This film is held by the Imperial War Museum (ID: COI 582).


Egyptian film of the Suez Incident.

Port Said - tourists, government building programme, increased prosperity following upon Suez Canal nationalisation. Egyptian pilots, working for the nation rather than a "handful of foreign investors", replace the foreign pilots withdrawn by Britain and France in order to obstruct operations and provide an excuse for intervention. Eden and Mollet then begin a "sinister imperialistic conspiracy" with an attack by their cat's paw, Israel, providing a pretext for intervention. Bombing of Ismailiya workshops, Canal bridges and shipping - the interventionists destroy what they claim to protect, threatening world shipping interests and preventing the flow of oil, "industry's life blood", to the West. Residential areas indiscriminately bombed to destroy Egyptian morale, "...but the two war criminals soon realised that their dreams could never come true unless they succeeded in annihilating the twenty-three million people living in this part of Africa." Anglo-French command cuts Port Said water supply. Hospitals "swarming" with civilian victims. But Port Said's heroic resistance dealt "a death blow to barbarism". Egyptian government supports refugees. All Egypt joins in Nasser's prayer for strength and divine aid against the aggressors.


Film: the British answer to this film was a film called THE FACTS ABOUT PORT SAID, held as COI 406, a short-term refutation of the bombing claim, and a second film SUEZ IN PERSPECTIVE held as COI 340.

Remarks: visually uninteresting - no action footage. No mention of the Egyptian defeat in Sinai.



The Anglo-French Aggression Against Egypt was made by an Egyptian film companyduring the Suez Crisis of 1956. Egyptian propaganda about the Crisis prompted the British government to respond with three films of their own, The Facts about Port Said, Report from Port Said and Suez in Perspective, all released before the end of 1956.

There were many elements in the build-up to the Suez Crisis. Although Egypt had gained independence from Britain in 1922, the British still maintained a large military presence in the Suez area and, along with France, a concession to operate the Suez Canal. These factors, combined with Britain’s role in the formation of the state of Israel in 1948 and continued colonial interests in the Middle East, led to renewed anti-British hostility beginning in the late 1940s (Balfour-Paul, 2001, 508-09). In 1954 President Neguib of Egypt secured an agreement with Britain to withdraw her troops from Suez, and in July 1956 Neguib’s successor, President Gamal Abdul Nasser, nationalised the canal.

Nasser was viewed as a destabilising force in the region. His ties with communist countries led to the cancellation of British and American funding for Egypt’s Aswan Dam, which in turn was the prompt for Nasser’s nationalisation of the Canal (Balfour-Paul, 2001, 509-10). It has been argued that the fragility of his initial rule led him to campaign against British influence in the Middle East, thus bolstering his power in the region (Barnett, 1992, 82-83). In turn, the British launched a propaganda campaign against Nasser, portraying him as a fanatic dictator and a Soviet ‘stooge’ (Shaw, 1996, 12). The international community debated how to respond to the nationalisation of the Canal. While Britain, France and Israel contemplated co-ordinated action, the United States, now the most important outside power in the region, would not support the use of force (Hulbert, 2002, 263).

Secretly supported by Britain and France, Israel launched an attack on Egypt on 29 October 1956. Two days later, Britain and France ‘intervened’, planning to use the Egypt-Israel conflict as justification for their renewed control of the Suez Canal. Nasser responded by blocking the canal with sunken ships, and it was to remain closed until early 1957 (Hulbert, 2002, 269). One of the most controversial aspects of the Anglo-French campaign was the attack upon the city of Port Said. This ‘peacekeeping’ mission resulted in an estimated 1,000 Egyptian casualties, while in response 23 British and French military personnel were killed (Kyle, 2003, 502-03). In addition, around 900 Egyptians required hospital treatment, in comparison to the 121 injured members of the Anglo-French forces (Kyle, 2003, 503, 641). Although the city was not widely damaged, a block of houses was destroyed by air strikes, the shantytown was burnt down, and the Navy House was blown up (Kyle, 2003, 503).

Tony Shaw claims that Nasser was ‘deeply conscious of the power of propaganda’ and was also ‘one of its most skilful exponents’ (Shaw, 1996, 4). This film represents part of the publicising of the attack upon Port Said. Egyptian propaganda, taking the form of ‘articles, films, photographs and specially commissioned magazines’, was distributed widely, with a particular concentration upon the United States (Shaw, 1996, 179). Most damaging was an article by the Swedish journalist, Olof Perelew Andressen, in which he claimed that British and French troops had killed between 7,000 and 12,000 civilians in Port Said; it is reported that the British government were ‘seriously worried’ by this campaign (Kyle, 2003, 641). In comparison it has been difficult to find surviving evidence about the impact of this film, or to trace information about its credited makers, ‘Egypt Today’. Nevertheless, clear structural echoes of The Anglo-French Aggression in Egypt can be seen in Suez in Perspective (1957), indicating that the Egyptian film bore some influence on Britain’s own propaganda campaign. 

