At the beginning of 1955 the little island of Cyprus slumbered happily beneath the Mediterranean sunshine. It had been governed by Britain since 1878, although it remained nominally the property of Turkey who had owned it by force of conquest for several centuries. Britain annexed it completely when Turkey entered the First World War on the side of Germany, and it became and remained a Crown Colony. In 1915 Britain offered the island to Greece as a bribe to enter the First World War on the side of the Allies, but it was refused. Apart from deposits of copper, exploited by an American mining company and fast running out, it had no known mineral resources. However, it supported a rural peasantry and a professional and business class in reasonable comfort. Its only claim to importance was as a military base on the eastern flank of the NATO alliance, and within reach of the volatile Middle East. British Army, Air Force and Naval bases and their maintenance were an important element in the economy of the island.
Serious hardship was almost unknown, and most of the inhabitants lived contented enough lives. The majority Greek Cypriots, were at liberty to practice their Orthodox religion, had effective control of primary and secondary education systems, and could choose between Greece and Britain for tertiary education. The Turkish Cypriot minority were, in general, less well-educated, but often owned the land on which they practised agriculture, and ran many small businesses. Some were prominent professional men. There was little or no friction between the two communities, at least overtly, and the two met socially and in some cases shared a village without problems. However, many Greeks looked towards Greece as their emotional 'homeland' while the Turks remembered their origins and former supremacy and tended to be admirers of the victor of Gallipoli and founder of modern secular Turkey, Mustapha Kemal Ataturk.
There were also small minorities of Armenians, Coptic Christians and other off-shoots of the rich and varied Middle Eastern ethnic mix. These tended to congregate in one place, to keep themselves to themselves, and to refrain wisely from comment on political or religious matters. There was also a sizeable contingent of residents from the British Isles fleeing the post-war austerity of a bankrupted country and its miserable climate, and able by one means or another to finance their comfortable lives in the sun in spite of stringent legislation controlling the export of Sterling from Britain.
Finally there was the governing class of administrators, policemen and technicians appointed either permanently or on contract by the Colonial Office in London, and answerable to the Governor. They could and did include some Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and were supported by a working infrastructure of locally employed public servants.
This situation, apparently stable and for some a little paradise compared to the chaos of an impoverished Europe, was about to be rudely disrupted. Two individuals in particular were working away busily to undermine it, and their efforts were to prove successful and, some would say, disastrous.
One was Archbishop Makarios, the Ethnarch or Head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus. The Ethnarch was, traditionally, the leader of the Greek Cypriot community on the island. As such, he enjoyed great prestige at least among the majority who acknowledged his leadership. This did not, naturally, include the members and supporters of a flourishing Communist Party. Makarios was a Machiavellian and politically motivated churchman of a type virtually extinct in Western Europe since the Middle Ages. He subscribed to the view that Cyprus belonged, ethnically and historically, to Greece, and that the British should hand it over forthwith to its motherland, thus achieving Enosis, or Union. For this rather dubious proposition he could count on support from the faithful at home in Cyprus, and a sizeable lunatic fringe among nationalists in Greece. The idea did not appeal to those Greek Cypriots who were living in the real world, including the majority of the commercial community, and was strongly opposed by the Turkish minority on the island. Although Greeks and Turks had lived together without serious friction under British rule, there was a history of centuries of animosity and mistrust between them, and the Turks had little doubt that they would not prosper under any Government in which Greeks predominated. The mainland Turks, who took a considerable interest in the fate of their descendants on an island so close to their own coastline, were also adamantly opposed to any suggestion of Enosis.
Among the supporters of Enosis in Greece was the second man who would influence the next few years. By name George Grivas, he was a Cypriot-born recently retired officer of the Greek Army, with a rather shady history of clandestine right-wing political activity in Greece. With the tacit support of the Archbishop, he succeeded in recruiting the nucleus of a terrorist organisation to be known as EOKA, from the initials of its Greek title - the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters. He gave himself the code name Dighenis, after a mythical hero. He armed his followers with second-hand weapons and explosives culled from stores dropped into Greece by by the British Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, and was ready to begin to terrify the British Government into abandoning Cyprus to a Greek Government which did not particularly want it.
