February 1942, Rommel's German 15th Panzer Division sweeps across the Western Desert deep into Egypt

Hussein Sirri Pasha’s resignation was not only caused by the deteriorating military situation in the Western Desert and the political intrigues of the Royal Palace and the Political Parties, it was mainly caused by what he thought was a matter of principle. 

During the last few weeks of his Cabinet’s life, King Farouk decided to go on a fishing vacation in the Red Sea; Sir Miles Lampson, the British Ambassador to Egypt, Jumped on the opportunity presented by the absence of the King to ask Sirri Pasha to remove the wireless radio hidden in Abdine Palace (The British Authorities suspected the King of using the Radio to communicate with the Axis Powers) and also to cut the  Diplomatic relation with the (French) VICHY Government of Marshall PHILIPPE PETAIN and to recognize instead the London exiled French Government of General CHARLES DE GAULLE which was represented unofficially in Egypt by General CATROUX.

Sirri Pasha obliged by removing the radio installation from the Royal Palace and by instructing his Foreign Minister, SALIB SAMI PASHA, to request the VICHY Ambassador, JEAN PONCET, who by the way had a close relationship with King Farouk, to return to unoccupied France with all the members of his staff.  On his return from his vacation, the King was shocked by the removal of his radio and of the VICHY Diplomats without his authorization and ordered his Prime Minister to dismiss SAMI PASHA from the Cabinet.  Sirri Pasha indicated that the two events were carried on by his orders and only he was responsible and, as a matter of principle submitted his resignation to the King on February 2, 1942.

February 4 events eroded  the popularity of the Wafd Party and its leader who,
it was then thought were brought to head the Government thanks to British bayonets!

On the evening of February 2, Sir Miles Lampson met with King Farouk and expressed to him the urgent request of the British Government to appoint a reliable Prime Minister that led a majority party and that was committed to collaboration with England, the principal Egyptian ally, according to the 1936 Treaty.  Of course the Ambassador meant Mustafa El Nahas Pasha, the Leader of the Wafd Party.  The next morning the King called for a meeting at Abdine Palace to be attended by all the previous Prime Ministers and heads of Political Parties.  At the meeting that was headed by the King it was decided by the majority of those present to form a COALITION CABINET that would include all the Political Parties and that would be headed by NAHAS PASHA.  Nahas refused to abide by that decision indicating that he would accept to lead only a WAFDIST CABINET!!  He based his decision on his bad experience with previous coalition Cabinets!!

At noon thirty of February 4, Sir Miles who was very concerned that the King would appoint Ali Maher Pasha, who was well known for his sympathy to the Axis Powers, to form a Cabinet, indicated that only a WAFDIST CABINET led by Nahas Pasha would be acceptable to His Majesty’s British Government.  He gave to the King until six thirty P.M. of that same evening to fulfill that request.  It was in effect an ultimatum.  Again the King held a second meeting of Parties Heads and the gathering recommended to send a note of protest to the British Ambassador for interfering in Egyptian interior affairs, an action which contravenes the spirit of the 1936 Treaty between their two Countries.  At Six P.M. Ahmed Hassanein Pasha, the Chief of the Royal Cabinet presented the protest note to the British Ambassador.  At nine P.M. Sir Miles, accompanied by General Stone, the Commanding Officer of the British occupation army (not to confuse it with the British Eight Army) and six officers armed to the teeth with hand and submachine guns, came unannounced to Abdine Palace, pushed their way to the King’s office and presented him, in the presence of Hassanein Pasha, a second ultimatum stating that, unless Nahas Pasha was immediately called upon to form a Cabinet, The King and all his descendants would forfeit their right to the Throne!!  At the same time a British Brigade composed of three battalions of armored vehicles and infantry, led by Brigadier John Crystal, surrounded Abdine Palace with some of the troops actually stood awaiting orders in the Palace courtyard.  Meanwhile, the haggard young King accepted, at the recommendation of Hassanein Pasha, to abide by the ultimatum and to appoint Mustafa El Nahas Pasha to form a strictly Wafdist Cabinet. 

For years the February 4th events (1) were considered as an affront to Egypt’s Sovereignty and intensified the hatred of the Egyptian People towards the occupying Power.  Nobody contributed that much to that hatred as Lord Cromer and Sir Miles Lampson who were the longest serving British High Commissioners in Egypt!!  But who was Sir Miles?

British Diplomat originally from Killearn (Stirlingshire) and educated at Eaton, he entered the Foreign Office, serving in Japan and China and briefly in Siberia after World War One. Lampson attended the Washington Naval Conference headed the Foreign Office Central European Department and was Britain’s Minister in Peking from 1926 to 1933.  He was appointed High Commissioner for Egypt and the Sudan in December 1933.  His early diplomatic achievement was the signing of the 1936 Treaty, after which his title changed to Ambassador. His firm stand ensured that Egypt would remain a base for the British Eight Army and Mediterranean Fleet during the Second World War, even if Egypt remained nonbelligerent for most of the war.  Suspecting King Farouk and his advisers of favoring the Axis Powers, Lampson forced the King on February fourth, 1942 to accept a Wafdist Cabinet to uphold the 1936 Treaty.  Also Lampson’s behavior has been assailed, especially by Egyptians, others argue that the British Empire could not have survived World War Two if it had not stood firm in Egypt before its victory at El Alamein. Lampson was elevated to the peerage as Baron (Lord) Killearn in 1943.

As Egyptian agitation grew for the British evacuation after World War Two, the Labor Government removed from Cairo, naming him High Commissioner for Southeast Asia.  Some of his Egyptian diaries were published in 1972, translated into Arabic and published in the “AL-Ahram” newspaper; the full text is in the Middle-East Center, St. Antony’s College, Oxford.  A tough negotiator, Lampson disdained rising nationalism in Egypt where a subtler diplomacy would have averted ill feeling towards Great Britain. (2)

The Fifth Cabinet of Nahas Pasha was short lived. Less than four months, all in all.  But, in spite of its shortness, important steps were adopted, along with some shameful actions inspired by inexcusable party politics!!

It started with the new Prime Minister presenting, on behalf of his Cabinet, a strong note of protest to the British Ambassador, in which he stated that he accepted the Premiership in obedience to his King’s wishes and certainly not because of the Ambassador ultimatum and demonstration of military might; he also chided Sir Miles for acting in contravention to the clause of the 1936 Treaty of Alliance, between Egypt and England, that prohibited the interference in the interior affairs of the signing parties.  Furthermore, Nahas Pasha, at his first meeting with Sir Miles, refused to shake the hand of the Ambassador!!  It is important to mention here that the February 4 events eroded to a certain point the popularity of the Wafd Party and its leader who, it was then thought were brought to head the Government thanks to British bayonets!!

To re-establish its legality, the Cabinet dissolved the Parliament, on February 7, 1942, and ordered new fair elections to take place, during which the martial laws would be suspended.  The Opposition Parties refused to participate in those Elections and, as expected the Wafd obtained an 89% majority in the House and a large majority in the Senate.

