10th ROYAL HUSSARS 

  AQABA   1956 -57.         

 

 Prologue

 By

Tom Knight

 

The Tenth were in Aqaba 1956 - 57 as part of a military group known as "O" Force, it consisted of 10H a company of infantry the Middlesex Regiment  and a battery of artillery together with the usual supporting services - RAOC, RASC etc. The force was commanded by a full Colonel, we were the largest of the combatant units.   We were there to support the Jordanian's, but as we arrived Glubb Pasher was sacked as commander of the "Arab Legion", later the Jordanian Army, so things were a bit tense between the Brits and Jordanian Government, after Suez ( 1956 ) we were asked to leave.  We were also part of 10th Armoured Division, mostly based in North Africa, where we were due to go after Aqaba, but that was also cancelled, so we returned to the U.K in 1957.   We spent most of our time exercising in the desert also we had observation posts on the Jordan/Israel border, more by way of showing the flag, we never got involved in any skirmish on the border.   We all lived in tents (rag huts as the men called them ), it was extremely hot and not very sanitary, but as we all do- we made the most of it. The worst time was when the aircraft taking the first of the advance party back to the U.K crashed, we lost 23 men plus the 3 crew.

 

 Ron summed-up Aqaba pretty well, I'm not sure that it was compulsory to go down to the beach every afternoon, but most soldiers did, it got you out of camp and it was something to do, it was too hot to work in the afternoons.   We took over from the Queen's Bays who I think then went on to North Africa,   I was in Aqaba with HQ Sqn as SQMS, I was then promoted to WOII and went up to Ma'an as SSM of B Sqn.   Ma'an was considerably different from Aqaba.  It was a permanent camp of solid buildings, having been occupied at sometime by the Arab Legion.   The climate was a lot better as it is located at a higher altitude some 4000 feet above sea level on the Ras an Naqb, it could be very cold in winter and snow has been known to fall, the camp was very isolated, we had no contact with the local Arabs, by the time I got there Suez had come and gone and relations with the Jordanians was not very good.   We finally pulled out and returned to Aqaba with all our tanks and military equipment, prior to embarking on the troopship " Devonshire for our return to the U.K.   At the time the Suez Canal was closed so we were to sail around the Cape, however by the time we reached Mombasa, the Suez Canal had reopened and we were ordered to retrace our steps and sail back via the canal, that involved sailing through the Red Sea twice in July, it was not very comfortable for the troops accommodated below, in fact due to the heat and humidity some men were allowed to sleep on deck.   For my sins I was appointed Troop Deck Sergeant Major, so I saw quite a  lot of the ship and the soldiers, as best I can recall we were on the Devonshire about six weeks and finally returned to the U.K ( Liverpool ) at the end of August 1957.

 

AQABA

by

Mick Brotherhood.

 

At   7 30 on St Valentines day in a howling wind with snow on the ground the regiment

paraded in full kit and set off to catch the train from Luggershall Station to Southampton

were we boarded the Empire Ken . As embarkation  a large number of Old Comrades began to congregate on the on the quay side including a contingent from the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry at 4.15pm with the band playing us off with the Happy Wanderer.

    Our first stop was Algiers where we allowed shore leave and made friends with some members of the French Foreign Legion . Next stop was Malta with it marvelous harbor

As we sailed into the harbor the Old Ark Royal sailed out with its full complement of men resplendent in best whites a magnificent sight I beg to differ with Ron but we did not go ashore there. Next stop Port Said and again I differ from Ron we did not change ships we set through the Suez canal at night and had to wait in the Bitter lakes for the ships coming the other way we turned into the Gulf of Aqaba . I think the Queen,s Bay,s were   glad to see us as we were taking over from them, they went Barce in North  Africa. Well that’s the journey over.

                   .

 

  As usual with the regiment one squadron is detached and this time it was ‘C’ Squadrons job to fulfill the roll so they left us for the comfort of Ma’an barrack blocks and proper cook house but stuck in the middle of the desert, they found it a lot cooler than Aqaba.

   We soon settled in to the daily routine. Tank parade at 6.00hrs work for a hour then breakfast parade then at 11am down to the beach unless you were on guard which was very frequent. I think the Colonel volunteered the regiment to guard the whole garrison, ,the camp we were in  - the docks  -  Israeli border -  garrison commander and anything else that wanted doing.

 

   The Colonel decided that after all we were a Cavalry Regiment, and what is a Cavalry Regiment without horses? So the Colonel in company with Fred Robinson started off for Bagdad with the objective of purchasing some horses .and after trying about 150 horses they settled on a dozen, they were shipped by train to Ma’an then lorry to Aquaba the Colonel said that every time he looked at the intelligent, tough, amusing, hardworking and happy little stallions the trip was worth it. The officer’s played polo and the race day’s were great, they were taken to the beach daily and took to swimming like a duck take’s to water.  The NAAFI  was quite good with plenty of Watneys Brown the meals were a treat on pay day and our 10 shilling wages stretched to 2 night’s out. The swimming was great, crystal clear water,  abundant sea life ,and a diving board with a guard on looking for sharks , we had the open air cinema which was very good I saw’ Rock around the Clock there.

We also had a Beach Club and had a visit from Frankie Howard and a new young pop singer called Edna Savage it was nice to see a young woman again.