The attempt got off to a rather amateurish start on 1 April, l955, when a number of explosions took place in and around Government Offices in Nicosia, the capital city. Nobody was killed, and no serious damage was done. The choice of All Fools Day, although no doubt fortuitous, was appropriate. Fools indeed were those so out of touch with current political and strategic realities as to imagine that Enosis was a practicable possibility. Fools also were those British officials taken completely by surprise, having ignored warnings from loyal Greek Cypriot Policemen at which they scoffed as imagination or scare-mongering. So completely taken by surprise were they that it was originally supposed that the initial attacks were some manifestation of the 'Cold War' between the West and Russia, and the first people interrogated as suspects were members of AKEL. Only when EOKA claimed responsibility was it realised that a Right Wing rather than a Left Wing body was concerned. In defence of those so completely taken by surprise it must be said that no rational person living in that pleasant, peaceful and sun-drenched backwater could have imagined that it could be transformed almost overnight into a place of violence, suspicion and distrust.
This, however, is exactly what happened. Any signs of opposition to EOKA by the Greek Cypriot population - and there was no lack of this in the beginning - resulted in anonymous warnings, followed, if ignored, by assassination. After a couple of killings, warnings tended to be heeded. This element of the campaign was particularly directed against Greek members of the Police Force, many of whom showed signs of loyalty to their jobs, and thus constituted a particular threat to EOKA. However, ordinary members of the public were also at risk. The victims of such killings were stigmatised as 'traitors', and in some cases they were, indeed, likely to co-operate actively with the British. The majority, however, were guilty of no more than expressing disagreement with the idea of Enosis or the activities of EOKA. A typical example was a schoolteacher, a mainland Greek, who informed his class that having lived under Greek Government and British Colonial Government, he preferred the latter. He was shot in the back in a cinema, sitting next to his fiancee. Some killings appeared completely motiveless, and no doubt enterprising individuals seized the opportunity to settle old scores. Among policemen assassinated were a few Turkish members of the Force. This aroused the anger of the Turkish community, confirmed their suspicions of Greek hostility towards them, and ensured the growth of the bitter inter-communal hatred that was to become a major element of the situation from then on.
The year 1956 opened to a chorus of disagreement among the Greek community which soon became muted. There were those who were opposed to the idea of Enosis, those who did not particularly care, and those who were mildly or fanatically in favour of it. Its opponents, including those of AKEL (the Communist Party) soon learned that overt and vocal criticism invited denunciation as a traitor and subsequent assassination. They prudently started to keep their mouths shut, although this did not always protect them from intimidation and physical violence by Enosis supporters. The same applied to those who did not care. Those in outspoken support of Enosis included a core of fanatic Greek nationalists but were largely persons who felt emotionally drawn to the concept. A typical reply of one of these if asked the reasoning behind their views was "Would you not prefer to be with your own poor mother rather than with a wealthy step-mother?" The views of the Turkish minority were simple. They could not conceive that the British Government would ever consider giving in to a bunch of thugs, and thought their best policy was to demonstrate loyalty to Britain who in turn would support them. The view of the largely British resident minority and governing class was that EOKA should be definitively crushed as soon as possible so that the Island could return to its former happy existence. In this view they were supported and represented by the Governor, Sir John Harding, a distinguished soldier. Another factor rather encouraged this view. The management of the Suez Canal had been arbitrarily taken over by the Egyptian Dictator Nasser, and Britain was considering the possibility of a military intervention there. Cyprus, as the nearest British Base, was awash with troops, ships and aircraft intended for such an operation, who while they were waiting for a decision could be made available for Internal Security operations.
As the autumn of 1956 started to merge into winter, the Island was in a state of uneasy peace. EOKA had been dealt serious blows. In the forested fastnesses of the Troodos Mountains, ideal guerrilla country and obvious base for the main EOKA mountain groups, there had been operations in which large areas were cordoned off, flooded with troops and searched. Some of the units involved in these operations contained a high proportion of disinterested, poorly trained conscripts serving out their time without enthusiasm. Others, such as the Paras, Marine Commandos and Guards were largely composed of professionals who took a pride in doing well whatever task might be assigned to them, and who took the hardships of operational conditions in their stride. They had proved successful terrorist-hunters. EOKA had lost most of their key personnel, and much of their already inadequate armament. Grivas himself had narrowly escaped a Para patrol, from which he fled with nothing but the clothes he was wearing, leaving behind at his campsite his other belongings including a useful diary. The leading EOKA assassin, Nicos Sampson, had been captured and removed from the scene. Both in the towns and mountains the remaining fugitives had fled for safety to subterranean hides, in the construction of which they were becoming increasingly skilled.
However, nobody with a finger on the pulse of the situation would have made the mistake of thinking that EOKA was finished, or that their present low level of activity was anything but a lull. Furthermore, it was logical to assume that the surviving EOKA leaders had learned by their losses and failures, that new ones with operational experience were being produced, and that steps were being taken to re-arm.
