CYPRUS 1957 -
1st Battalion News: (Back Badge, June 1957)
The move from Bahrain was made in Hastings aircraft of R.A.F Transport Command. Due to flight restrictions over Jordan the flights were made over the Taurus Mountains of Turkey and on to Cyprus. On arrival in Imjin Camp, on the outskirts of Nicosia, the Battalion was concentrated for the first time in two years. The Camp was made up of huts and electric lighting was installed. The Battalion was part of 3rd Infantry Brigade and would operate in the Troodos Mountains. But the Battalion was soon switched to 50th Independent Brigade, responsible for Internal Security in Nicosia.
Company Reports: (Back Badge, June 1957)
H.Q. Company: "And so to Cyprus and a bitterly cold camp and constant guards and escorts. The Drums have been out on more than one operation and the MT has suffered the Battalion's first operational casualties. The Company also provided the guard on the biggest arms dump ever found in Cyprus -
Company H.Q.: "Major WA Wood left us to command "B" Company and was replaced by Major E.L.T. Capel. The next to depart was Private Richardson, our Company Storeman, who left after 23 years service. Soon after our arrival in Cyprus Corporal Quick, our Company Orderly Sergeant, and Corporal Darby, CQMS Clerk, both departed for civilian life."
MT Platoon: "Captain A E. Strange put himself on the advance party to Cyprus, leaving Ltn. Gilmore to hand over the wrecks to 1st Cameron’s. After our airlift to Cyprus we found that we had a splendid lot of new vehicles to take over in Nicosia. We suffered our first operational casualties in Cyprus, on 10th March 1957, when a Landrover, driven by Lance-
Intelligence Section: "At long last we have an Intelligence Section! Ltn. J A. Mackean, Sergt Thorne, Cpl Dominy, Privates Knight and Saunders the Section runs the Unit Operations Room and busies themselves with the most alarming maps and traces. They also do a lot of other things (so they say), but they will not disclose what they are "for security reasons."
"A" Company: "For a change, on our arrival in Cyprus, on 5th January, we found a camp ready for us to take over. We found ourselves manning a road-
"B" Company: "2nd Ltn. Charlton left us on arrival in Cyprus to become Mess Secretary. 2nd Ltn. Bewell went to Support Company and 2nd Ltn. Robinson lurks in H.Q. Company. 2nd Lieutenant Portch, Saunders and Thorne now command Platoons No. 4, 5 and 6."
"C" Company: "After being held up a day in Habbaniya with engine trouble, we arrived in Cyprus and were surprised to hear that we were to become "C" (Training) Company. Training soon got underway and the Company became a hive of activity. The permanent staff in the Company besides doing demonstrations also provides a guard of honour under Sgt Chilcott for any important guests that we have."
"D" Company: "On arrival in Nicosia we were told that there was no accommodation ready as yet and we were consigned to Wayne’s Keep transit camp for three days. On the 11th January we moved to St. Barbara, now renamed Imjin Camp. Our role in Nicosia was I.S. and on the 21st we were out under the command of the South Stafford’s to prevent a possible outbreak of rioting at the funeral of a murdered Turkish constable. The day passed off quietly, although Sergt. Boulton had to rescue a policeman from an excited crowd at one stage. A day or so later, as a result of Turkish reprisals against Greeks, for the policeman's murder, the walled city was put under curfew. We took our turn at curfew enforcement, which was not very exciting. Corpl Rodman reacted quickly when a youth fled at the sight of his patrol. The suspect was found and arrested by the police, but was not a wanted man. We were the first Glosters to patrol the notorious "Murder Mile" and the Greek quarter. We had an interesting ten days with three bomb incidents and an attempted shooting. As the result of a scare the whole Company moved in to Luna Park and a curfew was imposed again. We found the first EOKA and AKEL leaflets to be brought in by the Glosters and even stopped a film to search a cinema when a shot was fired at a police patrol from the cinema. On 5th February we handed over to Support Company. Our next task was a series of guards, of which the most important was Omorphita police station, the main interrogation centre, and Mitsero mine. After one day the Company, less one platoon, moved out to the mine. Here we supervised blasting and the use of dynamite, did some training and some patrols. We are at the moment guarding His Excellency the Governor's residence. We hope to be allowed to get away on operations outside Nicosia soon in this beautiful, yet unhappy, island."
