My name is Donald Gibson. I joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1951. Stationed at several places, but Rockcliffe RCAF Station, Ottawa was my home base for quite a few years. Then the Suez Canal crisis broke out in October of 1956. Britain, France and Israel attack Egypt. Now Canada’s Lester B. Pearson suggested that a peacekeeping force made up of non-Security Council members of the United Nations be formed. And this was accepted. And the United Nations Emergency Force came into effect shortly after. And Mr. Pearson later became our Prime Minister and a year after this force was formed, he was the first Canadian to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
The first Commander, Canada’s contribution, was General E. Allen Burns. He had a firsthand grasp of the situation. A very fine leader. There were ten nations represented in this group. The First United Emergency Force. And they were made up of non-Security members: Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Colombia, Finland, India, Indonesia and Yugoslavia. Our base was halfway between City of Gaza and the Suez Canal. Very close to the Mediterranean Sea.
I was with 115 Air Transport Unit. So my task was aero-engine technician, working on two types of aircraft, single engine Otter aircraft. Also twin engine DC-3s. Both famous aircraft. These aircraft were flying pretty well every day except when they were in… under inspection. Most inspections take several days, so our task was keep the aircraft serviceable. And in the last six months, I made a lot of trips all over the Sinai, over to Cairo, back. Up into Lebanon and we would be carrying troops, food and equipment. We did medevac out of Sharm ash Shaykh, for instance, at the very far end of the Sinai. This is a desperately hot part of the Sinai and many personnel suffered from the heat and exhaustion.
Today, I’ll mention this that the wives and families at home deserve our recognition and thanks during separation of one year or more. Many were separated for long periods of time and during this period, my own little daughter was born in Ottawa while I was stationed on the Gaza Strip. And so that’s one of the hard things. But the conditions were peaceful. People were friendly. I had no fear. The United Nations personnel, I believe, were excellent diplomats and the people responded.