The most important achievement of the Cabinet was the formation of “LA COUR DES COMPTES” (DIWAN AL MOHASABA), an Organization that would supervise the Egyptian Budget by monitoring the fiscal income and all the Government’s expenditures.  That important Organization is still operating until the writing of these words.

To improve its declining populariy the Cabinet reduced the taxes on small land owners and organized Labor Unions that would regulate the fair treatments of workers by their employers.  It also promulgated a law guaranteeing the independence of the Judiciary and confirming the separation of the Judicial Power from both the Executive and Legislative Powers.  The Cabinet agreed to move the Broadcasting Authority from the Ministry of Social Affairs to the Ministry of Interior only during the War.  An Amnesty Law was decreed to free all political prisoners particularly those who were incarcerated by previous Cabinets for their activities on behalf of the Wafd Party!!  Lastly the different Government Administrations saw a large movement to higher positions, particularly the Key ones, with most of the promotions confined to members of the Wafd Party and its supporters!!

Meanwhile the Minister of Finances, Makram Ebeid Pasha, refused to grant import and export permits and other facilities to Wafdist business men, many of them friends or relatives of Zeinab Al-Wakil, the young bride of Nahas Pasha, which created a strong animosity between the Prime Minister and his Minister of Finances.  To get rid of his stubborn Minister, Nahas Pasha presented his resignation to King Farouk who accepted his resignation and, with British encouragement, requested his Premier to form a new Cabinet with the same Ministers in place, except Makram Ebeid who was excluded from both the Cabinet and the (WAFD) Party.

Since the sixth Cabinet of Nahas Pasha lasted for a little over two years and four months, it could be considered the longest Wafdist Cabinet ever.  This does not mean that King Farouk’s deep dislike of his Prime Minister had been shelved and the hatchet buried, but, whenever the King had the urge to dismiss the Cabinet, and he had many reasons to do just that, the British Ambassador stood firm in his defense and support of the Cabinet.  Meanwhile the fact that it was a Cabinet that took power through British interference, its popularity with the Egyptian Public was eroded to a certain extent but not enough to deny it a reduced majority of the voters.  To avoid more troubles with the Royal Palace and to soften the hard feeling created by the February 4, 1952, events, the British Authorities bestowed on King Farouk the title of Honorary General of the British Army and presented him with a Field Marshal Baton which encouraged him to promote himself to the rank of Field Marshal (MOUSHIR) of the Egyptian Armed Forces of which he already was the Supreme Commander according to the clause of the 1923 Constitution.

For its part, the Cabinet quietly collaborated with the British war effort by offering all kind of facilities, including lands and buildings to accommodate the hundreds of thousands British Commonwealth troops that flooded the Country during that period.  To project a façade of nationalism, the Cabinet took several crowd pleasing steps such as according a total amnesty to the popular Lt. General (Fariq) Aziz Al Masry Pasha, the ex Chief of staff of the Egyptian Army.

Since the submarine war made the export of Egyptian products, particularly its cotton crop which was the main source of wealth of the Country, next to impossible, the Cabinet had to heavily rely on the British to market those products at prices convenient to the British markets and economy!!  The expanding British and Commonwealth contingents in Egypt, well provided with cash, compounded the demand on the Egyptian Markets pushing up prices to level well beyond the means of multitude of Egyptians!!  To face its multiplying expenditure in Egypt and the Middle East, the British Government relied on millions of Egyptian Pounds printed by the Bank of England, which had the monopoly of supplying the National Bank of Egypt with the Egyptian currencies required by the Country, which caused a devaluation of the Egyptian Pounds thus causing an extra burden on the already inflated prices.  As an extra gesture of solidarity with the British Government and its allies, the Cabinet donated the amount of two thousand pounds towards all the Russian children orphaned by the German siege of the city of Stalingrad.

In its quest for popularity the Cabinet declared the primary education in Government schools totally free of charge.  It also allocated four thousand six hundred and seventeen FEDDANS” to be distributed amongst graduates of agricultural colleges and schools with fifty thousand pounds from which the new owners could borrow to purchase the necessary equipments and to erect the necessary dwellings.  The Cabinet also decided to expand the Farouk the First University in Alexandria with a cost of three hundred and thirty five thousand pounds and appointed Dr. Taha Hussein Bey as its rector beside his job as an advisor the Ministry of Public Instruction. 

The Nahas Cabinet consolidated its relations with the Arab World earning Egypt a leading role in that geographical zone.  On September 27, 1943, it recognized Lebanon as an independent Nation and established Diplomatic relation with it.  It donated ten thousand pounds for the famine relief in Oman and twenty thousand pounds for the Moslem Community in Bosnia Herzegovina to help them recovering from the effect of the War.  Last but not least, the Cabinet called for an Arab Conference that was held in Alexandria, on September 1944, and attended by representatives of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Transjordan; the Conference established the basis of the League of Arab States that would consider Palestine as part of that League!!

Before the end of 1942, a malaria epidemic ravaged the two Governorates of Aswan and Qena; King Farouk visited those plagued parts of the Country where the Royal concern was very well received and appreciated; not to be outdone, Nahas Pasha followed the steps of the Monarch right after the end of Farouk’s visit, a gesture that aggravated the King’s dislike of the Prime Minister.  On November 15, 1943, King Farouk had a serious accident near the village of KASSASINE, on the Cairo / Ismailia highway; the car he was driving was hit by a British Army truck.  Seriously wounded, the King was taken to nearby British Military Hospital where it took him a few weeks to recover.  On his return to his Cairo Palace, the Royal Court arranged multitudes of demonstrations of support and sympathy to King; thus there was a competition between the Monarch and his Prime Minister on who could get more popularity!!  Meanwhile Makram Ebeid Pasha, who was sacked from his Cabinet Post and from the Wafd Party of which he was the General Secretary, wrote a “BLACK BOOK” about the corruption of the Prime Minister’s wife, her family and some members of the Party underlining the weakness and passivity of Nahas Pasha towards these grave corruptions.  Makram Pasha presented the black book to the King who authorized and encouraged its publication.  Makram Ebeid, also at the instigation of the King, established a new Political Party which he called “THE WAFDIST BLOCK” (AL KOTLA AL WAFDYA) and a daily newspaper; both Party and newspaper were not very successful.

By the end of 1943 and the beginning of 1944 the Axis Powers were in retreat and the war was definitely in favor of The British Empire and its allies which made the position of the Nahas Cabinet much less important to the war effort and King Farouk became more resolute than he ever was about getting rid of his hated Prime Minister!!  The occasion came when on Friday September 15, 1944; while the King’s cortege was en route to AMROU’s MOSQUE to attend Friday Prayers, he saw many signs saying “LONG LIVE THE KING WITH NAHAS PASHA; outraged, the King ordered the Chief of Public Security to remove the signs , which was promptly done.  The Prime Minister, who was also the Minister of Interior, fired the Chief of Security, in replisal, but the King ordered him back with a promotion.  Not satisfied with that, the Monarch secretly contacted the British Ambassador requesting the authorization to dismiss the Cabinet; the Ambassador in turn consulted his Government and, since the War was nearly won and Nahas Pasha lost his importance, the Egyptian monarch was given the GREEN LIGHT and Farouk dismissed the Nahas Cabinet on October 8, 1944.