Support Company: "CQMS Hawker left us on promotion as CSM "D" Coy and CSM Morgan goes to the 5th Battalion soon. Colour Sergeant. Dee has replaced Colour-
Assault Pioneer Platoon: "We looked forward to Cyprus, but although we took over good specialist equipment we found the Company being relegated to the role of a rifle company. The platoon took part in Operation "Whisky" which resulted in the capture of the EOKA 2nd in-
Company Reports: (Back Badge, December 1957)
"A" Company: "Whilst based in Imjin Camp we have taken our turn in guard duties which can become rather dull but have certainly not been without incident. The Company was on guard at KT Detention Camp when Archbishop Makarios was released from the Seychelles. This caused considerable excitement and hundreds of Greek Cypriots gathered at the Detention Camp demanding the release of the detainees. However, with the exception of waving flags and a few stones being thrown, the crowd did not cause any trouble and everything returned to normal within two days. We took part in an operation in the Troodos Mountains for twelve days; see report. June and July were spent on guard duties in the Nicosia area and many were able to go on leave during this period, either to Kyrenia or Famagusta. Next we took part in Operation "Tricycle" in the Paphos Mountain Range. The Company spent four weeks in the hills with Company H.Q. and No. 1 Platoon in the area of a forest hut, No. 2 Platoon went north, up to 4000 ft and some eight miles from H.Q. by forest roads, No. 3 Platoon were just over two miles from H.Q. Each Platoon had to man OP's, send out ambushes and patrols, and provide road blocks. On our first day back in Imjin Camp, we were on stand-
"B" Company: "Had it not been for the three weeks spent on operations and in training in the Paphos Forest there would be little to report in these notes. Since April, life has been one damn guard after another. In the second week of July we moved into the Forest."
"D" Company: "We started with most of the Company on guard at Government House, and then moved out to a camp in the rural areas for a week. There were compass marches and a section attack field-
Support Company: "With another move facing us at the end of the year we shall be reorganising on the new establishment which does not allow for a separate Support Company. In its place we shall become No. 2 group of "H.Q." Company. We continue to operate as a rifle company. We had a month's training and operations in the Troodos Mountains.
MMG Platoon: "We have been performing guard and I S duties at places with such strange names as Perahkorio, Omorphita, Strovolos and Kokkini Trimithia. We moved for a month to the Paphos Forest for some training."
Assault Pioneer Platoon:
H.Q. Company: "The MT has distinguished them selves in getting an excellent CIV Inspection Report, and their convoy driving impressed at least one senior officer in Cyprus."
Company Reports: (Back Badge, June 1958)
"A" Company: "During September 1957 the anniversary of the Battle of Salamis (480 BC!), afforded an opportunity for a bit of VOLKAN versus EOKA strife. To forestall any more explosions, the Battalion carried out extensive searching of waste ground, road verges, etc. The only find was made by Support Company who unearthed a small load of gun-
"B" Company: "An endless round of guards. From Omorphita to Central Prison, to Mitsero to KT and the Secretariat, to Perahkorio Police Station, to the Detainee's Ward at the General Hospital and back again. Only the Central Prison guard offers anything worth recording. It was there that Harvey fired three rounds at an escaping prisoner."
"C" (Training) Company: "Such has been the decimation of our ranks that we number a mere 22, but our activity has increased."
"D" Company: "The highlight of our activities was our detachment near Limassol underpinning the 43rd Light Infantry. Our tasks were to guard three police stations and patrol a hilly area. The camp site was on the beach in a really beautiful bay. After returning to Imjin Camp, a month's training followed and a new draft joined. Christmas was spent in prison guarding the detainees."
"H.Q." 1 Company: "The reorganised Company now consists of the Administrative Platoon, CQMS' Department, the Cooks, the Unit Pay Team, Officer's and Sergt's Mess staffs, and the MT Platoon. One of our patrols, made up of the Messing Officer, MT Sgt., the Regimental Butcher, and an RAPC NCO, when moving stealthily in the darkness, caught a man in the act of pinning a terrorist slogan to a church wall. We also mounted mobile patrols into the countryside around Nicosia."
MT Platoon: "Capt. A E. Strange left to do a course in England. He managed to get himself on the advanced party to Germany after he had taken his annual leave. Ltn. (CQMS) Gillett took over the task of MTO from him, but he was soon evacuated to England with stomach trouble. The Platoon feels justly proud of its annual CIV inspection by the REME inspector’s team. We congratulate Major Strange, Corpl Arkell and L/Cpl's, Binding, Turner, Damsell, Evans and Whittle on their promotions."
