Slide 2 of 23
1st TSG (A) has only recently discovered THE most significant military use of carts was the Egyptian Army's assault across the Suz Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur war! These carts enabled the world's first massed use of Anti-Tank Guided Missiles or Weapons and shoulder-fired MANPADS to create a "surveillance-strike system" to deter Israeli tanks & fighter-bombers.
"At the same time MI-8 Helicopters transported Egyptian Al Saaqa commandos behind Israeli lines to disturb the movement of reinforcement to the canal. In the first wave were 720 assault boats carrying 4,000 men, the gradiant of the sand rampart was difficult for Soldiers to climb with just their personal weapons and kits, so heavier weapons such as ATGW and AA missiles were carried in 4-wheel carts that were designed specifically for Operation BADR. Thousands of scooter wheels were purchased from Vespa and Lambretta of Italy and 2,240 carts went to war carrying 336 tons of "Sagger" ATGW and Strela shoulder -launched, anti-aircraft missiles deep into the Sinai to counter the Israeli Air Force and Armoured Corps. Tests demonstrated that the carts could be dragged up the sand berms relatively easily. The assault troops can be seen paddling across the canal to the rhythmic chant of "Allahu-Akbar" (God is Great). They are equipped with a mixtuue of 7.62mm AKM assaut rifles and the Egyptian-manufactured 9mm Port Said submachine gun."
--Simon Dunstan, The Yom Kippur War 1973 (2): The Sinai, Illustrated by Kevin Lyles, page 44, Osprey Publishing, London, England
An excellent web site for an Egyptian-biased view of the Yom Kippur War:
Focus on Egypt: The October War Homepage
By: Sameh Arab
--with the cooperation of Members of Focus on Egypt
I wish to thank all members of Focus on Egypt who have contributed to this page either by providing historical information, photographs, or just emotional support. Special thanks are extended to (in alphabetical order):
Mr. Emad Hamdy, Member of "Focus on Egypt" for his help with the supply of the necessary references.
Mr. Mohammad El-Sharkawy, One of the Moderators of "Focus on Egypt" for constructing this page.
Let us all pray that this will be the last war, with no more blood shed, either Egyptian or Israeli.
Table of Contents
Note From the Author
Why Was the War?
Military Challenges Egypt Had to Face
How the Egyptian Army Overcame These Obstacles
The Progress of the War
Egypt Facing the U.S. Army
The Status of Both Troops on 22-24 October
The Status of Both Troops on 28 October
The Final Agreement at Aswan
Declarations by the Israelis Themselves
Measures Taken by the U.S. in Support of Israel
THE HALL OF HONOR
Sign my Guestbook.
Note From the Author
With the elapse of more than a quarter of a century, the newer generations that did not witness the October War of 1973 are not much aware of its happenings. Israel, in an attempt to fake history, as usual, has made so many claims that this round of struggle with Egypt has ended in its favor. They try to brain wash the world and the new generations with their continuous lies to deprive Egypt and the Egyptian army the glory that they achieved. These brief notes are meant to expose their lies, and to show the truth to our children. If not for the USA rushing to aid Israel, Israel could have faced a humiliating defeat beyond any expectation. This was obvious from the initial days of the war, until the US came to their aid. After which, the Israeli army was able to score few points, that could not be considered but a face-saver. Now, as the wars have ended, and peace has prevailed, we have a duty towards our children and grandchildren. They have to remember how Egypt regained her occupied lands in Sinai, and how she forced Israel to accept peace. This could not have been achieved except by the sacrifice of many soldiers, known and unknown, who gave their lives to liberate our land, and allow these years of peace we are living in. I thought of writing these notes for my children, and would appreciate if all Egyptians would pass them on to theirs. I can not claim that I am a military or political expert, but just an ordinary Egyptian among the millions, who is so proud of that day October 6th, 1973.
