Heritage

British Army memories in Cyprus 1958-1959


Memories of Cyprus
and Absent Friends
by a British ex-Serviceman

By Margaret Sheard and Chris Elliott

I have previously been doing research about Newman’s Farm in Kyrenia which is now the site of The Chinese House Restaurant on the Karaoğlanoğlu road.  The article I wrote at the time prompted some response from British ex-servicemen and although it did not fill in the gaps for me I started to think what interesting stories these people must have to tell about their time here.  To see these articles the links are shown at the end of the following article.

One such person was Derek Chilvers, who came back to Cyprus in Derek and Shirley2012 for the first time in 53 years since his army days when he served here as a Rifleman with the Suffolk Regiment in 1958/59.  Unfortunately Derek’s wife, Shirley, is suffering from cancer and as he had been her carer for some 16 months at the time, their eldest daughter, Kim, and son-in-law, Steve, treated him to a week’s respite to attend the Remembrance Day Service in Kyrenia in 2012 and he attended this with a colleague he served with in Cyprus. Derek said he found it to be a very uplifting experience.  Derek contacted mLunch following 2012 Remembrance Service, Derek front righte to see if I could let him have some photographs of this event and the lunch which followed and since then we have been keeping in contact and he has kindly supplied me with information and photographs covering his time in Cyprus.

Derek now liDerek and Shirley on their wedding dayves in the Ipswich area of England. 

He and Shirley married in 1960 and have 2 daughters, Kim and Karen.  

Derek has said how supportive both of his daughters, and their husbands, have been during these very difficult times of his wife’s poor health and without their help he would not have been in a position to help me to write this story.

So I would like to say thank you to Kim and KarenKim and husband Steven for making it possible for their father to be able to spend some time recalling his life all of those years ago and sorting out the many photographs and explanations for a lot of them which he has painstakingly written and emailed to me.  As Derek has explained, he is not a “computer whiz kid” and he has spent a lot of time writing down his memories and sending them periodically to enable me to build up this story.    I must say I have enjoyed reading his memories probably as much as he has had recalling them.

Derek ran a Country Music Club until Shirley’s health problems occurred and he had made a CD of country Karen and husband Vaughanmusic for a friend containing her late husband’s favourite songs.  “Special Absent Friends” is a song always played at the get-together after the funeral of a member of the Country Music Club and Derek thinks it would perhaps be a nice finish to future Remembrance Day events as it is very uplifting.  “Can We Go Round Again” is the most requested song on their country music radio shows.

Derek told me that he had phoned his good friend Wes Cardy who co-wrote Special Absent Friends and told him about all that is happening in his life at the moment and explained that we would like to suggest to the Organisers of the Remembrance Day events in Kyrenia to perhaps use his song and he is very happy for it to happen, in fact he would be honoured and he told Derek that years ago he wrote a song for the Suffolk Regiment called Minden Rose and said he would make a copy available, which we have since also received via Derek.

“The Battle of Minden is one of the battles fought by the Suffolk Regiment and as the troops went into battle they crossed a field of flowers which were Red and Yellow Wes Cardy and Jan Mellonand they picked the flowers and put them on their clothing and so the colours became the colours of the regiment to honour those who died and every year on the last Sunday of July at the old barracks at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, where Derek did his training, a Minden Day celebration is held and all the old and young comrades from way back and their families all get together for the day.  The Old Soldiers do a march past and a service is held much the same as in Kyrenia.  Derek asked his friend about “Can We Go Round Again” and Wes said nobody would mind it being used for whatever purpose.”   We were given a photo of Wes and Jan Mellon, his partner, and it is Jan who does the wonderful spiritual thing towards the end of Special Absent Friends which makes the whole thing special.

I am sharing some of the information supplied to me by Derek, who was nicknamed Chilvo, and I think it makes very interesting reading of how things were in Cyprus all of those years ago.  Maybe these reminisces will jog the memories of some of the people who served in Cyprus at the same time and perhaps even in the same areas.   Up to now Derek has located 10 of the lads who were in the same Company at Kykko and it would be nice if there are some more out there who would like to be reunited with their old comrades.

So here goes with some of Derek’s memories:-

I was stationed at Kykko East Camp, Nicosia in Kykko Camp1958/59, and I was mainly on guard duty at Wayne’s Keep, Mitsero Mine, Kambia Mine, Camp K, Central Prison and Peristerona Police Station.  There were also foot patrols in Nicosia and other areas.”  

Note: The picture of Kykko Camp is courtesy of “Britain’s Smallwars” website to view click here  

The following 2 memories are recorded in Forces Reunited which Derek has asked us to share.

“Patrolling the streets and lanes of Nicosia, On patrol in Ledra StreetCyprus, after a shooting or something of that kind leading to a curfew being enforced leaving everywhere dark and very quiet, broken only by the sound of yours and the rest of the patrols footsteps and any sound other than that tickling the hairs on the back of your neck until the challenge came and you were met by another patrol doing the same as you.  All very eerie but that was army life then”

“On a more happy note than my previous memory, brings me to those wonderful ham salad rolls bought from a Cypriot man who owned a small kiosk in the Lunar Park which was sometimes our base for patrolling the city.  Very tasty and very filling in contrast to having thirty or more of us opening cold hard boiled eggs which made the room we lived in rather smelly and to this day I still dislike being anywhere near to where there are boiled eggs “

There is also a recollection from Derek of Kyrenia Beach on hot days when they were not on duty. 

