The decision of Gamal Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt, to nationalise the Suez Canal in July 1956 provoked, in the following October, Great Britain and France to launch an amphibious and airborne assault on Port Said, Egypt, while Israeli armed forces attacked Egyptian forces in the Sinai. Britain, France and Israel, under diplomatic pressure from the UN, USA and USSR, withdrew their forces, to be replaced by UN peacekeepers. The Suez Oral History Project, an initiative of the Institute of Contemporary British History, London, and sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation and King's College London, consisted of a series of interviews with British political, diplomatic and military figures involved at a senior level in the Suez Crisis of 1956. The interviews were undertaken between 1989 and 1991 by Anthony Gorst of the University of Westminster and Dr W Scott Lucas, then of the University of Birmingham. Transcripts of the twenty one interviews were subsequently produced and returned to the interviewees for review and correction where necessary. Some alterations were made, which, apart from a few amendments for security purposes, were mainly for grammar and clarification of expression.
Transcripts of interviews were presented to the Centre by Dr W Scott Lucas in 1993. Copies of the Protocol of Sèvres, 1956, were presented to t he Centre by Sir Donald Logan in 1996.
SCOPE AND CONTENT
Transcripts of interviews relating to the political, diplomatic and military aspects of the Suez Crisis of 1956. Eleven of the interviewees were former Foreign Office officials and diplomats, three were Private Secretaries to Sir Anthony Eden, the Prime Minister at the time of the Suez Crisis, four were from the military establishment and three were politicians (including a Cabinet member, a Conservative backbench MP and a front bench Labour MP). The interviews therefore tended to centre on diplomatic relations between the UK, the USA and the Middle East, the work of the Foreign Office during the Crisis, Eden's personality and his relationship with the Foreign Office, and the planning for operation MUSKETEER REVISE, the Anglo-French offensive in Egypt. The transcripts were later supplemented by copies of the Protocol of Sèvres (24 Oct 1956), which recorded the agreements reached between the governments of Great Britain, France and Israel during discussions held in France between 22-24 Oct 1956, on a joint politico-military response to Egypt's nationalisation of the Suez Canal.
The files of transcripts are arranged in alphabetical order based on the surname of the interviewee. Files also contain amended versions of transcripts following consultation with the interviewee, as well as any stipulations of access to the transcript demanded by the interviewee. The copies of the Protocol of Sèvres have been placed in a separate file and have been catalogued at the end of the list of transcripts.
CONDITIONS OF ACCESS AND USE
Open, subject to signature of reader's undertaking form.
Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, attention of the Director of Archive Services.
English. The Protocol of Sèvres is in French.
The original Israeli copy of the Protocol of Sèvres is kept within the Ben-Gurion Archives, Sde Boqer, Israel.
Another copy of the the Protocol of Sèvres was presented by Sir Donald Logan to the Public Record Office, Kew, in 1996 (PRO 22/88).
The Civil Service Oral History Project of the Institute of Contemporary British History contains interviews conducted by Gorst and Lucas in 1989 with Sir Harold Beeley and Sir Frank Cooper, relating to their Civil Service careers. The audio recording of the Suez Seminar, held at King's College London on 5 Nov 1996, contains personal accounts of Maj Gen Denis Arthur Beckett, Second in Command, 3 Bn, Parachute Regt in airborne landings, 5 Nov 1956; Maj Gen Nicholas Francis Vaux, 2nd Lt, 45 Commando Royal Marines, 3 Commando Bde, in helicopter-borne amphibious assault, 6 Nov 1956 ; Dr Henry Cowper, lecturer in history, Napier University, Edinburgh, Corporal, 1 Bn, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment), 19 Infantry Bde (on National Service) in Port Said, 14 Nov-22 Dec 1956.
The interviews of the Suez Oral History Project were used by Dr W Scott Lucas for his Divided we stand, Britain the US and the Suez Crisis (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1991). Several of the interviews refer to the article 'Suez 1956: strategy and the diplomatic process', by Anthony Gorst and Scott Lucas in Journal of strategic studies (Dec 1988). A number of the interviewees have previously written related memoirs including Political eunuch (Springwood, Ascot, 1986) by Sir Douglas Dodds-Parker, The Kremlin and the embassy (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1966) by Sir William Hayter, Change and fortune (Hutchinson, London, 1980) by Lord Jay, and Descent to Suez (Weidenfield and Nicolson, London, 1986) by Sir Evelyn Shuckburgh.