January 29, 2023

By Chris Elliott………

In these modern times we go to the internet to seek information about the past but often the information we find can be limited by our chosen language and although many books and articles may have been published about a subject, their content may not have been shared with that big library which is the internet.

A fine example of this is to try a Google search on “Erenköy Siege” and you will find Wikipedia shows a limited choice and in fact your attention is drawn to the fact that the village of Erenköy was called Kokkina.

So what of Erenköy, perhaps at the first search through Wikipedia we are told of the siege of Erenköy but is this the complete story and is it complete and correct?

If it were possible to read and understand the Turkish and Greek press we may find differences of opinion so let’s start with an overview of its reported history.

Supplies being brought in by boat to Erenkoy

 Having visited the village twice I was able to realise my dream of learning more about the dramatic defence of Erenköy (Kokkina) which was defended from  April 1964 by initially Turkish Cypriots including 500 Turkish Cypriot students that had returned by sea in small fishing boats from Turkish Universities and were under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Riza Vuruşkan of the Turkish Army who had founded the TMT Turkish Resistance in Cyprus which was set up to counter the attacks on the Turkish Cypriot community by EOKA.

A small number of volunteers including those from Britain had managed to get through the Greek security lines but the total defenders remained very few and they were only armed with lightweight weapons. The area defended originally consisted of 5 villages but the defenders were eventually forced back to make their last stand here in Erenköy.

Defending the beach

With the mountains surrounding this pretty bay being taken over by Greek and Greek Cypriot armed forces whose numbers swelled from 1,500 to 3,000, from the 6th August 1964 the fire power they directed down into the village; from artillery and mortars, was devastating and the defenders were also attacked from their rear by two Greek Cypriot patrol boats from the sea.

During this period the UN had an observation post in the village but was powerless to take any action to stop the fighting.

Greek gunboats being attacked by Turkish Airforce

The defenders managed against overwhelming odds to hold their ground until the Turkish Air Force intervened with action on 8th August against military targets which deterred any more major offences by Greek or Greek Cypriot forces. Surely this is a story of man’s resolve to stand firm with pride and determination and it is rather like that of the Spartans who faced overwhelming forces in ancient times.

During 1966 the volunteer fighters were moved out of the village leaving the occupants behind under the protection of the UN contingent.

Dr. Hasan Bozer and friends celebrate victory

Following Operation Attila 2 of the Peace Intervention by the Turkish Armed Forces in 1974 the Turkish forces were not able to break through to this last enclave, so to this day the Erenköy uninhabited enclave remains under the protection of the TRNC armed forces with a UN contingent nearby creating a buffer zone.

Within the enclave at the village cemetery, there are 13 carefully tended graves of Turkish Cypriots who were killed at the siege at Erenköy. The village itself still carries heavy battle damage and to see the caves created as protection from the overwhelming artillery fire is frightening. There is a museum which was created from the refurbished mosque and this contains fine photographs showing the heroes who fought there and also the families who had nowhere to go and managed to survive the horrific assault by the Greek forces and the Greek National Guard.

Struggle for survival by living in a cave

Considering the small number of defenders, who mostly had very little military training and were armed with either homemade guns, shotguns or relics from another era, it was a miracle they held their ground against overwhelming odds.

Yes they were supported with a very limited supply of modern light weapons which came from Turkey and this did help them in their seemingly impossible task.

So on my second trip to the village I visited the cemetery where the fallen are buried and remained there with the local media crews to record and write of the experience when two helicopters flew in carrying the TRNC President, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries who came into the cemetery to pay their respects and give comfort and support to the relatives of those who had fallen in this struggle for survival.

Pride of the nation, the heros that rest here in peace

In that short period of time of the ceremony and with the sound of bands, speeches and the saluting gunfire and the smell of the wafting gunsmoke you could see in the eyes of everyone there, the sadness and also the fierce pride to overcome adversity that is the hallmark of the Turkish Cypriots.

We read so much of the injustice of what was the Turkish Peace Intervention on 20th July 1974 which saved so many lives and brought peace to the Turkish Cypriots in North Cyprus guarded by Turkey and embargoed by the rest of the world.  It is said by the Greek Cypriots that the Cyprus problem started in 1974 on the 20th July, this is far from the truth, there was fighting and unrest and attacks on the Turkish Cypriots by Greek Cypriots and Greeks in the name of Enosis as far back as the 1950’s and this is fact.