” A Bedford 3-tonner was provided for swimming at the beach One of the beaches used during free timeand it called at the ice factory for a block to put in cold boxes for drinks.  We went on the only road I knew of over the mountains and straight down, turning right at the end and along to the beach.  Most of the lads did not know there was a town called Kyrenia. “

On one of the photographs Derek sent he referred to a “show of strength” and he explained this as follows:

” The show of strength was a result of something that happened months earlier.  I had landed at Nicosia AiThe Show of Strength exerciserport on February 4th and was detailed to go into 7 Platoon C Company of what was then the Suffolk Regiment where I met my Platoon Commander and Platoon Sergeant and on 14th March they took us out somewhere on the Nicosia to Peristerona road to carry out a road block for practice where we stopped all traffic, and we did a check and search of all the males and from a bus I was told to search a young man probably in his late teens which I did and found in one of his pockets a very tightly squeezed and tightly folded piece of paper, a thing we had been told to watch out for.  When I opened it up there was a lot of Greek writing which I didn’t understand but in the middle of the writing were four large letters EOKA.  That discovery stopped our road block and we went along the road to Peristerona police station where they confirmed what was written was a courier letter to the terrorists saying that on a certain date the blood of the British “Tommies” would run down the street.  I had to remember the young man’s name in case I had to appear at his trial, I didn’t have to in the end but it was quite a find for a practice road block.  My Platoon Commander was in quite a sweat over it all, being worried as to whether we had over-stepped the mark as it was only a practice but it is results that count and the show of strength, mentioned at the beginning of this piece, was held on the day the blood was to be spilt”.

Derek sent a copy of an original EOKA leaflet and he said  “they used to appear by the 100s on the streets occasionally and at Eoka leafletone time almost under our lorry but it was always done in a crowded place so you had no idea as to who did it, in our case it was on the circular outer road which we used to return to camp and we passed the general hospital on our left which was another place we used to do guard duty when any detainee from either of the prisons was in residence. The leaflet was sent to me by one of the lads who joined the Suffolks, the same draft as me and through him I am now in contact with four more lads and we have met up at one of the Minden Day celebrations that I mentioned in an earlier email.”

Derek’s wife had to spend some time in hospital due to a reaction to the chemotherapy during the time this article was being put together and when she came home it was necessary to make changes to their home to accommodate her needs.  During this very stressful time for Derek, he said that recollecting his time in Cyprus was taking his mind off his problems and he was glad to be able to spend a little time coming up with some of his memories.   Here is another :

” Private Kershaw and me were detailed to go to a mine known as the Incline, I never did find out its proper name, where as with all mine details we had to check that all the explosive materials supplied for blasting the rock face were used and, after blasting, check that there were no leftovers. Living quarters Kambia Mine We were often detailed to mines and the ones I had been to before were open mines but this was underground, hence the name, and to reach the face we rode on an angled trolley on a small rail track each passenger sitting behind each other and you leant backwards onto the knees of those behind you, I hope you can picture that, it’s hard to describe. On reaching the face, which I was told was getting on for a mile deep, we watched the miners drilling into the face and pushing sticks of explosive into the holes then pushing detonators into the final stick and attaching the electric wires which were then taken to a cave like hole in the side wall out of the blast line and attached to the plunger.  After the warning klaxon was sounded the plunger was pushed down but there was no bang so we went back to the face and all the connections were Living quarters at Mitsero Minechecked then back to the hole and again the plunger didn’t work so it meant a trip back to the surface which Kershaw volunteered to do and the end to this story meant that I was down in a dark hole with about six miners with only the light coming from the little flames coming from our helmets with them all talking to each other and I couldn’t understand what they were saying. It took Kershaw just over four hours to return with a new plunger and believe me he was a welcome sight and from then on everything went as planned and as the explosives went off the volume of air coming up the shaft snuffed out our little flames but everything finished ok and I was very grateful to see the sky again. “

Some of the lads Derek has located have returned to Cyprus in the past and found where their camp was and the concrete bases where the tents were erected and have actually had photographs taken where their beds used to be.  Unfortunately when Derek came to Cyprus in 2012 he was not able to gain access to this area.

I have received a lot of photographs taken by Derek with his little Ilford 120 roll film camera in 1958/59 and these can be seen in the video at the end of the article.  

As well as photographs, Derek also sent me a CD of a request Steve Cherelle - BBC Radio Essexmade to Steve Cherelle who has a programme on BBC Radio Essex and  he asked for “I Missed Me” by Jim Reeves to be played.  Steve was very touched by the letter and read the message out over the radio and then played the requested song.  Apparently, Derek and Shirley had seen Jim Reeves and the Blue Boys at the USAF Base in  Bentwaters, Woodbridge, Suffolk many years before and Shirley had taken a photograph of them and asked for her favourite song.  Jim RJim Reeves and the Blue Boyseeves had said I will now sing this for the lovely lady at the front but first we will pose for her to take a photograph and so Shirley took her photograph.    

Here are some more memories Derek has sent to me.  I am getting very intrigued with all of these reminisces and it makes me realise just how much stress the young men serving here must have experienced during their tour of duty during those troubled times.

” Another little gem – When on duty in Nicosia we stayed at a variety of locations and the place on my mind at the moment was on the opposite side of the city to Ledra Street. The property was a single room in a place with a covered veranda and courtyard out back and a type of shed/outhouse with a grapevine growing on a trellis like feature ( I think we now call them gazebos ) and to my mind they were Purple people eaterthe most wonderful tasting grapes I have ever found anywhere. The room was quite large and on one wall was a blackboard so we assumed it must have been a classroom at some time so some of us bedded down in there but some of us slept/lived on the veranda. Music from the forces radio at that time included a song called One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater by Sheb Wooley, (later on in life to be Pete Nolan the scout in the Rawhide series). Our group of four privates and a corporal arrived back at base after a two hour patrol through the streets and when we entered the room where the drinks were kept we found that one of our boys had drawn his version of the People Eater on the blackboard, looking something like a big fat bee, so we joined in the fun by adding little bits to the drawing and as time passed everybody had added a little bit until we finished with quite a gruesome picture and for a while this little bit of fun took our minds off more serious things. Some of the lads I have now located can remember this but so far we have no idea who started it off, but it was fun.” 