The Royal Navy visited us H.M.S Undine. Chaplet and Decoy  I was fortunate enough to have a battle run down the gulf on board H.M.S. Undine it was very exiting the Sgt’s Mess entertained the petty officer’s during these visits many souvenirs were exchanged.

And plenty of beer drank.                      

 

 “A” Squadron was set the task of finding a new tank route up the Ras -en-Naqb. A mountainous escarpment of over a thousand feet between Aqaba  and Ma’an

every regiment that had been in Aqaba had tried to find this route but non had succeeded but ‘A’ squadron did . a tank crewed by Sgt Edward’s and Tpr Olley assisted by Capt. Budd and the Squadron Leader Major J  de B Carey urged on by Sgt Roger’s and the remainder of 2nd troop arrived at the top a little battered

 

    The weather was  very hot in the summer and ‘A’ squadron were glad when they changed places with ‘C’ squadron and moved to a little cooler Ma’an . as we changed over we had a exercise with ‘C’ squadron – we attacked them and were ourselves attacked by the R A F . Once in Ma’an most of the squadron visited Petra it cost’s a fortune to go their nowadays  but in 1956 there where not many tourists only a few American’s. 

    An unfortunate incident occurred in October which took some living down Major Carey. Capt Greenwood . Capt Lawrence the M.O and Trps Cox. Brown. Goddard and Gabbitas went driving in the desert one day and were mistaken for hashish smugglers by the Arab Legion at Mudawara On arriving at the Wadi Rum fort the suspects accepted an invitation to tea, only to find when inside the fort they were arrested. They spent a cold uncomfortable  night but were released next morning. The Squadron in the meantime stood to prepared to go out and rescue it’s. leader .   On September 12th it was reported that George Robert’s  R.E.M.E ,of ‘A’ Squadron fitters group had died after a vehicle he had been driving overturned on the Ma’an road a sad loss to the L.A.D. and the regiment.

 

The Sinai war started when  ‘A’ Squadron was still  in Ma’an  and as in Aqaba the squadron stood to every morning and evening , slit trenches were dug and vehicles were dispersed round the camp in case of air attack .  The Tank Transport Platoon  came to join us from Aqaba and stayed with us until we returned to Aqaba. Tension and interest increased when Saudi Arabian troops started moving up the Hejaz railway line and entered Ma’an

Their convoy harbour  not far from camp but we had no trouble from them.

Early December ‘A’ Squadron moved back to Aqaba.

 

‘ B’ Squadron moved to Ma.an and had some very cold weather through Dec- Jan and February the ration trucks where very often snowed up on the Naqb pass.

 

Christmas came and went and on New year’s eve on the stroke of midnight Wally Headly the R.S.M. said goodbye to the Sgt’s Mess and was welcomed into the Officers Mess as a commissioned officer. Lieut. (QM) W.J.Headly.

 

On the 24th of January H.Q Squadron were sad to report the death of L/Cpl Brian Ludlow Age 19 killed on a reconnaissance on the Disa Salt Flats his death came as a great shock to the regiment..

 

We where informed that the regiment would be returning to England and not following the Queen’s Bay’s to Barce.  The advance parties were to leave on the 16th of April.

 

This is a copy of the regimental orders for that fatal day.

 

The colonel deeply regrets announcing that the following members of the regiment were killed today in an air crash at QUWEIRA.

 

Sgt    Goldstaw          Cpl   Beattie   REME       Cpl   Liddiard  ACC        Cpl   Patterson

L/Cp Jewel                L/Cp Gunion REME        L/Cp McHugh                  L/Cp McCrow

L/Cp Worswick         Tpr   Baldwin 44              Tpr   Baldwin 45              Tpr   Bell

Tpr   Butler                Tpr   Brooke                     Tpr   Clarke                      Tpr   Hallam  

 

Tpr   Hughes              Tpr   Jacklin                     Tpr    Johnson                   Tpr   Parsons

Tpr   Sissons              Cfn   Truss  REME          Cfn    Mugridge  REME.                                                                      

.

If anyone visit’s the Arboretum at Alrewas Staffodshire  well worth a visit, climb the step’s to the memorial, turn left between the pillar’s and the above name’s are on the pillar to your right hand . Each column is numbered at the bottom and they are on number 107.

  

On 26th April a few of us flew out of Aqaba on the first flight since the fatal crash homeward bound for blighty and demob.  We  flew to Habbaniiya in Iraq where we stayed a few day;s  with the R.A.F visiting Bagdad a very impressive city in those days. We then continued the journey  home on a civilian airline landing at Brindisi in Italy for one night then continuing  the next day,  after landing we transferred to Bovington camp for demob.

   The remainder of the advance party that set off on the 16th April got stuck in Cyprus and eventually came back to England  on the troopship Devonshire it had got held up coming from the far east because the Suez canal was still blocked after the war .

   I would be very interested to know how and when the regiment got home to England .

 

                  All the best to everyone in the regiment.

                                                                                   Mick Brotherhood L/cpl

                                                                                   :A: Squadron   1955 -57.

 

Below left is a film I produced from the above story, please inform me of any mistakes I was in a bit of a rush to get something out for Christmas. If you can put missing names to faces please email me The film is not finished I will continue after Christmas. Pete  

 

IMPORTANT click the start button then put the cursor over the screen and double click the left mouse button to get a full screen picture

The above movie was sent to me by a member of the Shiners club I thought it was so good I published it on the Website Unedited tho the end does need editing. Pete