The Anglo-French operation drew criticism from all quarters. The United Nations convened for an ‘emergency special session’ between 1 and 10 November 1956, which established the first United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) and called for an immediate ceasefire (United Nations, 1-10 November 1956). The British agreed to these terms, and announced a ceasefire on 6 November 1956, while troops were still on operational manoeuvres in Port Said. In December 1956 British and French troops were withdrawn from the city and replaced by Danish and Colombian units of the UNEF.



The Anglo-Aggression Against Egypt was compiled and distributed quickly. It appears to have been made in the period between the Anglo-French advance on Port Said, which began on 5 November 1956, and the British government’s decision to make an ‘answer’ film, addressing Egyptian propaganda about the crisis, which was announced 16 December 1956 (Hulbert, 2002, 275). Despite the speed with which it was made, it is a cleverly constructed film. It aims to influence international opinion about the actions of the British and the French; its most immediately notable feature being its English-language script spoken in an English accent.

The film begins with images of a harmonious international and multi-faith community enjoying the ‘charm’ of Port Said, a city that is taking ‘long strides ahead’. These scenes serve two purposes. First, to underline what the British and French have destroyed (the film goes on to show extended scenes of the damage wrought upon Port Said). Secondly, to counter British propaganda about the despotism of Nasser. A notable aspect of the film is the absence of Egypt’s supposedly autocratic leader: he is only mentioned at its conclusion, when the commentator quotes one of his speeches. Instead the film’s stress is upon the Egyptian people as a whole. It talks of their ‘independence’ and their ‘unshakable determination’. It claims that that the ‘dreams’ of Britain and France could ‘never come true unless they succeeded in annihilating the 23 million people living in this part of Africa’. The Egyptian people are also shown to be co-operative: the images of Port Said are followed by images of the effectively working, nationalised Suez Canal. Scenes that again stress collaborative independence, and which prefigure what will later be destroyed.

In contrast, the leaders of Britain and France are described as ‘imperialistic’ and ‘treacherous’; they are ‘war criminals’, men who destroy what they claim to protect. Moreover, despite the fact that it would be 1967 before a British politician admitted to collusion between Britain, France and Israel (Beck, 2009, 608), this film makes direct claims about the machinations of the three countries. It refers to their ‘secret arrangements’ and the ‘sinister imperialistic conspiracy’.

The film does not include any footage of the Israeli advance. Instead, it relies on stock images of explosions and cannon fire to convey the attack, while the soundtrack features overdubbed explosions and the commentator talks of bombs ‘dropped indiscriminately’. The film distorts information. It claims that it was the British and French who sank boats in the Canal, and by showing extended, multiple images of the ‘Anglo-French horrors’ in Port Said, it makes it look like a city in ruins. The Anglo-French advance is also not shown. However, the film makes up for this with talk of ‘civilian victims machine-gunned in the streets by the ruthless aggressors’. Despite its deliberate emphases, the footage of the destruction of Port Said and the city’s casualties does appear to be genuine.

The film’s most interesting sleight of hand is to portray the Anglo-French advance as a ‘live’ situation. It concludes with images of refugees from Port Said, overlaid with Nasser’s message that ‘the ordeal through which the world is passing at presentis the responsibility of the aggressors who invaded Egypt. […] We will never give in’. And yet the film must have been made with some knowledge of the British ceasefire, which came on the day following the initial advance. The film does not mention the end of Anglo-French hostilities – doing so would have weakened the stress laid upon their ‘aggression’ – nor does it mention the intervention of the United Nations, which would have similarly affected the portrayal of Egyptian independence.

Richard Osborne (May 2010)


Works Cited

Balfour-Paul, Glen, ‘Britain’s Informal Empire in the Middle East’, in The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV: The Twentieth Century, ed. by Judith M. Brown and Wm. Roger Louis (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Barnett, Michael N., Confronting the Costs of War: Military Power, State, and Society in Egypt and Israel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).

Beck, Peter J., ‘“The Less Said about Suez the Better”: British Governments and the Politics of Suez’s History, 1957-67’, English Historical Review, 508 (2009), 605-40.

Hulbert, Jeff, ‘Right-Wing Propaganda or Reporting History?: The Newsreels and the Suez Crisis of 1956’, Film History, 14, 3/4 (2002), 261-281.

Kyle, Keith, Suez: Britain’s End of Empire in the Middle East (London: I. B. Tauris, 2003).

Shaw, Tony, Eden, Suez and the Mass Media: Propaganda and Persuasion during the Suez Crisis (London: I. B. Tauris, 1996).

United Nations, ‘Resolutions Adopted by the General Assembly During its First Emergency Special Session from 1 to 10 November 1956,




Technical Data

Running Time:
11 minutes
Film Gauge (Format):
1085 ft

Production Credits

Production Countries: