Lest We Forget
By Margaret Sheard
Sunday 10th November was an emotional occasion for many people throughout the world when there were Remembrance Services held in many countries when people remembered those who lost their lives in 2 World Wars and many other tragic conflicts.
In North Cyprus, at the Old British Cemetery in Kyrenia, there was a huge gathering of people to remember those who did not return home, not only in the many conflicts over the years but especially for the 371 British servicemen who lost their lives in Cyprus at the time of EOKA and the quest for Enosis (Union with Greece).
Cyprus is still a divided island, it is time for a solution otherwise why did those young men and women give their lives. At the luncheon following the service Lord Ken Maginnis of Drumglass, a staunch supporter of the quest for recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, gave some facts about the British non-recognition of the British servicemen who lost their lives in Cyprus. He said that in Afghanistan between the years 2001 and 2013 (12 years) there have been 445 British servicemen who have lost their lives. In Cyprus between the years 1955 and 1959 (4 years) there were 371 British servicemen who lost their lives. By my calculation, a very heavy toll which deserves recognition.
There were many ex-servicemen who had made the journey to North Cyprus to remember their comrades and lay wreaths at the memorial at The Old British Cemetery in Kyrenia and this was also attended by a large number of the British expatriates who are now living in North Cyprus. It was a beautiful sunny day and the Authorities must be thanked for their co-operation in closing off part of the very busy road for this event to take place and accommodate the large number of people who had come to pay their respects.
The service was conducted by Lt. Cdr. the Reverend John Davies who spoke of his own experiences in areas of conflict, as well as referring to some of the servicemen who had died in the Cyprus Emergency and the fact that Greeks and Turks were also killed at this time. Rev. Davies also referred to the 4000 servicemen who had been killed since 1945 and that 1968 is the only year when a member of the British Forces did not lose his/her life. He also mentioned the servicemen who had been badly injured and would carry the scars of war for the rest of their lives. The Kyrenia Branch of The Royal British Legion is the youngest and fastest growing Branch and also has the oldest member, Peggy McAlpine, who recently achieved the age of 106 years.
The Exhortation was given by Mr Keith Lloyd and also the Kohima Epitaph. There were hymns and prayers and there followed a very emotional time for the veterans who then laid wreaths on behalf of their respective regiments.
I had a very personal interest this year as, following the last Remembrance Service in 2012, I had contact from an ex-serviceman, Derek Chilvers, who had served with the Suffolk Regiment in Cyprus in 1958/59 and this resulted in contact via email and my writing a very long article about his experiences during his time in Cyprus with a huge amount of his photographs and 2 videos which were produced to accompany the article. This has developed into a nice friendship and this year when he attended for the event I was able to meet him personally. He had also been asked if he would lay the wreath for the Suffolk Regiment and he was overwhelmed by this and obviously accepted this as a great honour for his ex-Regiment. To see the article – British Army Memories in Cyprus 1958-59 – click here.
On a lighter note, following the Remembrance Service, most of the people attending made their way to The Ship Hotel in Karaoğlanoğlu for lunch. This was an excellent occasion and gave everyone the opportunity to talk to some of the ex-servicemen who were present and catch up with some of the other expatriates who live in North Cyprus full time. Roger Handley presented RBL with a beautiful banner as he does every year. Brian Thomas and Les Evans both gave a short speech, as did Lord Ken Maginnis. The Ship Hotel staff worked so hard and we all enjoyed an excellent 3-course lunch which was delicious. After the lunch there was a sing-song with some of the real old-time favourites and everyone joined in, even if they did not know all of the words.
After the lunch everyone made their way home after what was a very poignant but enjoyable day.
There is a lot of history attached to the Old British Cemetery and this can be viewed in previous articles about Sergeant Samuel McGaw VC click here and also about the Newman family of Newman’s Farm (soon to be updated) click here.
The following day arrangements were in hand for Chris and I to take 3 of the ex-servicemen and a Turkish Cypriot friend who is based in the UK, to Wayne’s Keep in the Buffer Zone and this will be the concept of another article giving an account of yet another memorable experience.