Page 138 - The Chapka 2016
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 B Squadron, 16th/5th Lancers Service in the Canal Zone, January to April 1952
This article was prompted by the chance discovery that that B Squadron of the 16th/5th Lancers served in the Suez Canal Zone in 1952 as H Squadron of the 1st Royal Dragoons. Those Officers and Other Ranks of B Squadron had become entitled to claim the General Service Medal (Army and RAF) with the ‘Canal Zone’ clasp some fifty years after their tour of duty, when Prime Minister, Tony Blair, announced the award of The Naval General Service Medal and the General Service Medal (Army and RAF) with the Canal Zone clasp, to eligible personnel four- teen years ago in 2003.
Command Paper 5999 of October 2003 gave the details of the award of The General Service Medal (Army and RAF) for ser- vice in the Suez Canal Zone between 16th October 1951 and 19th October 1954. This award followed a long period of lobby- ing by veterans, associations and politicians seeking recognition of the contribution made by the Armed Forces in maintaining the security of the Suez Canal. The qualifying service for the award was thirty days or more continuous service in the Suez Canal Zone. The medal could be claimed by the next-of-kin of those that had served.
In 1951 and 1952 the 16th/5th Lancers were based in Libya. With tension growing with Egypt, A and B Squadrons were or- dered to the frontier with Egypt. Within 48 hours of the 19th October 1952 the squadrons were at the wire. As it turned out there was no excitement to interrupt the monotony of patrolling. The regiment remained at the frontier until the 8th November while B Squadron and a detachment of HQ Squadron returned on the 26th November to join the rest of the Regiment at Barce in Libya.
B Squadron was looking forward to Christmas when they fin- ished work for the weekend on Saturday, 22nd December 1951, with nothing more to do until the following Thursday. How- ever that afternoon the squadron was ordered to take 20 scout cars, some fitters and a few lorries to Benghazi for embarkation to Egypt on the 28th December. The squadron was excited by the deployment and busily prepared the scout cars for embarka- tion at Benghazi on LST HMS Dieppe, launched in December 1944 as LST 3016 and named ‘Dieppe’ in 1947. Changes to the movement plan caused some confusion and irritation to all con- cerned, with embarkation finally taking place at Tobruk, with the squadron landing at Port Said on the evening of the 4th January 1952. The squadron was to be under command of the 1st Royal Dragoons who made their visitors most welcome. To avoid confusion with B Squadron of the Royals the new arriv- als became H Squadron. The task was to patrol stretches of the Treaty Road, to make it safe for single vehicles to travel by day and night and to prevent cable cutting along the same road.
There was some excitement in the early days of the deployment. Following the discovery of several yards of cable in a boat, Ser- geant Weedon and Trooper F Alcott came under fire from au- tomatic weapons. Three home made bombs were also thrown in their direction. A second scout car close behind with Troop- ers Kirk and Robb similarly came under fire. Both scout cars took evasive action. After a few minutes the scout cars were reu- nited, Troopers Kirk and Robb’s scout car having got stuck in a ploughed field. A search of the area revealed Bren gun spare parts, a magazine and over fifty sticks of explosives.
‘Canal Zone’ Clasp announced by the Prime Minister to be issued to Suez Veterans on 11th June 2003!
About this time the squadron’s scout cars were fitted with spot- lights and six armoured cars were taken on strength. B Squadron was organised into three troops each of two armoured cars and four scout cars, plus SHQ and some spare vehicles. On the 13th February the Royals took over the patrol area and B Squadron drove into the Royals’ camp where they stayed for three weeks. On the 10th March the squadron moved to the camp of HQ Canal North District near Ferry Point outside Ismailia. Virtu- ally nothing happened until the final move back to the Royals’ camp at Fanara in April, and before the end of that month they would rejoin the regiment for conversion to a Divisional Regi- ment RAC, with Comet tanks. B Squadron were sorry to leave the Royals who could not have been more helpful and looked after their guests in good style. Those who were entertained in the Corporals’ Mess presented the mess with an electric clock as a token of their appreciation. The Canal Zone would soon become a distant memory.
The ‘Regimental Gazette’ of September 1952 in the 16th/5th Lancers journal, The Scarlet and Green, lists 111 Other Ranks under B Squadron and 5 Officers. This cannot be an accurate roll of those entitled to receive the medal as several of those men referred to in an article about the Canal Zone deployment are no longer listed as serving in B Squadron. In addition there does not appear to be an official nominal roll of those who served in B Squadron, together with their REME fitters and any at- tached from HQ Squadron, who qualified for the Canal Zone GSM clasp. As such the author is keen to compile a roll to record as accurately as possible the contribution made by those who served in B Squadron at this time. So if any reader was a member of B Squadron, or knows the name or names of any members of B Squadron who served in the Canal Zone in 1952, would they please notify Home Headquarters at Grantham.

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