On the political front, the British Government, having tried unsuccessfully to negotiate some acceptable agreement with Archbishop Makarios, both directly and via the Greek Government, decided they were flogging a dead horse. He was arrested and deported to the Seychelles, where he lived comfortably for the next few years at the expense of the British taxpayer. His jailer, housekeeper and eventual friend was a European Inspector of the Kenya Police, who thus acquired a more luxurious lodging than he could otherwise have expected. (As an incidental footnote, this made two future Heads of State who were guests of the Kenya Police at the time. The other was Jomo Kenyatta, exiled to the Northern Frontier District of Kenya for his inflammatory political activities in that colony.)'
It was decided that, at the same time, an even more intransigent troublemaker, the Bishop of Kyrenia, should be removed from the scene. This rotund and gluttonous prelate, who took some pride in the number of roast chickens he could dispose of at a sitting (six was said to be his top score), was a fervent Greek Nationalist. On every possible public or private occasion, he was the source of a constant stream of vituperation against the British, and incitement to violence in the cause of Enosis. However, he was not totally without common-sense. When arrested and told that he was being exiled abroad, he asked for time to pack some warm clothing since "It might be cold in Britain or America".
His bloodthirsty calls for 'patriotic' action were directed particularly at the students of his See. Here he had a fertile field in which to sow the seeds of violence. The town contained a 'Gymnasium', which provided secondary education - separately - for both boys and girls. The British Administration encouraged this institution, and allowed it a totally free hand as regards curriculum and the recruitment of teachers from Greece. Whether by accident or design, the teaching body seemed to contain a majority of fervent nationalists, and the education provided was heavily weighted towards the Greek Orthodox religion, Greek culture and history, and the inculcation in the students of a conviction that they were ethnically and culturally Greek and had a responsibility to struggle for the return of Cyprus to the Fatherland. Some of the more deluded teachers went so far as to preach the 'Great Idea', the restoration of Hellenic glory by re-conquering all areas considered rightfully Greek. These included parts of Albania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Asia Minor. Any sane individual over the age of twelve who was even half alert to the nature of the world around him would have been aware that any serious efforts in this direction could result in war between Greece and Albania (then supported by China), Bulgaria (part of the Soviet Bloc) and Turkey (a long time enemy of Greece with substantial military resources). Nevertheless, such lunatic suggestions found ready listeners.
The concentrated brainwashing received at the Kyrenia Gymnasium and others like it around the Island, taken on top of the normal tendency of adolescents of all races to enjoy indiscipline, rowdyism and destruction, provided the raw material from which EOKA drew it's most active support. Student riots could erupt at any time, starting with processions carrying Greek flags and shouting slogans, and finishing with perspiring soldiers unsuccessfully chasing stone-throwing youths. Older and more responsible members of the Greek community were far from pleased by the indiscipline their offspring were beginning to display at home as well as in the streets, but could not take action or even express disapproval openly for fear of being branded a 'traitor' and dealt with accordingly.
At the slightest provocation or even without it, boys of the Sixth Forms of the Gymnasia (some of them well-developed youths of eighteen or more who needed to shave twice a day) would gleefully collected their hidden Greek flags and march into town. Experience having taught them that the Army would inevitably react to such disturbances of the peace, they would often take the precaution of forming an advance guard of schoolgirls to march in front of them. They correctly assumed that the average British soldier, generally patient and good- humoured - at least in the initial stages of such confrontations - would be more reluctant to thump a female head than a male one in spite of the fact that stones were being thrown from behind them.
The weapon of juveniles particularly eager to demonstrate their 'patriotism' was the 'pipe bomb'. These were amateurish constructions. Into a short length of metal piping would be inserted a stick of ancient and unstable dynamite probably stolen from the American Mines at Amiandos. To this would be added a detonator from the same source, attached to a length of fuse. The fuse had to be lit with a match or cigarette lighter before the bomb was thrown, the explosive was volatile and often past its use-by date, the fuse was often too short, and the whole affair was as dangerous to the thrower as to his target. Throughout the Emergency there were occasional explosions here and there, sometimes near a government installation, sometimes with no apparent target. They were an ineffective weapon, and although they could occasionally be deadly they normally caused no casualties and little damage and constituted no more than a minor nuisance.
