Books

A Gordon for Me : new book of 1950s Cyprus by Brian Robertson

We have received the following reader’s mail from Brian Robertson, who has recently had a book published, which covers his time in Cyprus with the Gordon Highlanders in 1955/56, entitled A Gordon for Me.  The book is dedicated to the 16 Gordon Highlanders who lost their lives in Cyprus.

I am hoping to get a friend to bring a copy of the book when he comes to North Cyprus in November and when I have read it, which I am really looking forward to having read the free chapter I subscribed for, I will then be able to do a review.

Book cover courtesy of Ringwood Publishing, Glasgow

Reader’s mail ….

Hello

I thought perhaps some members may be interested in a book just published. It is a memoir of my time in Cyprus with the Gordon Highlanders in 1955/6. The title is A Gordon For Me and it’s published by Ringwood Publishing Glasgow http://ringwoodpublishing.com

Aberdeen Camp, Xeros – 1956
Brian left, Kevin Taylor right

This is my latest book. As all readers of Cyprusscene will be aware Britain at this time was trying to hang on to the last remnants of its Empire against the wishes of the Greek Cypriot majority on the island.

The book is dedicated to the 16 young Gordon Highlanders who lost their lives in this action. Many of them were national servicemen and press-ganged into the army as I was. We made the best of it until we could return home. But for 16 young men, this was not to be.

Don’t get me wrong! I enjoyed my time in the army as most national servicemen did and I matured considerably. I still have a way to go perhaps. I’m just 81.

Lefke – main road taken from Police Station by Norman Kerr 1956

My understanding of the political situation during those times was the same as most 18-year-olds—nil. If I am honest it was not until I started reading opinion and reports of the times that I gained some comprehension of why we were there and for what purpose.

In the end, I became very uncomfortable with what I discovered. As a result, several publishers refused the book telling me it was too controversial. Fortunately, a new, young, Ringwood Publishing in Glasgow, agreed to take the book on.

I hope at least some of you enjoy it.

Learn more at http://agordonforme.com

The book will shortly be available at Waterstones and other bookshops.

Brian Robertson

Somme Platoon Gordon Highlanders

Back Row, left to Right — Bell, Fraser 44, Cormack, Sim, Ingram, Rennie 28, Angus 24, Hay, Smith, Cruickshank, Stuart
Centre Row—Cheyne, Fortune, Robertson 57 (me), Campbell, Grant, Shields, Simpson, Allerton, Urquhart, Clyne, Watt, Paterson, Taylor, Sutherland
Front Row—Beaton, Robbie, Nicol, Whyte, Cpl. Dooley, Sgt. Dryburgh, Lt. Martineau, Cpl. Stone, L/Cpl. Watt, Barron, McCubbin. Green, Garden.

12 replies »

    • I think it possibly was this fire. I am sending your comment to the author and no doubt he will reply to you. I am aware of a Turkish Cypriot who had to take a large number of men from Limni Mine to help tackle the blaze. In the meantime, I am waiting to get a copy of the book so I can read about the author’s time in Cyprus.

      • Thank you for answering, I was located at Limni Mines, 6 months IS tour, Royal Signals attached 50 Med RA, We went to the Forrest fire to give aid and contain fire, am sûre it was Gordon’s trapped there, in my 80’s so things getting vague.

  1. Thanks for the comments. Yes my memory is also not so reliable now. Most of what is contained in the book about the forest fire (Chapter 9) I wrote after considerable research on the subject. This fire accounted for 13 of the 16 Gordon Highlander deaths in Cyprus. A subsequent inquiry could not determine how the fire started. My guess is that most of us were smokers in those days and these mountains had never been so densely populated than they were during that operation. If you are a smoker, even if you are ordered not to smoke, you will find a way! The question is, should we have been there in the first place?

    • Brian, I am researching my late father’s career in The Gordon HIghlanders. He was Bob Strachan and served in Cyprus 1956. According to some of the stories on the web it was started by a mortar exploding in the ‘tinder dry’ environment.

      • I have passed your comment to Brian Robertson, and no doubt he will be in touch with you soon.

      • Yes I have had a look again Robert and that is Sgt Dryburg in the photograph not to Lt Martineau in the front. That is the official photograph taken at the passing out parade of Somme Platoon in March 1955. If you get in touch with me at brian@booksbybrian.com.au I’ll send you a better copy of the photo.

      • Yes, that is very possible, but I state in the book that I think it unlikely because to use mortars in such conditions would so obviously result in a forest fire. I could have happened of course.

  2. Are you able to confirm that it is Sgt JIM Dryburgh in the picture? My late father Bob Strachan served with The Gordon HIghlanders in Cyprus 1956. Jim Dryburgh was at my father’s wake in January this year.

      • Sorry to hear about your Dad’s passing Robert. If you could let me know which of the photographs in the book you are talking about I might be able to help you more but I am afraid my memory is not what it used to be.

  3. 50 Med Regt RA, were sent to Cyprus on Internal Security duties whilst on stand by to move to the Suez debacle, HMS Ocean Aircraft carrier with our Field Guns on board was hove to just of the coast next to Polis, west Cyprus, meanwhile we carried out IS duties against Grivas and his band of terrorists. When we were called out to go to Troodos Forrest and assist in the recovery of Gordon’s, that we had been told had been trapped in a fire set by Grivas. It was a traumatic affair for the rescue troops but not nearly as bad as for the Gordon’s. I was especially aggrieved My family had been closely associated with the Gordon’s through my Father, Alexander (Sandy ) Reid, who served over 40 years with them, from the India days till the late 50’s. When he retired as a Warrent Officer.

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