Commander 38 (Irish) Brigade frowns on Cairo Rioters.

Event
Sunday, 13 August, 1944
The Drums and Pipes of 38 (Irish) Brigade playing on the grounds of the Sporting Club at Alexandria, 21 August 1944.

Following the actions at San Fatucchio in late June 1944, the 78th Battleaxe Division, including 38 (Irish) Brigade, was withdrawn from Italy to Egypt via Rome for rest, reinforcement and training. Leave in Egypt included trips and off-duty time in the city of Cairo.

Unfortunately, many soldiers fell prey to outright robbery, pickpockets and rogue traders who overcharged for their goods and services. The soldiers resented what they perceived to be a disrespectful and insulting attitude from such traders during their dealings. The act that appears to have provoked what came to be called the 'Cairo Riot,' was allegedly a shoeshine deliberately splashing black polish on a soldier's uniform. There followed a well organized and coordinated assault on commercial property and its persons for several hours from 2000 hours on 12 August; the unfortunate shoeshines were a particular target.

News reached the Commander 38 (Irish) Brigade, Brigadier T P D Scott, on 13 August at his Brigade Headquarters in Sidi Bishr. The Brigade Diary entry reads:

'Brigade Commander and all COs ordered to Cairo for conference at Divisional HQ.
Apparently some members of the division rioted in Cairo, having at
last become outraged by the robbing and tricking and exorbitant prices
of that very overated
[sic] city. The affair was smoothed over with a
caution.'

Later, Brigadier Pat Scott wrote, '..like an Irish affray there was no evidence against anybody'. Although some thirty members of the Brigade were amongst some one hundred arrested and locked up by the Military Police, no charges were raised and all were released back to their units. Others who were more involved escaped any form of arrest and many of those arrested were 'the more respectable members of society'. Brigadier Scott also describes how he 'received the congratulations of three Admirals and an Air Marshal on the inconspicuous but effective part which some soldiers wearing hackles had taken in this business. They considered such treatment was long overdue. Of course they didn't consider the needs of military discipline which must frown on organized disorder.'