(To be continued)

 After their defeat at al-Alamein  the Axis Powers were in retreat
and the war was definitely in favor of the British Empire






As Egypt was faced with an invasion from the western desert, it had become obvious that Egypt would have to spend a good deal of money and effort to provide facilities and amenities for the British Army and their Allies which had grown to a force of 550,000 men strong.   Her foremost role was to serve as a vast Allied miltary base.  Furthermore  as a historian noted  "facilities for rest and recreation were also being provided by an entrepreneurial class which made money from war profiteering, military contracts, nightclubs and bars. The sight of so many uniformed soldiers walking about the streets of the main cities in search of amusement shocked the sensibilities of a population that was largely traditional, deeply religious, and which frowned on the bars and houses of prostitutions that mushroomed." (1) `Afaf Lutfiy al-Sayyid Marsot, A Short History of Modern Egypt, p. 99-100.

 It is within this atmospher that one of the strangest and humiliating episode of Modern Egyptian history took place. 


After the outbreak of hostilities in September 1939, King Faruwq's first move had been to reinstall as Prime Minister `Aliy Mahir Pasha, a politician with strong anti-British views, who strongly advised the King not to declare war on Germany, even though he was obliged by the 1936 treaty to act in concert with the British in matters of mutual defense. Instead, he declared his neutrality, though he coupled it, at Britain's prodding, with a declaration of a state of siege, which was tantamount to martial law.

The Egyptians didn't expect Britain to complain too loudly about their reluctance to come to grips with the enemy, because their immediate concern was to maintain Egypt as a friendly line of communications. `Aliy Mahir continued to serve the King until he was reluctantly replaced by Husayn Sirriy, a move aimed  primarily at appeasing the British. However `Aliy Mahir continued to closely advise the king behind the scenes.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian government used this period to start a crash-program munitions industry, increase its own armed forces, and start Egyptian industries*(1).Such as cotton mills in kafr al-Dawar (1938) , expanded those already established in Mahallah al-Kubra (in the 1920's); and sugar refineries at al-Hawmdiyah in Hilwan (a suburb south of Cairo) and Nag` Hammadiyin Upper Egypt which could use Egyptian  home-grown products.  Today both sectors,  the textiles and Sugar refinery industries in Egypt, owe their existence and development to a powerhouse to this crash-program mentioned above.

However, as the war continued unabetted, Egypt 's economy began to falter seriously.  The heavy British presence in a country of 17million inhabitants, with a foreign army swelling to over half a million men strong to feed, had caused terrible inflation and strained Egypt's econmy to the brink of disaster*(2)  Wages of the fallahiyn stayed the same.  They could not afford the skyrocketing prices of basic goods like food and medicine and kerosene. 

Ambassador Lampson,who was pathologically cheap, cashed in on the price boom by selling "Embassy mangoes" straight from his garden and game birds he had shot on social outings in the Fayuwm to luxury purveyors for top pounds.

(1)There was a marked rise in industrial investment and production. The industrial labor force rose from barely a quarter of a million in 1919 to over one million in 1939, while capital invested in limited  industrial companies tripled from seven to twenty-four millions  Egyptianpounds. Capital invested in commercial entreprises increased ten times.

(2) "Together with the sharp rise in the cost of living , during the the Second World War,  real per capita income dropped despite all these developments. The consumption of goods and foodstuffs by the vast majority of the population decreased and their health deteriorated"  (For more details  see ChapterXV; From the Old Order to the New , 1939-79. The failure of liberalism in:  The History of Egypt , P.J.  Vatikiotis, p. 324.


While the impoverished Fallahiyn couldn't afford their Fuwl Middamis
 Sir Lampson is quoted saying:"Let them eat grouse."(1)

Throughout the months of battle in the western desert, tremendous effort was exerted in beaming propaganda from both London and Rome.  In a futile attempt to reach the Egyptian masses, the BBC hired famous Egyptian crooners to sing love songs in between news items and propaganda pieces; whereas the Axis  propaganda described pro-British Egyptians as Schweingesicht Pasha "Pasha Pig face" and fetter Kopf Pasha "Pasha Fat head" !

The British propaganda, as usual childish and inept, promised the Fallahiyn, "A new order of freedom".  Ironically, quite the opposite was happening.  According to Liwa’ Muhammad Naguib,  British soldiers "molested our women, assaulted our men and committed acts of vandalism in public places…..Their troops marched through the streets of Cairo singing obscene songs about our King, a man whom few of us admired but who, nevertheless, was as much of a national symbol as our flag. Faruwq  was never so popular as when he was being insulted by British troops.....Of no country did the British demand more than they did of Egypt during the war, and of no country's interests were they less considerate." (2)

Egyptian harbors and cities were filled with British and Allied troops over half a million strong. Domestic conditions became critical in the winter of 1941-2. A sharp rise in living costs was aggravated by a scarcity of basic commodities such as sugar, flour, fuel and ordinary cloth for the traditional attire (gallaliyb baladiy) worn by the masses.  Black marketing was rampant. The Egyptian population blamed both the government and the British for these difficult conditions. The latter were especially accused of providing for their troops first and consequently consuming most of the country's cereal production, to which the government responded by limiting the land area cultivated in cotton and allocating an additional 200,000 feddans for cereals and basic foodstuffs production.

By January 1942, bread was scarce. The bakeries were mixing sawdust in with flour, and "meatless" days were instituted. The public was hungry and angry. Inhabitants of the poorer native quarters in Cairo were storming bakeries for bread.

 Moreover, to add insult to injury, a system of rationing was instituted under the direct supervision of an Anglo-American organization attached to the Eighth Army: TheMiddle East Supply Center.  Such blatant and humiliating interference with the necessities of life was utterly resented by the Egyptians. 

At the beginning of 1942 Ahmad Hasanayn the Royal Chamberlain persuaded the King to take his first real holiday, away from the war in Upper Egypt. Meanwhile back in Cairo, Sir Miles Lampson was still demanding the eviction of the King’s Italian entourage and was urging the suspension of diplomatic relations with Vichy and the closing of its legation which the Ambassador contended the Germans were using as a spy center.

The crisis worsened when the British finally succeeded in bullying the government in severing diplomatic relations with Vichy France. The opposition in Parliament, led by Isma`iyl Sidqqiy, concerned for the safety of the three hundred Egyptian students still in Paris, raised a big fuss over this move.  They recalled the services rendered by France and Frenchmen to Egypt in the past, and deplored the government's action under British pressure. 

The King was annoyed and livid that he was not consulted.  He cut his vacation short and returned in haste to Cairo. There, his cabinet officials informed him that Lampson had triumphed over the Vichy affair and that  Husayn Sirry had taken action at the Ambassador's insistence without conferring first with the King. 

