Author's Military Service in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Aug 1986 - Feb 1987
Canadian Contingent UNFICYP,
Nicosia, Cyprus, 1986-1987
Satellite image of Cyprus.
During my 40 years service in the Canadian Forces (1971 - 2011), I served as the Regimental Intelligence Officer for the Canadian Airborne Regiment (CAR), 1986-1989. In my first year with the Regiment when it was based at CFB Petawawa, Ontario, I was deployed along with 600 fellow paratroopers with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), from 19 Aug 1986 to 24 Feb 1987.
UNFICYP was established under UN Security Council Resolution 186 in 1964 to prevent a recurrence of fighting following intercommunal violence between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. It aim was to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and to facilitate a return to normal conditions.
Data current to 26 Jan 2021.
Data current to 19 Jan 2021.
The Republic of Cyprus is the third largest and most populous island in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is located north of Egypt, northwest of Lebanon, Palestine and Israel, west of Syria, southeast of Greece and south of Turkey.
The earliest known human activity on the island dates to around the 10th millennium BC. Archaeological remains from this period include the well-preserved Neolithic village of Khirokitia, and Cyprus is home to some of the oldest water wells in the world. Cyprus was settled by Mycenaean Greeks in two waves in the 2nd millennium BC. As a strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean, it was subsequently occupied by several major powers, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians and Persians, from whom the island was seized in 333 BC by Alexander the Great. Subsequent rule by Ptolemaic Egypt, the Classical and Eastern Roman Empire, Arab caliphates for a short period, the French Lusignan dynasty and the Venetians, was followed by over three centuries of Ottoman rule between 1571 and 1878 (de jure until 1914).
Cyprus was placed under the United Kingdom's administration based on the Cyprus Convention in 1878 and was formally annexed by the UK in 1914. While Turkish Cypriots made up 18% of the population, the partition of Cyprus and creation of a Turkish state in the north became a policy of Turkish Cypriot leaders and Turkey in the 1950s. Turkish leaders for a period advocated the annexation of Cyprus to Turkey as Cyprus was considered an "extension of Anatolia" by them; while, since the 19th century, the majority Greek Cypriot population and its Orthodox church had been pursuing Enosis (the movement of various Greek communities that live outside Greece, for incorporation of the regions they inhabit into the Greek state). The union of Cyprus with Greece became a Greek national policy in the 1950s. Following nationalist violence in the 1950s, Cyprus was granted independence in 1960. The crisis of 1963-1964 brought further intercommunal violence between Greek andf Turkish Cypriots, which displaced more than 25,000 Turkish Cypriots into enclaves and brought the end of Turkish Cypriot representation in the republic. On 15 July 1974, a coup d'etat was staged by Greek nationalists and elements of the Greek military junta in an attempt at enosis, with their aim being the incorporation of Cyprus into Greece. This action precipitated the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on 20 July, which led to the capture of the present-day territory of Northern Cyprus in the following month, after a ceasefire collapsed. It also led to the displacement of over 150,000 Greek Cypriots and 50,000 Turkish Cypriots. A separate Turkish Cypriot state in the north was established by unilateral declaration in 1983. This move was widely condemned by the international community, with Turkey alone recognizing the new state. These events and the resulting political situation are matters of continuing dispute.
The Republic of Cyprus has de jure sovereignty over the entire island, including its territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, with the exception of the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, which remain under the UK's control according to the London and Zurich Agreements. However, the Republic of Cyprus is de facto partitioned into two main parts: the area under the effective control of the Republic, located in the south and west and comprising about 59% of the island's area, and the north, administered by the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, covering about 36% of the island's area. Another nearly 4% of the island's area is covered by the UN buffer zone. The international community considers the northern part of the island to be territory of the Republic of Cyprus occupied by Turkish forces. The occupation is viewed as illegal under international law and amounting to illegal occupation of EU territory since Cyprus became a member of the European Union. Cyprus is a major tourist destination in the Mediterranean.
1974 Coup, Turkish invasion and the division of the island
On 15 July 1974, the Greek military junta under Dimitrios Ioannides carried out a coup d'état in Cyprus, with the intention to unite the island with Greece. The coup ousted president, Archbishop Makarios III and replaced him with pro-enosis nationalist Nikos Sampson. In response to the coup, five days later, on 20 July 1974, the Turkish army invaded the island, citing a right to intervene to restore the constitutional order from the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. This justification has been rejected by the United Nations and the international community.
The Turkish air force began bombing Greek positions in Cyprus, and hundreds of paratroopers were dropped in the area between Nicosia and Kyrenia, where well-armed Turkish Cypriot enclaves had been long-established; while off the Kyrenia coast, Turkish troop ships landed 6,000 men as well as tanks, trucks and armoured vehicles.
(Greek Reporter Photo)
Three days later, when a ceasefire had been agreed, Turkey had landed 30,000 troops on the island and captured Kyrenia, the corridor linking Kyrenia to Nicosia, and the Turkish Cypriot quarter of Nicosia itself. The junta in Athens, and then the Sampson regime in Cyprus fell from power. In Nicosia, Glafkos Clerides assumed the presidency and constitutional order was restored, removing the pretext for the Turkish invasion. But after peace negotiations in Geneva, the Turkish government reinforced their Kyrenia bridgehead and started a second invasion on 14 August. The invasion resulted in the seizure of Morphou, Karpass, Famagusta and the Mesaoria.
Turkish burned out M-47 tank, August 1974.
International pressure led to a ceasefire, but by then 36% of the island had been taken over by the Turks and 180,000 Greek Cypriots had been evicted from their homes in the north. At the same time, around 50,000 Turkish Cypriots were displaced to the north and settled in the properties of the displaced Greek Cypriots. Among a variety of sanctions against Turkey, in mid-1975 the US Congress imposed an arms embargo on Turkey for using US-supplied equipment during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. There were 1,534 Greek Cypriots and 502 Turkish Cypriots missing as a result of the fighting.
After the restoration of constitutional order and the return of Archbishop Makarios III to Cyprus in December 1974, Turkish troops remained, occupying the northeastern portion of the island. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot leader proclaimed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), which is recognized only by Turkey. The Turkish invasion, the ensuing occupation and the declaration of independence by the TRNC have been condemned by United Nations resolutions, which are reaffirmed by the Security Council every year. The last major effort to settle the Cyprus dispute was the Annan Plan in 2004, drafted by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan. The plan was put to a referendum in both Northern Cyprus and the Cypriot Republic. 65% of Turkish Cypriots voted in support of the plan and 74% Greek Cypriots voted against the plan, claiming that it disproportionately favoured the Turkish side.
Efforts have been made to enhance freedom of movement between the two sides. In April 2003, Northern Cyprus unilaterally eased border restrictions, permitting Cypriots to cross between the two sides for the first time in 30 years. Cyprus joined the European Union on 1 May 2004.
The island of Cyprus measures 240 kilometres (149 mi) long from end to end and 100 kilometres (62 mi) wide at its widest point, with Turkey 75 kilometres (47 mi) to the north.
UN Buffer Zone, warning sign on the south (Greek) side of the Ledra Crossing of the Green Line in Nicosia, Cyprus. The other side of the fence is the Turkish side.
Following the the 1974 invasion, the UN Security Council extended and expanded the mission to prevent the dispute turning into war, and UNFICYP was redeployed to patrol the UN Buffer Zone in Cyprus and to assist in the maintenance of the military status quo. Since its establishment, the force has also worked in concert with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and representatives of the two communities to seek an amicable diplomatic solution to the Cyprus dispute.
Initially, UNFICYP consisted of military and civilian contingents drawn from Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Canada, Sweden, Ireland, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. However, over its long history the force has been the subject of various UNSC resolutions and reorganisations, and currently comprises contingents from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, El Salvador, Ghana, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Peru, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. In 2018, the mission has a strength of 1,009. The mandate for UNFICYP was last renewed on 25 July 2019 and extended until 31 January 2020.
Prior to 1974
Upon UNFICYP's arrival on the island, the national contingents were each assigned a sector, which mostly coincided with the boundaries of the civil districts. As of 2021, there are three active Sectors:
- Sector One. Runs from the Kokkina exclave and covers approximately 90 kilometres (55 mi) to Mammari, west of Nicosia.
- Sector Two. Runs from Mammari, west of Nicosia and covers 30 kilometres (20 mi) to Kaimakli, east of Nicosia.
- Sector Three. This area was patrolled by Canadian troops until their departure in 1993. It was then absorbed into Sectors 2 and 4.
- Sector Four. Runs from Kaimakli, east of Nicosia and covers 65 kilometres (40 mi) to the village of Dherinia, on the east coast of Cyprus.
When, in October 1973, the Irish contingent was withdrawn from Cyprus in support of the UN Emergency Force (UNEF) during the Yom Kippur War, the Austrian contingent was relocated from Paphos District (which was subsequently absorbed by the British contingent) to Larnaca District to replace them, with the Western half, which had previously been patrolled by the British contingent, absorbed into the Austrian sector.
Canada in UNFICYP
Canada indicated its willingness to become involved in Cyprus early in 1964, when it was put forward as a likely contributor at a succession of NATO conferences aimed at finding a solution there. At that time, the designated UN standby unit in the Canadian Army was the 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, and it was therefore proposed as the Canadian contribution. Once the United Nations took up the issue, Secretary General U Thant observed that Canada’s participation would be pivotal, and so it was that Canada agreed to contribute to UNFICYP. With the UN mandate approved, the business of organizing the transport of the Canadian contingent could begin. The government approved the implementation of Operation SNOWGOOSE on 13 March and the military operations order issued. The mission, as stated in the operations order, was for the Canadian contingent to “use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions”. The 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment (709 personnel) and the Reconnaissance Squadron, Royal Canadian Dragoons (91 personnel), were detailed to deploy. In addition, a headquarters contingent of 178 personnel was created.
From 15 March 1964 to 15 June 1993, Canada maintained a battalion-sized contingent of peace-support troops in UNFICYP. During this period, the Canadian contingent went through 59 rotations and some 25,000 CAF personnel completed six-month tours on the island. With Denmark, Ireland and Finland, Canada was one of the four original contributors of troops to UNFICYP, committed by the government of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson on 12 March 1964.
(Nobel Foundation, Associated Press Photo, 1957)
Lester Bowles "Mike" Pearson, PC, OM, CC, OBE (23 April 1897 – 27 December 1972), 14th Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the first peacekeeping force force.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235955)
RCD Ferret on patrol in Cyprus.
The lead elements of the initial rotation of the Canadian contingent arrived on 15 March 1964, followed by a brigade headquarters, the 1st Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment, and a Reconnaissance Squadron from The Royal Canadian Dragoons mounted in Ferret scout cars that were transported to Cyprus by the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure.
As the UNFICYP forces arrived, they were deployed into zones along with a contingent of civilian police. Where possible, the police were teamed with military forces from their own nation or with contingents that spoke the same language. The distribution was based upon the intensity of the violence in each region. It was thus that the Canadian and Finnish contingents took over the Nicosia zone, which included the city and a large area running from the northeast to the northwest of the city. UNFICYP forces deployed between defensive lines where they existed or interposed themselves in areas where fighting was likely to occur. Observation posts were built with mobile patrols covering spaces between. The mobile patrols also surveyed potential problem areas, moving from place to place as required.
In preparation for the possible deployment, on 7 March the aircraft carrier HMCS Bonaventure was ordered to return to Halifax to pick up the equipment required for the mission. Arriving in Halifax on the 13th, the ship was quickly prepared for her new role, including the completion of urgent repairs and the offloading of all unnecessary equipment. By the 18th she was loaded with fifty-six vehicles and seventy tons of stores and ammunition, and had received ninety-five officers and men from the Vandoos, the Royal Canadian Dragoons and the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps. She slipped her lines at 1700 hours and met up with HMCS Restigouche enroute. At 0400 hours on 30 March she anchored in Famagusta Bay and began to offload personnel and equipment that morning.
While this was occurring, the Royal Canadian Air Force was preparing and then despatching Hercules and Yukon aircraft of Nos. 435 and 437 Squadrons respectively. Starting on 15 March, and for the next seven days, twenty-eight flights transported about 900 soldiers and 400 tons of equipment to the island. Once on the ground, the Canadian troops faced a difficult task. Greece had 6300 more soldiers on the island than authorized by the agreements, and Turkey had 1000 more. The two forces had to be reduced, separated and their areas demilitarized. Compounding the problem was the fact that the most militant Greek- and Turkish-Cypriots were not averse to attacking the Turkish or Greek forces, or even the UN. Indeed, the two ill-disciplined and uncontrolled Cypriot paramilitary forces kept finding ways to break the terms of the cease-fire, including building new fortifications and occupying new (and provocative) positions.
Throughout 1964 and 1965, the Vandoos, the Canadian Guards and the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, supported by Recce Squadrons from the RCD and Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), were kept busy reducing tensions and managing the small-scale flare-ups caused by the paramilitary forces. These activities often required Canadian soldiers to use force to dismantle outposts and defensive positions, actions not completely in keeping with their rules of engagement. To the skills of soldiering, the Canadians thus had to add diplomacy, patience and persuasion.
Once matters had settled down, the Canadians maintained vigilance over their sector through some twenty observation posts and mobile patrols conducted by both the infantry and the reconnaissance squadrons. They controlled an area of about 550 square miles. Although this was the second smallest UN district, it was one of the most sensitive. Within its boundaries were the main Turkish-Cypriot enclave on the island, and the greatest number of paramilitary troops, as well as Greek and Turkish Army battalions allowed on the island by treaty.
Initially, the Canadian force consisted of about 1100 personnel. This was quickly reduced in the next two years, falling to about 900 in November 1967 and 480 early in 1974. With the Turkish intervention, members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment found themselves in the precarious position of trying to protect themselves while also trying to protect civilians of both ethnic groups as well as UN interests. It also fell to them to fight to defend Nicosia airport. As we have seen, when the fighting ended, UNFICYP had to adjust its efforts to the new situation on the ground. The key change was that the Canadians now patrolled the buffer between the Greek and Turkish lines, including the most sensitive area of Nicosia, where the most minor provocations seemed able to seriously enflame local tensions. The Canadians also made the so-called Green Line a safer place to operate.