It is nice to know that there were some light-hearted moments and I can well imagine the following one as well.

“During our guard duties at Central Prison and Camp K, being stuck in the watch towers for two hours at a time was very boring just staring at the same old thing but on a Thursday evening things improved depending on which NCO was on duty in the control room as it was top twenty night on the forces radio and it would be put through to all the towers by field telephone.  In those days Connie Francis was the in-singer and very often she had two songs in the ratings.  Central Prison had a brick tower on the first corner, this is still there (I saw it on television when two young lads were in the news about a car accident with a Greek youth and the prison was shown where they would be staying).   To get to it you crossed the compound the prisoners were in and through a locked door only ever unlocked when we changed guard.   At night you were in the dark and it was all very quiet apart from hearing the beetles in the roof dropping down to the floor where you were sitting.  One night I admit to dozing off to be brought back to reality by stones being thrown in the windows from outside the wall and when I eventually looked out the 2nd Lieutenant was standing under the trees that formed the fence and he accused me of sleeping on duty, which I hastily denied to which he asked why did it take me so long to appear,  I replied surely you don’t expect me to stick my neck out until I had established who was out there, to which he said ok and I never heard another word from anyone about it.”

Noel King feeding Fingers found on 5 Finger Mountain and became mascot. Milk warmed on lorry engineOne of the photographs I really liked was of one of the lads feeding a young goat (or lamb) which they found all alone on Five Finger Mountain.  They adopted it as a mascot and called it Fingers and it then travelled everywhere with them.  They used to warm up milk on the vehicle engine to feed it.  I think that is lovely.

The next 2 memories are of a more serious nature and it makes you wonder if there was a guardian angel watching over these servicemen at the time these events happened.

“I have to tell you about this memory because it haunts me to this day.  Ambush training was sending a couple of NCO’s out into the countryside along a chosen road  Bren Gun which Derek held over the cab of the lorrywhich we then drove along in our Bedford three tonner and the NCO’s did a mock ambush by throwing a thunder flash (large firework) from where they were hiding and I had to shout ambush left or right and the person either side of me had to move quickly out of the way. I gave covering fire with my Bren Gun and the driver stopped as quickly as he could and all the lads  jumped off the lorry and we gave chase across ploughed fields, it was hard going and after three fields you could hardly move yet alone give chase.  C Company travelled in three lorries to a dried up river bed, about mid afternoon, where we did some shooting practice and another lorry brought food out to us, then as it got dark we did some night firing then all four lorries began the trip back to Base.  As we were going through a village a large sparking object was thrown onto the road in front of our lorry and before I could shout the driver put his foot down and took us out of danger as the object exploded  and by then we were well past where the object was thrown from so we didn’t get a result and I didn’t get a chance to put all that practice into action. The lads on the lorry behind us witnessed what had happened but were too far back to take action. The ambush was put through to the Special Investigation Branch who raced out to us and found evidence that the object had been thrown from behind the wall of a school and those responsible had counted our lorries going to the river bed and heard the shooting and waited for us to come back, but this time there were four lorries.”

We had told Derek that we were going to see if we could find Luna Park in Nicosia so that we could try to relate to some of the photographs he had sent.  With this in mind he asked us to try and imagine where he was and gave us another amusing anecdote.

” When you have a look at Lunar Park,  the building on the left of the gate was our sleeping/living quarters for Present day Post Office which was used as base for patrolsdoing patrols into the city or doing escort duties with UK Police Sergeants in their Land Rovers. One afternoon some of us were relaxing on our beds reading or playing cards and a teargas grenade was thrown into the room causing all sorts of chaos as we very quickly got out into the fresh air and after about fifteen minutes we ventured into the room leaving doors open to clear the air.  We found the 2nd Lieutenant standing there grinning and he said the grenade was his idea to see how fast our response would be if it had have been a bomb! We aired the place and tidied up wiping the burn marks off the floor from the grenade, there was one rather large one near my bed which I wiped  off with my duster.  For two or three days every time I wiped my boots or polished my belt buckle my eyes stung and then I realised it was the residue on it from when I wiped the floor.  Just another little gem for you to ponder over but think of me when you see the place.”

We went to Nicosia and retraced Derek’s steps, standing in the Metaxas Squarearea of Metaxas Square where he and his colleague can be seen  in a photograph on the balcony on observation duty.  I feel I will not go to this area again without imagining how dangerous it was then.

Luna Park is much smaller than I imagined it would be but the gazebo is still there standing in the middle of the now empty water feature.  The old Post Office is at the front of the park and we found the building where some of  the servicemen were billeted.  From there we wSunken garden near Metaxas Square (now under new construction)alked along an area where there is a lot of construction work going on and Derek told us this used to be a sunken paved garden (city moat) area where people would sit in the sunshine and have their lunch or chat.

“Another memory has come to mind which any of the lads I was with would recollect and that was inside the walls of Central Prison. All patrols we did or guard duties were on a rota of two on four off and after spending two hours in the sun sitting in a little pillbox you needed a cooling off and to do that we used to change into swimming trunks and go for a cooling dip in the static water tank which was probably 20 foot square and about 30 inches deep.  This was situated in the middle of the garden area where trusted prisoners had small plots of land for cultivation and that’s where they got their water from, it doesn’t sound very good but to us it was wonderful. Over here in this wonderful country of mine if we have a spell of sunshine we get a hosepipe ban but over there, way back in my days, the little farmers had it all worked out. We went out into the country to carry out patrols and at one of our bedding down places we stopped in an orange orchard, at the time there was a curfew on and everyone living around there had to be in their homes by dusk. On one very dark night we had a local farmer come to us in rather a state because he owned a piece of land nearby and at midnight it was his turn to open the sluice gates allowing water to his land and when we took him out to it there were many of these little squares of ground each surrounded by a ditch and a system of these sluice gates and each owner was allowed water to his patch at given times.”

