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ROYAL BERKSHIRE REGIMENT
MALTA
 
In August 1956 the Battalion flew to Malta as part of the response to the 'Suez Crisis'. On arrival the Battalion were accommodated near St Paul's Bay at the Northern part of the island, the exact spot being Bahar-i-Caghar. Training was increased too prepare the Battalion with weapon handling and route marches to harden up the reservists and newly joined National servicemen. In the event the Battalion as a unit did not deploy to Suez, only the Anti Tank Platoon under the Command of Lt Robin Wilson deployed in support of 40 Royal Marine Commando. The following images cover some of the events on the island whilst training together with some images covering the Anti Tank 'Swan' to Port Said.

 

THIS PAGE IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION

 

Images from Malta 1956

(Click to enlarge)

Route March - Malta

Resting on the March - Malta

The scene in Malta, troops from the Battalion enter camp after a gruelling route march

Reservists rest whilst on a route march in Malta. The routine of 50 minutes marching followed by 10 minutes rest being the norm.

Spud Bashing - Malta

17 pounder crew

Some things never change, spud bashing as a fatigue is an Infantryman's constant pain along with other chores that a moving town called a 'Battalion' requires to function. Members of the Anti Tank Platoon 'Pose' on their 17 pounder Anti tank gun in Malta.

Anti tank gun crew practice drills

A newspaper photo of one of the Anti Tank detachments, Malta 1956. (L to R) Pte Brian Warner from Southampton, Pte Leonard Filkins, from Melksham, Sgt Richard Smith from Hurst, Pte Norman Viner from Andover, Pte Robert Murray from Lyndhurst

The Anti Tank Platoon practice with a 17 pounder by firing out to sea as part of their preparation to join 40 Royal Marine Commando for the Suez Landing.

Practice 106 mm

Anti Tank Platoon

Here we see a member of the Anti Tanks familiarising himself with the newly 'Acquired' 106mm recoilless anti tank gun. This requirement came about because of the weight of the 17 pounders. As a result of this problem half the platoon were re-equipped with the new weapon embarking on a very quick learning curve. The Anti Tank Platoon, Malta. Lt Robin Wilson (Centre) on his left shoulder is John Mason from Newbury

Cased Colours embark for Cyprus

Troops from 1st Bn embark for Cyprus

The cased Colours of the 1st Battalion are carried onto a lighter at Malta en-route to the troopship bound for Cyprus. Troops from the 1st Battalion, minus the Anti Tank Platoon embark, en-route to Cyprus to start three years of Anti Terrorist operations against the EOKA Terrorists.
   
   

 

Operation Musketeer

The Royal Berkshire Regiment Anti Tank platoon at the Suez Landing 1956

On the 3rd September 1956 the Anti-Tank platoon was attached to 40 Commando Royal Marines (who had no heavy anti-tank guns of their own) in anticipation of an assault landing in Egypt. They were originally equipped with 17 pounder's which although very  effective were large, clumsy pieces, but two detachments had been re-equipped with 106mm recoilless guns which were much more portable.

On 6th November the two detachments of 106s went in with the first wave, with the four remaining detachments following with their 17 pounder's in the second. No tanks were encountered, but the platoon, much harassed by snipers from the surrounding roofs, finally replied with their heavier metal, which not only eliminated the first rifleman but also blew the entire dome of the building to smithereens.

They took no casualties during this operation and on the 14th November the Battalion received a signal from brigadier R W Madoc commanding No 3 Commando Brigade which read,

"I wish to express my appreciation of the splendid fighting qualities of your Anti-Tank platoon which we were privileged to have with us during the Amphibious assault of Port Said. They were invaluable to us and it is a great privilege to have them with us"

By the time the platoon rejoined the battalion the latter had had another move, this time to Cyprus. The Anti-Tank platoon members were the only members of the battalion to be awarded the General Service Medal with the bar 'Near East'

There are very few images available from this deployment, those that we have uncovered are shown below although it must be said the quality is not to good.

 

Click to enlarge

Anti Tanks - Port Said

John Mason and chums

An anti-tank gun section of the Regiment is seen here in a suburb of Port Said shortly after landing. The anti-tank gun on the left of the photograph is the American 106mm 'recoilless rifle' which was rushed into service for the operation. The other weapons shown are all of World War Two vintage. With the shortage of enemy armour to engage the CO of 40 Commando tasked the detachment to remove a troublesome sniper. With a chance to fire their new '106' in anger the detachment hauled the gun on to the roof of the Egyptian army barracks and fired at the offending sniper. Not only did they remove the sniper but also the building he was operating from. (L to R) Pte 'Lofty' Mason, from Newbury,?, Pte Boylen, ?, Pte Davis, Pte Hill.

 

Four Soldiers of the Anti Tank Platoon at Port Said Suez Tuesday 13th November 1956. (L to R) Pte J Rolls, Pte John Mason, Pte Milson, Pte R Ilsley

A French tank passes a Royal Berkshire Anti-Tank gun position. The units 106mm anti tank gum visible on the right.

 

The commandos fly in over the heads of the anti tank platoon, who took the water route.

The burning cargo sheds in the harbour area of port Said. The Anti Tanks went beyond these to take up positions in the town Mission completed. Here members of the Anti tanks being transported by air, either back to Malta or Cyprus

 

If any members of the battalion who served at that time have images available, we would welcome sight of them both for this site and the Regimental Museum archives.

 

 

 

Acknowledgments
The Web team would like to thank Robin Wilson, John Mason and Ian Nash for their assistance with this page. For further information about this deployment read 'The last twelve years' 1948 - 1959 by Major F Myatt MC and available from the Regimental Museum at Salisbury.
 
                             
 
                        
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                            Revised: 19 November 2004.