The peak strength of Canada’s UNFICYP contingent after the 1974 Turkish intervention was 950. This was gradually reduced to 515 in early 1987, but increased to 575 to fill in some of the positions left vacant by the departing Swedish contingent, but fell to 520 in early December 1992. By then, however, Canada was one of several nations questioning the utility of keeping forces in Cyprus, especially as neither Greek-Cypriots nor Turkish-Cypriots had made any genuine effort to resolve their problems and on 11 December 1992 Ottawa announced that it would be withdrawing its battalion from Cyprus. By June 1993, there were only 117 Canadians left. Currently, there is one Canadian serving in UNFICYP headquarters.
Overall, more than 33,000 Canadians have served in Cyprus, and twenty-eight of them have died there. Two of these casualties, Private J.J.C. Berger, and Private J.L.G. Perron occurred during the fighting following the Turkish intervention.
Op GREYBEARD I. On 24 March 1983, the first personnel from 5e Régiment de Génie du Canada deployed to Cyprus where, over the next three months, they demined 2.5 kilometers of a route that had been unusable since the 1974 conflict, and built a non-standard, 21-metre long bridge. Twenty mines were removed and destroyed, then the road was upgraded. The bridge was completed on 5 July 1983.
By 1993, when Canada withdrew its combat arms contingent from UNFICYP, every infantry battalion of the Regular Force had deployed to Cyprus at least once, and Regular Force artillery and armoured regiments had reorganized for infantry duties to take their turns. The current contribution includes small numbers of staff officers on one-year rotations. The operation name “Snowgoose” dates from July 1974, when the Canadian contingent in UNFICYP - originally made up of 1 Commando, Canadian Airborne Regiment, and the Airborne Field Engineer Squadron (the combat engineer element of the Canadian Airborne Regiment) - was rapidly augmented by 2 Commando and 3 Commando in response to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus that began on 20 July 1974.
Canadian Military Intelligence Corps (C Int C) sent an Intelligence Platoon to Cyprus in 1974. The platoon included Lt Phil E. Bachand, Sgt John L. Kirchner, Sgt R. Bernie Gray, Sgt J. Wally Webster, Cpl Jack A. Cuvelier, Cpl G. Ed Forde, Cpl Ernie R. Smith, and Pte Barry A. Boyce complete the list. The GSO 3 (Int) was Capt J.G. H Ferguson of the Fort Garry Horse. Lt Ken E. Edmonds died while on duty in Cyprus in December 1964.
The United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus is a demilitarized zone, patrolled by UNFICYP, that was established in 1974 following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and de facto partitions the island into the area controlled by the Government of Cyprus (which is the de jure government for the entire island save for the British Sovereign Base Areas) in the South and that under the administration of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus in the North. The zone runs for more than 180.5 kilometres (112.2 mi) along what is colloquially known as the Green Line and has an area of 346 square kilometres (134 sq mi).
The zone stretches for 180 km from the western part of near Kato Pyrgos to the east just south of Famagusta. It cuts through the center of the old town of Nicosia, separating the city into southern and northern sections. There is also a buffer zone around the Kokkina exclave in western Cyprus. The width of the zone ranges from 3.3 metres (11 ft) in central Nicosia, to 7.4 kilometres (4.6 mi) at the village of Athienou. There is no buffer zone along the common border between the eastern British Sovereign Base Area and the area under Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot control.
The buffer zone is home to some 10,000 people and there are several villages and farms located within. The village of Pyla is famous for being the only village on Cyprus where Greeks and Turks live side by side. Other villages are Dhenia, Mammari, Athienou and Troulli while Lymbia lies partially within the zone.
Turkish forces built a barrier on the zone's northern side, consisting mainly of barbed-wire fencing, concrete wall segments, watchtowers, anti-tank ditches, and minefields. This line is also referred to as the Attila Line on some maps, named after the Turkish code-name for the 1974 military intervention: Operation Atilla. The closed off zone has become a haven for Cyprus' wildlife, an example of an involuntary park.
The annual cost for maintaining UNFICYP is estimated at $57,390,000. This includes the voluntary contribution by the Government of Cyprus of one third of the cost of the force and the annual amount of $6,500,000 contributed by the Government of Greece. Turkey does not directly contribute to the force's budget. The operational cost of UNFICYP just during the period from 16 June 1993 to 31 October 2010 was US$2.91 billion.
From 26 Sep 85 - 16 Jun 86 I was a Captain serving at National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ) in Ottawa with the Chief of Intelligence and Security as a Soviet Order of Battle (ORBAT) Intelligence Analyst working in the Directorate of Defence Intelligence 6 (DDI-6) at the Tunney’s Pasture. In March 1986, WO Dean Dunlop, spoke with me at a gathering of Intelligence Branch colleagues in Rockcliffe, gleefully informing me that I was about to receive a posting to the Canadian Airborne Regiment, part of the Special Service Force based at CFB Petawawa, Ontario. He also mentioned that I would be joining him and the Airborne Intelligence Section as the Regimental Intelligence Officer (R Int O) on a deployment to Cyprus. I was very skeptical, as I had been advised earlier that I would be staying in my analytical position for the foreseeable future. Dean was correct, however, and shortly afterwards, I received my posting to the Canadian Airborne Regiment, to be effective 24 June 1986.
29 Mar 86 We drove up to Petawawa to see the base. We visited Capt Tim Larson and his wife Carol. Tim was the R Int O I would be replacing, and as it happened, they had been advised he would be posted to the year-long Intelligence position in Cyprus at the UN HQ in Blue Beret Camp at the same time. We visited WO Dean Dunlop, and his wife Bev, who helped us find a new home in Petawawa. We were back to Petawawa on 19 Apr 86 to do some more house-hunting. We visited five places Bev had arranged for us, and then made an offer on 52 Herman Street. The offer was accepted on Sunday the 20th of April, putting us in the “first homeowner” cycle. We also acquired our dog, a chocolate Labrador named Böe, which Faye had seen at one of the home’s we visited. Bev had asked the family if they were interested in parting with him. They were and did, as they were moving to Germany. He was ours from then until his passing many years later.
31 May 86 As the President of the Forces Ottawa Sport Parachute Club (FOSPC), I made my last sport jump at Winchester, Ontario, before the club moved to Embrun-Russell. On 15 Jun 86, we did a demonstration jump into the town of Embrun about 30 km SE of Ottawa, with Bob, André, Pete, Dona, and me. It was the first official jump of the FOSPC for 1986. I would set up the CFB Petawawa Sport Parachute Club shortly after being posted in.
16 Jun 86, I began my tour of duty as the Regimental Intelligence Officer, Canadian Airborne Regiment, SSF, CFB Petawawa, Ontario, serving in that position until 9 July 1989. I was also issued a Warning Order advising me that I would be deploying to Cyprus with the Canadian Contingent UNFICYP on Op Snowgoose.
17 Jun 86 First night in our new home on 52 Herman Street, Petawawa, Ontario. Second day with the AB HQ & Sigs Sqn.
29 Jul 86, 1830 1426 C-130 Hercules, Petawawa, Ontario. First jump as the Regimental Intelligence Officer with the Canadian Airborne Regiment. S/L # 50.
29 Jul 86, 1833 1426 C-130 Hercules, CFB Petawawa, S/L # 50, first jump as the Regimental Intelligence Officer with the Canadian Airborne Regiment.
08 Aug 86, 1834 1427 CH-147 Chinook helicopter Petawawa, Ontario. 2nd jump with the Regiment, and last before being shipped off on UN duty in Cyprus.
17 Aug 86 After many hectic days and awkward times at home, I said goodbye to Faye and our sons Jonathan and Sean and boarded the inter-base minibus at 1650 hours to drive to Ottawa. My brother Chris met me at the airport, and we had a long talk and a few good chess games. Boarded the flight at 2145 and flew back across the Atlantic for the first time in three years. 1835 B-707/CC-137, Ottawa, Ontario to Gatwick, London, UK. Clear weather, saw the big dipper on my left, watched the dawn come up as we flew over Southern Ireland, to land in Gatwick.
Boeing CC-137 Husky (Boeing 707-320C), transport, VIP and refueling aircraft. On retirement from service, most went to the USA, none are preserved in CF markings.
18 Aug 86, 1836 B-707/CC-137 Gatwick, London, UK to Lahr, Germany after a brief stop. We flew in over France and I recognized the Rhine river, the town of Offenburg and the Schutterlindenburg hill which was a guide mark for Lahr as we came in at 1230 local. We parked at the AMU by a camouflaged American Lockheed C-141 Starlifter. No accommodation was available at the Europahof, so we were booked in to the Loewen, the same place Faye, Jonathan and I stayed in when we left Lahr the last time. Remembered a few German words and phrases and used them - good to be back. Went down to the Kaserne with Capt Jeff Drummond, CX closed. Walked to the Bank of Montreal-also closed. The old Canadian newspaper officer for “Der Kanadier” was still open, walked back to the Commerzbank DM 1.44/Cdn $1. Better rate than in Canada, but still low. Had a drink at the Stork Tower, and explored the Markt Platz, then over to a familiar Gasthof near the Kaserne for Goulash soup.
(Pedro Aragão Photo)
Lockheed CC-130E Hercules (Serial No. 130315), Aug 1986.
19 Aug 86 Up at 0330 for the 4 AM pick-up, off to breakfast at the Europahof. 5 AM cleared the AMU, 0600 onto the C-130. Boarded a camouflaged Lockheed CC-130E Hercules in Lahr for the flight to Larnaca, Cyprus. The camouflaged Hercules was fully loaded. 6-hour flight, arriving just before noon local time. Very sandy, one hour bus ride to Nicosia. Congested but interesting city, much like Athens. Good atmosphere. I moved into the Ledra Palace, found a few familiar faces. Had an interesting start to the tour at 1700 hours local with an urgent meeting on some delicate matters. I will be busy. My room is nice and clean (# 455), and I am on the top floor by myself. Very hot. Nice Officer’s Mess, and an interesting workplace sandwiched between the Greeks and the Turks. I took a walking tour through the near end of the old city at night. Good ice-cream, much like the Italian kind. The atmosphere was like Epidaurus. I know Faye will like it.
View south from from my window in the Ledra Palace.
19 Aug 86 - 25 Feb 87 (R Int O), I am designated as the “Ops B Information Officer”, Canadian Airborne Regiment, Nicosia, Cyprus (CANCONCYP) UN Duty. That also means I have become the editor of the Regiment's bi-monthly newsletter "Ex Coelis", which would be turned into a 9-issue souvenir book for each member at the end of their tour in Cyprus.
In my first article for the newsletter, I wrote that the 46th rotation of Canadian troops to UNFICYP" had begun. Most of us had gone through the process of leaving Petawawa by bus, being delivered to the Air Movements Unit (AMU) in Ottawa and then boarded a service air flight for the eight-hour trip to CFB Lahr, Germany. We were then transferred to a Lockheed CC-130 Hercules transport for another six-hour flight to Larnaca Airport in Cyprus. Troops stepped off aircraft and smacked into 37°C sunlight being reflected off the tarmac, and were then mercifully ushered into air conditioned buses for the one-hour drive to Nicosia.
Reactions to this first day on the island were varied, as different sights and sounds bombarded the new arrivals. All the buildings seemed to look half-finished (they are, due to the complicated tax laws which are high for completed buildings only), and everything is covered with thick layer of fine white dust. The airport is modern, yet within minutes we found ourselves passing through villages that have an almost biblical look to them. The first Greek checkpoint leading to the shortcut to Nicosia proved to be interesting. Both the blue and white Greek national flag and the white with yellow island flag of Cyprus flew over the guard post. Everywhere, white vehicles with the blue and white UN flag symbol on them caught our attention. We then came to the first Turkish checkpoint, where again, two flags were being flown, one all red with a white crescent for Turkey, and one with red stripes on a white background for the Turkish Cypriots. We became very conscious of these flags, particularly seeing them literally within a few feet of each other as we travelled the narrow path of the Buffer Zone in Sector Four.
Ledra Palace Hotel postcard, c1960s.
The Canadian troops were generally quartered in the Ledra Palace Hotel, located in central Nicosia, and until 1974 one of the largest and most glamorous hotels of the capital. Those of us who have visited the the Citadels in Quebec City or Halifax, or Old Fort Henry in Kingston, noted the similar old stone wall dating to the 1500s that surrounds the old city of Nicosia. There are eleven points or bastions on this Citadel, with five located inside the |northern Turkish area and five in the southern Greek area, and one on the east side in the Canadian area of the Buffer Zone.
Map of Nicosia in Cyprus, created in 1597 by the Venetian Giacomo (Jacomo) Franco (1550-1620) for his book Viaggio da Venetia a Constantinopoli per Mare.