One of the photographs was of the end of a patrol and this is what Derek had to say about that:-

“The return of successful potato patrol because somehow we came across three plump chickens which Potato Patrolwe thought would be a good meal but a UK Police Sergeant turned up with two Cypriot constables and asked questions about chickens missing from a local, which we obviously knew nothing about, and then later towards evening time the Sergeant came back and enjoyed a chicken dinner.”

A serious memory with a comical ending.

“We all went for shooting practice with Lee Enfield 303 Rifles and part of that was we all in turn walked with our Platoon Sergeant down a footpath and as we progressed targets popped into view and we had to quickly snap shoot at them. At the end of my trip the Sergeant said I had done very well and and went off to speak to our Platoon Commander and on his return he said, on the showing you have just done, it is decided that you will have a Bren gun and be lookout on our lorry Bren Gunwhen we are in transit.  Many weeks later we were on duty in Nicosia and a curfew was in place and our Platoon Sergeant came to me and asked if I felt like a walk to which I agreed not knowing what it was all about and as I joined him he said swap your bren gun for a rifle, I remember you know how to hit things with that and off we walked into the very quiet dark city one each side of the road and keeping to the shadows.  We caught a few people breaking the curfew by being outside their homes so they received a telling off by him and we spent almost two hours doing this then returned back to where we were based but as we walked up the road beside the building I saw against the sky a shadow on a rooftop and told the sergeant who looked up where I pointed.  He wasn’t sure if I was right so he said he would throw a tear gas grenade onto the roof and if the shape moved I was to shoot so we positioned ourselves facing each other away from the wall and he threw the grenade upwards but his angle wasn’t very good and it bounced off the wall and came down almost hitting me so I jumped out of the way. The shape disappeared and all we got from it was sore eyes and a laugh but I enjoyed being out there with him and it was good to think he trusted me that much.”

One point which Derek recalled towards the end of his memories was as a result of friends visiting him and when looking at some of his old army photographs they raised the question of body Derek's "wardrobe"armour.  Of course this was not an option all those years ago and Derek told them the following:-

“The answer is the same every time as it is the truth, on a warm day it was our standard army issue shirt and on colder days it was a knitted army issue woollen jumper with reinforced elbows over our shirts and our vehicles had one layer of sandbags on the floor.  People are visibly shocked and ask why we didn’t have the stuff the army has today.  People not involved just don’t realise the truth until it is brought to their attention then they ask how on earth did we go out on patrol every day and the answer to that is easy, we were paid, and my weekly pay was 75 mills which was the currency in Cyprus in those days. ” 

I am sure Derek can recount a lot more memories but as the article is getting rather long, I have now included a further 3 recollections from his time in Cyprus and maybe at some future date there may be an opportunity to write a further account of his memories and maybe those of other ex-servicemen who spent time in Cyprus in those troubled years.

“The guard at the General Hospital was the most boring of all the guard duties we had to do because all we looked at while on duty was a large iron grill with one door for doctors etc to go back and forth doing their duties and the ward we were looking after was behind us and around the corner. We did our 2 hour stint behind a barricade of sandbags with a space for a bren gun and a sergeant or corporal sat at a small table beside it to attend the door when needed. Our sleeping and living quarters was a small room down the corridor where we had bunk beds and a table and next to that was a washing/shaving room and then a toilet at the end of a short passage. The first time you went there on duty was very strange to get used to because as we were guarding people from prison they could creep up behind us and to stop this all of our quarters had no doors which didn’t seem too bad until it came to using the toilet but the nurses never looked in.”

“At Camp K the day in question was no different to any other then suddenly there was a lot of shouting from the wooden living quarters of the inmates and next there was a lot of smoke then fire and windows being broken so those of us not on duty in the watch towers turned out and spread ourselves at intervals around the pathway between the outer perimeter fence and the inner one and by this time things had got very nasty because the inmates were now chasing the warders and splashing them with paraffin and trying to set them alight.  For a few minutes in was sheer mayhem but the warders eventually got things back to something like normal then the police turned up and we and the warders were all interviewed to find out if we could identify the inmates throwing the paraffin and the outcome of that I don’t know, but because it was now getting late and was too late to do repairs to the living quarters damaged, someone in authority decided the inmates did the damage so let them live in it for a night and during the night I did one of my stints up one of the towers and all you could hear in the still of the night was ‘Johnny shoot me please, I am cold’ so they learnt a lesson the hard way.”

On a more light-hearted note Derek recalls the visit of Yana, a very popular UK singer of the time.

The visit of Yana was wonderful and she Yanacheered us all up with her singing and afterwards she was given an escort to return her to the Ledra Palace Hotel but for some unknown reason somebody fired a few shots at the Hotel, there were no injuries, the shots just made a few marks on the wall but because of that a 7 platoon lorry and its driver were instructed to escort Yana to her next venue.  Of course guess who was looking over the cab in his usual position, but good old Derek. The trip was to the King George Hotel in Famagusta and luckily was very peaceful so  I managed to see a little more of Cyprus. After sitting down in the hotel and having a quick drink with Yana and her crew we returned to camp.”

“That’s about it for now I think I have covered most things which should show what our lives were like in those days but I wouldn’t change it because I found a lot of good friends in those days and learnt a lot about life.”