On 6 October 1973, came the moment the whole Arab nation was awaiting. The moment of revenge. Egypt was living one of the brightest and most glorious days in its recent history. At 2:00 p.m., the gates of hell were suddenly opened. An airforce strike, followed by heavy artillery attacked the Israeli troops in the depth of Sinai and on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal. In five minutes, 1000 inflatable boats (zodiac), each carrying eight fighters formed the first of 12 waves of gallant warriors crossing the canal. On the western bank, a flood of other soldiers of infantry and vehicles were waiting for their turn. Behind all those, stood an army of one million warriors, all anxious and thirsty for victory. In almost two hours, the success of crossing the canal was confirmed. In less than six hours, 33000 Egyptian soldiers were fighting on the east bank of the canal. Before midnight, five regimens of infantry and tanks (80,000 soldiers) were residing on the eastern bank of the canal, and by the next morning, 18 hours after the attack, Egypt had 100,000 soldiers in Sinai. The fate of the war was decided. The nightmare of six years of occupation came to an end, and the moment of liberation of Sinai was approaching. >>
Why Was the War?
Since 5 June 1967, Israel had occupied the Sinai Peninsula following the so-called Six Day War. Though everybody knows that the Egyptian army had not fought that war, and that the defeat was merely due to political incompetence at that time, stories were told of the undefeatable Israeli soldier and the long arm of the Israeli air forces; capable of reaching anywhere in Arab lands, and the phony legend of their Intelligence, the Musad. Egypt was supposed to kneel down and accept the occupation of its lands. No one ever listened to the voice of justice, and negotiations failed to stir the Israeli arrogance. The land had to be restored. As peaceful negotiations were of a low voice, this had to be done through force, sweat, and blood. What had been taken by force, could never be restored except by force. The holy land of Sinai was calling, and the Egyptians loudly replied. The whole world was surprised, as no one had ever believed the Egyptians could re-assemble their lines in only six years. In alliance with Syria, the preparations of the war were very well camouflaged. All intelligence agencies failed to speculate accurately on the timing. A day was chosen, Saturday 6th of October 1973. It coincided with the holy month of Ramadan, when no one would ever expect the Egyptians to fight while fasting. It also coincided with a religious Jewish feast, the Yum Kippur. The war was thus named in Egypt The October War and The Ramadan War." Israelis call it The Yum Kippur War. Sadat, the Egyptian president who took responsibility for the liberation of the land preferred to call it The Six Hour War. In only six hours after it started, Israel had suffered the fiercest defeat in its history. A bright and glorious page of Egyptian history was written on the sands of Sinai. The aim of the war was primarily to open the eyes of the world to the justice of our case. The other objective was to destroy the Israeli war machine and challenge their theory of secure borders. They would never be allowed to hide in the deserts of Sinai, and behind the Suez Canal. The legends they had built of their superiority had to come to an end. On 5 October 1973, President Sadat gave the strategic order to General Ahmad Ismail Aly, Minister of Defense and General Commander of the army. For top security, it was hand written and not typed. The order included four points:
* Eliminating the military stagnancy through breakage of cease-fire, starting 6 October 1973.
* Inflict the maximum possible casualties to the enemy in personnel, arms and equipment.
* Liberation of the occupied land in stages, according to the capabilities of the armed forces.
* These mission to be achieved by the Egyptian armed forces alone, or in conjunction with the Syrian forces.
The original plan of the war was to cross the canal and conquer the Barlev line as a first stage. This was to be followed by reaching as far eastwards as the mountain straits (Metla and EL-Gadiy), after or without a strategic remobilization standstill.
Military Challenges Egypt Had to Face
The Israeli army was very well fortified behind some defense lines. These included: 1. The Suez Canal:
The Suez Canal was considered The most difficult water barrier ever known in history. Before the war, General Moshe Dayan, Israeli Minister of Defense, stated: For the Egyptians to cross the canal, they need the American Engineering Corps and the Soviet Engineering Corps both together to help them. Crossing such a barrier was the impossible for certain reasons: >>
The length of the canal front was 175 Km, stretching from Port-Said north to Suez south. The width of the canal ranged between 180 200 meters, with a depth of 14 18 meters. Some parts were swamps, rendering it impossible to move in. The eastern edge of the canal bank was steeping at an angle of about 60 degrees. This made it impossible for any amphibian tank to ascend. The water currents and tide in the canal was changing every 6 hours, unpredictably.