The first fortification in Nicosia was a castle built in 1211, during the Lusignan period. A large tower called Margarita Tower was built by King Peter I in 1368. Peter II built the first fortifications surrounding the entire city, and also demolished the Margarita Tower.Cyprus became part of the Republic of Venice in 1489. Although the Venetian governors of the city emphasized the need for the city to be fortified, initially nothing was done to improve the fortifications. This changed following the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, when fears of Ottoman expansion increased and many Christian states in the Mediterranean began to strengthen their fortifications.In 1567, the Venetians decided to fortify the city, and commissioned the Italian military engineers Giulio Savorgnan and Francesco Barbaro to design the new fortifications. The medieval fortifications, which engineers had deemed inadequate to defend the city, were demolished to make way for the new walls. The Venetians also demolished several houses, churches and palaces within the city as well as buildings lying outside the new walls, both for the acquisition of building materials and for a clearer field of vision for the defence of the city.At the same time, the Pedieos River was diverted outside the city to protect the residents from flooding and to fill the moat encircling the new walls.The Fourth Ottoman–Venetian War broke out when the fortifications were still incomplete. Ottomans under Piali Pasha invaded Cyprus on 1 July 1570, and began the siege of Nicosia on 22 July. The city held out until 9 September, when the Ottomans breached the wall at Podocattaro Bastion. The Ottomans then killed the defenders and captured the remaining inhabitants.After the end of the siege, Lala Mustafa Pasha left a garrison of 4000 soldiers and 1000 cavalry in the city. The city then experienced a steady decline. Although the Ottomans repaired the fortifications after the siege, by the early 17th century, they were "breached or decayed" and the city was practically defenceless.The city eventually began to experience a revival in the mid-19th century. It was still confined within the walls when the British occupied Cyprus in 1878. An opening was made near Paphos Gate in 1879 to facilitate access to the surrounding area. Further openings were made within the walls during the 20th century.Half of the walls lie in North Nicosia, in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Parts of the walls also lie in the United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus. (Wikipedia)
Aerial view of the walled city of Nicosia. The walls of Nicosia (1567) are a typical example of Italian Renaissance military architecture that survives to this day. Near the close of the 15th century, Italian architects and engineers invented a new type of defensive trace, improving upon the bulwark design. In the “Italian trace” [trace italienne -Star fort] triangle-shaped bastions with thick, outward-sloping sides were pointed out from the main defensive wall, with their top at the same level as the wall. At Civitavecchia, a port near Rome used by the papal navy, the city walls were fortified with bastions in 1520-the first example of bastions completely circling a defensive wall. Bastions solved several problems of the bulwark system, especially with bastions joined to the wall and not placed a short distance away, where troops could be cut off by enemy troops. The most important improvement was the elimination of the blind spot caused by round towers and bulwarks; gunners had a complete sweep of enemy soldiers in the ditches below. Development of the bastion design in Italy was a direct response to the 1494 invasion by the troops of Charles VIII and the superior artillery of France at that time, and to continued threats from the Turks. Bastion-dominated fortifications were constructed along the Mediterranean coast to create a line of defense against naval attacks. Several such fortifications were built in northern Europe, beginning with Antwerp in 1544.
Our paratroopers became very familiar with the bombed-out, locked-up and sadly deteriorating numbers of buildings that lined the road running through the centre of Nicosia. Even after 12 years had passed, the destruction and evidence of the 1974 war was still very much in evidence. UN troops were also quartered in Blue Beret Camp, four miles west of the Ledra Palace, where they had a broader view of the Buffer Zone. It widens out to encompass the entire airport which is therefore completely isolated and closed down, except for a British squadron of light helicopters. About 15 km to the North one can see the Troodos mountain ridge, standing at 1,952 metres (6,404 ft), rising from a flat, treeless plain. We learned there would be much to see and do on the island, but for now there were more tasks than people to do them. Welcome to Cyprus.
View north from the Ledra palace.
20 Aug 86 First trip to Blue Beret Camp (BBC), also went on my first line tour from West to East in the buffer zone between the Greeks and the Turks. So much waste and destruction of buildings and property. Dining-in with two Swedish officers at the mess, Capt Tim Larson visiting.
21 Aug 86 Usual morning brief, then across the Turkish line in an Iltis with WO Gilmore and on to Famagusta, a large old Venetian walled city and fortress sited on the East coast of the Island. Attended a UN Ops/Info conference in the Austrian Contingent’s Camp. Interesting meeting, should be even more so after 22 Aug. WO Gilmore took me South through the Sovereign Base Area (SBA), that belongs to the UK, and then down to Larnaca along the coast, after the Swedes had taken us for a ½ hour swim in the warmest (and saltiest) Mediterranean sea water I’ve ever been in (last time was in 1962 off the coast of Barcelona, Spain, mind you). We passed through several Greek and then Turkish checkpoints, where I tried to use a few Turkish words. They understood thank you (teshekkür ederim) and goodbye (
Güle güle). The Swedish guards put on a neat salute with a twirling rifle as we drove back to Nicosia for the 5 PM briefing.
The Hellenistic control of the island of Cyprus lasted from 325BC to 58BC. The Roman and Byzantine periods lfollowed, running from 58BC to 1191AD. When Christianity came to Cyprus in 46AD, it developed along the lines of Orthodox rather than Latin. In 1192, however, with the arrival of the Lusignans, the Orthodox church was oppressed, and came under the control of the Latins. The Ottoman empire was developing in this period and 1461, they took control of what we now know as Greece. The Greeks preserved their culture through the Orthodox church. When the Ottomans arrived in Cyprus in 1571, they freed the Orthodox church from centuries of Latin control. Over the years, the Greek influence and control of the orthodox church gradually strengthened, until eventually was little difference between religious activities and political activities.
In 1832, after a long and bitter war, Greece was granted independence from the Ottomans. Although there had been agitations in Cyprus, the island had never really been part of the fighting. When the British arrived in 1878, there were hopes that Cyprus would be granted enosis (union with Greece). It didn't happen.
From the 1930s the church instigated a gradual escalation of civil unrest. In 1955, the Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston (EOKA) (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters) was formed. EOKA was a Greek Cypriot nationalist guerrilla organisation that fought a campaign for the end of British rule in Cyprus, as well as for the island's self-determination and for eventual union with Greece. Little thought was paid to what the Turkish Cypriots felt about this. EOKA violence escalated against not only the British, but against anybody that did not support enosis. Attacks against Turkish villages became more common, and in 1958, Turkish Cypriots formed the ürk Mukavemet Te?kilat? (TMT) Turkish Resistance Organization, in order to counter EOKA.
In 1959, the London and Zurich agreements laid the foundations for the independence of Cyprus, although this was seen by the Greek Cypriots as a stepping stone to enosis. In 1963, a secret plan was drawn up to discard the 1960 constitution. Part of this plan involved the gradual displacement of Turkish Cypriots from their villages, forcing them into separate enclaves. In December of 1963, systematic violence against Turkish Cypriots erupted, and this was to continue for several years, and separated the island into Greek and Turkish areas.
(Fernandez, Orlando Photo, 1962)
In 1974, a Greek sponsored coup overthrew Archbishop Makarios (the political leader of EOKA), with the intention of forcing enosis on the island. This prompted Turkey to intervene, and the invasion on 20 July.
The museum is in two parts. The open air portion consists of a display of vehicles and arms left by the retreating Greek soldiers, while indoors there is a display of photographs of the military action and uniforms of some of the participants. Close to the museum is a small military graveyard holding the remains of some of the casualties, including that of Col Karaoglanoglu, the most senior officer to be killed in the operation, and whose name was given to the nearby village in his memory. A short distance from the museum is a large monument at the actual point of the landings.
(A. Savin Photo)
Selimiye Mosque (former St. Sophia Cathedral), on the Turkish side of Nicosia, historically the main mosque of the city. The Selimiye Mosque is housed in the largest and oldest surviving Gothic church in Cyprus (interior dimensions: 66 X 21 m) possibly constructed on the site of an earlier Byzasntine church. In total, the mosque has a capacity to hold 2500 worshipers with 1750 m2 available for worship. It is the largest surviving historical building in Nicosia, and it may have been the largest church built in the Eastern Mediterranean in the millennium between the rise of Islam and the late Ottoman period. It was the coronation church for the Lusignan Kings of Cyprus.
The name of the cathedral is derived from Hagia Sophia, which means "Holy Wisdom" in Greek. An 11th-century manuscript mentions the existence of an episcopal church dedicated to Holy Wisdom in the city, likely where this cathedral now stands. The foundation stone was laid in 1209, and the cathedral was largely completed by 1228. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the cathedral was damaged twice by earthquakes, in 1267 and 1303. In 1326, the cathedral was finally consecrated and officially inaugurated with a great celebration. During the Lusignan rule, the cathedral served as the coronation church of the Kings of Cyprus. After the Genoese conquest of Famagusta, it also became the coronation church of the Lusignan Kings of Jerusalem, and finally, the Lusignan Kings of Armenia. It also housed the Trials of the Knights Templar in 1310. In 1373, the cathedral suffered damage during Genoes raids on Cyprus. When the Venetians built their walls of Nicosia, St. Sophia's Cathedral became the center of the city. This reflected the position of medieval European cathedrals, around which the city was shaped.
During the 50-day Ottoman siege of the city in 1570, the cathedral provided refuge for a great number of people. When the city fell on 9 September, Francesco Contarini, the Bishop of Paphos, delivered the last Christian sermon in the building, in which he asked for divine help and exhorted the people. The cathedral was stormed by Ottoman soldiers, who broke the door and killed the bishop along with others. They smashed or threw out Christian items, such as furniture and ornaments in the cathedral] and destroyed the choir as well as the nave. Then, they washed the interior of the mosque to make it ready for the first Friday prayer that it would host on 15 September, which was attended by the commander Lala Mustafa Pasha and saw the official conversion of the cathedral into a mosque. During the same year, the two minarets were added, as well as Islamic features such as the mihrab and the minbar.
All imams maintained the tradition of climbing the stairs to the minbar before Friday sermons while leaning on a sword used during the conquest of Nicosia to signify that Nicosia was captured by conquest. During the Ottoman period, it was the largest mosque in the whole island, and was used weekly by the Ottoman governor, administrators and elite for the Friday prayers. In the late 18th century, a large procession that consisted of the leading officials in the front on horseback, followed by lower-ranking officials on foot, came to the mosque every Friday
22 Aug 86, 1838 Alouette helicopter, Sector 4, Nicosia, Cyprus Recce flight over the Beaver Lodge incident. We were expecting an interesting day, with a crisis on the line over a change to the status quo boundaries. Flew to each end of Sector Four. Good view of the eleven points, or bastions of the old city wall. I walked with Capt “Buck” Buchanan into the Turkish zone and then through the market square to the Selimiye Mosque (former St. Sophia Cathedral). Very hot, had a milkshake there, then walked back to the mess. We watched the “Highlander” on TV, then I called Faye at home. Sean was there, but I missed Jonathan who was outside.
Capt Harold A. Skaarup with a T-34 tank, Peace and Freedom Museum, Alsancak, near Kyrenia, North Cyprus. The museum is situated at the point where the first Turkish troops landed in 1974.
23 Aug 86 On patrol in an Iltis 4 X 4 with a Recce Patrol to Kyrenia via the NW route through the mountains. Several Turk sentries waved, some saluted, but one pointed his rifle at us - interesting. Down to the seashore to the beach site of the 1974 invasion. We stopped to explore the damaged Greek equipment on display, which included four T-34 tanks (climbed inside two), eight BTR-152 APCs, including one with a destroyed Canadian made radio inside, five MH scout cars, trucks, carriers, recoilless rifles, MGs etc. The military cemetery nearby had war graves dated 20 to 23 Jul 1974. We stopped in Kyrenia briefly, looked over the castle walls and a Turkish naval vessel. Up in the mountains to St Hilarion Castle. We climbed to the top of this very extensive fortification dating from Crusader days.
Saint Hilarion Castle stands on the Kyrenia mountain range in a location that provided it with command of the pass road from Kyrenia to Nicosia. It is the best-preserved ruin of the three former strongholds in the Kyrenia mountains, the other two being Kantara and Buffavento.
The castle was named after an obscure saint, who is traditionally held to have fled to Cyprus after the Arab conquest of the Holy Land and retired to the hilltop on which the castle was built for hermitage. The Byzantines began fortifying the site in the 11th century. Saint Hilarion, together with the castles of Buffavento and Kantara, formed the defence of the island against Arab pirates raiding the coast. Some sections were further upgraded under the Lusignan dynasty, whose kings may have used it as a summer residence. During the rule of Lusignans, the castle was the focus of a four-year struggle between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and Regent John d' Ibelin for control of Cyprus. Much of the castle was dismantled by the Venetians in the 15th century to reduce the cost of garrisons.
The castle has three divisions or wards. The lower and middle wards served economic purposes, while the upper ward housed the royal family. The lower ward had the stables and the living quarters for the men-at-arms. The Prince John tower sits on a cliff high above the lower castle.
The upper ward was surrounded by a 1.4 metre-thick Byzantine wall, made of rough masonry. The entrance is through a pointed arch built by the Lusignans. This was protected by a semicircular tower to the east. Within the ward is a courtyard, with twin peaks being situated to either side of it. To the north-east is an extremely ruined kitchen. To the west are the royal apartments, dated by various sources to the 13th or 14th centuries. Although mostly ruined today, this was a structure in the northeast-southwest axis, with a length of 25 m and width of 6 m. It has a basement containing a cistern and two floors. The ground floor has a height of 7 m and a pointed barrel vault. The upper floor is known for its carved windows, one of which is dubbed the Queen's Window. These are placed on the western wall, which has a scenic view of the northern coast of Cyprus, especially the plains of Lapithos.
(Ira Goldstein Photo)
The Queen's window (Queen Elanor) in the upper ward of Saint Hilarion Castle.
Back to Nicosia by the new highway straight South. Dining-in at the mess with General Yuell (our Canadian Rep in Damascus), the same evening.
24 Aug 86 Lunch in the city, swimming at the Ledra pool, dinner with Tim and Carol Larson at Blue Beret Camp.
25 Aug 86 Left Nicosia at 0800 from the mess and went with Tim in a UN vehicle to Limassol to pick up his car. Got there at 0930 and spent the day running through the bureaucracy, trying to get his car out of the container at the port. Spoke to some Russian sailors looking at us over the rails of their lumber-carrier, saw a Soviet hydrofoil craft on blocks for sale, and some Greek soldiers carrying a very peculiar looking SMG. Tim’s car, a Lad, had a dead battery. We gave it a jump start and I drove it back, a right-hand drive vehicle on a left-hand road on a very hot day. Swimming later.
26 Aug 86 Duty officer. More worms in the can as Col Cox stirs the pot on the line - situation tense. I started a SCUBA diving course that evening with Capt Laz Tollas instructing (we learned the PADI system). First time in the pool with the tanks on. The panic is very real when you least expect it. I swallowed a mouthful of water, had no air and for a second I wanted out of the water and up to the surface really bad. Laz just watched and pointed to the regulator, motioning for me to go through my drills and recover the breathing piece correctly. I fought the panic down and got the regulator back in my mouth. After that it was kind of fun, we swam around about 12’ down, took off our masks then donned and cleared the water out of them underwater, rose and sank with the buoyancy control device (BCD) etc. More lessons tomorrow.