I have found the things that Derek has recollected to be an real eye-opener and although these servicemen had perhaps some happy memories of Cyprus, the main reason for them being here was very serious and of course life-threatening, there were many who returned to le2012 Remembrance Service, Kyreniaad a normal happy life but sadly there were those who did not return.  I attended a memorial service at Wayne’s Keep on one occasion which was a very emotional experience and I do make a point of attending the Remembrance Service at The Old British Cemetery in Kyrenia every year.   I can well understand how Derek must have felt when he came to North Cyprus in 2012 for the first time in 53 years to pay his respects to those who lost their lives here.

To see the article of the 2012 Remembrance Day Service click here  and the Royal British Legion, Kyrenia Branch, Remembrance Day Lunch click here

From Derek’s conversations with some of the lads he has located, he has found that alarm bells are ringing because, as with himself, they are all proud of what they did in their army times but when they tell about what they did, an awful lot of 7 Platoonpeople know nothing about it and as they get older there are less of them to tell the stories, so Derek is asking  if we could please give a few words in our article about the Memorial and the 371 service members who died, then anyone who does read it on the net may decide to turn up at the next Remembrance Service as he intends to do if he is able.  So that is Derek’s message in his own words.

If there is anyone who may have been in the same company as Derek he would be delighted to hear from them.  This can be done through this website and will be passed on to him and we will be pleased to publish any new information received from him or his Part of 7 Platoon  - Derek's companionsfriends about their recollections of  their time in Cyprus.

One final request from Derek, who has asked us to convey a thank you to the lads of C Company, especially 7 Platoon, for their friendship and good company through our time together”.

As a closing paragraph, Derek has recently sent me some photographs of the snow in his garden during the awful weather experienced in the UK.  He also remembered that when he was in Cyprus there was snow on the Nicosia plain and he was told by a local that it was the first time in 25 years.  At this time the lads were supplied with an extra blanket each and some additional paraffin for their stove, so that must have been a cold winter, even here.

To see the links for the Newman’s Farm articles click here and click here

Following are 2 videos which relate to the above article – Memories of Cyprus and Absent Friends by a British ex-serviceman

Video No. 1 shows shows present day photographs as well as ones taken in 1958/59 which shows how times have changed and Cyprus has moved forward.  For best viewing click full screen.

Video No. 2 shows firstly a news video clip found on the public domain of the internet and this is followed by 100 photographs taken with Derek’s little Ilford 120 roll film camera and represents a lot of aspects of the time he spent in Cyprus in 1958/59 which were the dark days of Cyprus past.

91 replies »

  1. What a wonderful article,,really enjoyed it and think it would be great if you could arrange for Special Absent Friends to be played at the Memorial Service in November.I am sure Werner would be able to help out..

  2. I am hoping we can all get together on this idea because at my club it goes down very well with those who have lost someone close.

    • So glad you liked the article, I really enjoyed writing your story and the end result was very satisfying. Let’s hope there are a lot of people out there who can relate to your experiences.

      • No we are just friends of Derek & Shirley he was telling us about the article and how it has been a great help to him doing it.

  3. it was lovely to read about what happened by somebody who was there and not what you see on the tele it was very interesting to read

    • Glad you enjoyed it. The article is quite long but I think well worth the read and to watch the videos and of course it is a personal account of Derek’s experiences here in Cyprus.

  4. We found this very interesting and well laid out . As Derek and Shirleys neighbours and friends
    we know of the time he has spent getting all this imformation together for you to be able to produce
    such a brilliant insight of how things were at that time. Very well done.
    Peter and Christine,

    • Thank you for your comment, it is nice to know that people enjoy what we have written and Derek’s memories were very interesting and a pleasure to write about.

  5. What a lovely article and some great pictures, how things have changed, so glad I was able to see this. Thank you Derek for sending me the link 🙂

    • So pleased you enjoyed the article, it was a pleasure to write an account of Derek’s memories and I think he enjoyed recollecting his time in Cyprus.

  6. I have now read and watched the article and video together with Derek’s photos at least 3 times, I still cannot get over the fascinating photos and moving story of his period in Cyprus. His story must be the tip of the iceberg. An ordinary guy doing his national service, in a faraway land away from his family.

    • Hi N, like you I have just stumbled on Derek’s article whilst doing a bit of memory research. I was a Military Policeman serving in Cyprus 1957/58 I was stationed in Limassol for the whole of my service. There certainly was quite a lot of co operation between the Military and Civil Police in my area. Because of the Emergency situation we often did combined patrols, both mobile and on foot. We were always welcomed into the local Police Station which was close to the old dock entrance. Whilst , naturally, we had to be alert at all times I have to say that I spent a happy 2 years there. We tried our best to be impartial and I am proud to say that by and large we had a good rapport with the local communities. There was a large presence of British Police Officers who were there as support and advisers to the Cypriot Constabulary.Generally speaking any minor military infringements were dealt with by ourselves to relieve the civvy police of any inter service problems but if there were any Emergency problems we dealt with them if we were on the spot. Hope you have success with your search
      Bob Holt

      • Thank you.They were good days,occasionally hairy! My Regiment RHG based at Camp Elizabeth, just outside Nicosia. We worked quite a lot the Turkish Mobile Reserve. (Police) Warm Regards M.E.Bowen

  7. Hi Derek, I stumbled across this page as I am trying to get some information about an uncle of mine who had been in the MET and served in the police in Cyprus at this time. it’s interesting to learn a little of what it was like. He sadly went missing in 1961 and I am just beginning to try and find out more information about his experiences. Was there much contact between military and UK police? I imagine I might find it difficult to research.

    • Thank you Nicki for the additional information that you and your uncle Ifor have shared with us. This is a fascinating story and as luck would have it, we are currently helping some people write about their experiences whilst their family worked for Sir Hugh Foot in Cyprus and we hope they perhaps, may know about your uncle Emyr .

      We have a number of other contacts who may be able to help us so fingers crossed and here’s wishing. Chris Elliott

    • I have just re-read this article, I believe that sadly Derek lost his wife last year before he returned for the memorial service. I was sorry that” Absent friends” was not played during the service, but at the end, when everyone was leaving. Maybe next year during the service!

      • Yes, sadly Derek’s wife lost her battle against cancer. I agree that it would have been nice for “Absent Friends” to have been played while everyone was still seated so that they would have been able to hear the very appropriate and lovely words of the song. Perhaps this year it can be played during the service itself.

    • Hi All my father in law flew out to Cyprus on 6th August 1958 on secondment from the west riding constabulary, he was based at Platres in Troodos mountains, not sure if this is anywhere near where your uncle was based Nikki, he has a book listing all seconded police officers during the emergency so there might be some information in there,

      • Hi Julie It’s lovely to know you are still followings things, I hope all is okay with you and yours.

    • Hi Nicki I don’t if you will see this but I will go on. Last year 2014 I returned to Cyprus again for the Remembrance Day service and a memorial to the police who were killed during the emergency was unveiled and I am in contact with two ladies who served with the police in those days and have the email addresses of two gentlemen from the police federation who were there maybe they can help you.

  8. Thanks Chris – yes it’s been fantastic to feel we may yet learn more! We really appreciate your help and we’re keeping our fingers crossed! Nikki

  9. This was a very interesting article which Derek gave me the link to. After several years of loosing contact with Derek and hearing of the sad news of Shirley his wife we now hope to stay in touch. They were neighbours of mine when I used to live in Suffolk. Glad to hear that this is helping him through a very sad time for Derek.

    • So pleased you have made contact with Derek again and enjoyed the article about his time in Cyprus. He has said that sorting out his memories and helping me write his story helped him tremendously when Shirley was so poorly. It is so sad that he has now lost her but he is still very much involved in promoting the article so this is good for him.

  10. I found your website quite by chance,I Googled Kykko East and your website was almost top of the list. Derek’s memoires and videos are excellent, they bring back a few memories as I was also at Kykko East with the Suffolks in 1958/59. I was in “B” Company. I have viewed the videos several times and I recognise one person who was in the same intake as me ? Braybrooke, Derek also mentions ? Kershaw he was also in the same intake,Dec 57.Sorry but I can’t remember their Christian names.

    • Lovely to hear from you and glad you liked the article. It was very interesting writing up Derek’s memories and he hoped that maybe this might result in locating a few more of the lads. I will pass your comment and email address on to him.

  11. Thanks for forwarding my email address to Derek. I received an email from him the same evening,will be in touch with him very soon.Once again a brilliant article.

  12. I have just read the article in Lets Talk about the Suffolks in Cyprus. It brought back quite a few memories to me as my late father was Asst Director of Detention camps in Nicosia. As a family we spent many Sundays at K camp, and Pyla and I remember the curfews and being taken to school on a bus with wire over the windows and an armed guard.
    I have not been back to Cyprus since I was sent home to school in England in 1958, it is on my “bucket list” !

    • Thank you for your comment. I have passed this on to Derek Chilvers, I am sure he will be delighted. If you can come up with any more recollections of your time in Cyprus and especially photographs we would be pleased to write about them on our website.

    • Hello Valerie. I am pleased to hear that you enjoyed my memories of Cyprus. I arrived at our Kykko East camp on Feb 4 1958 and I can remember seeing the buses as you describe them as there was a school something like two hundred yards from our main gate which we passed almost daily during our different duties in and around Nicosia. You will be amazed at the changes/difference if you do ever get back, some good and some not so good but that is the way in Cyprus now, a wonderful place but spoiled by peoples attitudes, then putting those to one side it is very enjoyable and well worth a visit as I found out after fifty five years absence.
      Go for it and enjoy.
      Derek

  13. Coincidentally my friend Angela is a Chilver and has been looking into family history, since moving to Norfolk I have found many Chilver and Chilvers graves in local churchyards , are you from East Anglia too?

    I was at the Junior School in Nicosia, I loved the whole experience and especially the weather!
    I will try and look out some photographs.
    Valerie

  14. It was a wonderful day Brian and very nice to have met you and the rest of the lads, now looking forward to our next meeting on April 26th at the Rushbrooke Arms, they did us proud so we are going back there again.

  15. Don’t any of you lads who may be reading this forget the next reunion at the Rushbrooke Arms at Sicklesmere, Bury St Edmunds is taking place on Dec 6th. Many lads, some with their wives, have just had a fantastic day at Gibraltar Barracks at Bury St Edmunds celebrating Minden Day August 2nd. Our gatherings are getting bigger but unfortunately we are losing some of the lads who are passing away through illness and some from just old age so all our reunions are very important.

  16. Why can I not find the plot number for Trooper Rodney. A. Fitzpatrick 23222426 12th Lancers who died 26th May 1959. Was buried in Waynes Keep. I have a copy Head Stone together with
    wreath. His name is also missing from the Memorial.
    Warm Regards
    M.E.Bowen Ex RHG

  17. I think the Beach mentioned was called ‘6 mile beach’ At the entrance was a SANDBAGGED
    PILL Box. With Bren Gunned Sentry.

  18. I realise this site is primarily for Army memories of Cyprus but I am still interested in hearing from anyone connected with the prison service in Nicosia where my father was Asst. Director along with Colonel Pyegrome. We lived in Navarinon Street and then Messalonghi St and I attended the Junior School where a Mr Bassusto was head master

    • Hello Valerie.

