CYPRUS - A Divided Island

Exchanging caubeen for blue beret United Nations
Exchanging the caubeen for the blue beret of the United Nations.

After the Second World War, the Inniskillings served in Cyprus on two occasions.

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers served on the island from 1954-1955. Battalion Headquarters was located in Famagusta with one rifle company detached to Nicosia.

This was at the start of the EOKA campaign and the Greek demand for 'Enosis' ('Union' with Greece). The government and police were initially caught off guard by a campaign of civil disobedience, which led to the imposition of curfews. Duties were heavy for the Fusiliers and included vulnerable point guards, roadblocks and arms searches as well as ceremonial guards on Government House in Nicosia.

Towards the end of 1954 and into 1955, the situation further deteriorated, although the 2nd Battalion was credited with the capture of the first EOKA terrorist. In October, a major riot took place in Famagusta when troops reacted with batons having been well trained by a retired Shanghai police officer. This was a busy and tiring time for the Battalion, which learned many lessons. However, despite this busy internal security schedule the Battalion was able to get in some useful training before returning to the UK at the end of 1955.

The second time the Inniskillings served in Cyprus was in 1964 as part of the NATO Mobile Force to intervene between the Greeks and Turks. The deployment led to the establishment of UNFICYP (United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus) with the Inniskillings exchanging their caubeens for the blue berets of the United Nations for the first time.

Battalion Headquarters was in Dhekelia with detachments in Larnaca and Ayios Theodoros. During this tour, the Inniskillings hosted the arrival of the advance party of the UNFICYP Irish Battalion. Later a second Irish Battalion took over responsibility for Larnaca. During the handover, the Irish challenged the Inniskillings to a hurling match, but suffered an honourable defeat. Earlier the officers had been entertained to dinner by the Irish when toasts were proposed to the Queen and the President of Ireland.