On top of this, Faruwq now faced renewed pressure to sack his Italians.  It was too much!  The King, in a meeting with his Foreign Minister Saliyb Samiy, stormed, "Sir Miles thinks he has won the first round, but I shall knock him down in the second." Saliyb Samiy got the message and immediately tended his resignation. Sirry had gone over the King's head and thereby had dared to violate all Royal Protocol.

When Husayn Sirriy asked the King to call out the militia (Buluwk al-Nizam) to quell the student troubles, Faruwq merely shrugged his shoulders.  That gesture meant that Sirry was out of office. Sirry's government resigned on February 1, 1942.  The crisis intensified. This went on for a day or two while the country remained without a government. Lampson received the Sirriy news on a chill and damp crack-of-dawn duck shoot in the Fayuwm. He packed in his Purdeys and struck out for Cairo.   Faruwq may have finally "gotten" Sirriy.   Now Lampson was going to try to retaliate and "get" Faruwq

To make things worse, Rommel's forces had captured Benghazi on January 28.  The Afrika Korps once again was advancing towards Egypt and targeting Alexandria and the British bases with devastating air raids.  At the same time, `Aliy Mahir alerted the king that he had gotten wind of Britain's "scorched earth" plans for the Nile delta in the likely event that they lost to Rommel in the desert. The British would retreat.  Burning, flooding, and ruining the most fertile land on earth."

1) Grouse: A term denoting "chicken like game birds ", roughly  translated into Arabic  as Tiyuwr/ dawaginbarriyah of the type known as Samman.

(2) Egypt's Destiny: A personal Statement. Mohamed Naguib, Doubleday & Company , Inc. Garden city, New York, 1955 pp. 77-78.

(3) The Supreme Guide (Murshid) of the Society of Muslim Brethren .  He was a fine orator and a charismatic figure who attracted thousands of followers. He had  been  a disciple of Rashiyd Rida . To his followers, the bulk of whom were the urban poor, Shaykhal-Banna gave pride and self respect. He blamed the frustration of the Egyptian society upon the influence of the Europeans who had induced changes by introducing foreign elements and forcefully imposing them onto Egypt. Consequently  such influences  alienated Egyptians from their traditional ways of life. The rejection of the British presence was the essence of his movement.  By the time World War II broke out the Muslim Brothers had become a powerful organization with arms hidden in different parts of the country and a well trained military wing to content with. 


 German 15th Panzer Division  sweeping across the Western Desert 

At the beginning of February the situation had changed to the detriment of the British. Rommel had counter-attacked, forcing the British back to Tubruq and al-Ghazalah and was gathering his forces for a thrust through Libya that was to carry him to within 70 miles of Alexandria. Meanwhile, upon hearing the news, the Egyptians were parading the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, shouting, "Down with England."  Students were marching with them, singing to the British, " Rommel will kick your asses." (1)

For some time now, the King had been expecting a visit from Sir Miles and so was prepared when the Ambassador walked into his office in `Abdiyn Palace.

The British Ambassador wasted little time on preliminaries. He wanted to know how it was that all Italian nationals had not been rounded up and sent to concentration camps.

"I can assure you that this has been done," King Faruwq said.

"I am informed that Antonio Pulli Bey and his Italian friends have not been interned."

"I think that you have not been fully informed on the subject,"King Faruwq said mildly.

"I have the evidence of my own eyesight," Sir Miles said.

"I do not speak about their liberty. I am merely saying that these men on my palace staff are Egyptian nationals. Antonio Pulli has been elevated to Bey."  "and if you don't believe that he's a good Muslim I can have him show you his circumcision."

On Sunday, the first of February,  an urgent message in the afternoon from GeneralTerence Stone recalled Lampson when it seemed certain that Husayn Sirriy would have to hand his resignation to the king.`Aliy Mahir's shadow was lengthening. That, and the fact that Rommel had retaken western Cyrenaica. and was advancing on Egypt, forced Sir Miles hurry back to Cairo. That night he dragged Faruwq out of a dinner party at his home to explain the situation. Faruwq, the premier said, was determined to appoint another palace government, if not `Aliy Mahir, a coalition of those who had served him since he dismissed al-Nahhas and the Wafd

Lampson's ardor for the task ahead was further inflamed when Husayn Sirriy reiterated  what Faruwq had told Saliyb Samiy at the outset of this game of musical parliamentary chairs. "Sir Miles has won the first round but I am going to down him on the second."  Lampson' wrote one word in his diary: "Cheek!"

General Sir Claude Auchinleck

General Wavell, who had been a restraining force in keeping Lampson (2) from deposing Faruwq , had left the Middle East to become commander in chief of the British forces in India. Trading places with Sir Miles was his successor as Middle East commander in chief, General Sir Claude Auchinleck, a tall, handsome officer who had spent his entire military career in India. Auchinleck, too,  showed considerable hesitation and grumpiness (3)," Lampson wrote, at the notion of ordering around the boy-king (4)  Auchinleck was concerned the country might rise up in revolt against such imperialistic behavior (5)Auchinleck's line was that he knew Egypt and not to worry. Because "the Auk," as Lampson called him, was new in Egypt, the ambassador was able to push his ultimatum past the general. Faruwq would have to accept al-Nahhas as prime minister, or accept the consequences.(6)

(1)  Militant youth following the lead of ShaykhHasan al-Banna went even further;   they regarded British uniforms with increasingly undisguised repulsion,  indignantly resented any vexatious incidents due to the passage of the troops, and repeated shocking tales of their drunkenness and debauchery. Repercussions in Egypt of the adverse developments in Britain's war fortunes were very serious as the Egyptians began actively  resisting  the British . 

 (2) The British Ambassador, Miles Wedderburn Lampson, those who knew him well, have said he was by nature vindictive , a bully and a mean individual. He was born in 1880, educated at Eton, had entered the Foreign Office in 1908. In the1934 he was made High Commissioner for Egypt and the Sudan, replacing Lord Lloyd, a post he held for two years, becoming the first Ambassador in 1936. Lampson  stood nearly eighteen inches higher than any member of the Egyptian Government and earned himself an adjective once applied to an earlier British Ambassador; OVERBEARING.

(3) Auchinleck 'shesitation was mainly due to the fact that Lampson had not been able to adapt himself to his diminished position of diplomat from High Commissioner. Some of the Embassy staff felt so strongly that Lampson should not have been kept in Egypt that a secret report was sent as a telegram to the Foreign Office outlining their reasons. This was ignored. Hence it was  this man whom the British chose to represent them in Egypt and to deal with the young King.

(4) Faruwq at this time was only 22 years old. Lampson  frequently talked about King Faruwq who was forty years his junior as "the boy" and treated him as such, condescendingly, this irritated Faruwq tremendously.

