Cyprus Regiment at the British Governors House Nicosia, 1947 to 1950
By Sermen Erdogan………
Cebbar Eyyam who is originally from Chryschous, Altıncık or Hirsofu village near Polis village in Paphos migrated to Australia in the early 1950s. He lives in Melbourne and is about 87 years of age. After the article on the Childhood Memories and the Workers at the Government House and my recollection of who worked there, he contacted me to say that he was there between 1946 and 1949 for three years as a British Army soldier to guard the Governor and the Government House.
I was astounded and excited that Cebbar called me and I wanted to know more about who was managing the place before my father. I promptly set up some time to see him at his house as he is a frail elderly man.
Cebbar Eyyam was a miner with the Cyprus Mining Company at Karadağ, Lefka, at the ages of 16 and 17. Later on, Cebbar joined the British Military in 1947 at the age of 18. He was sent to the Polemidia Camp in Limassol for training. He was assigned to the Government House in Nicosia after his training. It was after three years at the age of 21, he was discharged from the army. He was asked if he would like to go to Australia on an assisted passage, which he accepted.
I was aware that after the WWII ended most of the Cypriots soldiers returning from different parts of the World were discharged from the Cyprus Regiment and rehabilitated back into normal life in Cyprus. Some were offered assisted passages to Australia. However, some of the Cyprus Regiment operated as British Military for a further period in Cyprus after the war, and some of the new recruits and returned servicemen were kept in the British Army to serve on special duties.
One of these duties was providing security in and around Government House. I still remember the Army Barracks in the bottom of the hill to the right-hand side of the Palace. Incidentally, the barracks are still used today.
Cebbar also mentioned the Radio Station and the airport in Lakadamia which is the suburb next to Strovolos and the Government House, where the returned soldiers of the Cyprus Regiment were put to work. One of these was Cafer Mehmet who became the Cyprus Radio Turkish Language announcer who was a friend of Cebbar. Others were used in expanding the airport and clearing mines.
Cebbar as a Cyprus Regiment soldier had other soldiers and their sergeant Muammer from Larnaca providing security at Government House.
One day Sergeant Muammer who used to bring meals from outside was very late bringing lunch to the soldiers on duty and Cebbar was very upset with him and had a few words of complaint and argument with his sergeant. He was taken to court for upsetting Sergeant Muammer and at the time judge S.D’mar Shimun dismissed the case as a farcical issue. When I asked about this strange name Shimun, Cebbar said that he remembers the name after so many years as he befriended Shimun later and that he is an interesting character. Further search on Google revealed an interesting story about the Shimuns. Wikipedia outlines that: At the time of the disturbances in 1933 in Iraq, the Assyrian D’mar Shimun Patriarchal family were taken to Cyprus, where they remained until 1949 when they moved to the USA. The Assyrians became Christians in the 1st Century and are today followers of the Ancient Church of the East, Assyrian Church of the East, Syriac Orthodox Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church and various Protestant denominations. Obviously, this family prospered in Cyprus for approximately 20 years for one of them to become a magistrate.
Other soldiers serving at the time with Cebbar were a Greek Cypriot nicknamed Montgomery, and Andrea, Yosifi the Maronite, another Cypriot Greek Cebbar remembers his army number as 22790 but not his name! Montgomery was a nickname given to the Greek soldier as he did actually meet General Montgomery in Libya due to very interesting circumstances that he used to recount and laugh about.
The story was that a bomb exploded during a skirmish and a British soldier was fatally injured lying in a field. This Greek soldier approached and noticed that the fatally wounded soldier had a beautiful watch on his wrist which he thought to relieve him of as he would not be needing it anymore. General Montgomery was passing through and asked the Greek soldier what he was doing. The Greek soldier said he was trying to help revive the British soldier. As a result of this, the Greek soldier was awarded a medal for trying to help and he was nicknamed Montgomery from that time on.
When I asked Cebbar about the other workers in the Government House at the time he can remember some of them by surname or the relationships between them. Cebbar told me that the Cypriot Greek family Karanlikis (Incidentally Karanlık is a Turkish word for darkness) as a family were very prominent in the Government House positions in 1940s. The father Karanliki actually managed the gardens with a Turkish guy who was incidentally a person who was brought to the gardens from Nicosia Central Prison daily. Cebbar said that the policemen kept an eye on him during the workday in the gardens. An interesting anecdote, I wonder who this person was! During my childhood, a gang of prisoners was brought in also to work in the gardens. I remember one of them making a circus man balancing on a little pedestal for me out of wood that I played with. Another prisoner Mustafa Dayi who was imprisoned for the death of his wife was a good friend of my father who invited us to his daughter’s wedding mentioned in earlier memories.
A brother of Karanlikis and his son Andrea Karanliki were the chauffeurs of the then Governor. The British governor at the time was:
|Reginald Fletcher, 1st Baron Winster
|Governor of Cyprus from 24 October 1946||till 4 August 1949|
Photo of Cyprus Governor Reginald Fletcher on the left.
According to a story, Cebbar heard from the father Karanliki that there was also a General or Brigadier called Manifold, who was helping or working with Governor Fletcher. Karanliki told Cebbar that Manifold was a blinded soldier due to an injury in the Gallipoli wars in 1915. Unfortunately, Cebbar did not have any other information and my searches have not yielded any other info on this character.
Karanlikis also lived in the houses in the grounds like we did. His wife was a very caring lady and offered Turkish coffee to whoever was around at the morning coffee times at the office of the Manager of gardens which was the office my father occupied during his time there.
At the kitchen of the Government House, the cook was the brother of father Karanliki also but Cebbar does not remember the first name. The rest of the garden workers were Cypriot Greeks, Cebbar said but he does not remember names. He remembered Eftimia the elderly lady when I mentioned her who was in a black dress all the time.
Interestingly Cebbar also remembers the Armenian girl who was a typist and could type 95 words per minute but he struggled with the name he thinks her name was Getty! Her father also worked in Government House who was named Avram he said but that’s all he can recall about the Armenian family. I suspect this girl could be the Armenian girl Nanny that Margaret Archibald and I talked about, who married the English Security Officer and left to live in England.
There was a sizable Police group as well at the time, as Cebbar remembered their names were Derviş from Antrolikou, Dağaşan Village, Paphos, Yavaş Ahmet, Suavi who was an elderly Policeman and fetched the mail from the Post Office daily for the Government House and officers working in the office of the house.
I thank Cebbar Eyyam for supplying the information and the little stories for this article.
Below the photo of Cebbar and wife Perihan.
These little stories are important as someone might remember other people and/or stories of Government House during those years long ago.
To read more of the people who lived in the British Governor’s house in Nicosia throughout the years, please click on the following links: