to 30 on the reunion visit as the zone is still a military-restricted area.

The next trip runs from May 15-24 next year.

Any ex-servicemen or relatives interested in the trip can find out more by emailing Alf Avison or writing to Alf Avison, Middle East Land Forces Association, PO Box 99, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 9NS.

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