(5) The retired Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Army, Field Marshal `Aziyz al-Masriy, along with two Egyptian Army officers:  Husayn Dhuwl Fuqar Sabriy and `Abd al-Mun`im Ra'uwf ,  had previously attempted to reach the German lines aboard an Egyptian Royal air force. A few miles north of Cairo the plane experienced engine trouble and crashed landing on an orange grove in the province of al-Qalyuwbiyah.  For a while the three adventures eluded the authorities,  but after a while they were caught and brought to trial in May 1941 for having attempted to reach the Axis lines in the Western Desert and thus defecting  technically to the "enemy". security conditions in Egypt remained dangerous for the British.

(6) In a similarly situation, the Pro-German Shah  Pahlavi of Iran had been deposed from his throne by the British and sent to exile in South Africa.


On February 2, Lampson went to call on Faruwq, "who was even more cordial than usual," basically agreeing with Lampson on all his points and agreeing to "see" al-Nahhas for a "consultation." Faruwq would consider appointing al-Nahhas as prime minister to form a coalition government. But Lampson didn't want any coalitions that involved "Palace" parties. He wanted the Wafd and only the Wafd. It was ironic that the Wafd, which had come into being as an anti-British nationalist party, had now gotten into bed with its old enemy.

This was unforgivable diplomatic behavior, passing all limits of what an independent nation should be asked to do. But Faruwq  took it calmly, since he was dealing with England, and listened to Sir Miles' argument to the end.  He felt that judicious delay would solve the question. Wasn't it obvious that the British were getting ready to clear out? Their gold reserves had already been removed to Palestine, where, in addition to the Sudan, military stores were also being sent so that they would not fall into German hands. Faruwq didn't even allow himself to show his anger over the fact that the British Government was imposing al-Nahhas Pasha, the very man that he, Faruwq, had dismissed from office in December 1937. Faruwq's reply was diplomatic:

"I shall do as you suggest and call in Ahmad Hasanayn my Chamberlain and his staff and we shall give this matter our immediate attention."

"I cannot leave without stressing that we regard this a matter of such importance that we shall wait only until 9 o'clock Tuesday night. Should you not have conformed to our desires by that time, you will have to take the responsibility for whatever may occur." Sir Miles bowed stiffly to the King, and was ushered from the room.

The ultimatum, for that was what it was, was quite real. Real enough to blow him right off his throne if he made a single misstep. But he wasn't frightened.

He telephoned al-Nahhas Pasha to inform him that it was His Majesty's desire (he didn't bother to explain that the desire had been prompted by a British threat), for he was certain that al-Nahhas was already in collusion with them that he call in all the heads of political parties, and that he, al-Nahhas form a coalition cabinet. In order to facilitate this matter, he was placing a conference room in `Abdiyn Palace at their disposal, and he hoped that by that same afternoon they would begin discussions.

Al-Nahhas Pasha, who was willful, and disliked even by many of  the members of his own Wafd party, had been a rabid anti-British figure. His sudden switch to the English side could mean but one thing that a deal had been made. To force him to select a coalition cabinet "for the unity of the nation" was a strategy Faruwq used to get the politicians to argue among themselves until long past the deadline. In this way he could demonstrate his good faith to Sir Miles, put the responsibility on his enemy, al-Nahhas Pasha, and, most important, do nothing. al-Nahhas didn't rise to the bait. He sent a message to Hasanayn that he would accept the job of Prime Minister on the sole condition that he be permitted to name his own cabinet.


Lampson summoned Hasanayn late on the evening of the third of February and instructed him to tell the king that he must send for al-Nahhas Pasha by six o'clock the following evening. "Unless I hear that the king has sent for the Wafd, he must accept the consequences," the Ambassador repeated. The chamberlain attempted to compromise. Could they not form an interim government which would then be replaced by the Wafd? No, said Lampson There is no alternative. 

Lampson dwelt, in the meeting, at length on Article Five of the 1936 treaty which stipulated that neither Britain nor Egypt should adopt an attitude to foreign countries inconsistent with the treaty provisions. This meant, Sir Miles went on, that the king must call on a government which would remain loyal to the treaty and which would command support in the country. It followed from this that the king must send for Mustafa al-Nahhas Pasha. He had twenty-four hours to act on this advice, said Sir Miles

The next day al-'Azhar and Fuw’ad Universities flared up, despite the fact that Faruwq had personally passed a message to the heads of Universities to keep their students quiet. At Zagaziyg, mobs broke shop windows and doors and then attacked people suspected of pro-British sympathies. In the middle of all this, word leaked out from `Abdiyn Palace that Faruwq had packed several trunks and was preparing to make a dash for freedom. To where, no one knew. Just in case, an alert went to British troops and military police to watch all airports in the country and every road out of the capital. The embassy took the view that the king would only lose face if he tried to escape. 

'Azhariy students taking to the street against the British on February the3rd, 1942

Sir Miles Lampson had on his hands the sort of operation at which he excelled (1), sitting inert while everything spun madly around them. It was like the old days of Cromer and Kitchener, Allenby and Lloyd.

He had prepared the event. Down to the last man and tank, the personal escort for himself and General Stone; down to his peroration before delivering the abdication document; down to the hourly checks on the will-o'-the-wisp movements of al-Nahhas who must be on call; down to the phone message which would bring PrinceMuhammad `Aliy, the old pretender, into `Abdiyn Palace and Faruwq's vacant seat; down to the air-raid sirens which would clear the streets and the way for the dispossessed monarch.  Sir Lampsonwas leaving nothing to chance. 

There was the abdication document to draft. By an ironical twist, Sir Walter Monckton, who had drawn up the abdication form for King Edward VIII, was attached to the embassy. Who better? Oddly enough, it took Monckton longer to find a suitable piece of paper on which to ask a king to surrender his throne than the form of words. In wartime Cairo such paper hardly existed, and who could expect the King of Egypt to abdicate on British foolscap! 

While Lampson was rehearsing the dethronement of Faruwq, things were happening in `Abdiyn Palace. The king had summoned all the former presidents of the Chamber of Deputies, including al-Nahhas, who sat impassive, savoring the moment as much as Lampson. Across the table was his old adversary, `Aliy Mahir,  In the study at `Abdiyn the king had enough prime ministers and party leaders to fill every cabinet post in the coalition which he saw as the solution to the crisis. 

He made a short speech, calling for unity and an end to personal differences to bring the country out of its hours of danger. He spoke firmly, even eloquently. 

"I am asking all of you to help form a coalition government. I think that if each of you will sacrifice something, the nation will gain much. I am hopeful that you will accept my advice. In these grave hours, we must forget self and remember only the country. When theBritish Ambassador was here, I told him that I had already decided to give al-Nahhas Pashathe post of Prime Minister." 

"When yesterday's consultations were ended, the British Ambassador met my chamberlain who informed him that al-Nahhas Pasha refused to form a coalition government, and he the Ambassador asked that I be informed that it was his desire that  al-NahhasPasha be given full freedom to select his own cabinet. My chamberlain communicated to him that the question was being considered by  al-Nahhas Pasha and the party leaders, and that they are in the midst of forming a new government. 