During 1957, apart from maintaining intimidation, propaganda and occasional pipe-bomb or assassination operations, EOKA was lying low and recouping its losses in personnel and arms. Although a large coastline which it was impossible to seal off completely gave it ample scope for smuggling, it was also not too difficult to get materiel clandestinely through an international Airport employing Cypriot baggage-handlers. One US-made Sub-machine carbine was actually dismantled and the parts successfully sent to their recipient through an efficient Cyprus Post Office.
EOKA was still under pressure. The end of the Suez crisis, although it had resulted in the departure of many of the military from the Island, had not reduced the numbers on active internal security operations as much as had been expected. The Para Brigade was again employed in this capacity and the Marine Commandos were quite happy to do a tour of this type of duty, which they regarded as good training. In future, the hard-core Mountain Groups, the elite of EOKA, were to base themselves in underground hides in the construction of which they acquired considerable skill. One such was found near Nikitari. It was unoccupied at the time, but contained large stocks of clothing, cooking utensils, footwear, traps and other material. The entrance shaft was on a slight slope on bare ground, with nothing to attract the attention of searchers in any way. The narrow shaft could be closed from inside by a block of concrete, camouflaged on the top to blend with the surrounding ground. When in place it would have been invisible to all but the very closest scrutiny. But for the fact that the searchers had exact and detailed directions, it was doubtful if they would have found it. The shaft went straight down, providing access via a vertical ladder to the hide itself. This was about twelve feet square, with ample headroom, and lined with timber and planking throughout. Being below ground, it would have been well insulated, warmer in winter and cooler in summer than the average Cypriot village house. A group in such a hide, if provided with ample food and water, could sit it out for quite long periods while searching troops prowled unsuccessfully overhead. It was hardly surprising that so many operations had been failures.
By 1958 a re-armed and re-organized EOKA, confident in their new measures to ensure their own security, were prepared to re-commence activities. Throughout the year occasional ambushes of Security Forces patrols were carried out by the Mountain Groups and assassinations of unwary and often unarmed British-looking civilians still occurred. In one instance this backfired badly on the organisation, since the civilians involved turned out to be Americans and the US Foreign Service were not amused. Some of the ambushes also backfired, when they encountered strong reaction by alert troops, and losses of personnel and arms to EOKA resulted.
Most EOKA activity however was by the Village Groups. These were now busily engaged in re-establishing their hold over the Greek population by a campaign of intimidation, and carrying out sabotage of Government property. The intimidation had a new element. A boycott of British goods had been declared, the main effect of which was that any shopkeeper selling English cigarettes, or any customer buying or smoking them, was liable to be threatened or beaten up. The sabotage was directed against minor (and usually undefended) targets, and the only purpose served was to keep the organisation in the public eye. Typical examples, all of which occurred in the Lefka area, were:
1. The placing of explosives on the transformer of an electricity sub-station. They failed to explode, and were discovered and removed.
2. Minimal damage caused to an electrical transformer by home-made incendiary bombs.
3. Serious damage by explosives to excavating machinery of the Public Works Department.
4. Serious damage by explosives to a PWD drilling machine.
5. Considerable damage by explosives to a rural police post, manned by two unarmed uniformed constables. Inexpert laying of the charges resulted in several misfires, and the damage was less than it might have been.
The inconvenience caused by these activities was largely to the unfortunate public, who would also be paying, through taxation, for the cost incurred. They also served to indicate areas in which village groups were active, and thus enable specific villages to be targeted for increased activity on the part of the Security Forces.
During the year two things happened which were to affect the situation profoundly. One occurred when the largely Turkish town of Lefka erupted in a totally unexpected fashion. A rumour started that a Turkish man and woman had been shot by EOKA in Nicosia. The rumour was, in fact, incorrect, but spread like wildfire. Within an amazingly short space of time an angry mob had collected in the town square. This rapidly developed into a riot, which spread through the town burning Greek property. The Greek minority had wisely decamped with speed at the first hint of trouble, and none of them were injured. However, considerable damage to property was caused, one quite large Greek-owned shop being completely gutted and some valuable stock destroyed. (The shop owner subsequently denied that the fire had been caused by arson during the riot, claiming that faulty electrical wiring had started the blaze. This was an unsuccessful attempt to frustrate the terms of his insurance policy.) Fleeing Greeks spread highly exaggerated stories of a Turkish massacre in the town, and these in turn spread with amazing rapidity. Greeks from the villages of the Solea and Marathassa valleys crowded into village buses and made for Lefka. Turks from the town, armed with improvised weapons, came out to meet them. Minor casualties were suffered by both sides before Security Forces managed to separate them and install road blocks to prevent the arrival of Greek reinforcements. One of these road blocks stopped the village bus from Pedhoulas, whose driver explained that he and his passengers were rushing to help the Lefka Fire Brigade put out fires. The young Royal Welsh Fusiliers officer in command noticed that by way of fire-fighting equipment they were carrying knives, sticks and scythes, and that boxes containing cricket-ball-sized stones were roped to the roof of the bus. He had little difficulty in deciding not to allow them to pass, and sent them back home.
