Cyprus Remembered – Geoffrey Simpson ex 65th Coy RASC


Introduction by Margaret Sheard …

We have received a comment from a reader who has enjoyed reading one of our oldest articles about British national servicemen in Cyprus in the late 1950’s and he has also shared some of his own memories of his time in Cyprus, when he was stationed in Famagusta from 1956 to 1958.

By Geoff Simpson ex 65th Coy RASC ….

I was one of the 65th Coy RASC stationed at Golden Sands from 1956 to 1958. I drove what we called an Ice Box delivering meat to camps all over the Island. I also did several ammo runs in a Leyland Hippo. Whilst in a convoy near Dhekelia I had a 1000 pounder which rolled back in my lorry, knocking down the tailboard and bouncing down the road. We thought the convoy would go up but later they said it wasn’t primed.

Being the only heavy general transport company on the island we delivered all over Cyprus.  Ammunition chiefly went to RAF Akrotiri, Nicosia, Dhekelia, Episkopi  and Limassol.   When we went to Dhavlos it was to move a new regiment onto the island, I believe it was the Welch Regiment.   Driving a lorry was a bit scary in those days with the rough and narrow twisting roads, as can be seen in the photo below with the lorry wheels hanging over the edge of a sharp bend and there was a sheer drop below.

I also remember Yana’s visit, when she played at our camp in Famagusta. I was on main gate guard. As her coach was leaving we stopped it and Yana dismounted, she said “did you miss the show boys”. We said “yes” and she put her arms around us and gave us a full on kiss. The lads all wanted main gate duties after that.

There were casualties in our camp.  From behind the brick wall that was all around the orange groves, a terrorist threw a bomb into the back of a 3 tonner which was carrying some of the Leicester regiment who shared our camp. This resulted in several deaths and injuries. That was why the wall was bulldozed down by us all the way to Famagusta.

Unfortunately our Sergeant’s 15 year old civilian son was also killed whilst walking into the camp.

The road to Dhavlos and 65th Coy Lorry Park


16 replies »

  1. My brother was stationed there while doing his national service , during this period His name was Norman Simpson and was a driver in the RAF, its a pity now he is dead as I have an apartment in Cyprus , he would have so loved to return and see the places he visited .

  2. I was with 17 Coy RASC at Famagusta as sgt i/c LAD w/shops I remember 65 coy coming to Cyprus in about 1955/56 (from the canal zone I think) 17 coy was the major and oldest RASC coy in Cyprus with 2 bases on the island ! at Famagusta on the Famagusta/Nicosia rd just outside Famagusta and the other at Nicosia we had around 850 vehicles in the bases ranging from Motor cycles Staff cars, Ambulances, Tillys, 15cwts,3 & 5 tonners and heavy goods including tank transporters and recovery vehicles plus the 17 coy RASC REME LAD had the RMP, SIB, RE movement control,, Signals and other minor units transport attatched to them for maintenance inspections etc prior to 65 coy coming we did all the general transporting on the island so its not fair to say 65 coy was the only general heavy transport company on the island

  3. I was in the REME – LAD attached to
    65 coy RASC at the Golden Sands camp from 1955 to 57 Came from the UK with them, we were stationed in Wiltshire at the time the Cyprus emergency came up.

  4. What a blast from the past I was a have driver in 65 coy my truck was a AEC and I had many scary times out ther in 1958/1960 all of which was written here plus many more
    Regards John edwards

  5. I was a im in 9 inf worhshop, R.E.M.E. Famagusta, and repaired several 10 tonners, mainly it was the clutch, that was clapped out, I remember one had Colchester written in the cab , It was an easy truck to drive, and you could change gear without using the clutch. Happy days.

    • Hi Collin the clutch normally went because of the over loading and the inclines going up troudous mountains fully loaded I had trouble with the spare wheel carrier steel cable it snapped

      • Hi John, I think the spare wheel was behind the cab in a frame, difficult to change at all times, I believe there were two types of rear wheels, Did you ever go to the Spitfire Club and drink brandy sour? or perhaps Lala Mustafa Pasha Street? saw at least a dozen French soldiers queuing for a young women. they were waiting to go to Suez. I hope to return to Cyprus next year, to attend the service of those that did not return . Be lucky, Colin

  6. I served in Cyprus with the Royal Berkshire Regiment I was in C company 9 platoon We patrolled the streets of Nicosia a lot and spent a lot more in the Troodos mountains

  7. Hi Geoffrey
    I was stationed in Golden Sands camp, I think the R.U.R. were next camp to ours,and I remember when the two ladies who were shopping in Famagusta were shot,They Royal Ulster Rifles went to town and did a lot of damage, I also remember Sergeant Preeces son.was shot by the cowardly EOKA. He was a lovely lad used to come into camp and mix with the lads,

    I was there in 1959
    Peter Treasure.

  8. Hello Geoff, my story was the first to be put out by Margaret Sheard and I am truly amazed at what has come from it since and I am now meeting up with the lads I served with and it is really great, we have three reunions a year and at each reunion we have another one of the lads turn up. Well done with your story and I hope you can find some old friends because of it.
    Derek ( chilvo )

    • It was good to see you mention Yana Geoffrey, my memories of her were good and I escorted her from Kykko East Camp after she put on a good show but a lot of my lad’s can’t remember her.

      • I only mentioned Yana because it was previously mentioned that a squaddie had had a meal with her and I knew I could top that.
        Our camp was shared with the leave camp for the middle East so we got all of the UK’s top artists and were allowed to see all the shows,however we never did because we were either on guard or getting loaded in Famagusta docks.
        We did share our camp at one time with the Royal Ulster Rifles and had regular fights with them in our NAAFI.We were often called out of our tent on a Saturday night to go and join in the fight.Outside camp we were the best of buddies as they were our escorts if we were lucky enough to get one.

  9. Can I just add that all of my photos in those days were black and white,we used to sit in the tent at night colouring them with special tints

  10. When I started my training in Aldershot can’t remember the intake number but it was the first intake in 1955 I was then sent to Yeovil in Somerset . One of my mates during training was a lad called Alex Rutherford from Wallyford outside Edinburgh. On returning to Borden to be stationed overseas our intake was supposed to go to Malaya on the “Empire Ken” but when we arrived at Port Said all RASC drivers were stationed in Egypt for some reason. Alex went to 86 Coy RASC Gen. Transport in Moascar (Ismailia) I was in 58 Coy. RASC Fayid. On the troop movement to Cyprus at end of 1955 all members ready for demob moved with 86 Coy to U.K. 65Coy coming from U. K. to Golden Sands Famagusta was seemingly picked up by the remainder off 86 Coy. members at Famagusta Docks