This sea-level canal connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Gulf of Suez (Red Sea). When completed in the mid-19th century, it eliminated the need for ships to circumnavigate the continent of Africa. For sailors journeying from the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans, it was a dream come true.
Today marks the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Europe. As I think about the course of events during WWII, I wander east.
As Churchill pronounced, "The Mediterranean was," in many ways, "England's First Battlefield" ("Memorandum on Sea-Power, 1939"*). Not surprisingly, defense of the Suez was a focal point of Britain's Mediterranean strategy. The struggle to control the water and the the struggle to hold Egypt were interlocked. Arabian oil was needed by all for the operation of a mechanized army; the Suez provided the means to that end. One can only muse over the course of the events of that war had Hitler been successful in the siege of Malta and the Battle of Alamein. The industrial resources that the Axis desperately needed would have been at their fingertips. D-Day, as we know it, may not have been possible.
The width of the Suez "channel" and the English Channel are not comparable in size. But they are strategically related.
I shot this view to the Suez in the spring of 1996.
*See L. R. Pratt's East of Malta, West of Suez (Cambridge, 1975): 174.