During the next few days the town was closely curfewed, but violence had spread beyond it. There were not enough troops and police to keep the whole Division under control. Further damage was done to Greek property, while Greeks retaliated with attacks on Turkish property. The final estimate of the damage was 110,910 pounds sterling damage to Greek property, and 10,000 pounds sterling damage to Turkish property. Amazingly enough, casualties on both sides were light, and there were no fatalities. This was largely because as soon as it became clear what was happening, Greeks were evacuated from predominantly Turkish areas under Police and Military protection.
However, the results of this period of inter-communal violence, short though it was, were widespread. It split the communities physically - Greeks congregated in Greek areas, and Turks in Turkish areas. It also raised antagonism between them to an unprecedented pitch. From that time forward the Turkish community as a whole became an EOKA target and not, as hitherto, individual Turks such as policemen or others believed to be working actively against the organisation. A further result was the formation and operation by both Turks and Greeks of 'Home Guards', whose function was to guard against surprise inter-communal attack by day or night. EOKA were quick to turn the situation to their advantage, and to encourage the Greek population to regard them as their natural protectors. They had some success in this, although Greek villagers continued to be heartily glad of the presence of troops or UK police. Greek 'Home Guards' were under loose EOKA control. 'Bomb Groups' were formed from them, and armed by EOKA with home-made grenades. They were told that In case of necessity village EOKA groups could be turned out, and in extreme cases the 'andartes' of the mountain group, who would normally have at least one automatic weapon, could be called upon for help. All these measures had the effect of tightening Greek solidarity with EOKA, and the inter-communal disturbances and subsequent attacks against Turkish targets heightened EOKA prestige for a short time. Another effect of the inter-communal violence was the formation by the Turkish community of the TMT, a clandestine organisation on the lines of EOKA which claimed the support of Turkey.
The second thing which had far-reaching effects was the replacement of Field Marshal Sir John Harding as Governor by Sir Hugh Foot, a former Colonial Administrator and a much more political animal. This marked the end of a purely military approach to the Cyprus Emergency. In future, behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity became the name of the game. Active counter-terrorism, although still regarded as important for its own sake, was to be only one of the cards in the hands of the diplomats.
An immediate result of the change was an instruction to carry out Operation Matchbox. This was an entirely political move, designed to show all concerned that Britain was still in control of the situation and intended to remain so. The basic idea was that by arresting and transferring to detention camps all known or suspected members of EOKA, that organisation's activities would be fatally disrupted. The author or authors of this pipe-dream lay anonymously embedded somewhere within the Civil/Military bureaucracy, but unfortunately it had powerful support. The fact that it was opposed by many of those who would have to implement it on the ground was ignored.
The identification of suspects was a Special Branch responsibility, their arrest and detention a joint Police/Military operation. All Divisional Special Branches were in possession of an Arrest List, prepared by SBHQ from its records. The operation was conducted with efficiency worthy of a better object. Within 24 hours most of those named in the lists had been arrested and transported to the waiting Detention Camps with the documentation relevant to each including the grounds for their detention. A tribunal tasked with examining this and issuing Detention Orders only turned down a few.
As far as its planning was concerned, and regarded purely as a propaganda exercise, the operation was successful. From the practical point of view, however, the results were negative. There was obviously no possibility of interrogating those arrested and the Intelligence dividend was, therefore, nil. In no way could such activity 'knock out' EOKA. At the most, it caused them mild inconvenience. They soon filled any gaps caused in their ranks with people whose identity had to be established from scratch under extremely difficult conditions. The more dangerous terrorists, whose capture was the main purpose of all operations, remained happily at large since they were permanent fugitives not co-operative enough to have fixed addresses at which they could be found.
Sir Hugh was accompanied by a new commander of the Police Special Branch, John Vincent Prendergast. To underline the fact that a new broom had arrived he was known not as 'Head of SB' but 'Director of Intelligence'. He was, in fact, to act as an Intelligence Supremo, with direct access to the Governor and, effectively, equal status with the Commissioner of Police and the Army Director of Operations. Indeed, since in the current situation Intelligence was king, it could be said that his status and influence were higher than either, although no doubt neither would have agreed with this assessment.
