Who is The Golden General whose death date became Egypt's 'Martyr Day'



Wed, 09 Mar 2022 - 03:59 GMT


Wed, 09 Mar 2022 - 03:59 GMT

Lieutenant General Abdel Moneim Riyad, chief of staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces in 1967-1969

Lieutenant General Abdel Moneim Riyad, chief of staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces in 1967-1969

CAIRO – 9 March 2022: The death date of the "Golden General" marks Egypt's Martyr Day. The date is March 9, 1969, and the martyr is Lieutenant General Abdel Moneim Riyad, chief of staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces at the time.


Riyad was born on October 22, 1919 in Gharbia governorate, precisely Sebray village. His father was an army officer, who rose through the ranks until he held a prominent position at the Military Academy, and his mother was a housewife.


The then child and his siblings moved from a governorate to another due to the nature of the work of his father. Riyad spent the primary education cycle at Al Raml School in Alexandria before joining Cairo's Khedive Ismail Secondary School.


Now a young man, Riyad followed the same path as his father and joined the Military Academy, against his mother's desire as she wanted him to join medical school, graduating in 1938, which is the same class as late President Gamal Abdel Nasser.


Riyad and Nasser 2

Photo of General Abdel Moneim Riyad and late President Gamal Abdel Nasser


Riyad's branch was the anti-aircraft artillery. He took part in World War II in 1941-1942, as well as the 1948 War ensued from the declaration of the state of Israel on Palestinian territories. In the latter, he worked at the Military Operations Department in Cairo for a year, and was the liaison officer with the field command in Palestine. As a result of his achievements during that war, he earned a number of medals from Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan.  


The other wars he was part of are the Tripartite Aggression in 1956, the Six-Day War in 1967, and the War of Attrition that kicked off in 1969 culminating into the 6th of October War in 1973.


Riyad was also a lecturer at his branch's school, climbing up the ladder until he was appointed director in 1951 when his rank was just lieutenant colonel. Two years later, he became commander of the First Anti-aircraft Brigade in Alexandria, then, between 1954 and 1958, he led the anti-aircraft defense at the Artillery Branch. 


In 1944, he earned a master's degree in military sciences, and in 1945, he studied a course at the Royal School of Artillery of the United Kingdom's Larkhill. It is noteworthy to mention that the general was fluent in English, French, Russian, and German.


In 1958, Riyad was given the title "The Golden General" by the soviets when he joined a course at the Soviet High Military School as they got impressed by his capabilities, according to Al Ahram archives.


Young Abdel Moneim
Young Abdel Moneim Riyad


In 1960, he had become the chief of staff of the artillery branch before he was appointed a year later commander of operations at the Egyptian Armed Forces, and consultant to the command of the Air Force for air defense affairs.


In 1964, the general held the position of the chief of staff of the Unified Arab Command, whose mission was concerting efforts among Arab armies.   


Riyad continued his studies later at Nasser Higher Military Academy, completing the program in 1966, and getting promoted to the Lieutenant General rank.


In the aftermath of the defeat of June 5, 1967, President Nasser appointed him on June 11, 1967 chief of staff commissioning him along with then Minister of Defense Lieutenant General Mohamed Fawzy to rebuild the army.


Abdel Moneim Riyad and Sadat

Photo of General Abdel Moneim Riyad, late President Gamal Abdel Nasser, and late President Anwar al-Sadat


In the same month, Egypt restored Port Fouad town located in Sinai on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal. It also downed a number of Israeli military jets in 1967 and 1968. That is in addition to sinking Eilat Destroyer on October 21, 1967, which marks Egypt's Navy Day.


One of his ideas during the War of Attrition was destroying 60 percent of Ber Lev Line fortifications. The operation was launched on March 8, 1969 and while checking up on its results in the field the following day, the Israeli shelling hit Zone 6 where he was present. The battle lasted for an hour and a half, but he got injured and died.


To honor Riyad, President Nasser promoted him to General, granted his name the Military Honor Star, which is the highest military medal in Egypt, and made his death date the country's "Martyr Day."



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