By Margaret Sheard ….
We recently had a comment from a reader who had viewed an article written nearly 3 years ago by Carrie Langford which was about her childhood memories of Newman’s Farm in Kyrenia and the reason for being in Cyprus. Her father worked for the RAF Cinema Corporation which ran the Astra cinemas on RAF bases and he was asked to take on a 3-year assignment with the Astra Cinema in Nicosia.
Our reader, John A Francis OBE, was with the 5 Wing RAF Regiment at RAF Nicosia from December 1960 to June 1963 and as well as other jobs around the Base, he also worked at the Astra Cinema, he was a member of the Saddle Club, and organist and choirmaster at St Columba’s Church (now in the Buffer Zone near to the old Nicosia International Airport).
John was posted back again from January to May 1964 for the Cyprus Emergency, this time to HQ NEAF Episkopi for work in preparation for the new UN Force. Incidentally we have been told that the medal for this period was issued only two or three years ago after a UK Government review.
Carrie remembers John and has his signature on the back of her Saddle Club scrapbook which she kept while she was there, which read – “John Francis, King of England, Knighthoods done while you wait“. John has said he is a little embarrassed at what he wrote, but then he was only 19 years of age at the time. The photo below is of John on a horse named Prince taken in 1961, this was also Carrie’s favourite horse at the Saddle Club.
We have on many occasions been able to reunite friends through our website and are so pleased that already Carrie has been in touch with John and exchanged photos etc. Another comment received on the Newman’s Farm article was from Mike (Hookey) Walker and this name was also recognised by John. At the time this comment was made it was sent to Carrie and she made contact with Mike and they have met up and now keep in touch. No doubt John will also be able to make contact with Mike and renew a friendship after some 56 years. This is what makes writing about people and their memories so satisfying when there is such a nice result.
John has said that his time in Cyprus was not all that exciting but it was a very happy time and there are many happy memories of Kyrenia. CSE shows, swimming pool. He remembers taking a photograph of Mr and Mrs Derek Agutter (Director CSE Shows) and sending a copy to their 9 year old daughter Jenny at boarding school.
There have been more recent visits to Cyprus for holidays in 2010 and 2016. Of course there have been many changes since the early 1960’s and below are some photographs taken of Kyrenia Harbour comparing 1962 and 2010.
Information and photographs
courtesy of John A Francis OBE