Visit to Wayne’s Keep
10th November 2015
By Margaret Sheard…..
When some of the British ex-servicemen visit North Cyprus for the Kyrenia Remembrance service at The Old British Cemetery, I usually organise a trip to Wayne’s Keep while they are here and this year we were joined by 2 ex-Royal Horse Guards veterans and the wife of one of them, so we were a group of 8. Our party should have been 9 but unfortunately Chris was in the process of renewing his passport and although the old one had been returned, the new one had not arrived in time. Of course, as is usually the case, the new one arrived the next day!
The group was made up of Derek Chilvers, Mick Burland and Terry Covell of the Suffolk Regiment, Harry (Henry) Wyn Jones of the Royal Corps of Signals, and Brian Worthy and Les Smith of the Royal Horse Guards, plus Les’s wife Shena, and myself.
We arrived at Ledra Palace and were warmly welcomed by the UN personnel before meeting Sgt Stephen Studders, the current Wayne’s Keep Custodian and Padre Colin Bell, who would be taking us on the tour this year. We boarded the bus and off we went to our first port of call, Wayne’s Keep Cemetery.
I always find visiting the cemetery quite an emotional experience and this visit was no exception as I had offered to lay a cross on 2 graves for people in the UK. Brian, Les and Shena also had 7 wreaths to place on the graves of their ex-comrades of the Royal Horse Guards and Derek, Mick and Terry place a cross on the grave of a fallen Suffolk Regiment soldier. So we all split up to find the final resting place of these young men who had died while in the service of their country. We were all aware of the plot and grave numbers so just needed the help of the Custodian and Padre to point us in the right direction.
I first found the grave of Airman Allen C Rye who died in Cyprus on 25th April 1951 at the age of 19 and I placed a cross on behalf of Allen’s nephew. Bill Rye. I am currently trying to establish more information about this young man who was the twin brother of Bill’s father, William Rye, who also served in Cyprus at the time of his brother Allen’s death.
Next I visited the grave of Ian Reginald Collins of the Royal Berkshire Regiment who died on 23rd May 1957 aged 21 years. This cross was placed on behalf of Bob Scott, who also served with the Royal Berkshire Regiment and was a very close friend of Ian from the days they were in the Cubs and Scouts together, and he has told us he helped carry the coffin of his friend who was initially buried in the south, however, after the 1974 intervention it was necessary for him to be moved from his resting place and he was transferred to Wayne’s Keep Cemetery. Although this was very upsetting for Bob at the time, he said at least Ian is now with his own.
After everyone had paid their respects, we gathered together and the Padre gave a short but very poignant service which I think everyone appreciated.
We then boarded the bus again and went to the old Nicosia International Airport, where we saw the remains of the Trident aircraft which still sits there and we had a slow drive along the front of the airport building.
We next went to St Columba Church, which is in the Buffer Zone, where there is a lovely chapel and an area with memorabilia which was of great interest to our group members. While the others were in the church, I had a chat with our driver, Lance Corporal James Kamau who told me he is originally from Kenya, he moved to London in the UK, and has been in the army for 5 years.
We then returned to Ledra Palace and, as we neared, the Custodian pointed out Wolseley Barracks which was of great interest to one of our group, Harry, who had spent some time there during his service in Cyprus, so he and the Custodian got off the bus to spend a little time there. Harry said he was quite overcome when he was at the Barracks and was thrilled at the opportunity to recall some of his memories.
We met up again with Chris who was waiting for us at the checkpoint and made our way back to Kyrenia to drop everyone off at the Pia Bella Hotel, after a very nice few hours for the ex-servicemen to enjoy reminiscing about their various military service time in Cyprus all those years ago.