Support/H.Q. 2/Command Company: "Support Company were reorganised to become H.Q. Company Group 2'. No sooner had we resigned ourselves to this fact than we changed again to an experimental establishment for Germany by becoming Command Company, although we still call ourselves H.Q. 2. The MMG and AT Platoons were disbanded. We absorbed Battalion H.Q., the Signal Platoon and the Drums. The Assault Pioneers were reduced to a section and integrated into the Drums."
On leaving Cyprus, the GOC Major-
Awards for Cyprus:
M.I.D.'s to: Major A E. Strange. Lieutenants J B Henderson, and A G Bryan, Colour Sergeant C Havelock-
Milikouri by Major W.LD. Morris
(Back Badge, December 1957)
On Saturday 27th April 1957, while out training, "A" Company was recalled and received urgent orders that they were to proceed to Milikouri, in the depths of the Troodos, and search a village from top to bottom for terrorists and their hides, arms, ammunition and anything that could be connected with EOKA activity. Milikouri at this time had been cordoned off for seven weeks by the Duke of Wellington's, and had been searched once, but not very thoroughly. We were all extremely keen and every officer and man of the Company was certain that we should find Grivas or one of his henchmen. It was estimated by the powers that be that there were 150 houses in Milikouri and that the search would take three to five days. Little did they know?
We arrived at Milikouri on 28th April and having received instructions from the CO of the Dukes, a plan was formed. Half the Company were to search the village during the hours of daylight. The other half were to be divided into six night ambushes to prevent anybody leaving or entering the village in the dark. In all there were ten search parties and each consisted of one United Kingdom Police Sergeant, an NCO and two men. The Police Sergeant was the expert, and the others were really labourers.
In our ignorance we thought that it would not take long at all to search a village of 150 houses. We soon discovered we were very wrong. It was decided by the experts that 20 houses a day would be cordoned off and searched. We thought that this was too little, but soon found that 15 a day was as much as we could cope with. Every bit of furniture was taken out of each house. Walls were measured. Any hollow sound in walls or floors was thoroughly investigated and nothing was left untouched that could possibly hide a man or weapons. Nearly every house had a large cellar which contained not only vats of wine but all the rubbish accumulated for years. One team took two days to search one house. We searched and searched and finally completed the village on 9th May, having taken 11 full days. There were 182 houses. Our discoveries included one old sporting gun, some very old gun-
Throughout the search the inhabitants of the village were extremely friendly and had to be prevented from helping the search parties. The Press were allowed in on the last day and we discovered that some of our Cypriot "friends" came forward with complaints varying from ill-
Operations in the Mountains by Major H.L.T. Radice (Back Badge, December 1957)
On 10th May 1957 "D" Company left for the Paphos Forest, where we were to operate under command of 3 Infantry Brigade. During the 5 weeks in the hills we took part in 3 operations, the end of "Lucky Mac," "Lilo" and "Sandspray." We served under two brigade H.Q.'s and 3 infantry battalions. Finally we spent the last week training, with the operational role relegated to the background. The Brigade area was the wooded hill country SSW of Kykko Monastery, a favourite haunt of Grivas, on the edge of the area where the disastrous fire occurred last year. We were allotted the southern end of 1 KOYLI area, where 3 rivers joined and a convenient saddle track provided a good line of approach into and out of the area. In the middle was a dominating 2000 ft hill with the peaks christened OG, Gog and Magog, which we came to know very well. The roads were improved logging tracks unsuited for use by heavy military vehicles, as a result of which the accident rate was very high. The method of operating was to deny the hillsides to terrorists by means of OP's and the river lines by patrols. By night ambushes were laid on likely approaches and all movement was considered hostile. We soon found our mountain legs and everyone became very fit.
After a week, fresh tactics were used. Each section retired to a previously prepared ambush or OP position for 3 days while all transport, unwanted stores and men, moved out. A deadly hush fell over the hills during operation Lilo. On the last day, soon after dusk, Corporal Spibey's section opened fire on the figure of a man moving past them. No body was found and whether it was a true contact or not cannot be established. Life was about to return to normal when news of three suspected terrorists to the west came through. "D" Company did a quick right-
We now reverted to training, during which we fired our 2-
The officer who refused to follow his compass and took 4 hours to do a 20 minute climb.
