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The Suez Canal (Arabic: قناة السويس‎ Qanāt al-Suwais) is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Opened 17 November 1869, after 10 years of construction, it allows ships to travel between Europe and South Asia without navigating around Africa thereby reducing the sea voyage distance between Europe and India by about 7,000 kilometres (4,300 mi). The northern terminus is Port Said; the southern terminus is Port Tewfik at the city of Suez. Ismailia is on its west bank, 3 km (1.9 mi) from the half-way point. In 2012, 17,225 vessels traversed the canal (47 per day).

Suez Canal in The Hot War[]

In April 1951, during World War III, the Soviet Union smuggled an atomic bomb into the Suez Canal, which detonated and heavily damaged it, rendering it unusable. Britain's First Sea Lord, Lord Fraser, immediately called U.S. Secretary of Defense George Marshall to warn him to place the Panama Canal on alert, to no avail: the Panama Canal had already been hit.[1]

Suez Canal in The War That Came Early[]

After the Fall of Gibraltar early in the Second World War, the Suez Canal became crucial to Britain's efforts in North Africa.[2] Nonetheless, supplies and troops still had to sail around Africa, through the Canal and over to Alexandria.[3] While it appeared that, Walther Model's Afrika Korps was in the position to threaten the Canal by 1943,[4] the British were able to hold the line until the overthrow of Adolf Hitler the following year.


  1. Bombs Away, pgs. 291-294.
  2. Coup d'Etat, pg. 263.
  3. Two Fronts, pg. 16.
  4. Ibid., pg. 116.