#OTD20 | October 31, 1956

The Suez Crisis Escalates: UK and France Launch Operation Musketeer

October 31, 1956: The United Kingdom and France commence bombing runs over Egypt, signaling a pivotal escalation in the Suez Crisis.

The Suez Canal, a critical waterway connecting the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, was seized and nationalized by Egypt's President Nasser in July 1956, prompting concern among Western powers and Israel.

In a bid to regain control and ensure the canal remains open for international navigation, Britain and France initiate military action, marking a major confrontation in the Cold War era.

"The freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal is vital not only to Great Britain and France but to the whole free world." - Statement by UK and French governments, 1956

The Suez Crisis highlights the diminishing global influence of European colonial powers, while also emphasizing the rising role of the United States and the Soviet Union as arbiters of international disputes.

Today, the events surrounding the Suez Crisis remain a testament to the complexities of global politics during the mid-20th century and the intricacies of maintaining peace in a divided world.

Viewing Options

The Lend-Lease program and other events leading to the United States' joining the war are chronicled in the program, "World War II: The Road to War," from the series "America in the 20th Century."


Preview short excerpts from "COLD WAR: Third World Wars."


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Additional Resources

Access more information from Media Rich Learning and curated off-site sources.

U.S. Department of State

Learn more about the Suez Crisis at the website of the U.S. Department of State, Office of the Historian.

The Ohio State University

Read "The Suez Crisis (1956)," from the series "Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective" at the website of The Ohio State University.

Imperial War Museum

Read "Ten Photographs of Operation Musketeer" at the website of the Imperial War Museum.


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