27 Aug 86 UNFICYP Military Skills Competition. Danes, Swedes, Austrians, Brits, and Canadians, plus soldiers from Finland, Australia, and Ireland in attendance. Canadian teams placed 1, 2, 3 and 5 in the first round, 1, 2, 3, and 5 in the second round out of 20 teams (four per country). The Brits seemed to desert their teams, as their spectators left before the last UK team finished. I decided that if the Brits wouldn’t cheer for themselves, we would cheer for them instead - no voice left now. Second dive in the pool on SCUBA gear, much more fun, confidence growing etc. Col Cox stirring the pot again. On 28 Aug at 0700 hours, snipers, and troops fully armed are to be in place for round three of the confrontation at Beaver Lodge. Extra live ammo, grenades and rocket launchers issued to all personnel.
(A. Savin Photo)
I visited the Cyprus Museum between 4 and 6 PM, very worthwhile, with displays of artifacts dating from 5000 BC up to about the 7th century AD. Also visited our printing firm. The owner gave me a Greek book called “Greek without tears.” Learned some more Finland and Swedish words today.
The flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
28 Aug 86 Canada put the Turks on the defensive again after they decided to push their luck. Armed Canadians reoccupied the Beaver Lodge site. The Turkish General agreed to remove the Turk flags. Situation less tense but could have been wretched. Third dive in the pool on SCUBA gear that evening. Laz spent some time in the mess going over the dive tables with me.
Col Cox ordered Major Lorne O’Brien, CO of N Company, to reoccupy Beaver Lodge. They also retook the chapel that had been occupied by the Turk Wolf Regiment. The action lasted about a week with several serious confrontations.
Lorne said, “I met personally met with Commander of all Turkish Forces in Cyprus in the chapel. I convinced him that we weren't leaving the chapel without a fight. He could see by our deployment and weapons that we meant business. He said to me "Major we are NATO allies, not adversaries. This problem will be resolved between Generals and politicians, do you understand." I said yes General. He then withdrew the Turkish forces back to their original defensive positions We remained in the Chapel. Thank God we had the good fortune to deal with an extremely competent Turkish General who was professional, calm, a man of his word and a real gentleman. More importantly. Thank God, I had a competent, well trained Company who convinced the Commander of all Turkish forces in Cyprus that they meant business. Shout out to Captain Drew Halpenny who Commanded the Reserve Company in immediate support. We planned and executed the operation together.” To say there was an easing of one’s breathing on all sides in the dispute once the tension settled, would be a great understatement. (E-mails, Lorne O’Brien – Harold A. Skaarup, Dec 2020)
29 Aug 86 All island briefing. Minibus to Nissi Beach and Aya Nappa, on the Southeast corner of Cyprus. Reminds me of Nice. First open water dive, made me think of all those times we watched Lloyd Bridges on “Sea Hunt.” A huge pelican clamped its beak onto my BCD hose. I pushed it away and submerged with six classmates, with lots of well-endowed half naked ladies from Sweden swimming above us. Down to 40’ and our first view of undersea marine life, flat sole fish, plants, coral, more fish and all of it just fabulous! Laz took us through split rock formations, then diving exercises such as buddy breathing, removing gear underwater etc. Back to shore, with the eyes getting sunburned from watching all the bobbing bosoms.
Sea Caves, Cape Greco, Cyprus.
Lunch and then over to Cape Greco and Chapel Bay, passing under a natural rock archway and into 60’ of deep water for our second dive in salt water. Two boatloads of tourists anchored above us, and we all surfaced to investigate. There were lots of well-tanned half-naked bodies getting ready to go for a swim, who were just as surprised to see us there as we were to see them. Supper and ice-cream in Aya Nappa. We explored the town, then drove the 1 ½ hours back to Nicosia by Land Rover. Incredible day. Noticed several camouflaged T-34’s en route to Larnaca.
30 Aug 86 Over to the Turkish side of Nicosia to take pictures of the Turk Army Day parade. Saw President Rauf Denktash, several M-48 tanks etc. After the parade three plain-cloths police stopped to photograph and question me as to why the photos etc. Fast talking etc., got the film back intact and minimal hassle. The Turk police seemed to treat children there very well.
31 Aug 86 To Nissi Beach for the first dive of the day and then on to Pernera for the second. We made our 3rd and 4th qualifying dives after taking a boat about 6 km out from Famagusta, in wet suits, down to about 60’. My buddy had problems with his face mask. Different, but more interesting closer to the shore. One diver found an intact amphorae.
01 Sep 86 BBC, garrison duty.
Capt Harold A. Skaarup, St Hilarion Castle, in front of the Queen's window which faces north.
02 Sep 86 On patrol to Kyrenia by Iltis with Tim Larson. Up to St Hilarion Castle, then into town to view the harbour and Kyrenia Castle. Stopped at invasion beach to view the T-34’s, BTR-152’s etc., and back to Nicosia via the West route. Rented a cassette tape-recorder in the Ledra Palace so I could send cassette tapes home.
Invasion beach, 6-pounder anti-tank gun, 25-pounder field gun, heavy machine-guns.
Invasion beach, BTR-152 APC.
Invasion beach, T-34 tank, with Capt Tim Larson.
03 Sep 86 Mess function, BGen Veitch visiting.
04 Sep MPIO conference at BBC. Line tour in the Iltis with WO Dunlop, then over to observe a Greek Union rally at the PEO building in downtown Nicosia, then back to the Joint Operations Centre (JOC).
MCpl R. Grant Oliver and Capt Harold A. Skaarup, western Cyprus, 6 Sep 1986.
05 Sep 86 With MCpl C.J. Spillane and MCpl R.G. Oliver West to the Astromeritis Gate and up to Morphou and then West to the Mediterranean Sea. Lots of polished rocks on the beaches but no sand or tourists. West to DANCON HQ and then up twisting roads to Liminitis. Stopped for a pop on the coast (photo of MCpl Oliver and I), then back to Nicosia via the back gate of BBC.
06 Sep 86 Dentist 0800-0900. To Dhekelia with Capt Jim Davis and MCpl C.J. Spillane to liaise with the UK jump club. Lunch in Larnaca on the way back to Nicosia. Meet and greet at the mess for the incoming CAR crew.
07 Sep 86, 1839 1428 C-206, Kingsfield, Cyprus. First jump with the British Parachute Centre at Kingsfield. The DZ operator checked my Instructor credentials out, and gave me permission to run jump courses, provided all students took out UK insurance and they used the UK parachute club equipment. The UN subsidised the courses, so students wound up paying about $25 for what is now a $180 course. It also helped pay for my jumps and scuba diving gear. Dropped my first student in Cyprus - hard DZ, but a great day. Called home on the phone, then on the CFRRS-much better this time. Faye used good radio procedure; glad I spoke to the boys on the phone. Will use the radio again.
08 Sep 86 Orders Group at 0815. Then on the road with Captain Daniel Mantion and Cpl Duke to St Hilarion to have a look at the OP on top. Clouded over that morning. On to Kyrenia harbour, stopped at invasion beach, tanks etc. Fast trip, back by 1130. Line tour West to East, have the route down pat now through the buffer zone.
09 Sep 86 Stand-by Duty Officer.
10 Sep 86 Downtown to Dino’s, visiting the printer to review our newspaper production “Ex Coelis.” About 4 PM a UK Wessex helicopter flew into the playing field outside our HQ with a Turkish civilian on-board who had been injured in a traffic accident. He was medically evacuated to a hospital on the Greek side with Turkish permission. Dining in for Col Gaudreau at the mess in the evening. Talked with a Swedish officer after his demonstration team put on a display of precision rifle drill, at night with flares mounted on the fixed bayonets.
11 Sep 86 Phone call at 0436 from Capt Dave Hirter at the JOC. There was an interesting incident between a Canadian soldier and a Soviet visitor to the island, followed by an even more interesting day.
12 Sep 86 Duty officer. Faye is to leave Petawawa on 2 Nov and arrive in Cyprus on 4 Nov to 19 Nov, and be back in Petawawa 21 Nov. It didn’t quite work out that way, but she now has her flight booked.
13 Sep 86 Duty, standby in garrison etc. We had our “Sunday” services on Saturday evenings at 1700 hours, Capt Reg Gilbert presiding.
14 Sep 86 Went down to the Limassol Leave Centre by truck. Dusty drive with diving gear onboard. Tried to use a sailboard without much success, either falling in or losing my balance - lessons would be helpful. Took a shallow SCUBA dive along the coast with Capt Rick Fawcett for an hour. Water definitely cooler here. Back in Nicosia we changed rooms for the 1 Commando officers, I’m now in room 409, no balcony, but clean.
15 Sep 86, 1840 1429 C-206, Cessac Beach, Cyprus. I had planned to make a water jump but decided that salt water was not going to be good for my parachute equipment. We flew out over the med, but after opening my canopy I chose to land on the dock instead. This was on my first 48-hour pass. I took a taxi to Larnaca (one pound fifty), then a regular taxi to Kingsfield (three pounds). 1841 1430 C-206, Kingsfield, Cyprus. Night No. 12.
Canadian Airborne Regiment, Officers in Cyprus, Fall 1986.
Top row: Capt R.R. Gillis (Dental O), Capt Steve C. Tighe (DCO Svc Cdo HQ), Capt J.D. Gilbert (Welfare O), Capt R.W. Courtice (Med O), Capt Reg E. Gilbert (Chaplain (P))
5th row: Capt Robert A. Elvish (R Maint O), Capt S.G. Laplante (Engr O, Pnr Pl), Capt J. Marcoux (Chaplain (RC)), Lt G.G. Ramsay (Acct O).
4th row: Capt Harold A. Skaarup (Ops B, Info), Capt Pat H. McAdam (PL Comd, Recce Pl), Lt Jeff D.J. Drummond (254 Sqn), Lt Jeff D.J. Howes (DO1, JOC), Capt Rick B. Fawett (Sigs O/DCO, AB HQ & Sig Sqn).
3rd row: Capt David P. Wilson (DCO, 2 Cdo, Adm O), Capt Michael J. Beaudette (Ops O, 2 Cdo), Capt Davod G. Hirter (Ops O, JOC), Capt Richard Holt (Ops H, Econ), Lt Dave J. Marshall (Comd, 5 Pl), Capt C.T. McKnight (Comd, 6 Pl), Capt Ian M. Hunt (Comd, 7 PL).
2nd row: Capt J.A.V. Richard Blanchette (O Op, 1er Cdo), Lt J.P.G. Martel (Cmdt, PON 1), Capt J. Mitch McLeod (RQM), Capt J.D. Danny Mantion (RTO, Tpt Pl), Lt Yung Jin Hou (PA Comd), Lt J.J.R. Larivière (Cmdt, PON 2), Lt J.R.M. Dufort (Cmdt, PON 3).
Front Row, seated: Capt Mark Moo Sang (R Adjt), Maj Peter G. Kenward (CO, 2 Cdo), Maj J.J.M. Talbot (Cmdt, 1er Cdo), Col J.M.R. Gaudreau (Sector Comd), Maj Greg B. Mitchell (Deputy Comd), Maj J.L. Pavelich (CO, HQ & Sigs Sqn), Maj Allan F. Stephen (CO, Svc Cdo HQ), Capt Randy J. Kemp (Ops O, JOC).
Missing from Photo: Capt J.P.D. Giguère (O Adm, 1er Cdo), Capt E.M. Thorson (DO 3, JOC).
16 Sep 86, 1842 1431 C-206, Kingsfield, Cyprus. Up at 0500 to try a 9000’ five-way jump. The aircraft broke down, so we went swimming at Dekhelia. Back to Larnaca and service taxi to Nicosia. Group photo. On to Camp St David (UK HQ Sector 4), where Sgt Sinclair briefed us on the Demo jump that we would be making for the Brit UN medals parade. We are all going to be “Red Devils” for the day, and wore their uniform, parachutes, and helmets to make it work.
(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4235973)
British Westland Wessex helicopter in Cyprus.
17 Sep 86, 1843-1848 1432-1436 HC-5 Westland Wessex helicopter, Blue Beret Camp, Nicosia, Cyprus The Red Devils sent a representative to coordinate the various UN jumpers, I represented Canada. When the other countries declined to participate, we all became Red Devil’s and put on their uniforms & parachute equipment, just like during my Sky Hawk days. We made five practice jumps, but also had one emergency landing with the helicopter due to a fire in the instrument panel. Never a good idea to stay with a helicopter when something goes wrong with it, as they have the gliding characteristics of a brick. They repaired it and we went back to the practice jumps. Long hot day, but a good one.
18 Sep 86 Ops/Info conference in the Sector 2 HQ at St David’s Camp. Swedes, Danes, Austrians, Brits, Australians, and Canadians. Brief stop with Tim and Dean at Sector 3 to visit the sauna operated by FINCON.
(Cpl S.C. Banning Photo)
Capt Harold A. Skaarup with the Canadian flag, Cyprus.
19 Sep 86, 1849 1437 HC-5 Westland Wessex helicopter, Blue Beret Camp, Nicosia, Cyprus Demo-Brit medals parade-successful 7 way, all of us landed on target with flags flying. Sixth British jump, should have qualified for Brit Army jump wings, but need a balloon jump to meet their requirements. Had spent the day in meetings, not getting to the BBC airport until after 1630 hours, where the Wessex met us. The demo went well, (Col Gaudreau said so personally), and our exchange officer, Richard Holt, invited me to the 3rd Para Regt’s mess afterwards. Later Capt Richard Gash and his friends drove us at breakneck speed to the Nirvana, and pub in Nicosia where the Carlsberg was very potent.
20 Sep 96 Duty officer. Phoned home via radio-link. A Turk fired a shot into a Greek Observation Post at 0300 hours, otherwise a quiet night.