Let’s remember that President Makarios stood before the UN Assembly on the 19th July 1974 and stated his country had been invaded by Greece and was being aided by Greek Cypriot extremists and called for help. Click here.

Back to Erenköy and we read even now in the press of the barbaric air attack on Greek Cypriot villages but no mention of the offensive action being perpetrated. There is no mention of the Greek and Greek Cypriot aggressors surrounding this little village and attempting with Artillery and Naval forces to seek its destruction including its inhabitants and defenders.  All this could be just words but I invite you to watch the following video which contains an interview with an independent eye witness to the siege of Erenköy.

You can only read and wonder what may have happened if the defence of Erenköy had been unsuccessful, could it have been another Srebrenica type disaster with the word genocide entering the history of Cyprus yet again… If all people can accept the truth of the history of Cyprus and come to terms with it, then maybe there can be hope of peace and harmony for the future of this island. 

Erenkoy, the truth is told by Willy Lindh who was there –         See video below!

16 thoughts on “Erenkoy, the truth is told!

  1. A very sad but true account of this bit of history.
    Unfortunatly I had no picture on my playing the video but the commentary was very saddening.

    1. John if you Google “no video when playing avi” you will see lots of hints to fix the problem. Perhaps I need to switch to another video file format in future

  2. my family is from the village before eren koy on the north side called yesilirmak / in greek limnidis and my house is in the center of yesilirmak was used as a central command post , or army headquarters im told by my father whom built our family home, what beautiful and majestic village, yesilirmak

    1. That it very interesting. We stopped off at Yesilirmak on the way to Erenkoy but didn’t have time to look around the village. This will be another special trip. Incidentally, a few days after our visit to Erenkoy there was a terrible fire in the area of Yesilirmak, the village was ok but got shrouded in smoke. The aftermath is a massive area of countryside and trees destroyed. I am in the process of writing about it

    2. hello kyreniacatkin yes, there are a few stories about the surrounding villages the house if you ever go there is the house opposite the little cooperative on the left in the middle of the village and the most important post there at the time of the war ,and as you go to the village on that windy road not far is on-top of a hilltop is a bunker that was used to defend the village from incoming enamy at the time and was used by the villigers ,my uncle died there in 74 from a stray bullet but more so that bunker also stopped the greeks from entering the village onward to erenkoy and desrtroying everything and everyone,

      if you go there on the way checkout by the sea was the biggest grapevine in the world at the gazino /tavern by the sea owned by family members .

      as for fire when was the fires as i heard there are some very presently.

      1. Hi Dean

        Theres a story of a handful of villagers of Yesilirmak holding back the EOKA men etc from entering some hundred or so of them in rigorous fighting the enemy, word got back to the Greeks that the Turkish forces are on there way from Guzelyurt and the officer in charge radioed the jets to come as they didnt know how long they could hold them back , the jets that came were in the area Im told indicated its going to mainland Turkiye to refuel and returning, after that the Greeks changed course but if you ever go to Yesilirmak checkout on a good day other than the strawberries the villige is known for, you can also see the Turkish coastline by the sea where the armies came from to Erenkoy etc.

      2. Hello Eric. Thank you for all your wonderful information. I have sent you a separate email regarding this. We will certainly be going to learn more of the village very soon. We like to write about the history of villages in North Cyprus and have recently done articles about Akincilar (Lurucina). The grapevine sounds fascinating too. I have mentioned about the fire in my email but there have apparently been some others but not as devastating as the one around Yesilirmak. If you or your family would like to share any information about your village, please write to me by email.

  3. Sieges like this have drawn inspiration for numerous other countries. From victories like Kae Sanh and Leningrad. Losses like the Alamo. One can learn lessons from sieges such as Dien Bien Phu. But it’s the ones like Erenkoy where the weaker side prevailed against long odds that garner the most respect.

    1. We totally agree and thank goodness for the Turkish Airforce which brought the siege to an end.

  4. My understanding is the only to Erenkoy for us is by boat but maybe thats all changed but when I was there 8 years ago that was the case.

    I really need to get back, I reaally do, lol.

    1. Hello Eric, I have been by road to Erenköy twice in the last 3 years and I believe the first trip by road was made either 4 or 5 years ago. If you plan to come back next year to make the annual pilgrimage, we can give you contact details so you can go by road..

  5. Well done Chris and Margaret. Very interesting insight to the truth told from an unbiased point of view.The courage of people is amazing

    1. Thank you Keith for your comment and you will find many more articles like this on our website and also on our new Facebook page “cyprusscene.com”

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