People

Cyprusscene – reuniting old Cyprus friends


By Margaret Sheard ….

We recently had a comment from a reader who had viewed an article written nearly 3 years ago by Carrie Langford which was Cyprus, Newmans Farm Kyrenia, Bourganvilliaabout her childhood memories of Newman’s Farm in Kyrenia and the reason for being in Cyprus.   Her father worked for the RAF Cinema Corporation which ran the Astra cinemas on RAF bases and he was asked to take on a 3-year assignment with the Astra Cinema in Nicosia.

Our reader, John A Francis OBE, was with the 5 Wing RAF Regiment at RAF Nicosia from December 1960 to June 1963 and as well as other jobs around the Base, he also worked at the Astra Cinema, he was a member of the Saddle Club, and organist and choirmaster at St Columba’s Church (now in the Buffer Zone near to the old Nicosia International Airport).

st-columba-church-taken-in-2014-and-2015

John was posted back again from January to May 1964 for the Cyprus Emergency, this time to HQ NEAF Episkopi for work in preparation for the new UN Force.    Incidentally we have been told that the medal for this period was issued only two or three years ago after a UK Government review.

Carrie remembers John and has his signature on the back of her Saddle Club scrapbook which she kept while she was there, which read – “John Francis, King of England, Knighthoods done while you wait“.  John has said he is a little embarrassed at what he wrote, but then he was only 19 years of age at the time.    The photo below is of John on a horse named Prince taken in 1961, this was also Carrie’s favourite horse at the Saddle Club.john-on-prince-saddle-club-1961

We have on many occasions been able to reunite friends through our website and are so pleased that already Carrie has been in touch with John and exchanged photos etc. Another comment received on the Newman’s Farm article was from Mike (Hookey) Walker and this name was also recognised by John.   At the time this comment was made it was sent to Carrie and she made contact with Mike and they have met up and now keep in touch.  No doubt John will also be able to make contact with Mike and renew a friendship after some 56 years.  This is what makes writing about people and their memories so satisfying when there is such a nice result.

John has said that his time in Cyprus was not all that exciting but it was a very happy time and there are many happy memories of Kyrenia. CSE shows, swimming pool.  He remembers taking a photograph of Mr and Mrs Derek Agutter (Director CSE Shows) and sending a copy to their 9 year old daughter Jenny at boarding school.

There have been more recent visits to Cyprus for holidays in 2010 and 2016.   Of course there have been many changes since the early 1960’s and below are some photographs taken of Kyrenia Harbour comparing 1962 and 2010.

Information and photographs
courtesy of John A Francis OBE

                 1962                              2010  

kyrenia-harbour-1962-and-2010

harbour-from-castle-1962-and-2010

kyrenia-castle-1962-and-2010

view-of-harbour-1962-and-2010

3 replies »

  1. It was great to be in touch with people I knew in Cyprus in the early 60s & to exchange photos with them. Seeing the photo of John above on Prince, jogged a memory. The saddle cloth is tartan & it reminded me that there was a competition to make saddle cloths for all the horses so I of course chose to make one for Prince, my favourite. It was red tartan with “Prince” on it, I can’t remember now whether it was embroidered or appliqued in edging tape. I have a feeling I might have won the competition, but that might just be wishful thinking!

      • The Saddle Club was the RAF Nicosia Saddle Club & was on the camp. It was for service members & their families. It must have been quite near the perimeter of the camp because sometimes we rode off the camp across open ground & tracks, this was always a great treat as you could have a good canter or gallop. We always called it riding on the bundu. I never knew why but have just googled it & its a South African word meaning “the wilds”!

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