The king has faith in the patriotic sentiments of the leaders and feels that they will surmount all difficulties to his satisfaction. "I leave you now to discuss the matter freely, counting upon your patriotism to study the question and to refer the opinion of all to me. In this matter I wish you to know only one thing . . . that I am not afraid of anything, that I am ready to sacrifice everything in the interest of my country." 

It was mid-afternoon; over the Pyramids to the southwest the sun was slanting; the afternoon siesta had thinned out people and traffic in the streets; nothing seemed amiss. Except that, at Qasr al-Niyl barracks in the middle of Cairo, the password had gone to those troops who would oust the king. Farther down the Nile, the embassy staff sipped their tea, having set everything in motion. 

It was three hours from Lampson's deadline... 

(1) Lampson was convinced that unless he acted quickly the British situation in Egypt might be undermined and the Canal Base itself threatened. Lampson was not alone  suffering  misgivings about the security of the base. Oliver Lyttleton, sent out by Churchill several months earlier as Minister of State with ultimate responsibility for the country's defense, had interrupted his tour of Syria, another trouble spot, to fly back to the crisis in Cairo. Immediately he summoned the Defensee Committee, which included the service chiefs, General Sir Claude Auchinleck, Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham and Air Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder. Lampson, Stone and Sir Walter Smart joined them. To this group Lampson outlined the situation, making it clear they might have to force the king to bring back the Wafd by delivering an ultimatum. To this, the military chiefs dissented, and it fell to Lyttleton to resolve the dispute. In his memoirs, he wrote:

"The ambassador favored strong action. It was clear that words would be futile and that a show of force would be necessary if we were to get our way. The military demurred, but I asked that at least the necessary measures should be concerted so that if an ultimatum from us became necessary, we could enforce its terms. The abdication and removal of the king might be involved. They reluctantly consented to make a plan, but at the same time pointed out that we should probably have tumult in Cairo and a sit-down strike of all the civilian labor upon which we relied. I retorted that the disturbances which would follow the flouting of the popular party were likely to be much more severe because backed, and rightly, by the mass of the people."


It was mid-afternoon, three hours from Lampson's deadline. Over the Pyramids to the southwest the sun was slanting; the afternoon siesta had thinned out people and traffic in the streets; nothing seemed amiss. Except that, at Qasr a-Niyl barracks in the middle of Cairo, the password had gone to those troops who would oust the king. Farther down the Nile, the Embassy staff sipped their tea, having set everything in motion. 

Meanwhile at `Abdiyn palace the party leaders bowed as Faruwq left the chamber to return to his office. With the single exception of al-Nahhas Pasha, all agreed that there should be a coalition government. Shariyf SabriyPasha suggested that al-NahhasPasha select a neutral cabinet, and then suspend both houses of parliament and head the government as president. Again al-Nahhas Pasha refused. Isma`iyl Siddqiy proposed a resolution turning down the British ultimatum, but only if all present were to sign it. This put al-Nahhas Pasha directly on the spot, and he had to agree to be one of the signatories.(1)

Exactly at six o'clock, the phone rang on Lampson's desk. A court chamberlain, Isma`iyl Taymuwr Bey, informed the Ambassador that Hasanayn had just quit the palace with the King's reply to the ultimatum. In ten minutes the cabinet chief arrived, his long, sad face gray with anxiety. He read Lampson a communiqué speedily drafted and addressed directly to him . "In their opinion",ran the communiqué signed by seventeen Egyptian prominent political leaders. (2)

"The British ultimatum is a gross infringement of the 1936 treaty and of the country's independence. For these reasons, and acting on their advice, His Majesty cannot consent to an action resulting in an infringement of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty and of the country. In answer to a communication that you have made to our King, stating that he appoints a certain person selected by you to form the Egyptian cabinet, and in answer to the direct threat of force that accompanied this communication, I have the honor as President of the Chamber of Deputies, to inform you, as representative of the government, of my protest at this aggression against the independence of Egypt. It has violated the treaty of friendship existing between us and has placed the relations between our people in great danger. I regret this intervention into our internal affairs, one that has been committed at a time when Great Britain in war is defending the democracy and liberty of nations."

Lampson scanned the signatures: `Aliy Mahir, ‘Ahmad Mahir, the usual suspects.Lampson concealed his surprise as Hasanayn read the document over to him; he considered it a piece of cool cheek to accuse Britain of breaking the treaty. But the document had also shocked him, for he noted that among its signatories was the name al-Nahhas. The man he was backing, relying upon, seemed to have sided with the others. 

How had Faruwq won over al-Nahhas? Or was the Wafd leader convinced the Axis would triumph and unwilling to sacrifice himself and the party by siding with the British? It meant that he, Lampson, was staging a coup de palais which might inflame the masses and could have no point without the one man who could control the mobs. Lampsonwas livid, he  turned to Hasanayn and warned the chamberlain of the gravity of the situationandsaid in a blunt language. The king, he said, could expect him at `Abdiyn Palaceat nine sharp that night. He omitted to mention that he would come with an armed escort. 

Hasanayn tried to dissuade him, searching for a solution that would save face for all parties concerned. Lampson wasn't interested. Dismissing Hasanayn,  Lampson  called for Amiyn `Uthman, the Oxford-educated former minister of finance who played an important role for Lampson as intermediary between the British and the Wafd. Having signed the resolution. "Was I still safe in relying completely onal-Nahhasif I carried on?" Lampson asked the go-between. "Amiyn said he would bet his bottom dollar on al-Nahhas being firm, and that he could only suppose he had been lobbied into agreeing to the resolution."

Reassured of al-Nahhas' loyalty by `Uthman, Lampson put on one of his trademark double-breasted white suits, fastened his watch chain, read and approved Sir Walter Monckton's abdication instrument, and went down for his last supper as ambassador to King Faruwq. "It doesn't often come one's way to be pushing a Monarch off the Throne," he wrote, unable to conceal his excitement. 

Sir Miles Lampson sat in his office in the Embassy watching the clock. The letter of protest arrived, but he brushed it aside as not being a direct answer to his ultimatum. At the stroke of 9, he arose and told the army officer with him to give the signal.  General R.G.W.H. Stone, in command of British troops in Egypt, was called in to establish troops around `Abdiyn Palace

Stone and Lampson"would go down suitably accompanied" to order the king to abdicate. "It was clear that we should have to take the king away with us," Lampson wrote,"either with or without his abdication in my pocket."Then they would take him to a warship off Alexandria that would take Faruwq to his own Elbain theSeychelles. 

Across Garden city at Manyal Palace on Rawdah island , Prince Muhammad `Aliy was also packing his bags, preparing for his grand entrance into `Abdiyn later that night.

At the British Embassy, Officials for their part, betrayed no hint of crisis. Phlegm seemed to be the password. The Embassy  staff was told to behave normally, but to listen for the air-raid sirens which would warn them of the beginning of the operation.

