King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
From Empire to Nationhood


Action in SuezAction in SuezIn October-November 1956 Britain, France and Israel sought to recapture the Suez Canal following its nationalisation by the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.

Operation MusketeerOperation MusketeerThe operation involved amphibious and airborne landings including the capture of Port Said and its southern approaches, a mission led by General Sir Hugh Stockwell.

He was successful in containing the serious threat of civil disorder and the risk of attacks launched against British troops, not least by drawing on the experience he had gained leading anti-terrorism operations in Malaya.

Stockwell calming crowdsStockwell calming crowdsDespite such military successes, the operation proved a costly failure, due very largely to the political opposition of the USA and the USSR.

Port SaidPort SaidIn the face of bitter recriminations, Anglo-French forces withdrew to be replaced by a United Nations peacekeeping force.

The episode marked the beginning of the end of Britain's role as a colonial power.

More than any other event, the humiliating failure symbolised the ending of Empire and the fact that the balance of power now lay with the US and Soviet Union.

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