21 Sep 86 Off Duty at 0730. Loaded the SCUBA gear into the dive van and we set off for the West end of the island, with Pat, Jeff, WO J.B. Juteau, WO Sven Bolke and the group. We drove West on the back road to Ave Marina, 29 km from Nicosia, then SE to Limassol Hwy, through Limassol and past Kolossi Castle and old refugee camps (remember the movie Exodus?), on through the SBA at Episcopi and Akrotiri. Both SBAs were very well kept, with polo grounds and lots of green area’s, rare on the island. West to Paphos, North to Polis and along the coast West to Aphrodite’s baths for a 1-hour dive off the coast. Very enjoyable swimming underwater around a small island there. Back along the SW mountain range to Peyia, then East along the coast to Paphos and Mandria, then North past Trakhypedhoula and up 6000’ in the mountains to the Canadian Signal Station at Troodos. Home late to Nicosia via Sector 2. There were some pretty hair-raising turns past steep drop-offs on either side up there, but it was very cool and green.
(Cpl S.C. Banning Photo)
OP C-73 Paphos Gate, the western entrance to the walled city of Nicosia, with Canadian Iltis on patrol.
22 Sep 86 Stand-by duty officer. Paper over to the printers. Had to walk by our checkpoints along the way, with soldiers shouting "Prend garde!" to which we would respond "Commando!". Our all-white UN painted Iltis on patrol inside the Green Line in Nicosia.
AVGP Grizzly troop inside the UN compound in Nicosia.
23 Sep 86 Duty officer.
24 Sep 86 Ran the first half of a parachute course. Called home.
25 Sep 86 1850-1851 1438-1439 C-206, Kingsfield, Cyprus. Drove to Camp Pergamos at 1230 with four students on a UN bus. Three of them made two jumps each, one just observed after the first half of the course. Made two myself, then drove back to Nicosia the same evening.
26 - 27 Sep 86 Garrison duty. Up to BBC on the 27th for H hr with the CO.
28 Sep 86 By Bedford truck to Aya Napa with the SCUBA club. Made two dives with Capt Mitch McLeod, Capt Dan Mantion and Capt Mark Moosang. Supper in Aya Napa.
29 Sep 86 Garrison duty.
30 Sep 86 Duty officer.
01 Oct 86 Greek Cypriot National Day. Big army parade, which we duly attended.
02 Oct 86 One man jump course.
03 Oct 86 Brief at 1000. 1230 hours drove to Pergamos with seven students, only to find that the aircraft was down and needed repairs. Back via Larnaca on the Limassol Hwy.
(Steve Fitzgerald Photo)
Cyprus Airways Boeing 720-023B, 1978.
(Ken Fielding Photo)
Cyprus Airways Hawker Siddeley HS-121 Trident 2E aircraft (5B-DAB), 1978.
04 Oct 86 Bicycled up to BBC at 0530 hours (cooler then) and explored the wreckage of the Trident jetliner that had been trapped in the hanger of the old Cyprus Airways when the war came. There is also a Piper Cherokee and a Tri-Pacer stuck in there. The place is a mess of strewn papers, desks etc. Mess function at Wolseley Barracks at 1430 hours.
05 Oct 86 1852-1853 1440-1441 C-206, Kingsfield. We took the van to Kingsfield at 0500 hours, with a second jump course of six pers. All of them made at least one jump. NE route to Aya Napa beach, changed to a car to Chapel Beach for a SCUBA dive. Too tired and the pressure change got to me. I lasted in the water about 10 min and then started to hyperventilate. I changed tanks with MCpl Dupuis and came out of the water before I did myself in. Supper in Aya Napa and home by 2245 hours. Very long day.
(Julian Nyca Photo)
Kyrenia harbour, facing south to the Troodos Mountains.
06 Oct 86 With Chaplain Reg Gilbert on a Northwind tour to Kyrenia to visit a CANCON supported hospital on the Turk-Cypriot side. On to St Hilarion Castle (visit # 4) en route, then invasion beach and back to Kyrenia for lunch-the Turkish Mezes was very filling. Stopped to visit the big mosque in North Nicosia, where we had to wash our face, hands and feet before entering the mosque in sock feet. Huge cathedral over 785 years old. Over to the printers in South Nicosia, then back to the JOC for reports.
07 Oct 86 Line tour for Cpl Juteau, later visited several art shops and a craft centre in the evening.
(Michal Klajban Photo)
Columns in Roman gymnasium, Salamis, Northern Cyprus.
08 Oct 86 To the Greek Embassy for maps in the morning, then by VW van to Famagusta on the Turkish side. Drove through the walled city via the harbour and saw a Turk destroyer visiting the port. Out to the AUSCON HQ in Sector 6. Blue Beret Conference, lunch, then on a tour guided by WO Schuh through the ruins of Salamis, a former city of over 100,000 people partly destroyed in an earthquake shortly after Christ’s time. Paul started his journey across the island from here. Gashed my knee near the ruins of the old Basilica. Over to the huge tombs of Cypriot Kings form very ancient times, then on to the AUSCON MIR where they bandaged the scrape and gave me a tetanus shot to boot. Dropped the WO off in Famagusta, then on through the Turk gate to the SBA of Dekhelia to take Capt Klaar from SWEDCON back to Camp Victoria. Interesting tour of Larnaca harbour by night, but with one headlight out, we had a quick bite to eat and then drove home on our UN road. Into the darkroom for a few hours to work on pictures for our Ex Coelis newspaper.
09 Oct 86 Paperwork day.
10 Oct 86 1854-1855 1442-1443 C-206, Kingsfield. Took the minibus to Dekhelia with a jump course. Made two loads then drove back with lightning going off (but without a sound), in the background. We picked up two Swedes on the way and dropped them off at Goldfish Camp on the East end of Nicosia.
11 Oct 86 In the van at 1330 hours to Chapel Bay for an evening and our first night dive. Saw a large octopus, and amphorae everywhere. We slept up on top of the cliff overlooking the sea, with a fine campfire that night-very warm and pleasant after the night dive, about five of us in sleeping bags. Slept well.
12 Oct 86 Up at dawn with a beautiful sunrise, made two more dives in very clear water-the most beautiful dive of all so far. Bicycled over through the Turkish side exploring the old wall and the city of North Nicosia. Called home via CFARS and long distance.
13 Oct 86 A missing staff car led to an adventure by Iltis to Kantara via Salamis. With MCpl C.J. Spillane, MCpl R.G. Oliver and Cpl J.C. Juteau, we took several winding roads up to and old castle that pre-dated the crusaders, although it was later captured by Richard the Lionheart in 1191. We explored the castle and then drove on up the panhandle to Rizokarpaso and got off the beaten track and (on the advice of local policemen) followed a very nasty trail of dry gulch and rocky riverbed back to Korovia and to the Salamis Bay Hotel in a thunderstorm. Heavy rain and cold wind on the open sides of the jeep made us miserable. We drove by St Barnabus’ church and had hot chocolate in the Salamis Bay Hotel. West to Nicosia and the Ledra gate, home in time for a dining in.
Kantara Castle in north Cyprus. Possibly built in the Byzantine period, tt combines Byzantine and Frankish architectural elements, but became derelict in 1525 and was dismantled in 1560. It gave its name to the nearby Kantara monastery.
Kantara is situated to the east of Buffavento Castle with St. Hilarion Castle standing even farther to the west forming a protective axis in the Kyrenia mountain range of Northern Cyprus. As both of the other castles are visible from Buffavento, it was used to pass signals between them. The castles were built in conjunction during the Byzantine period but the date of their commission remains unknown. Kantara Castle may have been built as early as 965, after the expulsion of the Arabs from the island. It may have been as late as 1091 by the rebel Rhapsomates, during the rule of Eumathios Philokales (1091–1094), or in the late 11th century after the Cilician coast was overrun by the Seljuk Empire, or in 1096 as a countermeasure for the upheaval caused by the First Crusade. The name of the castle derives from the Cypronite Maronite Arabic word kandak which means stone bridge.
The castle served as a watchtower for pirate raids, an administrative centre and a place of incarceration, although it saw next to no fighting. In 1191, it was taken by Richard the Lionheart during his campaign against the island's ruler Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus. Richard subsequently sold the island to the Knights Templar whose rule abruptly ended after a major revolt in Nicosia. Cyprus was thus resold to Guy of Lusignan, the former King of Jerusalem who became the first King of Cyprus in 1192. A period of peace ended with the death ofHugh I of Cyprus in 1218. A struggle over who should act as the kingdom's regent ensued, pitting the House of Ibelin with the local supporters of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Frederick's arrival in Limassol in 1228 escalated the conflict into an open war. In 1229, the castle came under siege by the Ibelins, who bombarded it with trebuchets, reportedly destroying several buildings. The castle's garrison surrendered a year later when its commander Gauvain de Cheneche was killed by a crossbow bolt. Afterwards, the Lusignans continued their reign interrupted only by occasional palace coups. In 1373, Cyprus was invaded by the Republic of Genoa imprisoning the local nobility. According to Philip of Novara's chronicle, Prince John of Antioch managed to escape from Famagusta after disguising himself as the valet of his cook. John subsequently fled to Kantara, from which he organised a successful counter offensive that expelled the Genoese after the latter failed to capture Kantara.
Recognizing the importance of the three Kyrenian castles James I of Cyprus and Peter II of Cyprus vastly expanded their fortifications. During their reign Kantara was transformed into a garrison castle, barracks and an enormous cistern were erected. Another cistern located at the basement of the castle was converted into a prison and later made into rooms for the captain of garrison. In 1489, the Republic of Venice acquired the island. In 1519, Italian engineers branded the castle as obsolete. At which time the Kyrenian mountain castles fell into disuse, the last garrison departing in 1525. The castle was finally dismantled in 1560. Kantara's buildings remain in a relatively good condition until they were subjected to looting in the early 20th century. In 1905, the castle was classified as historic heritage due to the efforts of the French archaeologist Camile Enlart. In 1914, British colonial authorities under George Jeffery undertook restoration work at the castle, in an effort to attract sightseers. In 1939, the foundation of the horseshoe tower was refurbished in order to prevent it from collapsing.
Kantara is situated on an elevation of 550–600 metres (1,800–1,970 ft) above sea level. The castle is surrounded by ridges of barren granite and sandstone bedrock which were used as the main building materials for the castle's construction. The materials were subjected to coarse masonry; most of the buildings are coated with thick layers of plaster to cover the poor quality of the materials. Doors, windows and quoins were transported from elsewhere. The lack of local water sources necessitated the collection of rainwater through the use of flat roofs which were connected to the cisterns through a drainage system. Among the six cisterns used, the largest stood outside the walls. Buildings contained bread ovens and perhaps even a mill.
The steep crags limit the available pathways to a narrow valley on its eastern side, which is guarded by twin towers named Nicolas and Faucherre respectively. The first gate is followed by a barrel vaulted barbican, a steep chicane then leads to the porticullis which protected main gate. The barbican shows great similarities with contemporary Cilician Armenian designs, having a gallery of arrowslits and two towers of its own. To the north of the main gate stands a horseshoe shaped tower providing additional support to the defenders of the barbican. The apsidal vault at the front of the tower facilitates better shock absorption. Despite its similarities to Roman and Byzantine military architecture it was in fact constructed sometime between 1208 and 1228.
The surrounding 120 by 70 metres (390 ft × 230 ft) wall contained ten garrison rooms which were constructed in the late 14th century, the barracks were connected with a latrine. A concealed postern, guarded by two towers lies on the south–western corner of the castle. To the south of the main gate, was built a rectangular, barrel vaulted keep, used a prison, later converted into a cistern. The centre of its northern wall is graced by a refined late 14th century Frankish window built from what once was an embrasure. The shape of the embrasures throughout the castle indicates they were mainly used by crossbowmen. At the top of the castle stand the ruins of "The Queen's Chamber", an alleged fortified chapel destroyed in a Turkish naval bombardment in 1525 and looted in the 19th century.
14 Oct 86 Went through the vehicle storeroom of Maple House with 1 Commando today. There are more than 60 cars (brand new when the war struck in 74), trapped under the building, as the Turks refuse to allow the owner to remove them. Also, lots of bicycles stored there.
15 Oct 86 Over to Viking Camp, HQ DANCON at the West end of the islands buffer zone for an Ops B conference. The Danes took us way out to Kokkina, on the other side of a Turkish held enclave separated from the North, in a Greek area. BGen J.A. MacInnes, Commander of the Canadian Contingent in Cyprus, flew in via Alouette helicopter to brief us on points of concern. Capt Tim Larson, WO Dean Dunlop, Sgt Mike Higgins, and me from Canada. Dean and I stopped at the ancient ruins of Soli on the way back. Good lunch by the sea, waves breaking in the background. Learned some new Danish words. Stopped at Nicosia airport on the way back and discovered the wreckage of an old RAF Shackleton bomber, as well as parts of another Tri-Star jetliner that had been blown up on the runway during the war. Didn’t find the old C-119 we were looking for.
16 Oct 86 Long day of discussion, over to the printers, Maj Mitchell BRD.
17 Oct 86 1856-1857 1444-1445 C-206, Kingsfield. I took members of the para-club over to Camp Pergamos and Kingsfield. Observed a total eclipse of the moon on the way back, which started at 1930 hours and lasted for several hours.
18 Oct 86 Garrison duty.
19 Oct 86 With the SCUBA club to Aya Napa to dive, then to Pernera and onto a boat out in the Chapel Bay area to look for a wreck about 80’ down. We searched but didn’t find it. The truck driver got lost in the mountains on the way back, resulting in a very nasty ride in the back of the Bedford with dust and wind swirling all around us. WO J.B. Juteau was sleeping on the canvas top. WO Bolke went up to make sure he didn’t fall off.
20 Oct Garrison duty.
(Vegard Ottervig Photo)
Kolossi Castle, Limassol.
21 Oct Weekend leave, took the bus to Limassol Leave Centre, got a drop off at Kolossi Castle along with my bicycle. Toured the castle then biked to Akrotiri RAF base through fruit groves and a large Salt Lake, then back to Limassol Castle to tour the site where Richard the Lion Heart married Berengaria, daughter of Sancho IV, King of Spain in 1191, crowning her his queen. Visited the museum in the afternoon. Legs feeling stretched from the extended biking.
