Egyptian and Israeli forces on Monday (22 October) were engaged in heavy fighting on both sides of the Suez Canal until the United Nations ceasefire took effect in the late afternoon.
Egyptian and Israeli forces on Monday (22 October) were engaged in heavy fighting on both sides of the Suez Canal until the United Nations ceasefire took effect in the late afternoon. The two combatants were apparently striving to gain the best positions by the time the deadline arrived. When both sides resumed hostilities, in violation of the ceasefire, on the following day, this appeared to be a continuation of Monday's clashes.
On Monday, Visnews cameraman Martin Fletcher joined an Israeli unit that was crossing to the West (Egyptian) Bank of the Suez Canal to take up a forward observation post. His film shows how they crossed the waterway on a pontoon bridge and ten advanced northwards for up to 20 miles (32 kms) inside Egyptian territory. In the distance, fierce tank and artillery battles were raging with the Israelis on the West Bank shelling Egyptian armour east of the Canal.
Fletcher's Personnel Carrier was the target of an air attack by a lone Egyptian Mig. The jet made two strafing passes but was hit by ground fire and was seen crashing and bursting into flames.
As the unit advanced towards the town of Ismailiya, which the Israelis were pounding with artillery fire, it passed by groups of Egyptian prisoners of war, left behind as their army retreated. One soldier, who had been hiding out for some days, surrendered to the unit. He had been seriously wounded in the stomach, but the Israelis were taking no chances and blindfolded him for the journey towards the helicopter which would take him to hospital.
Near Ismailiya, the unit met up with the forces of Major-General Ariel Sharon in an Egyptian village. Sharon, one of the most renowned Israeli war-heroes, was chatting to an Egyptian farmer who had not realised he was in Israeli-occupied territory. As a token of his goodwill, the farmer offered oranges all round.
SYNOPSIS: At the Suez Canal on Monday, with the United Nations ceasefire approaching, Israel and Egypt continued to battle for the best positions at the deadline hour. This Israeli unit was crossing onto the Egyptian West Ban of the waterway on a pontoon bridge.
The Israelis had been pouring forces over the Canal for several days and had amassed a strong tank concentration on the Egyptian side. This force shield the rear of the Egyptian armour that had penetrate into Sinai in the first days of the war.
Israeli soldiers joining the drive into Egypt could look back across the Canal and watch the Egyptian advance force suffer an artillery pounding as its supply lines were cut.
The armoured convoy turned north after reaching the west bank. It had orders to proceed twenty miles into Egypt to observe and correct artillery fire. Its protection and alarm-raiser was a helicopter hovering above. Visnews cameraman Martin Fletcher, who was with the unit, kept on filming as a MiG jet swooped on them.
The lone Egyptian fighter made two strafing passes, its bullet hitting all around, before it was drive off by return fire.
The firing from Fletcher's personnel carrier had been accurate. There was no sign of the pilot escaping when the jet blew up.
The column found mock-ups of missiles meant to deceive israeli planes into wasting their bombs. The real missiles had claimed many aircraft and ware the principal challenge to Israeli air superiority.
A large number of Egyptian prisoners were taken. These soldiers were non-combatant clerks. They had been abandoned by their officers, stunned at the speed of the Israeli advance.
Opposition increased approaching of the town of Ismailiya. The Egyptians had retreated to a stronghold and were fighting on grimly. The Israelis had turned their artillery on the town and were bombarding heavily. But for the ceasefire, observers said this would have been the biggest battle of the war.
Both the Israelis and the Egyptians had been channelling huge troops reinforcements into the Ismailiya area.
As the convoy moved up a road near Ismailiya, it was waved down by an Egyptian soldier in a dressing gown, standing at the roadside. He said he had been hiding out for some days and wanted to give himself up. He was badly wounded, with a bullet in his stomach. But the Israelis insisted on blind folding the prisoner as they drove home to a point where he would be flown by helicopter to a hospital. A medical corpsman said his wound gave him little chance of reaching hospital alive.
In a village nearby, the unit caught up with Major-General Sharon, one of the top Israeli commanders. Sharon was explaining to a puzzled farmer that the Israelis were in control of the area.