      There is no reason why we cannot help you in fact we are receiving increasing numbers of enquiries that very often lead to some form of reunion and we will email you direct with some ideas to start the process .

    • Hi Valerie, I cannot help you on commenting on the prison service staff? but I can comment on the guard duties and life of a soldier on the inside of Nicosia prison. I was in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, besides being attached to H.Q. 50.IND. INF. Brigade 1956 end of 1959. I carried out two periods of guard duties in Nicosia Prison and it was a real eye opener, the main function was to guard the perimeter walls of the prison from attack on the outside and escapes from the inside.
      We were billeted in a small brick building, when off duty you remained in the building, one day a knock on the window at one end of the building I opened the window and this prisoner said would you like any laundry done, five cigarettes I come by in one hour? tell your friends, I said I will see I mention it to the other guys and some of them said its a regular thing, you will never look so smart. true to his word the prisoner came back and a number of articles went though the window, no cigarettes were handed over till the return, the uniform was light K.D. (Kaki Drill) . Wow did we look smart? washed starched and pressed with creases as sharp as could be.
      On another occasion an Officer and a W.O. called from the barrack on parade to receive our GSM. Medal, the W.O. called to attention and begun by saying, think your selves bloody lucky, our medals for the second world war cost seven and sixpence yours cost a Guinea. I thought yes that puts things into perspective. Bob Scott.

  19. I served in Cyprus from late 1957 to early 1959 with the Royal Signals outside Famagusta. I am preparing an article for the Probus magazine based on a diary I (sort of) kept during 1958 and using the Cyprus Times archive. Whilst this site is primarily for the Suffolk Regiment would my input be of interest?

  20. Hello my Bamp was serving in cyprus in 1959 his name was Jeff Collins he passed away last year but I’m going to cyprus in a few days and would like to visit where he was based can anybody help me please x

  21. Dear all,

    My name is Stephen and I am the current Military Rep for Wayne’s Keep here in Cyprus. I am trying to get hold of Margaret Sheard who has a visit coming up soon.

  22. Hello Margaret Hello Chris. As you know I spend quite a lot of my time on my computer and when I am low I come back to read all the wonderful stuff growing from our first get together and it is simply amazing what has been achieved so far so I will keep checking regularly. I have asked all my lads to reply about some of the stories as it would be very interesting to hear what they think.
    Regards Derek

  23. Enjoyed this story,I served in cyprys at the same time may 1958 until November 1959, 1st battalion (Royal Welch fusiliers) based in Aberdeen camp xeros, Morphou area, I like photo of the Bren gun( carried one for two years, not by choice) I have many photos and many memories, we lost two men during that time, most of us were national servicemen.
    Brian Adler

  24. All I can say is that this is wondeful reading. My very new husband went to Cyprus not long after we were married during the EOKA uprisings. I don’t exactly know where he was stationed or his unit, but it was usually an artillery unit as he was REME attached. His letters, which are now all gone, mentioned Famagusta, Nicosia, the Troodos mountains and other places. Sadly we are no longer in touch since our divorce, so I can’t forward this site on to him. Whether he would be influenced by it or not, I just don’t know. He did go again, though, in 1974 and again I don’t know where he went or why. I do find these things interesting because he always kept such a lot from me and I didn’t circulate much. Very good reading, very sad about Shirley, Derek. Memories, memories!

  25. Hello Marion, I am so glad you enjoyed reading my memories, nothing fantastic but I was quite pleased and proud with what I did in those days and the wonderful friends I found, the same friends I am finding today and they still appear to me as the lads which we all were back then but sadly owing to nature we are losing some of them bur they are not forgotten.

  26. I served in Cyprus fr.om 1957 to1959 in the RN & was married to my wife who was in the airforce,we were married in the garrison chapel at episcopi January 1958 & I would love to get in contact with any one who new us.Sadly my wife passed away7 yrs ago but I always wanted to go back for old times sake.i met several lads from the suffolks when I was out there as a matter of fact one lives in my street Alf Watson.meeting Alf is a long story and I haven’t the time now as lam off to my daughters for lunch.i have lots
    of tails to tell about my time in Cyprus and will tell them all if I can remember .the old mind isn’t quite as good as it used to be (ha ha).so if you will accept tails from a an old sailor l will gladly oblige Jim Welford leiston

  27. I joined the Suffolk regt in 1956 after our 10 weeks training had 2 weeks leave then straight to Cyprus on hmt empire ken a right old tub but we got there after 10 days we lived in 2 men bivouacs for quite a while then as they found us a camp kykko east camp we had to dig the monsoon trenches out around the tents I was put d comp 10 platoon the I went into mt section on the Austin 1 ton for my other 2 years remember a lot.of the places that was mentioned we had one ensign show at our camp took the party back to the ledra palace hotel and we were ambushed still got a piece of the shrapnel which went into the pillar I was standing by we caught them I have been back a few times with my wife and 2 sons and showed them as much as I could I hope this has been of interest and jogged someone’s memory hope to hear some news from someone that you

    • Thank you for your very interesting comment. I will be writing to you by email regarding this. In the meantime I will send the comment on to Derek Chilvers who will no doubt like to get in touch with you.

  28. i was sent to cyprus from libya just arfter xmas 1957 we traveld by sea on a AN LST witch took a few days becuase of the bad weather we were at dekelia garoson in limasol in a tented field we had all sorts of duties to do power house guards,road bloks, curfews petrols,cordons around vilages at night and so on i was with the 6 RTR bob taylor

  29. My husband John Powell (Taffy) was attached to Reme Army Catering Corps and served in Cyprus 1958 during the troubles would be interested to know of anyone who was there at the same time.