Sir Duff Cooper (who was then British Minister of State in Singapore then being attacked by the Japanese on his way from the Far East to London) left his room at the embassy accompanied by his wife, to keep a dinner engagement with Alexander Kirk, the American Chargé d'Affaires. Only the fact that Oliver Lyttleton and his wife had arrived at the embassy from their villa near the Pyramids just before eight o'clock might have signified something. 

Before dinner, Lampson, General Stone and senior embassy staff with glum faces were hovering around a shortwave Radio listening to the BBC;The news about general Yamashita's Japanese forces were closing in on Singapour left the audience with a sour note and a bitter pill to swallow (3). Lampson and General Stone  having another crisis on their hands, withdrew to a private room to confer for a while. Their conclusion: the king had rejected the ultimatum and must go. Then, over the coffee and brandy, the Ambassador suddenly remarked to Lyttleton, "What do we do if the king agrees to our terms?" The ultimatum had expired, but could they push Faruwq off his throne for acceding to their demands only three hours after the deadline? Lyttleton felt uneasy about unseating the King on such a technicality. How would they justify it to the House of Commons let alone world opinion?Not only might it cause friction between Britain and Egypt; it could set the Arab world alight. As they rose, the statesman and the diplomat decided that if Faruwq climbed down they could not compel him to sign the abdication.

Just before nine o'clocka battalion of six hundred steel-helmeted British troops, armed with rifles and Stern guns, were taking up positions in `Abdiyn Square. Along with tanks and armored cars, surrounding the square around the Royal Palace.

Lampson and Stone arrived in Lampson's Rolls-Royce followed by a group of  hand-picked officers, all over six feet tall and heavily armed.  The ornamental palace gates had been locked. One of the officers shot the lock off with his revolver. "I could see by the startled expressions of the Court Chamberlains who received me at the entrance," Lampson wrote, "that this imposing arrival registered an immediate preliminary effect."Lampson delighted in the roar and rumble of the tanks taking position outside the palace, and in the anxiety among the palace staff the rumble caused. Lampson was kept waiting for five minutes in the king's antechamber. Lampson wasn't about to wait any longer. He and General Stone got up to force their way in. The chief chamberlain, Dhuwl   Fuqar Pasha, thought this was a terrible breach of his beloved protocol. Dhuwl Fuqa tried to block General Stone's path. Lampson shouldered the frail old man aside and pushed him to the floor. As both men reached the door, Hasanayn stepped forward. Seeing the general and the soldiers, he barred the Ambassador's path, shouting : 

"Not this way, Sir Miles . . . not with soldiers."

Lampson brushed him aside and strode into the King's study. 

Faruwq was seated at his desk (4) when the British ambassador strode in and confronted him. Behind the ambassador was General Stone, commander of British forces in Cairo, and just inside the room were the eight armed junior officers. Sir Miles Lampson, never lacking in the niceties of behavior, bowed low. "I have come for Your Majesty's answer," he said. 

The Ambassador was suffering from a painful sty in his right eye, which did nothing to soften his expression. "May I keep my chamberlain with me?" Faruwq asked, and Lampson nodded his assent. He dispensed with formalities, going straight to the point. The king had received the ultimatum to which he had replied, through Hasanayn, in terms which could only mean he did not accept it. 

"We did not reject the terms. We offered an alternative suggestion," the king shot back. Lampson waved this aside, furnished his prepared text and read it to Faruwq. The King, he said, had broken Article Five of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty by following the advice of politicians who were working against Britain and for the enemy. Furthermore, the King had acted irresponsibly in creating a crisis over the Vichy French question which was embraced by the letter of the treaty. Thirdly, he had flouted  western democratic ideals by refusing to appoint a government which would have British support  (5) and could therefore ensure that the treaty terms would be observed. By these actions the King had jeopardized the security of Egypt and was therefore unfit to rule, Sir Miles concluded . 

Lampson drew the abdication document from his pocket and threw it in front of the king, remarking that he had better sign it if be did not want further trouble. 

Faruwq picked up the abdication form and exclaimed: "Isn't it rather a dirty piece of paper?"(6)

The three men watched his eyes wander over the text, slowly, as though be wondered what to make of it. Monckton had worded the document thus:

We, KingFaruwqof Egypt, mindful as ever of the interests of our country, hereby renounce and abandon for ourselves and the heirs of our body the throne of the Kingdom of Egypt and of all sovereign rights, privileges and powers in and over the said Kingdom and the subjects thereof, and we release our said subjects from their allegiance to our person.

Given at our Palace of `Abdiyn this Fourth of February 1942.

Faruwq slowly picked up a pen from his desk and bent over the paper to sign away his throne.

Another few seconds and he would have ceased to be King of Egypt. But, as his hand moved so did Hasanayn  who quickly advanced toward the king, shouting forcefully  in Arabic "Mihlak `alaya ya Mawlaya,  haya diyh salq bayd!"(7) an expression which neither of the Britons understood.

Faruwq paused . . . 

(1) From "Mudhakarat" Memoirs of  Hafiz Ramadan Pasha, his account of the event:.


(3) Ironically in a twist of fate, while Sir Lampson was trying to dethrone a king in Egypt, In the Far East the British governor of Hong Kong was himself  being simultaneously  deposed and replaced by the Japanese General Rensuke Isogai previously Chief of Staff of the Japanese Kwatung.

(4)  Faruwq, upon hearing that the British tanks have  demolished the palace gates,  reached for a gun in the drawer in front of him and place it in his  lap out of sight planning to use it if and when the importunate moment came. Faruwq was determined not to concede without having put up a fight. Thereupon, Antonio Pulli  Bey stepped in and grappled with the king, wresting the revolver from his hand, and said, "I cannot let them kill you."

(5) A statement uttered by Lampson,  which for public consumption, later on was tuned down and subsequently altered to: popular support.

(6)From "Mudhakarat  (Memoirs) al-'ustadh Muhammad al-Tab`iy" quoting `Umar Fathiy Pasha who witnessed the confrontation with Sir Miles Lampson.


Egyptians students protesting against al-Nahhas  puppet government, while holding the King in contempt for having bought his throne at the price of an abject surrender. Henceforth, the more militant forces of the national movement are throwing in their lot with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Faruwq looked over the document, which was typed on old British Residency foolscap. Owing to a paper shortage in Cairo, there wasn't even any British embassy notepaper to write on.  Faruwq sighed "You might have given me a decent piece of paper" to Lampson and prepared to dip his pen in ink.  "After a tense pause," Lampson wrote, KingFaruwq with considerable emotion said that for his own honor and for the country's good he would summon al-Nahhas forthwith. That was quite a surprise to me and reluctantly I had to go along.

He wasn't going to sign after all. Had General Stone not been standing by, Lampson  might have forced the king to sign. As it was, he had to listen to Faruwq's proposal, which was to summon al-Nahhas at once, in Lampson's presence if necessary, and ask him to form a government. Lampson himself paused. His own moment of glory was slipping away, and he hated losing it. He looked at General Stone and realized he had to let the King stay on. 

The crisis had its element of farce. Minutes after Lampson had quit the palace, the troops still guarding the gate stopped a man who drove up and demanded admittance.  In vain he pleaded that he was al-Nahhas Pasha, that the king had sent for him to form a new government. To the British officer on the gate he looked more like a carpet peddler than a prime minister, so he was refused admittance. al-Nahhas had, therefore, to go to the British Embassy to receive a laisser-passer before he could answer the king's summons. Half an hour later, he was back, this time at Faruwq's behest, to discuss with Lampson and Lyttleton the best way out of the political crisis. 

Lampson and General Stone took their leave, past the court chamberlains, who Lampson described as "a crowd of scared hens," past the big British troops with their tommy guns and rifles at the ready, into the courtyard in view of the big British tanks, and into the big British Rolls-Royce that took them back to the big British embassy. Little did Lampson know that Faruwq's, even larger than the British, three Albanian bodyguards were hiding behind the curtains of his chamber, their own pistols drawn, to shoot Lampson and Stone if they moved to harm or abduct Faruwq and that the  palace guards, also armed, were hiding behind his so-called scared-hen chamberlains, ready to kill Lampson's men if the need arose.

For the rest of his days in Egypt, Lampson regretted not having kicked out the King then and there. Back in the embassy, Sir Walter Smart asked how the operation had gone. When Lampson explained, Smart muttered, "You've scotched the snake, but you haven't killed it."  The Ambassador could only concur; he did not see eye to eye with those who fancied Faruwq had learned his lesson. In his view, Faruwq's hatred would grow. 

Four days after the incident of `Abdiyn, reaction to the coup was muted. A polo match between the Royal Artillery and a team of Egyptian diplomats and Pashas was called off because the Egyptians didn't arrive. From that day, until the moment Lampson left for a holiday in South Africa toward the end of the war, Faruwq closed the palace gates to members of the British Embassy, except official callers.  The cut of the Knife had slit deep.


In the aftermath of the February 4th incident, Newspaper editors wrote vitriolic articles. Tempers boiled. There were casualties every day from mob violence. Schoolboys and university students organized themselves into secret societies whose declared purpose was to harry anyone in a foreign uniform. Enraged citzens roamed the streets of Cairo at night, looking for intoxicated British soldiers and sailors, who would be bashed over the head with clubs and left in the gutter. No attempt was made to rob them. That was not the purpose. 

The Egyptians were beginning to feel the centuries of humiliation bred into their core, the degradation to which their people had been subjected by one conqueror after another. For hundreds of years uncomplaining fallahiyn had taken the oppression stoically and lived to see the invader absorbed or eventually driven out. But now they were not about to accept such treatment with meekness and resignation


Surveys serving as good introduction to the struggle for the  independence of Egypt  and the problems of the war are outlined here below:

On the economic problems and development of Egypt before the Second World War, a standard work has been A. E. Crouchley, The Economic Development of Egypt (London 1938). A monographic study on the population problems of Egypt that is still useful is Wendell Cleland, The Population Problem in Egypt (Lancaster, Pa 1936).

 Another monograph is E.R.J. Owen,Cotton and the Egyptian Economy (Oxford 1969). Others find the Department of Overseas Trade publications, Reports on Economic and Commercial Conditions in Egypt, published by HMSO in the twenties, thirties and forties useful.

For the general phase of secular liberalism before the Second World War, in addition to the references in the notes, see Politics and Diplomacy in Egypt: The Diaries of Sir Miles Lampson, 1935–1937 edited by M E Yapp; Nadav Safran, Egypt in Search of Political Community (Cambridge, Mass. 1961); Henri Laoust, L'évolution politique et culturelle de l'Égypte contemporaine', Entretiens sur l'évolution de pays de civilization arabe (Paris 1937). Walter Z. Laqueur, Communism and Nationalism in the Middle East (New York 1956); and Ibrahim Ibrahim, The Egyptian Intellectuals Between Tradition and Modernity 1922-52, unpublished Oxford D.Phil. thesis 1967. The secular liberal movement in the inter-war period is the subject of Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid Marsot's Egypt's Liberal Experiment, 1922-1936 (Berkeley, Los Angeles and London 1977).An excellent account can also be found in Jacques Berque's Egypt; Imperialism and Revolution(Édition Gallimard 1967). One of the better-known accounts of quasi  independent Egypt before the Second World War is Amine Youssef , Independent Egypt (London 1940.) 

Biased as they may be many of these excerpts  can be also found in the detailed diaries of Sir Miles Lampson , Lord Killearn Diaries, which are held in their entirety at St, Antony's College , Oxford , and published in their abridged form as The Killearn Diaries 1934-1946 (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1972). Other British prespective on this period are Lawrence Grafftey-Smith's Bright Levant  (London: John Murray, 1970) . Lord William sholto Douglas' Years of Command ( London: Collins, 1966).  Artemis Cooper's Cairo in the War, 1939-1945 ( London: Hamish Hamilton ,1989) is a densely detailed account of the high tide and last gasp of Anglo dominion.

Many folders of the British Foreign Office files , particularly the famous Egypt File # 371, at the Public Record Office in Kew, contain much information on these events. From The Egyptian perspective written in Arabic is  Latifa Salim's Faruwq (Cairo: Madbuwliy, 1889). The most sympathetic to Faruwq  is Adel Sabit's A King Betrayed (London: Quartet, 1989) in his book relates the memoir of a member of the Cairo pasha elite. Muhammad Subayh's 'Ayam wa 'Ayam is from Misr al-Fatah perspective is also very informative about the nationalist movements of the period, (Dar al-Ta`awin, 1966).





Arthur Goldschmidt Jr., is Professor Emeritus of Middle East History at Pennsylvania State University. He is (with Lawrence Davidson) the author of A Concise History of the Middle East, Eighth Edition, and is the author as well of Modern Egypt: Foundation of a Nation-State, Second Edition. He is the recipient of the Amoco Foundation Award for Outstanding Teaching and the 2000 Middle East Studies Association Mentoring Award. Goldschmidt has been known during his years at Penn State for having created a series of courses that stimulated undergraduate interest in Middle Eastern history and culture. Educated at Colby College and Harvard University, Goldschmidt has held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the Fulbright Faculty Research fund, among others. He is author of numerous books and many articles and essays on Middle Eastern history. He was an elected faculty senator, chaired its committee on student affairs and served as secretary. He chaired the Middle East Studies committee for 25 years. He also was instrumental in helping to devise courses in non-western history and in developing the successor to those courses for the general education curriculum.

In addition, he is one of the most respected authorities on Egypt's Modern history.Prof. Goldschmidt is a frequent contributor on the Internet, including the prestigious and oldest forum: Egypt Net.

For meaningful and serious discussions about the History of Modern Egypt,  join Egypt Net group (The oldest  continuous Egyptian forum on the internet since 1985.) 



© Kamal Katba 2012


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