Karaolos Army School, Famagusta
Exodus to where? – The missing camps of Cyprus?
By Chris Elliott
In re-publishing my article “Exodus to where? – The missing camps of Cyprus?” on the internet, this was updated to include reference to the Karaolas Army School, Famagusta which was within the Karaolas military camp area and there has been some excellent work of researching the history of this school by the former pupils on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Karaolosschool and this is what they have discovered after research of the Karaolas Camp.
“British involvement in Cyprus started in 1878 when the English took over administration of the Island from Sultan Abdul Hamid 11 of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans felt they might need help from the British against the Russians, and the British wanted a base in the Ottoman/middle east area.
Famagusta was the only deep water port on the Island for use by Navy warships and supply ships. Karaolos was used initially as a storage area for supplies to Nicosia and in the summer to Troodos where the Governor decamped to avoid the summer heat.
In 1916 the British used Karaolos as a detainee camp for Turkish POW from WW1. They were captured in the Suez and Dardanelle areas by the British and sent by ship to Famagusta numbering 2000. After the war they were released, some remained in Cyprus and the rest sent to Turkey. By 1920 the camp was empty.
Then the Russians came. The White Army and their dependants having been defeated by the Red army and fled to Crimea. They were evacuated to Istanbul and then to Cyprus. Most stayed only a year while some settled in Cyprus the remainder moved to any country that would have them. The tents were replaced by some buildings and huts and conditions were slightly better at this time.
The largest group of interns of course were Jewish refugees fleeing Europe but not allowed at that time to enter Palestine. The ships were intercepted by British warships and everyone on board taken to Karaolos. From 1946 2000 refugees a time were taken to Haifa but in 1948 the last remaining people were shipped to Palestine and the camp was empty again. The whole episode led to a book and then a Hollywood film.
With trouble escalating in the Suez Crisis the number of British troops was increased and many billeted in Karaolos on route to the area. Many young men were doing their national service in Cyprus. Families of these men were housed in Famagusta and their children attended a school in Karaolos. The earliest pupil memories are from 1953 but its not known when the school opened. It closed in 1964 and all pupils transferred to Ayios Nicholaos and King Richards in Dhekelia.
Some of the land and buildings was used by the UN during the EOKA troubles in 1974 and some used by the National Army as a training base. Being designated as Military, access today is prohibited. Research into these times is limited to the internet but more is being posted as people age and want their memories recorded.”
Back now to the school which was formed to provide education for the children of British Servicemen based at the Karaolos Army Camp perhaps the most interesting aspects of the school are the memories of the pupils and some of these are shown below.
On August 13, 1946, the British began using the Cyprus Detention Camp Karaolos, near Famagusta Cyprus. Altogether, there were five camps: 55, 60, 61, 62 and Camp 63, in Karaolos, all built near the beach area. One of these camps became the British Army school Karaolos.
It was closed when caught in crossfire during the EOKA troubles and all children moved to Ayios Nicholas school at Four Mile Point. Without any other FB page I hope we can get together and reminisce here on https://www.facebook.com/Karaolosschool.
SHOOTING DISTURBS PEACE OF FAMAGUSTA – Cyprus Mail correspondent. Famagusta April 22 1964
A POLICE escort for a squad of Electricity Authority workers near the Karaolos camp outside Famagusta came under heavy fire this morning from a Turkish strongpoint in the area and was pinned down for some time until police reinforcements and UN troops arrived. About 150 British children at the nearby Karaolos Army School were evacuated from their classrooms. The children spent 90 minutes in the school holding a ‘sing-song’ as the firing continued, before Army lorries took them home. The Police Landrover carried Sgt. Christakis Sergiou and Pte. Demetrakis Mavromatis, the driver. They were escorting Public Works and Electricity Authority workers to the area to attend to installations for the electrification of the area.
Famagusta has been one of the quietest areas during the last four months, and it is the first time Famagusta police have had to use their guns to answer fire. Automatic fire A Turk, who is said to have been identified, fired from a sandbagged position behind a barbed wire fence, immediately afterwards several bursts were fired by another Turk hiding in the area using automatic weapons. The occupants of the police vehicle managed to get out of their bullet-riddled car and … in a ditch returned the fire. The Battle raged for about two hours at close range before U.N. troops from British and Irish contingents moved in and brought about a cease fire.
The Irish soldiers, though are due to become operational from tonight, moved into action smoothly wearing their new U.N. helmets. U.N. officers said no casualties were reported during the incident which ended when Captain Fuller arrived on the scene with a patrol of Life-guards and men of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. The Irish troops of the 40th Battalion some of whom arrived in Cyprus only the day before, helping the British troops to cordon the area and patrol streets around the Greek and Turkish sectors. Irish escort At about the same time Turks in the Sakaria-Kartanas area tried to intercept traffic on the main Salamis road. But the entire security force was … and calm returned to the town by the afternoon. At about 1p.m. Irish troops escorted Electricity Authority workers to … to installations. The sandbagged position in which the Turks had …has already been demolished.
I have contacted a mate who was at Karaolos with me, he cannot remember a school there.
Good luck with your search.
I only knew of the existence of this film a few years ago when it was shown on Sky one afternoon. I rang my Dad and asked if he knew about it and he said of course!!
The memories of those few years in my young life were so confused and I was set on a new course to find out more about Karaolos.
For information click on this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exodus_(1960_film
I was also a pupil at Karalos School 1960. 1961 moved to King Richards in Dhekelia. I am not sure whether or not Karalos School closed down but I suspect it did because my 3 sisters followed me to King Dicks. Time does fly.
I collect my Old Age Pension this year. Anyone remember the open air cinema at Karalos? Not sure where the Army Camp was in relation to the school but I think it was probably next door. If I knew how to do it I would put a picture of my first Karalos School Report on here but I haven’t the first idea how to do it? Can anyone enlighten me?
Posting Part of Karaolos camp was given to the Swedish Peace Keepers when it closed in 1964 and renamed Camp Carl-Gustaf.
Now Karaolos is on the map. Formerly known as Gulseren Camp Area and used by the National Guard. It was declared a military camp in 1981 and used by the Turkish Cypriot Armed Forces. Unfortunately since yesterday the Wikimapia image has disappeared and I’ve replaced it with the Google Earth image.
This research project has been very successful and parts of the historical jigsaw are starting to be put together and some of the staff and pupils have been listed below.
|1953||Linda McManus, Gloria Attards, Lorraine Hills|
|1955||Kate Campbell nee Nugent,|
|1956||Christine Platts nee Allen, Judy Allen|
|1957||Evelyn Plater nee Calleja, Pam Burghart, Avril Fielding, Kenneth Wallace, Brian Pole, Charlie Buttergig, Terry Cahill, Ian Aldous, Sandra Glee, Ann Savage||Mr Talbot…Miss Firnridge|
|1958||Susan Borgensen nee Bunten||Tom Wilcox|
|1962||Robbin Whittlestone, Susan Evans, Dawn Williamson nee Shanks||Robin Green||M M Jackson|
|1963||Dawn Thompson nee Shaw, Judy Shaw, John Stewart,||G Shepherd|
It is hoped that by publishing this story of the Karaolos Army School, Famagusta more worldwide readers will become aware of its fascinating past and perhaps more information will be forthcoming so that the former pupils will be able to tell their children, grandchildren and future generations what it was like to be child in the history of Cyprus. Do please visit the Karaolos Army School, Famagusta Facebook page click here where you can see many more pictures and informative notes from the pupils.
To read our article “Exodus to where? – The missing camps of Cyprus?” which led to this joint article above, please click here