Major | Infantry

The first Europeans to intervene in the Mau Mau Rebellion were the officers and men of the 1st Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers when they shipped to western Africa on October 19, 1952.  It was an uncomfortable journey by air, but after a few days hopping between stops and many long months in the desert, they were overwhelmed by their first interactions with the country of Kenya.  Their meals were wonderful and without shortage of fresh pineapple, coffee, tea, and other offerings from the fertile land.  A variety of trees dispersed along intermittent hills and plains offered a refreshing feeling in comparison to the unfaltering, flat, and dusty expanse the regiment had just recently departed.  Beyond this beauty, however, lurked the impending threat of the Mau Mau.

The change in duty was a welcome one after previous months on the H.M.S. Euryalus during the hottest months of the year.  With a detachment of a reinforced platoon from A Company, Major Shaw spent two months on board the Euryalus in the Persian Gulf during the beginning of the Abadan Crisis.  While in the featureless Western Desert, living was most uncomfortable - either far too hot in the summer months, cold in the winter, and always dry, leaving the Fusiliers parched and coated with a fine film of sand.  The regiment was held at a state of constant readiness after the Egyptians abrogated their treaty with Great Britain and unfortunately the Egyptian authorities had done little to quell the people's increasing displeasure with the British presence in the region and escalating tempers were becoming violent.  The 1936 treaty between the two countries had allowed the British to maintain troops along the Suez Canal area, permitting they train and supply the Egyptian Army.  At the close of the Second World War, the Egyptians began to seek total independence, and six years later took action to try to permanently dispel British control.

At the Lancashire Fusilier's 1st Battalion camp in Moascar, Major Shaw’s A Company received an alert to mobilize for security duty in nearby Ismailia the next day, October 16, 1951.  The officers and men had initially thought they would be moving to Korea to support the effort in the Far East, but instead had remained in the Canal Zone responding to emergencies such as this and the Abadan crisis during July.  The monotony of garrison duty suddenly cut into a frenzied rush to draw ammunition and board lorries to speed off into the city, leaving a cloud behind them that settled as a new layer of dust over the tent city.

It was the kind of event that Terry Shaw kept his company well prepared for.  He was a man of the old army, a pre-war regular, and whether working with professional soldiers or national servicemen he enforced the values of a well-trained unit.  The battle plan – or riot plan – left the Major focused on rescuing the families of servicemembers surrounded by rioters in the local Navy, Army and Air Force Institute building and Shaw made quick work of dispelling the hostile crowds from the British residential areas and freeing those trapped behind their barricade of furniture in the NAAFI.

With the turmoil of the Middle East behind them, the Lancs settled into their lush new Kenyan dwellings.  Perhaps the most well prepared due to their actions in the past year, A Company was willing and eager to take on a new adversary in a strange land.




The Lancashire Fusiliers Website

Shaw, T P. H.M.S. Euryalus and the Fusiliers. Edited by I R Cartwright, T. P. Shaw, MBE, 1985.

Captain Tuke (left) and Major Shaw (right) in Ismailia after the attack on the NAAFI, 18 October 1951, to prevent rioters from Arab Town from entering the town centre.