Richard I (8 September 1157 – 6 April 1199) was King of England from 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Aquitaine and Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, and Count of Poitiers, Anjou, Maine, and Nantes, and was overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period. He was the third of five sons of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and seemed unlikely to become king, but all his brothers except the youngest, John, predeceased their father. Richard is known as Richard Cœur de Lion (in Norman French it is recorded as Le quor de lion) or Richard the Lionheart because of his reputation as a great military leader and warrior. By the age of 16, Richard had taken command of his own army, putting down rebellions in Poitou against his father. Richard was an important Christian commander during the Third Crusade, leading the campaign after the departure of Philip II of France and achieving considerable victories against his Muslim counterpart, Saladin, although he finalized a peace treaty and ended the campaign without retaking Jerusalem.
Richard probably spoke both French and Occitan. He was born in England, where he spent his childhood; before becoming king, however, he lived most of his adult life in the Duchy of Aquitaine, in the southwest of France. Following his accession, he spent very little time, perhaps as little as six months, in England. Most of his life as king was spent on Crusade, in captivity, or actively defending his lands in France. Rather than regarding his kingdom as a responsibility requiring his presence as ruler, he has been perceived as preferring to use it merely as a source of revenue to support his armies. Nevertheless, he was seen as a pious hero by his subjects. He remains one of the few kings of England remembered more commonly by his epithet than his regnal number, and is an enduring iconic figure both in England and in France.
(Prioryman Photo, left, MOSOT Photo, right)
Statue of Richard I, Westminster, UK, left, Effigy of Berengaria in the chapter house of L'Èpau Abbeym Le Mans, France.
Berengaria of Navarre c1165–1170 – 23 December 1230) was the Queen of England as the wife of Richard I of England. She was the eldest daughter of Sanchoi VI of Navarre and Sancha of Castile. As is the case with many of the medieval English queens, relatively little is known of her life. Traditionally known as "the only English queen never to set foot in the country", she may in fact have visited England after her husband's death, but did not do so before, nor did she see much of Richard during her marriage, which was childless. She did (unusually for the wife of a crusader) accompany him on the start of the Third Crusade, but mostly lived in his French possessions, where she gave generously to the church, despite difficulties in collecting the pension she was due from Richard's brother and successor John after she became a widow.
(Gérard Janot Photo)
The Medieval Castle of Limassol, Cyprus.
22 Oct 86 Downtown to shop and explore bookstores, biked out to the harbour to check out the boat to Israel. Back downtown to explore antique shops, visit their library, then back to the leave centre beach. Bus back to Nicosia for another dining-in.
23, 24 Oct Garrison duty.
25 Oct 86 Patrol by Iltis with Capt Mark Moo Sang to Famagusta, counted ten M-47 tanks near AUSCON, and observed that a T-34/85 had moved to a new position etc. Visited the ruins of Salamis and toured St Barnabus church. Beautiful mauve sunset on the purple mountains observed on the way back to Nicosia. Found out where the restaurant “La Cheminee” is located, must bring Faye back to try it out.
Bellapais Abbey (also spelled Bellapaïs) is the ruin of a monastery built by Canons Regular in the 13th century on the northern side of the small village of Bellapais, now in Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, about five kilometres from the town of Kyrenia. The ruin is at an altitude of 220m above sea level, and commands a long view down to Kyrenia and the Mediterranean sea.
26 Oct 86 Plainclothes recce in the morning South towards Sava Castle (out of bounds). In uniform in the afternoon, in an Iltis with Capt Jeff Howes up to St Hilarion Castle (visit # 5) and then over to Bellapais Abbey for the first time. We checked out the Abbey House restaurant and the Loch Manor restaurant (very out of the way). Down by invasion beach and Kyrenia harbour, Lucia Beach for coffee and back to Nicosia by nightfall.
27 Oct 86 Garrison duty. Pistol range in the morning.
28 Oct 86 Night dive with the Dekhelia SCUBA club off the jetty at Dekhelia. Supper at Pyla, the only mixed Greek and Turkish community left on the island. Back in Nicosia at 0100 hours.
29 - 30 Oct 86 Garrison duty.
31 Oct 86, 1858 C-206, Kingsfield. Ferry load. I took two busloads of students (19) to the DZ but we were winded out.
01 Nov 86 Halloween party in the mess, Capt Richard Holt hid in a coffin wearing a screaming harpy mask, Capt Richard Blanchette completely wrapped in a mummy suit, I had an Einstein mask (rented). Lots of fun.
2 - 4 Nov 86 Anticipation growing, but Faye’s flight is delayed until 8 Nov - panic. Faye is stuck in Lahr and I’m not too happy about it. Faye’s Hercules flight out of Lahr is delayed until Saturday 08 Nov. Hectic change of plans. She’s to fly to Cyprus on commercial airlines via Basel, on the 6th instead.
05 Nov 86 Leave day, I took the bicycle across the border and up into Northern Cyprus. Biked about 14 miles up into the mountains trying to get to Buffavento Castle, only to find that it has been blocked off by Turk paratroopers at Gungor. Biked 4 miles back down and up to Taskent. Stopped for a pop and talked for ½ and hour with a Turk whose family was wiped out in 1969 in the first Taskent in South Cyprus. They moved the name of the town to North Cyprus. Gecitkale the same. About 30 km on bike, ate lunch on the outskirts of Nicosia, then to the market. Got the marble chess board there. Biked around South Nicosia, then back to Wolseley Barracks, hoping that Faye will arrive tomorrow. Anxious, looking forward to 06 Nov.
06 Nov 86 Up to BBC to check our PMQ out, rent a car and bike around. Then drove to the airport to pick her up. Faye arrives “just gorgeous.” Security at the airport was tight, but we eventually got together.
Now for her story: On 02 Nov 86 The bus arrived at 3:15 PM to take Faye and two other wives to the AMU in Ottawa. Jonathan, Sean and Böe stayed at home with George and Alma Jenkins, who had come up from PEI to look after them. She had no problems getting on the flight (Pri-2), which was packed. Chris came out to see her off which helped her to pass the time. The flight left for Lahr at 8:30 PM- she was glad to be in the air and on the way at last.
The flight arrived in Gatwick for a two hour stop on 03 Nov, and left again for Lahr, arriving at 11:30 in the morning. UN representatives met them. Met four other wives also en route to Cyprus. They stayed at K-55 near the Kaserne for the night. She would have liked to have gone for a walk around to re-see the familiar territory, but they had to be up at 3 AM for the 6 AM flight to Larnaca, so she decided to rest. At 6 PM they all went out to the Gasthaus Krone and then to bed early. All well (so far).
She was awake at 0830 on 04 Nov 86 and knew something was wrong. She rushed downstairs and found out that the plane was delayed and then learned that it wouldn’t be going anywhere until Saturday, as a broken landing gear and cracked fuel tank wouldn’t be fixed until then. So, the WO placed a few calls to those of us waiting in Cyprus. Faye and I talked, and we determined that she should jump on a civilian airplane. All four of the wives made reservations to fly via Basel and Zurich on Swiss Air for $632, however, they couldn’t get out until Thursday. Long faces all around, but at least she knew she’d get there. She slept poorly that night.
On 05 Nov 86 She walked to Area-2 to see our old PMQ 2-5-5 and found that it looked the same as it did in 1981-83. She revisited some familiar stores. Woz, the UN rep took three of the wives in a vehicle and drove through Friesenheim and back behind Lahr to Kippenheim, Ettenheimweiler, Hohen-Geroldseck castle and back to K-55. Light supper and early to bed.
Up at 0500 on 06 Nov 86 to beautify themselves, not much breakfast eaten. The trip to Basel was fine, via the autobahn. They flew from Basel to Zurich via Swiss Air, taking about 15 min for the flight but then waiting for 2 ½ hours in Zurich to change planes. The flight from Zurich to Larnaca was about four hours or less. It was dark on arrival so she couldn’t see the landscape below. All of us stood there in the terminal anxiously awaiting our visitors, but we had to pause for a few minutes until the bureaucratic procedures at the passport counter had been completed.
All I can say is, she was wonderful to see, and she said the same of me. I had a rented car and brought some flowers, but first had to say hello thoroughly. Shortly afterwards we headed back through the Greek and Turkish checkpoints en route to Nicosia. One of the Turks asked us for cigarettes, but no hassles. The road is used for UN traffic only and is not lighted at night. She commented on the barrels full of rocks set up to zigzag around so one can’t drive through too quickly. In Nicosia we drove up to our PMQ on the British part of BBC. The weather was warm, but with a slight rain and lots of lightning flashes. We later drove to the Ledra Palace to see my room.
07 Nov 86 We did some shopping in downtown Nicosia. No bargains, but she found some nice stores. Sunglasses became a necessity in the bright white light, so I took her to the same optometrist I used, to get a nice new pair. We then went over to the Turkish side and on to visit Kyrenia on the North shore. The main road was washed out, so we had to go through the mountains on narrow and somewhat paved roads, with lots of goats etc., and an adventure for her. She noted that the land was dry, scrubby, and dusty, but beautiful in the distance. We got back on the main road finally and then drove into Kyrenia. She found it a beautiful place but deserted in what was for them cold and rainy weather. A restaurant owner beckoned us over to sit down to his “special.” A meal somewhat like a “mezes.” First lots of little dishes come in, figs(?) with yogurt, beans in oil, potatoes, carrots in cream, salads, and then four types of meats. Then dessert of fruits and Turkish candies. She found it quite good but very filling. Back to Nicosia and to the PMQ where we lit a fire and soon fell asleep.
(A. Savin Photo)
Varosha is an abandoned southern quarter of the Cypriot city of Famagusta. Before 1974, it was the modern tourist area of the city. Its inhabitants fled during the invasion in 1974, when the city of Famagusta came under Turkish control, and it has remained abandoned ever since. As of 2021, the quarter continues to be uninhabited; buildings have decayed, and, in some cases, their contents have been looted over the years; some streets have been overgrown with vegetation; and the quarter is generally described as a ghost town. Entry is forbidden to the public.
08 Nov 86 Sunny and cold as we drove North and East to Famagusta to see the ghost town of Varosha and its 127 abandoned and partly damaged hotels, many of them high rise, but all off limits. The area served a lot of tourists before the 74 war and was once the Miami-Beach of Cyprus. We had lunch at La Cheminee (recommended). Then on to Salamis, once a city of 100,000 in the time of Christ. Volcanoes and earthquakes destroyed this city which is now partly under the sea. We walked along the beach there. The Salamis Bay Hotel was close by and she found it very ritzy inside. We then drove on to the Sovereign Base Area and down to Aya Napa, an area she found to be very touristy and with a beautiful beach. I showed her the area we went SCUBA diving around. On to Dekhelia hoping to catch a movie, but none on that night so on to Larnaca and home. We had visited Nicosia International Airport, which still looks much as it did after it was hit in 1974. She had a look at the Cyprus Airways Trident aircraft, which is still in the hangar, and noted the airline tickets everywhere-heavily looted and dirty.
09 Nov 86 Late start on a sunny and cool morning. We drove up into the Troodos mountains and West from Sector 2. There was enough snow to make snowmen and a storm warning was reported. We stopped at the Forest Park Hotel, one of many European style holiday resorts. On into Limassol and then West to Kolossi Castle (and the home of Commandaria red wine). We explored West again to the ruins of Curium. It started to rain as we visited the amphitheatre, and the sun came out to produce a double rainbow at the same time. On to the Temple of Apollo. Lots of restoration work in progress. Very quiet and peaceful. On to Episkopi, where the British have a base with four polo fields. Back to Limassol and around Limassol Castle, passing the leave centre and on to Nicosia via the double highway.
10 Nov 86 I loaded up the Iltis, took webbing, flak jacket, helmet, pistol, and Faye for a tour of the buffer zone. She found it an eye opener and very interesting. She noted the barrels, sandbags, and collapsing bullet ridden buildings everywhere. She also felt the Turkish and Greek soldiers eying us in the Iltis. We stopped at the OP Ormorphita to talk with one of the soldiers on duty, then drove by the line houses. Lunch in the officer’s mess, then downtown to look around. Home early for a siesta, as Faye’s system was beginning to rebel against the new climate and culture. Supper at Cheng’s, the nicest Chinese restaurant she said she’d ever been in. We enjoyed the fire in our PMQ as always afterwards, as it grew very cold at night. We used propane heaters.
11 Nov 86 We paid two pounds to bring the car across the Turkish border to visit the Turkish market. She thought it was grungy looking but kept well swept and there were no foul odours, in fact lots of good smells. We bought a few trinkets including onyx eggs, and mohair (four yellow balls). She saw beautiful fabric shops and fell in love with one fabric in particular. On to the mosque, where we received an individual tour by an elderly man who spoke quite openly of Turkish/Muslim religious ways. We then drove up to St Hilarion Castle. She didn’t quite make it to the top but still had an excellent view. Then we drove on to Bellapais Abbey, with its renowned Abbey House restaurant. Back to Nicosia, where we had the full nine-yard “Mezes” meal at the Plaka restaurant. We had at least 20 separate dishes served to us, along with a bottle of Thispe (Greek wine). To describe the mezes, one would start with cheese slices and smoked ham, followed by dishes of salad with feta cheese. Yogurt with cut-up onions to have with greens, perogy-like rolls, pita bread, olives, beets, fried olives, small noodles with meat, halloumi (fried cheese), hamburger-like rolls, kebab, white beans, potatoes, giant mushrooms, two kinds of stew, scrambled egg-like mush, snails, lemons, and limes. Dessert: bananas, pears, grapes, apples, oranges, pomegranates, peaches, tangerines plus two other fruits we couldn’t identify. Quite a feast.
(Nino Verde Photo)
Petra tou Romiu (Rock of the Greek) on the south shore of Cyprus.
12 Nov 86 We had to check out of the PMQ. Picked up Faye’s new prescription sunglasses and then set off for Limassol and Paphos. Saw Stavrouni monastery way up in the hills but learned that women are only allowed to visit on Sunday. Beautiful view, with the slopes of the mountains terraced - lots of work must have been involved. Cyprus was once renowned for its trees, but after centuries it has been denuded. A massive island wide replanting program is presently in place. Cyprus is also self-sufficient in growing it own food, especially fruit. Into Limassol for lunch and visited a bookstore, one of my favourites. We then drove on to Paphos, passing by the rocks where Aphrodite is believed to have been born. Much warmer weather and very sunny. Just West of Paphos we stayed in an apartment style hotel called Helios Bay. Our balcony had a beautiful view of the Mediterranean. We drove past the tombs of the kings and on to Paphos Castle on the edge of Paphos harbour to see a beautiful sunset. Lots of other tourists there. We will wait until tomorrow to visit the shops and sites.