The Israelis had placed napalm tanks (internationally abandoned weapons) on the east of the canal. Napalm was to be pushed through pipelines to drain into the canal and turn its water surface into fire, at a temperature of 700 degrees Celsius.
<< On the night before the war (5 October), in a cabinet meeting at Golda Meirs house (Israel prime minister), General Barlev (former Defense Minister) stated that crossing the canal was impossible, as those napalm tanks were capable of turning the canal into fire within few minutes. General David Eli-Azer (Chief of Staff) agreed to this. Ironically, at the very same moment, the Egyptian commandos were already cutting these pipelines. >>
2. The Sand Block:
<< Just at the eastern edge of the canal, Israel had built a huge sand block, reaching 20 25 meters high. The block was inclining to the east at 45 65 degrees, almost aligned with the canal edge, and leaving no shoulder between the water level and land. It was very difficult for infantry to climb at such inclination, with the softness of sand giving way beneath their feet. >>
<< One year before the war, the Chief Soviet Counselor (all Soviets were expelled from Egypt a year before the war) stated: You need a nuclear bomb to open a gap in this sand block. >>
3. Barlev Line:
A series of fortresses were built behind the sand block. Each fort was 4000 meters square, and formed of several stories. Those were built of concrete and armored by railway tracks. Each story had a ceiling about 2 meters thick. Between those forts lied tank benches, only 100 400 meters apart. The tanks were to ascend to the top of the bench reaching the height of the sand block. When they start shooting, only their tower would appear.
Barbed wires and mine fields surrounded all those structures. General Barlev, former Israeli Defense Minister who has built the line described it as more powerful than the French Magino line of 1944, and that It requires an atomic bomb to destroy.
4. Further defense lines:
<< Secondary lines of defense lied 300 500 meters and 3- 5 Km behind Barlev Line. The Second Line of defense was at the Natural Mountain Straits (Metla and El-Gadiy paths). >>
How the Egyptian Army Overcame These Obstacles
The scenario of the war was planned in absolute secrecy, surprising the enemy. The troops were mobilized silently, and the crossing equipment were highly camouflaged. Many officers were even given leaves for Omra (visit to the Holy Lands at Mecca in Saudi Arabia). Soldiers were instructed to appear before d-day to the enemy as being lazy and with complete lack of discipline (Lazy Groups were formed), which was totally far from truth.
Egypt allied with Syria to attack simultaneously at the Golan Heights. Israel had to fight at two fronts, with their lines stretching more than 400 Km. Four days before the war, the Egyptian Navy occupied the entrance to the Red Sea at Bab El-Mandab Sea Strait. Israel was then deprived its strategic harbor of Eilat, which became practically ineffective.
Commando forces (The Sparks) were dropped in Sinai one day before the attack. They were able to cut all napalm pipelines draining into the canal. The commandos captured the Israeli officer who came to fix them on the morning of 6 October. Moreover, they caused many hassles to the Israelis at their back lines and cross roads.
Egyptian and Syrian Air Forces struck suddenly and simultaneously Israeli airports and troop gatherings in Sinai and Golan. A heavy artillery shelling followed the air force stroke. Beside their specific mission, this heavy shelling - together with the aircraft in the air forced all Israeli soldiers to hide in their shelters, and tanks failed to ascend to their benches.
Air Defense formed a very tight network covering the entire front. Israeli air force was thus crippled and unable to reach the canal line. Infantry and Commandos crossed the canal by inflatable rowing boats (zodiac), each carrying 8 fighters, under cover of artillery and air force. They climbed the sand block using 1500 rope ladders, and used carts to carry their weapons. Beside personal weapons, they were only armed by hand-held anti-tank missiles. That was the first time in history for an infantry to be lonely facing a tank. The Commandos occupied the tank benches, depriving the Israeli tanks from their shooting points, and implanted anti-tank land mines.
