Suez: Graphic by Martin

H.M.S. Jamaica

Colony class six-inch cruiser

By James Robinson
ex Royal Marine 1947 to 1971
as relayed to him by his brother in-law
who served aboard Jamaica as part of the RM. contingent

HMS JamaciaAs early as 0400 hrs on the morning of the landing, Jamaica, Dutchess, Diamond and Decoy, steamed ahead of the landing craft, taking up station in line, Jamaica leading. The bombardment warships began their measured approach  to the beaches of Port Said. By first light on a clear morning, the hostile coastline of Port Said appeared. The marines on the 4 inch gun mounting  looked up at the fore-mast, as the brand new battle ensign was hoisted.  Jamaica, gently steaming straight for the beaches, began a slow turn to  port. The range was no more than one and a half to two miles.

Tension was  building, as the cruiser had still not opened fire, "why haven't the 6 inch opened fire", one of the Marines asked,  "the gunnery officer must have lost  his matches", the Marine sergeant answered, with a wry smile.

Once Jamaica had completed a ninety degree turn, Dutchess, Diamond, and Decoy,  steamed past her stern, closing the range to what seemed less than a mile, they also turned to port to lie stopped, parallel to the shore line. Eighteen 4.5 inch guns began a systematic, and deadly, bombardment of the landing area. During the bombardment, the tanoy system on-board Jamaica gave an explanation as to why the cruiser had not opened fire, "We have received orders from very high up, that no large caliber guns are to be used, the reasoning is to keep Egyptian casualties to a minimum". The news was greeted, throughout the ship, with derision, and fury.

"It's all right for those stupid politicians in bloody London, but what about  our lads standing by to go ashore"? fumed one of the marines, "so what's a few  dead Royal Marines as long as you don't hurt any Arabs or bust a few windows".

"That's the trouble with modern warfare", said one of the Marines with  contempt. But what really upset the marines, was not being able to support their mates ashore, The ships tanoy announced, "the helicopters you can see overhead are from the carriers 'Ocean' and Theseus', They are ferrying ashore men of 45 Royal Marine Commando. You are witnessing Naval History in the making. This is the first time helicopters have been use in an opposed landing".


Jim RobinsonThis picture of me was taken on-board H.M.S. VICTORY when I was serving on her, My service in the Royal Marines started in the april of 1947 and I went to pension june 1971,I joined HM Prison service, serving at Dartmoor, Exeter, and the Maze Prison Northern Ireland. I'm now retired and studying military history. 
James Robinson February 2000

Also See
The War at Sea
British Ships involved in the Suez crisis

Image of H.M.S. Jamaica are courtesy Royal Navy Photos

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