Bored by the tedium of their Suez Canal posting in Fayid, three soldiers, all from Hackney, east London, yearned for a bit of fun. They decided that even the wrath of the military that was bound to follow their escapade couldn’t be much worse than the sheer tedium of camp life in Fayid.

So, on Friday, April 7th, 1950, Gunners John Golby, 29, and Robert Smith, 23, of the Royal Artillery, and Driver Edward Hensman, 22, of the Royal Army Service Corps, “borrowed” an army jeep and set out for Cairo, some 70 miles away across the desert.

They and the jeep were soon missed, and the military police were alerted. This turned into a full scale alert when it was learned that the missing soldiers were armed with service revolvers and ammunition.

Arriving in Cairo, they parked the jeep, changed into civilian clothes and headed for the bars and brothels. They financed their outing by selling army greatcoats and other stolen equipment. When they ran out of money they discovered that someone had stolen the jeep. Looking for another vehicle, they went to a garage at night, and while Golby and Smith selected a car, Hensman shot the watchman twice. His second bullet was fatal, and the trio fled.

Next they sold their revolvers and stole a car. They were finally arrested in Ismalia, 25 miles north of Fayid, on April 17th.

The principal question that occupied the court-martial and eventually the minister of war in London was, did Golby and Smith know that Hensman would shoot to kill? Everyone was satisfied that they did know, and all three were found guilty of murder. There was to be no reprieve.

They were hanged at Fanara Military Prison on Thursday, August 31st, 1950. Their mothers, who had flown out from Britain, spent all the previous night praying for their sons in Cairo.