The officer from a neighbouring unit who strayed into a training ambush. "I'm not sure where we are corporal," "you are in the middle of a ***** ambush!" answered Private Callaghan's delightful Irish brogue. Corporal McLoughlin berating the YMCA bookseller for failing to stock beer. The bathes in the streams, the 3 days of storm, which washed away all the tracks, tree trunks and flooded all our camps. 2nd Ltn Neather’s speed up and down hills. Corporal Bailey's tireless work on the wireless sets, and the endless honking of horns as vehicles crept round the winding roads. The colour-
The Nicosia Riots
During the early part of December 1957, the Glosters became involved in what developed into one of the worst periods of rioting yet experienced in Nicosia. The town is situated well inland on a flat plain. It is an ancient walled city, with very narrow streets overhung by balustrade buildings, and has both a Turkish and a Greek quarter. The line between these quarters, the Mason-
Saturday 7th December:
It was appreciated that there may be trouble in the next few days, and a strong platoon of 40 all ranks from "D" Company was stationed in Luna Park. The rest of "D" Company -
At the Phaneromeni Church a considerable crowd of school children attended a service, and numbers of young "toughs" began to collect in the vicinity. The section from "D" Coy still lurked in the side street and four sections of the Police Mobile Reserve and some RMP stood by. The service began inside the church. Outside, apart from an occasional volley of stones from the roof tops, all was quiet and good order was maintained. There was, however, an air of tension and this was brought to a head when suddenly the doors of the church opened and a crowd of boys emerged throwing bottles and stones which they had taken with them into the service. Ltn. Hutchings and his section helped to keep the crowd back while the Police Mobile Reserve charged the boys and forced them back inside the church. After a few minutes to allow head to cool the Police permitted the sullen children to leave in small groups after they had dropped their missiles. The younger children went home, but the youths from the Pan Cyprian Gymnasium -
By 1300 hrs the Walled City was once again quiet. "D" Coy under Major J.E. Taylor, remained in Luna Park in readiness for further trouble, and carried out patrolling in the Greek quarter. At 1600 hrs "B" Coy. (Major WA. Wood) was moved to the Central Police Station. They were not need and were withdrawn to Imjin Camp the next morning. A liaison officer was maintained at the Central Police Station.
8th and 9th December:
During the Sunday and Monday patrolling continued in the Walled City. There were no incidents, though it was clear that feelings were running high and there was considerable tension in the town. The country villages in the Battalion area were quiet, but Dhali was under observation and a section of H.Q. 2 Coy. (Major H.L.T. Radice) was sent to Perahkorio Police Station, some 15 miles from Nicosia and close to Dhali. This section, under Corporal Trude, remained there for more than a week. Early in the morning of the 9th December Sergt. Hassell (the UK police sergeant in charge of Perahkorio Police Station) brought in a youth to be charged with distributing EOKA slogans. As a result he decided to go to Dhali for a look around and set off in his Landrover with Lance-
The dawn of 10th Dec. was cold and bright. It was the morning of the weekly "change-
By 1200 hrs "A" Coy had relieved "D" Coy at Luna Park. "D" Coy returned to Imjin Camp, remaining on 30 minutes notice to move. Things now started to liven up inside the Walled City. There were many instances of R MP and R.A.F police patrol vehicles being stoned, and patrols reported that the Turks were now starting to riot against the Greeks. At 1210 hrs in the Greek Sector, a Turkish policeman was shot and wounded by a young man who escaped on a bicycle. This really set the cat among the pigeons. A number of shops were looted and gangs of Turkish youths came onto the streets looking for any Greek property to destroy. At 1245 hrs the CO ordered H.Q. 2 Coy. to move to the Central Police Station with one platoon, and placed the Walled City out of bounds to all service personnel and their families. Many wild rumours began to sweep through the city and the Turks began to move towards the Greek quarter. The CO sent Major Radice out at 1300 hrs on a "fact-
At 1450 hrs the CO issued orders that:
a) The Mason-
b) The Walled City was to be curfewed.
c) All entrances to the Walled City were to be closed.
"A" Coy and H.Q. 2 Coy closed the Mason-
H.Q. 1 Coy (Major E.L.T. Capel) was ordered to patrol the rural areas around Nicosia and report any signs of unrest; even the Pay Team was deployed. As "B" Coy (Major W A. Wood) was already deployed on static guards in and around Nicosia, it can be said that the Battalion was 100% on the job. The Camp was deserted. At 1700 hrs reinforcements arrived -
Nicosia gradually returned to normal. Patrols were kept up to the 16th, by which time all ranks were tired and weary of the sound of the words "internal security." The riots were described in fairly horrific terms by the UK newspapers. They were in fact, far less frightening than they have been reported and were certainly never "out of control." Many valuable lessons were learned, the most important being:
a) That speed in dealing with disturbances is vital. Determined action by a few men can often prevent a minor incident from developing into a serious situation.
b) Quick and accurate reports are essential if the commander is to be able to take proper action at the right time.