    • Thank you for your comment. This has been passed to Derek Chilvers who was with the Suffolk Regiment in Cyprus 1958/59 based mainly at Kykko Camp in Nicosia. Derek is always keen to follow up this type of enquiry and will be in touch with you.

      • Hi I have just came across two photos of someone called jock in my grandads army photo album from Cyprus. My grandads name is Alan josselyn. If you drop me an email to dtkneeland89@gmail.com I can send the photos to you as could be the same.

  30. I am trying to find out some information on behalf of Richard Gofton ex Royal Engineers in Cyprus from November 1956. While there he entered and won a Cyprus Radio Calypso competition and his prize was a weeks holiday at the Army Dome Hotel, Kyrenia. Apparently his calypso was put to music and was played on the Forces Favourites programme on Cyprus radio he thinks performed by Frisbee (or Frisby) Dykes and the Mule Skinners! A longshot maybe but does anybody have any recollection of this or of Richard? Mike Fox, mjfjo@btopenworld.com

    • Thank you for your comment. I have passed this on to a colleague who has a large database of Cyprus veterans and perhaps there maybe someone who will be able to help.

  31. Hello.

    This is wonderfully interesting and insightful as it is personal recollections and not just factual data and statistics recorded around the EOKA period. I am a writer and my second book is due for publication in Aug 2017 (fingers crossed). The story is based around the initial uprising and emergence of EOKA and the troubles that pursued…this has been a great source of research for the context of my story which I am currently doing my final edits on.
    If you would like to know more then please contact me on soullaauthor@gmail.com.
    Many thanks again for a wonderful helpful site.
    Best, Soulla

  32. I served in Cyprus from mid 1958 to mid 1959 as a gunfitter with REME based at Kermia Camp but as we were attached to a Royal Artillery LAA these guns were no good against terrorists so we did guard duties such as guarding Ormophita police station, security patrols by landrover and on foot in around Nicosia, and on standby in Luna Park on Greek and Turkish religious days. We got called out one morning to a village outside Nicosia as an RAF sergeant had been killed taking his son to school so we had to guard the males of the village in the local open air cinema whilst other troops searched their houses. I wouldn’t have done it by choice but it certainly made you grow up and be worldly wise.

    • Hello Mike, I dreaded being called up for my National Service and the thought of being sent to Cyprus made things a little more daunting but by the time it was all over I was a different person and thankful for what I had learnt about life, wonderful times.

      • Thanks for your comments – what concerned me about being called up was that I had just completed my apprenticeship and would have been earning some decent money then. I had been asked if I wanted to volunteer for service overseas but told them I wasn’t bothered either way – I knew that if they wanted to send me abroad they would do so, whether I wanted to or not! As you say I’m sure it made me a different, more experienced person at a time when you hadn’t learnt a lot about life and I made a lot of good friends.

  33. HI,

    what a great story and very touching. i love listening to old real stories and the interesting tales of what it was like to live in the tough times but the happiness and joy everyone still had.

    My grandfather sadly recently passed away. While sorting through his belongings i came across his old army service booklet along with a photo album.

    I have searched online to try and find a little more detail about his army days however has had no joy.

    The information i have based on his photo album is he served the Suffolk regiment between 1954 and 1959 in Nicosia, Cyprus. He has photo’s of d-coy and f-coy but not sure what that means or indicates. His name is Alan Maxwell Josselyn born 1936 in Ipswich. He also had a medal with the album but i believe this is just a service medal rather than being awarded but not sure.

    I was wondering if there is anyone who knew him or if anyone could point me in the right direction to get more information.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my email and any help, information or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Thank you for your very interesting comment. I have passed this on to an ex-Suffolk Regiment veteran to see if he can help, although he was with C Company. If not there is another colleague I can also ask. I hope someone may be able to give you some information. I am also sending you a separate email.

      • Hi thank you so much really appreciate it. I have just come across another squad photo for d coy hq which he is in with frank,Brian,spike, c/ sgt moyes Alf Alan, Barry, coat ford maj/ willdridge c.s.m Pratt.

    • hello Daniel I knew your grandad joss that’s what his nickname was i am Gordon they called me jiggy I was in d coy 10 platoon I went to Cyprus March 57 to I think July 59 I was in for 3years I think joss was in for longer I always liked joss he was a good level headed chap I can see him now with his crew cut if you want to give me a ring on 01442 392759 it would be nice to have a few words or if you want me to ring I will ring back if you want to give the number I live in Hertfordshire very sorry to hear about joss take gordon

  34. Very interesting stories indeed. I enjoyed reading the stories as they are told by the young lads and what they remember when they served in Cyprus. Thanks, Chris Elliott and Margaret Sheard for the effort. There was an army camp down the Hill from the Government House Nicosia in Strovolos. I am interested to find out from soldiers who have served there and they were there when EOKA attacked the Palace and burned the forest next to the river. It must have been around 1956-58 sometime, I remember there was a lot of gunfire and smoke from the forest. The attack was suppressed quicly, it was like sticking a stick into hornet’s nest I guess. This incident stayed in my mind since childhood. I remember another occasion when my friend Mustafa who was visiting us fell in the irrigation pool. I was barely seven and did not know what to do when a British soldier came out of nowhere and pulled my friend by the hair out of the pool. He was the soldier waiting at the sentry box on the hill and saw what was happening I always wondered what would have happened if that soldier did not see us! Whoever it was thanks are in order

    • Thank you Sermen. We are getting many stories from ex-servicemen from different regiments and maybe one of them may have some recollections of your comments. Already we are getting cross references where someone remembers something and another person was the instigator or guilty party. It is quite funny all these years later. Look out for some of the stories coming up in the next few weeks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s