(Steve Parker Photo)
Paphos Castle located on the edge of Paphos harbour, was originally built as a Byzantine fort to protect the harbour. It was then rebuilt by the Lusignans in the thirteenth century after being destroyed in the earthquake of 1222. In 1570 it was dismantled by the Venetians. After the Ottomans captured the island, the castle was restored and strengthened. Throughout the ages it has seen many uses . It has served as a fortress, a prison and as a warehouse for salt during the British occupation of the island. It was declared a listed building in 1935 and represents one of the most distinctive landmarks of the city of Paphos. Several archaeological excavations have taken place to investigate its past.
(Sergei Galyonkin Photo)
Paphos Archaeological Park, House of Theseus.
13 Nov 86 Morning visit to the Tombs of the Kings, where we were impressed by the stone columns cut into the rock walls. On to the lighthouse nearby, with its Odium (and outdoor amphitheatre). Mosaics at the House of Dionysus, then to the House of Thesus. Visited the Byzantine fortress ruins there and then over to Paphos castle for a tour inside. We walked around the harbour, then went shopping in touristy shops near the shore. Visited a CYDIVE shop, where some Brits promised to arrange a dive on two wrecks in the area. Lunch at Wimpey’s, then a walk to the site of the Pillar of St Paul (reportedly one of those that he had be tie to and whipped).
Pillar of St Paul, Paphos. According to the biblical Acts of the Apostles, after landing at Salamis and proclaiming the Word of God in the synagogues, the prophets and teachers, Barnabas and Saul of Tarsus, traveled along the entire southern coast of the island of Cyprus until they reached Paphos. There, Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul, was converted after Saul rebuked the Sorcerer Elymas. It is in Paphos, that Acts first identifies Saul as Paul.
We went back to the hotel and then down to the beach. I did some snorkeling and Faye suntanned. It was sunny but a touch cool, and the water had cooled down quite a bit. A Greek fisherman came by and gave us some pomegranate fruit and wanted some conversation in return. Afterwards we went to the Paphos museum, and then watched the sunset. We drove to Coral Bay (very romantic she said). Supper in the Kings Palace restaurant.
14 Nov 86 Before leaving Paphos we walked along the harbour front, while eating real Italian ice-cream. We then drove to the rocks near Aphrodite’s beach for some sun-tanning. Into Limassol, where we walked around the shops after lunch. Drove past Amethyst but didn’t see it. Found the Neolithic settlement of Khirokitia.
Khirokitia is an archaeological site dating from the Neolithic age, occupied from the 7th to the 4th millennium BC. The site is known as one of the most important and best preserved prehistoric sites of the eastern Mediterranean. Much of its importance lies in the evidence of an organised functional society in the form of a collective settlement, with surrounding fortifications for communal protection. The Neolithic aceramic period is represented by this settlement and around 20 other similar settlements spread throughout the island.
We drove on to Nicosia, where Faye got her spare glasses. Went shopping to get a pair of pants for me. Saw a demonstration put on by some locals parading against the Turks, so Wolseley Barracks was wired off. We checked into the New Ledra Hotel, then had supper in the Corona, a very nice place with a good menu.
15 Nov 86 Up for breakfast in the New Ledra Hotel, then downtown through the middle of a zillion school kids preparing for a demonstration of some kind (there’s always one going on somewhere about something here). Got to the clothing store to pick up my tailored pants, then over to the Byzantine and Art museum in the government square area. Some fine works of art dating from medieval icons to 17th and 18th century works upstairs. To the open-air market for lunch items, including raisins, tangerines, pears, bread, cheese etc. Lunch near the UN road. Through the checkpoints to Larnaca, walked through Larnaca Castle with a very good museum displaying artifacts from Kition. Walked to the ancient (1400 BC) ruins of Kition, site closed. Drove along the coast to Limassol, where we decided to check in for the boat tour early. Good thing we did too, as the departure time had been moved up by two hours from 8 PM to 6 PM. We were there at 5:15 PM and made it onboard with just enough time to find a parking spot and not much to spare.
We boarded the F/B Paloma ½ hour before sailing. Had a nice dinner on board, and discovered the waiter was a Greek sailor who had been on the Arcadia about the same time that I had sailed with our family from Montreal to Le Havre in 1959. It was also the last time I remembered having a dinner onboard a cruise ship. Faye noted that it was nice to have travelled on a cruise ship, but that the quarters were rather cramped. She liked the food though. Tomorrow we dock at Haifa, Israel.
16 Nov 86 Beautiful clear sunrise over Mount Carmel as the F/B Paloma backed into the port of Haifa alongside two other Cypriot/Greek cruise ships. Lots of Israeli Defence Force (IDF) patrol boats in the harbour. Long wait for docking to be completed, then we were off the boat and loaded onto bus number 3 with Ms Jean--, a US tour guide who had been in Israel for 16 years. We drove South along the Mediterranean coast past and Oceanographic Institute and a 1984 ship memorial to Jewish colonists, as well as past a Crusader castle ruin formerly used to welcome pilgrims to the holy land at Caesarea.
Caesarea is located on the Mediterranean coast, about midway between Haifa and Tel Aviv. Archeological excavations during the 1950s and 1960s uncovered remains from many periods, in particular, a complex of fortifications of the Crusader city and the Roman theater. Founded by King Herod in the first century BCE on the site of a Phoenician and Greek trade post known as Stratons Tower, Caesarea was named for Herods Roman patron, Augustus Caesar. This city was described in detail by the Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. (Antiquities XV. 331 ff; War I, 408 ff). It was a walled city, with the largest harbour on the eastern Mediterranean coast, named Sebastos, the Greek name of the emperor Augustus.
The temple of the city, dedicated to Augustus Caesar, was built on a high podium facing the harbor. A broad flight of steps led from the pier to the temple. Public buildings and elaborate entertainment facilities in the imperial tradition were erected. King Herods palace was in the southern part of the city. In the year 6 CE, Caesarea became the seat of the Roman procurators of Provincia Judaea and headquarters of the 10th Roman Legion. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the city expanded and became one of most important in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, classified as the "Metropolis of the Province of Syria Palaestina."
Caesarea played an important role in early Christian history. Here the baptism of the Roman officer Cornelius took place; (Acts 10:1-5, 25-28) from here Paul set sail for his journeys in the eastern Mediterranean; and here he was taken prisoner and sent to Rome for trial. (Acts 23:23-24). The palace was built on a rock promontory jutting out into the sea, in the southern part of the Roman city. The excavations revealed a large architectural complex, measuring 110 x 60 m., with a decorative pool, surrounded by porticoes. This elegant structure in its unique location was identified as Herods palace. (Antiquitites, XV, 332) The palace was in use throughout the Roman period, as attested to by two columns with Greek and Latin dedicatory inscriptions naming governors of the province of Judea.
The theater is located in the very south of the city. It was commissioned by King Herod and is the earliest of the Roman entertainment facilities built in his kingdom. The theater faces the sea and has thousands of seats resting on a semi-circular structure of vaults. The semi-circular floor of the orchestra, first paved in painted plaster, was later paved with marble. In the excavated theater a stone was found, bearing parts of an inscription mentioning Pontius Pilate, Procurator of Judea, by whose order Jesus was crucified, and the Tiberium (the edifice in honor of the Emperor Tiberius) which he built.
(Berthold Werner Photo)
The Roman double aqueduct that brought water from the foot of the Carmel range to Caesarea.
We continued on into Tel Aviv passing by Ben Gurion airport, and up a very steep and winding road to the city of Jerusalem. The guide told us that most homes were not very affordable in the city, ranging in area of $90,000 US for a three-bedroom apartment in Tel Aviv, and at least another $10,000 in Jerusalem. The residents also don’t have dryers. As we went up the mountain, we passed a UK police post with several armoured vehicles (Sherman variants) in a memorial to the many killed during the battles in 1948. Also drove by many wrecked vehicles left from the battles for Jerusalem, including destroyed armoured trucks and other relics, most of them painted red and some of them with wreaths on them.
(Andrew Shiva Photo)
Up to Jerusalem and its square-shaped rectangular buildings and large walls spread out over several hills. We went to a University parking lot where we disembarked to get our first view of the old walled city and the Dome of the Rock on the right and the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives on the left. Down past the churches in the Garden of Gethsemane and then up along the South side of the wall to the West side, where we entered through the Jaffa gate on foot.
(Jorge Lascar Photo)
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, also called the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre, or the Church of the Resurrection by Eastern Christians, is a church within the Christian Quarter of the walled Old City of Jerusalem. The church encloses the Holy Sepulchre, or burial site of Jesus, and four or five of the final Stations of the Cross as celebrated in some denominations of Christianity.
We walked through the various market areas to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, visiting the site of Christ’s tomb first, then up a set of stairs to Golgotha, the site of the crucifixion. We also passed by the site of the anointing of the body and then back outdoors through the same entrance to this immense complex of mixed ancient/crusader/modern church/cathedral.
We walked along the back streets to visit the “Wailing Wall,” where we had to wear a hat (yarmulke) and stopped to write a message to put in the wall. We then walked out through the Dung Gate. One could sense and feel a lot of grit, oil, and darkness inside the church. We ate lunch in Bethlehem, and then walked in to explore the Church of the Nativity. We went down to the former cave site where there is a silver star marking the traditional spot where the manger had been and where Jesus was born.
Silver star marking the place where Jesus was born according to Christian tradition;
By tradition, objects placed on the star are blessed, so in the spirit of the theme, I put my dog tags and two Airborne St Michael medallions on it. We later bought a few souvenir books near the church. The tour bus took us back to Jerusalem past the Israeli museum of Jerusalem and the Israeli Knesset (Parliament). Faye said that we would like to go back to Jerusalem and revisit the sites, especially the old city. We just barely touched on the attractions. Jerusalem is quite different today than it was in Jesus day. With the march of time and debris, the city is on a much higher ground level. We encountered a lot of very young Arab peddlers, mostly trying to sell post-cards, with everything costing one (dollar, pound-English or Cypriot etc). Long drive into the sunset from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv and then we were taken to a diamond store in Haifa, later boarding the F/B Paloma about 1900 hours. We set out to sea and were served dinner at 2130 hours.
17 Nov 86 We were up early to the sound of taped music and a bright sunny morning as the ship docked at Limassol. After a light breakfast and a reasonably quick disembarkation, we climbed back into our little red Mazda. Our first visit of the day was to the Limassol Castle Chapel, where Richard the Lion Heart and his Spanish wife Berengaria were married in 1192. We got misrouted (lost) while on a temporary detour through a grungy set of road works, up through the Troodos mountains to the Morphou gate. We turned back by the gate guard on the Turk side because he wanted a Nicosia stamp on the papers. Back to Nicosia for lunch at BBC, then a long rest at the New Ledra Hotel. Faye particularly enjoys the long late suppers.
18 Nov 86 Up early on a beautiful clear Cyprus morning. We drove over to the Turkish side to shop, and I got a nice shirt there. On up to Kyrenia where we toured the castle and the ancient ship museum. The castle is very well preserved and definitely worth the visit. We then walked around the harbour area and had lunch in a Cafe under the castle. Faye liked watching the people as we shopped and noted that the Turks are generally more friendly that the Greeks. All the children like to say “hello.” She said that Kyrenia was perhaps her favourite place in Cyprus. It was a fine day with temperatures in the low 70’s and a slow moving, sleepy atmosphere, a nice change from Nicosia.
(Julian Nyca Photo)
Kyrenia Castle at the east end of the old harbour in Kyrenia is a 16th-century castle built by the Venetians over a previous Crusader fortification. Within its walls lies a twelfth-century chapel showing reused late Roman capitals, and the Shipwreck Museum. Kyrenia has existed since the 10th century BC. Excavations have revealed Greek traces that date back to the 7th century BC, but the site was developed into a city under Roman rule.
Research carried out at the site suggests that the Byzantines built the original castle in the 7th Century to guard the city against the new Arab maritime threat. The first historical reference to the castle occurs in 1191, when King Richard I of England captured it on his way to the Third Crusade by defeating Isaac Comnenus, an upstart local governor who had proclaimed himself emperor. After a short period, Richard sold the island to the Knights Templar, and then to his cousin Guy de Lusignan, the former king of Jerusalem. This began the 300 years of the Frankish Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus (1192–1489). Initially the castle was quite small. John d'Ibelin enlarged it between 1208 and 1211. The Castle's main function was military and the improvements consisted of a new entrance, square and horseshoe-shaped towers, embrasures for archers, and dungeons.
The castle was subjected to several sieges. A Genoese attack in 1373 almost destroyed the castle, and the longest amongst the sieges, in the 15th century, lasted nearly four years and reduced the unfortunate occupants to eating mice and rats. By 1489 the Venetians had taken control of Cyprus and in 1540 they enlarged the castle, giving it its present-day appearance. The chief changes, such as the addition of thick walls and embrasures for cannons, were adaptations to changes in warfare in the form of gunpowder artillery. The Venetians also installed gun ports at three levels so that they could direct cannon fire against attackers from the land. Inside the castle, they built huge long ramps so as to be able to drag artillery up on the walls. When the work on the castle was finished, its walls also encompassed the small church of St. George, which the Byzantines may have built in the 11th or 12th century.
In 1570, Kyrenia surrendered to the Ottomans. The Ottomans too made changes to the castle, but the British removed these during their occupation. The castle contains the tomb of the Ottoman Admiral Sadik Pasha. The British used the castle as a police barracks and training school. They also used the castle as a prison for members of the Greek Cypriot EOKA organization.
The Kyrenia Department of Antiquities took over custodianship of the castle in 1950, though it reverted to British control during the EOKA turmoil. The Department regained control in 1959 and since 1960 the castle has been open to the public. However, during the period from 1963 to 1967 the Cypriot National Guard used the castle as a military headquarters. Following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, in 1974 the Girne Department of Antiquities and Museums took over responsibility for the castle's preservation and use. The Department is keeping icons that were collected from churches in the Kyrenia area pre-1974 and has stored them in the castle's locked rooms for safekeeping. Some of these are now on display in the Archangel Michael Church.
