Catalogue description War Office: Headquarters British Troops Egypt: Alexandria and Cairo Riots, Court of Inquiry, Papers

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Details of WO 382
Reference: WO 382
Title: War Office: Headquarters British Troops Egypt: Alexandria and Cairo Riots, Court of Inquiry, Papers

This series contains papers relating to two courts of inquiry into riots in Egypt, at Alexandria and Cairo, in 1946.

Date: 1946
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 3 file(s)
Administrative / biographical background:

There had been a British military presence in Egypt since 1882 which continued until 22 December 1956 when British troops were withdrawn after the Suez crisis.

Although nominally remaining part of the Ottoman Empire, the country was declared a British protectorate in 1914. Limited independence was granted in 1922, and protracted negotiations towards full independence began. The country was never entirely placid during this period, and the British presence continued to be resented.

A treaty of alliance between Britain and Egypt was finally signed in 1936 providing for a continued British presence in the Suez Canal zone, but with the eventual cessation of military occupation of the entire country. Evacuation to the canal zone had not been carried out by the time the Second World War broke out, and the continued and greatly enhanced military presence in the country did little to dispel local discontent.

Extensive negotiations towards full independence continued throughout the 1940s, when the tide of war had moved west and northward. The apparent lack of progress, however, provoked a spate of anti-British violence in both Cairo and Alexandria in February and March of 1946. The Egyptian authorities prevented attacks on British personnel, property and vehicles only with great difficulty. British army units stood by and reinforcements were sent to both cities, but were not actually used to restore order.

The disturbances in Alexandria in early March saw the murders of two members of the Corps of Military Police. Incidents continued until the British evacuation to the canal zone in the spring of 1947. During this period of unrest the British suffered 84 military casualties.

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