Ömer Faik Müftüzade OBE, MBE and Queen’s Gallantry Medal awards
As told by his son Hakki Müftüzade
By Margaret Sheard….
I met Hakki Müftüzade in 2015 at a Rotary event and he has since been appointed President of the Rotary Club of Kyrenia Liman for that year. We arranged to meet up with Hakki at his home in Nicosia to learn about his father who had led a very interesting and prominent life in Cyprus and this article is being published as a tribute to Hakki’s father, Ömer Faik Müftüzade OBE, QGM, who was always known as Faik.
Ömer Faik Müftüzade was born in Larnaca in November 1915 and his working career started as a teacher at the ‘Lefkoşa Türk Lisesi’, later the name was changed to ‘İslam Lisesi’ by the Headmaster Mr Wood. In fact the school was located where the Ministry of Tourism is today.
Coincidentally Faik was the teacher of the father of Hakki’s wife Behiye.
In 1939 Faik joined the Cyprus Regiment and during WW2 he served at the Gulf of Aqaba until 1945. He was then Acting Commander of the Cyprus Regiment from 1946 to 1949. The Cyprus Regiment was disbanded 30th March 1950.
Faik and his wife Mübeccel were married in 1946.
Following the Cyprus Regiment, Faik was appointed Head of Prisons and following this he joined the Cyprus Administration as Assistant Commissioner covering the Larnaca and Paphos areas and also Famagusta, where Hakki was born in 1953, in fact Faik was the last Commissioner of Famagusta before independence was granted to the whole of the island.
He resigned in 1960 when the Republic of Cyprus was established and then was appointed as Senior Liaison Officer to the British Sovereign Base in Akrotiri. During this time he was responsible for the movement of families at the time of the intervention in 1974, and he received the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for his outstanding courage and devotion to duty. He continued in this post until 1975, at which time he was posted to London.
Hakki told us a rather amusing story of when his father, who was very keen on football, was a referee in the early 1950’s and Manager of Çetinkaya Football Club. Çetinkaya won the PASOK shield vs Apoel Football Club. During a football match in Larnaca a spectator threw a bottle onto the pitch and, as Commissioner of Larnaca, Faik had the man arrested, then blew the whistle and re-started the game.
Faik received the Queen’s Gallantry Medal as a result of his outstanding courage and devotion to duty on 20th July 1974. He was given the task of negotiating a ceasefire with the Commander of the forces in the Turkish Cypriot quarter and also the Greek Cypriot Commander of Limassol, to allow the evacuation of British personnel and families and this was achieved under very hazardous conditions.
The transcript is shown below.
The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following award of the Queen’s Gallantry Medal and for publication in the London Gazette of the names of those specially shown below as having received an expression of Commendation for Brave Conduct.
Awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal
Omar Faik Muftizade, O.B.E., Area Officer, Akrotiri Sovereign Base Areas Administration, Cyprus, Ministry of Defence.
Early on 20th July 1974 fighting broke out in Limassol between Greek and Turkish Cypriot Forces. The heavy exchange of fire presented a serious danger to the lives of British personnel and caused their evacuation to be halted. Soon after midday negotiations were successfully concluded with the Greek Cypriot National Guard for a cease-fire to allow the evacuation of British personnel and families to be completed.
Mr. Muftizade was given the task of negotiating a ceasefire with the Commander of the forces in the Turkish Cypriot quarter. Accompanied by a British officer and three soldiers, Mr. Muftizade drove into Limassol. The vehicle was stopped at a Greek Cypriot National Guard road block and the party ordered out at gunpoint and disarmed, but Mr. Muftizade eventually persuaded them to allow his party to drive on. As the vehicle approached a factory it came under small arms fire and the radiator was pierced by a bullet. They drove on at high speed until they reached a house where Mr. Muftizade met a Turkish officer and began discussions. The remainder of the party took cover from sporadic small arms and mortar fire.
When the cease-fire negotiations were completed Mr. Muftizade and his party drove back through continuing small arms fire from both sides. At the National Guard block they retrieved their weapons and found that their vehicle’s radiator was completely drained. After changing vehicles Mr. Muftizade then confirmed the Turkish Cypriot acceptance of the cease-fire to the National Guard Commander in Limassol.
The success of the negotiations for a cease-fire was vital to the security of more than 11,000 British nationals who were subsequently evacuated from Limassol without a single casualty. Mr. Muftizade completed his mission in the most hazardous circumstances with total disregard for his personal safely. Faced with hostility and extreme danger he refused to turn back, even after his vehicle was, hit under fire from both sides. Throughout this mission he displayed outstanding courage and devotion to duty. Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct.
With Turkish Cypriots leaving the British Bases, Faik went to the UK in 1975 where he was appointed as the London Representative for the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus and he held this post until 1982, when he retired and he returned to North Cyprus in 1991.
We were shown the many medals which Faik had received, including of course his Medal for Gallantry and Hakki said he is proud to display them on behalf of his father at appropriate ceremonies. Of the many medals awarded to Faik, these include the Queen’s Gallantry Medal. OBE, MBE, George Medal, Africa Star, and a Russian medal which was awarded to Turkish Cypriots who fought in WW2.
As Commissioner, Faik worked under 2 Governors of Cyprus, Sir John Harding and Sir Hugh Foot who later became a Life Peer as Lord Caradon. Hakki told us an interesting story about Sir John Harding who, as a soldier at Gallipoli, had 2 fingers cut off and he was taken to a hospital by a Turkish soldier so he always recounted that his life was probably saved by a Turkish soldier.
In 1966, Hakki was sent to England to boarding school. His father wrote to the Headmaster, who had previously been Headmaster of the English School in Nicosia, and he was told if Hakki passed the entrance examinations he would be accepted, which he was, although Hakki said it was very much being thrown in at the deep-end at the age of about 12 and although he found it hard he loved this period of his life.
Ömer Faik Müftüzade died on 9thJuly 2002 at the age of 87 and he is buried in Nicosia.
Hakki is very proud of his father’s achievements and so pleased to be able to talk about them.
We are aware that Hakki has also had a very interesting life and working career and we will be following his father’s story with an account of Hakki Muftuzade in the near future.