Engineer Corps used water cannons to sweep away the sand and open gaps in the sand block for bridgeheads to allow tanks and heavy equipment to follow. Destruction of the headquarter bases at the back lines and depth of Sinai had caused too much bewilderment and chaos among the Israeli troops. The final and most crucial weapon was the Egyptian soldier himself. His faith and belief in the justice of his case, and his eagerness to restore his esteem and liberate his land were the major driving forces.
The Progress of the War
2 October: Four days before d-day:
Naval destroyers and submarines started their silent voyage to the south of the Red Sea at Bab el-Mandab Sea Strait. Egyptian Navy exercised its legal rights to inspect any ship voyaging in the Red Sea, and preclude the passage of any supplies to the Israeli harbor at Eilat. The strategic naval route to Israel was thus blocked.
5 October: One day before d-day:
Egyptian commandos (The sparks) sneaked their way into Sinai behind the Israeli back lines. They had another mission, which was to cut the napalm lines, designed to turn the canal into fire. Both Navy and Commandos were adopting complete radio-silence. The wheel of war has turned, and nothing could have ever stopped it.
The airforce strikes started. 200 fighters and bombers took off from 20 airfields all over Egypt at very low altitude. They were so coordinated to reach their targets at the same moment, where they bombed the Israeli air bases and troop gatherings in the depth of Sinai (3 airfields, 10 anti-aircraft missile bases, 3 headquarter bases, radio stations and long range artillery). The squadrons returned back in 20 minutes, after achieving 90% of their goal. Casualties included only 5 aircraft, against all previous predictions.
2000 canons started shelling the Barlev line and the back lines to a depth of 1 1/2 Km. Shelling lasted 35 minutes and involved 3000 tons, with an average of 175 cannon balls each second.
Start of infantry and commandos crossing in inflatable boats. They climbed the sand block using rope ladders, and pulling their equipment on carts. The infantry were armed only by their personal weapons and the hand-held anti-tank missiles. The Egyptian infantry was facing 3 Israeli tank brigades almost empty handed, and were able to destroy 100 tanks in 6 8 hours.
Amphibian tank brigades started crossing the canal through the Bitter Lakes (Third Army) and Temsah Lake (Second Army).
Paratroopers were dropped in the depth behind the enemy lines.
The first Egyptian flag was raised on the eastern bank of the canal.
Israeli air force arrived to join the battle, but forced back by the Egyptian air defense. A radio signal was later spotted at 5.00 p.m. from Major General Benjamin Peled (Commander of Israeli Air Defense) warning his pilots from approaching the canal at least 15 Km east. Israels so-called Long Arm was thus cut.
Engineer corps started crossing the canal, in order to open gaps in the sand block using 350 water cannons. They were able to open 30 passages, each sweeping 1500 cubic meters of sand. Engineer Corps also started mantling the crossing bridges.
The first gap was opened in the sand block. The route to Sinai was opened widely for tanks.
The first tank crossed over the first mantled bridge.
Israel has already lost 25 aircraft, according to General David Eli-Azers (Israeli Chief of Staff) announcement.
Engineer Corps had succeeded in opening 60 gaps in the sand block. They succeeded in mantling 8 heavy bridges (70 tons - for tanks) and 4 light ones (25 tons - for infantry and wagons). More than 90,000 cubic meters of sand were swept by water cannons. Moreover, 31 ferries were moving to and fro between both banks of the canal. Later, the number of bridges has reached 10 heavy and 10 light ones.
Egyptian troops on the eastern bank on 6 October:
First wave: 8,000 men in only few minutes.
3:00 p.m.: 21,500 men.
4:30 p.m.: 23,500 men.
5:30 p.m.: 33,000 men (45 battalions), reaching as far as 3- 4 Km east of the canal.
80,000 men (five full divisions) of infantry and 300 tanks were on the east bank. Most of Barlev line forts were besieged, and half of those were plunged into.