EOKA was not long in taking revenge for the attacks on Greek property in Lefka town and elsewhere. On 30 July 1958, on the Xeros - Pyrghos road, a Turkish bus serving homes in the Kokkina - Mansoura area was ambushed. Home-made bombs were thrown at it, and shotguns discharged. Nobody was killed, but several persons were injured, including two children and an elderly man who subsequently died although his death was not directly attributable to injuries received in the ambush. This attack was carried out by an ambitious Village Group, who son regretted it. One of the home-made pipe bombs used had exploded prematurely, and the thrower lost his right hand and suffered other serious injuries. Hot pursuit of the others resulted in their capture and successful prosecution.
Matters continued thus for some time until it was revealed that behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity had completed - to the astonishment of many who had considered it impossible - the mammoth task of getting agreement between the British, Greek and Turkish Governments. Britain was to keep two large bases on the island, over both of which it would have sovereignty, with training rights elsewhere. Cyprus would be independent under the Presidency of Archbishop Makarios. The Government would be predominantly Greek, but with constitutional safeguards protecting the rights of the Turkish minority. There was to be an immediate cease-fire, and an amnesty for political crimes committed during the Emergency.
Although there were local celebrations to welcome home released prisoners, public reaction was muted. There were no great outbursts of celebration or joy. The saner elements of the population, who only wanted to be left alone to get on with their lives in peace, had lived for four years under the threat of assassination if they spoke out of turn. They were, not unnaturally, reluctant to express an opinion until they found out what the men with guns were saying. This also applied to the minority of left wing supporters, from mild socialists to rabid communists, who saw no reason to believe that their situation would change for the better.
Among the right-wing Greek nationalists, supporters of the Archbishop and EOKA, there was bewilderment. The object of the political and terrorist activity of the past four years had been, ostensibly, 'Enosis', or the union of Cyprus with Greece. Suddenly, this seemed to have been abandoned overnight, and they were being asked to applaud a 'victory' which, to most of them seemed to be a defeat. In addition, there was some doubt initially whether Grivas and EOKA would accept the settlement, falling short as it did of their stated aims. They might well have defied the Archbishop and the Greek Government and tried to continue their ineffective terrorist campaign. In the event, Grivas bowed to the inevitable, ordered his followers to lay down their arms, came out of hiding and returned to Athens to a hero's welcome. This did not entirely allay his feeling that he had been betrayed, a feeling shared by some of his followers. Others turned their attention to the ripe plums which could be picked from the rich cake of Independence, and entered the political arena.
The Turks, of course, regarded the whole thing with grave suspicion, feeling that they had been betrayed both by the British and their co-religionists on the mainland. For the new Constitution to work in practice some degree of co-operation between the two communities would be essential. Many considered this unlikely. This view proved correct, and after years of unrest and disagreement the Island was ultimately partitioned after military action by Turkey.
The only parties to the whole unnecessary mess who could regard it with any satisfaction were Britain, who retained sovereignty over the strategic bases on the island, and NATO to whom these were important.
A further factor which deserves mention in connection with the Cyprus Emergency is the formation of the British Police Unit. This consisted of 300 volunteers from Police Forces in the United Kingdom, the majority uniformed personnel but some CID. They were posted in charge of rural Police Stations or worked from Divisional Police Offices. In general, they were individuals of high calibre with at least two or three years experience of practical Police work. Most of them did a good job, and earned a certain respect from the local population. A good example was given early in the Emergency by the newly arrived Sgt George Fanshaw of the Lancashire Constabulary, just appointed to command the rural Police Station at Lapithos. He was almost immediately confronted with a nasty situation. Four village children, playing near a dry-stone wall, pulled out a stone for some childish purpose of their own. In an aperture behind it, they discovered a piece of motor tire inner tube, wrapped around a pipe bomb and a box of matches. One of the four children, perhaps thinking he had found some kind of firework or perhaps out of sheer inquisitive mischief, used the matches to light the fuse. The subsequent explosion injured all four critically. George Fanshaw's rapid arrival on the scene, his application of first aid and his evacuation of the children to hospital in Kyrenia in his Landrover, undoubtedly saved their lives although they would all bear the scars of their experience for life and two would be permanently crippled. The British Police Unit Cyprus was the first time that such an experiment had been tried. Its success caused it to be repeated elsewhere, and similar operations are now commonplace in trouble-spots elsewhere, usually now under the auspices of the United Nations.