During the Suez action in November 1956 Royal Navy Sea Hawk pilots braved intense Egyptian ground fire, as Andrew Thomas explains.



As relations with the Egyptian Government, led by Col Gamal Nasser, worsened through the summer of 1956 part of the Anglo-French build up in the Mediterranean included a large fleet that included no fewer than seven aircraft carriers. One of these was the 24,000 ton HMS Albion, which had embarked the Sea Venom FAW.21s of 809 Sqn, Sea Hawk FB.3s of 800 and 802 Sqns, and C Flight 849 Sqn flying the American-built Skyraider AEW1. On arrival in the Mediterranean her squadrons worked up in preparation for operations over Egypt, their aim to knock out the Egyptian Air Force on the ground.

802 Sqn’s CO, Lt Cdr Roy Eveleigh, DSC, voiced the thoughts of many of his pilots: ‘The realisation the Egyptians had MiGs made for a certain amount of apprehension!’ However, as events were to show, it was another threat that was to prove more damaging – ground fire.

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