The moat on the landward side of the castle was full of water prior to the 14th Century AD and served as a harbour to the castle. One enters the Castle through its north-west entrance, which opens on a bridge spanning the moat. From the first gate, lying to the north west of the fortified wall that the Venetians built, one comes to a vaulted corridor that leads to the entrance of the Lusignan castle. A passage to the left of the corridor gives entry to the cruciform Church of St. George. The dome of this church rests on marble columns with Corinthian capitals that were salvaged from an older building elsewhere and placed here.
The tomb in the entrance corridor of the Lusignan castle belongs to the Ottoman Admiral Sadik Pasha who conquered Kyrenia in 1570. The corridor then leads to the castle's large inner courtyard, which is lined with guardrooms, stables and living quarters. The arched rooms (royal guard rooms, prison etc.) to the north and east of the yard belong to the Lusignan Period. The Royal quarters to the west of the yard, as well as the big and arched windows of the little Latin Temple also date back to the Lusignan Period. On the southern part of the yard there are fortifications and remains belonging to the Byzantine Period. Ramps lead to the defences on the upper sections of the walls. One can climb steps to the Lusignan royal apartments and a small chapel. The depths of Kyrenia Castle contain dungeons, storage rooms and the powder magazines. Off the courtyard, there is a room displaying the finds from various archaeological sites such as the Akdeniz village tomb, the neolithic settlement at Vrysi, and the Kirni Bronze Age tomb. There is also a small souvenir shop and simple cafe at the northern end of the courtyard.
One of the rooms leading off the courtyard contains the Shipwreck Museum, which exhibits the remains of a Greek merchant ship from the 4th century BC, one of the oldest vessels ever to be recovered, together with its cargo. In 1965, Andreas Kariolou, a Greek-Cypriot diver, discovered the vessel, laden with millstones and amphorae of wine from Kos and Rhodes. The vessel was sailing to Cyprus when a storm wrecked it outside Kyrenia harbour. In 1967 he showed the wreck to archeologists, who studied the wreck from 1969 to 1974. The vessel was approximately already 80 years old at the time it sank. Today, the 47-foot-long hull (14 m), made of Aleppo pine sheathed in lead, is preserved in a specially controlled environment in the Museum, together with its amphorae.
Buffavento Castle in Northern Cyprus was possibly built in the Byzantine period. It combines Byzantine and Frankish architectural elements. It fell into disuse in the 14th century.
Buffavento stands between St. Hilarion Castle to the west and Kantara Castle to the east forming a protective axis in the Kyrenia mountain range of Norther Cyprus. As both of the other castles are visible from Buffavento, it was used to pass signals between them. The castles were built in conjunction during the Byzantine period, however the exact date of their commission remains unknown. Among the theories put forward to explain their origin the popular are: In 965 (after the expulsion of the Arabs from the island), in 1091 by the rebel Rapsomates, during the rule of Eumathios Philokales (1091–1094), in the late 11th century after the Cilician coast was overrun by the Seljuk Empir or at the beginning of the 12th century as a countermeasure for the spread of the Crusader states. A Lusignan period legend claims that the castle was built by a Cypriot noblewoman who was seeking shelter from the Knights Templar in 1191, as such the castle was known as Leonne (Lion's Castle) or Queen's Castle. The name Buffavento is of Italian origin and means “Defier of the Winds", the name may have been borrowed from a monastery in the Koutzoventi village.
Serving mainly as a watchtower for pirate raids and a place of incarceration the castle saw next to no fighting. In 1191, it was taken by Richard the Lionheart during his campaign against the island's ruler Isaac Komnenos of Cyprus. Since the castle's defences have been described as very strong it is believed that the defenders of Buffavento surrendered after Kantara and St. Hilarion fell into English hands. Richard subsequently sold the island to the Knights Templar whose rule abruptly ended after a major revolt in Nicosia. Cyprus was thus resold to the Guy of Lusignan of the House of Lusignan. A period of peace ended with the death of Hugh I of Cyprus in 1218. A struggle over who should act as the kingdom's regent ensued, pitting the House of Ibelin with the local supporters of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Frederick's arrival in Limassol in 1228 escalated the conflict into an open war. Between 1229 and 1233, it changed hands several times between the Ibelins and their rivals. Afterwards, the Lusignans continued their reign interrupted only by occasional palace coups. In the 14th century, the island came under the control of the Republic of Venice, at which time the castle fell into disuse.
Buffavento is situated on an elevation of 960 metres (3,150 ft) above sea level, and has approximately 600 steps leading up to it. The steep crags surrounding it make it inaccessible from west, east and north. Many of the castle's buildings are irregular in shape, as the limited available space forced its builders to economize space. The main building material was dressed limestone from the island's coasts and stones taken directly from the mountain on which the castle stands. The architecture carries no signs of decoration. The castle is divided into two wards the upper one facing the sea and the lower one the plain. The wards were connected by a long staircase, which was later destroyed by the Venetians who deemed the fortifications redundant.
The castle's outbuildings consist of a big water cistern and a stable, which would have been rendered useless in the event of a siege. The castle's gates were located inside a two storey rectangular tower, which encompassed a Frankish style pointed arch. To the west of the tower there are three barrel vaulted buildings and recess all Frankish in origin. The buildings immediately behind the gate are three irregularly shaped chambers, the fourth building's ruins can be found nearby. The castle's main stairway then branches to the west leading to a two storey, unvaulted Byzantine building, which is divided into three large chambers. The castle's upper ward included a rectangular Byzantine cistern, interconnected with 4 rectangular wards containing pipes for collecting water. On upper ward's eastern side was guarded by a short, Frankish, groin vaulted tower. On its sides was the eastern cistern and a building that may have served as a church. At the extreme west of the castle stands a ruined, isolated tower. The lack of a kitchen or a food storage, points to the fact that rooms were multi functional in their nature.
Following our visit to Kyrenia, we drove East and up to the Pentadaktylos Mountains then took a dirt road West 6 or 7 km to try and reach Buffavento Castle, without success. Drove back down to Nicosia and went into the main city museum there to see Aphrodite’s statue, found in the 1st century AD in Soli. We had our anniversary dinner one night in advance at Le Mignon, a very nice French restaurant in Nicosia-Châteaubriand for two.
19 Nov 86 Our 9th wedding anniversary. Up early to shop for presents to take home, visiting both old and new Nicosia. Lunch downtown and over to the Turkish side for a drive, then back to the New Ledra Palace to pack up. We turned the car in to the rental agency (1300 miles on it during Faye’s stay in Cyprus), then had a Cypriot dinner in the New Ledra Hotel. Early to bed and our last night together for awhile.
20 Nov 86 Up with Denis and Sylvie Gilbert through the checkpoints to Larnaca. Of course, the airport reservations were all shot to hell due to an airport screw-up, resulting in a tense two hour wait to confirm that all four wives were on board the flight from Paphos to Athens, Geneva, and Basel. Breathed heavily for her when the when she finally lifted off. She had to be in Lahr about 1200 hours on the 21st of Nov in order to catch the service flight back to Canada. Back to work and another Ex Coelis to produce. Faye has some comments to follow about activity in Petawawa after leaving Cyprus.
Capt Harold A. Skaarup, diving on the the Farsas II, Limassol, 21 Nov 1986.
21 Nov 86 First dive on and identifiable 60-metre long sunken shipwreck, the Farsas II. It was freighter that had been carrying a cargo of whisky and cement that rolled over being loaded too top heavy. It was laying on its side in about 75’ of water in Limassol harbour. We went out by boat with the CANCON SCUBA club and anchored over the wreck. Went down and explored the bridge-muddy but fascinating. One of the other divers took several photos, including this one of me down below. Lost a pressure gage when getting back into the boat.
24 – 26 Nov Lots of PT, rucksacks, and web gear etc.
25 Nov 86 His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the British throne, presided over an historic affiliation of the Canadian Airborne Regiment and the British Parachute Regiment in the UN Protected Area at Blue Beret Camp on this day. The early crew that had been sent to Cyprus had been ordered not to bring our jump smocks, but then someone remembered the Prince would be visiting and the second half of the crew coming in brought them. This meant only a few of the Regiment could attend the ceremonies, often with the wrong name tags. The rest of us were ordered to steer well clear.
The Prince is the Colonel-in-Chief of the British Parachute Regiment. He flew in on 24 Nov from his Middle East Tour on the Royal Yacht Britiannia which was moored off the coast of Cyprus. He had spent the night with the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (3 Para), who were also serving with UNFICYP. The Prince was met on his arrival by the two Colonels of the Regiment, General Bob Therriault and General Sir Geoffrey Howlett, together with the our Commanding Officer, Colonel J.J.M. Robert Gaudreau, CMM, CD, and Lieutenant Colonel Dair Farrar-Hockley, Commanding Officer of 3 Para. After inspecting a combined Guard of Honour provided by both regiments, the Prince was taken intonthe terminal building of the now disused Nicosia International Airport. In the presence of the Prince and an assembly of all ranks from both regiments, the two Colonels signed a declaration signifying the formal affiliation of both forces in arms.
The Prince in the uniform of the Colonel-in-Chief of 3 Para, witnessed the documents. Following the ceremony, the Prince chatted informally with soldiers from both regiments, before flying out to visit other elements of 3 Para in the Sovereign Base areas of Cyprus.
27 Nov 86, 1859 1446 C-206, Kingsfield, Cyprus. I was asked to give a one-man para course for Colonel Richard Cowling, who had commanded the CAR in 1980, during his visit. Shortly afterwards, he made his first civilian sport jump on the island. Quite an evening, and he was pleased. (Colonel Cowling was appointed Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Queen’s Own Rifles in April 2005 and served until April 2011.)
Back to Larnaca to visit SWEDCON at Camp Victoria as a guest of the Swedes. Fine dinner and an interesting evening of songs and discussion, back to base at 0130 hours.
28 - 29 Nov 86 More PT and duty.
30 Nov 86 Sunday. To Aya Napa to get some compressed air for our tanks, then we made two dives off Cape Greco, at the East end of the island. Went down with WO J.B. Juteau, Sgt Macklin, and Capt Rick B. Fawcett, going into tunnel-like caves and out onto a mass of broken amphorae, probably from several ancient shipwrecks. The second dive was very cold.
01 - 02 Dec 86 Duty.
03 Dec 86 Info Officer’s conference at BBC. Over to FINCON with the Finns and Austrians and a visit to their sauna. The Swedes swiped everyone’s clothing while we were in there and got the Finnish Officer just about blue with apoplexy and anger-boy he was mad. It had been an interesting discussion prior to the surprise.
04 - 05 Dec 86 Duty.
(McRae family Photo)
Airborne HQ and Signals Squadron, Cyprus, 1986.
06 Dec 86 BGen Ford from the UK Int Corps visited for a line tour. MCpl Mark McRae was killed in a climbing accident while touring St Hilarion castle. Very down evening. Capt Reg Gilbert talked to the Sigs Sqn about the accident, sombre mood as everyone knows everyone here. Reg would carry Mark's ashes and scatter them over the drop zone at Petawawa on a C-130 Hercules jump. Reg exited first, we paused for a "missing man" space, then the rest of the chalk followed him out the door. 24 Mar 87 1879 1460 Lockheed CC-130 Hercules, CFB Petawawa, Ontario, S/L #53, MCpl McRae’s funeral jump.
07 Dec 86 Bicycled up to BBC for some souvlaki with the Blue Beret Bar Boys. I am formally assigned to the Board of Inquiry to investigate the death of MCpl McRae, along with Major J.J.M. Talbot and Capt Richard Blanchette.
08 Dec 86 First meeting of the Board.
09 Dec 86 All up to St Hilarion to inspect the site of the accident.
10 Dec 86 Fast 5 mile run with the Sqn in the morning, dining-in at the mess in the evening.
11 -13 Dec 86 Duty.
14 Dec 86 Biked up to the airport and to explore the site. Discovered that the burned-out aircraft outside the rear gate was a Cookpot (Russian built airliner), the civilian version of the Russian Badger bomber. Dinner at BBC and a few video movies, including Humphrey Bogart and the Maltese Falcon, followed by Mr. Majestik. Biked back to the Ledra to study for my FOEs some more.
Airborne Santa in an Iltis at the entrance to Wolseley Barrackes, Dec 1986.
15 - 16 Dec 86 Duty.
24 Dec 86. Parade Officer for the CAR medals parade. Col Gaudreau noted, "you always wanted a chance to command a company of Airborne soldiers", smiling as he pinned the UNFICYP medal on my sweater.
28 Dec 86 To the Dekhelia dive club, then over to Cape Greco for a dive. A storm came up, (a force 6 gale), and we just got out of the water in time.
29 - 30 Dec 86 Duty.
31 Dec-01 Jan 87 The CANCON dive club drove to Dekhelia at 1300 hours for an afternoon dive, then 27 of us went into the water just before midnight. We spent New Year’s Eve underwater, then came back to the Brit clubhouse for moose-milk and a radio station visit. I slept in the van afterwards in my sleeping bag.
01 Jan 87 At 0830 hours Mitch McLeod and I were the only two to make it into the water for the 1st New Year’s Day dive, the rest of the club hors-de-combat after the party. Later that day the Colonel hosted us for a steak and champagne brunch in the mess. Very nicely done, except Denis pushed the hospitality an inch too far and was asked to “leave now” by the Colonel.
04 Jan 87 To Camp Victoria, Larnaca and Dekhelia and then 5 km North of Cape Greco for a 100’ dive off a new site with steep cliffs. We dropped straight to the bottom-very clear and beautiful down there, with clean white sand at the foot of a coral-like cliff wall. Very rough getting out of the water today due to the breakers.
05 Jan 87, 1860 Alouette helicopter flight over the Sector 4 area of the Buffer Zone, Nicosia, Cyprus on a recce flight with Captain Randy Kemp and Captain Mike Beaudette to check on Turk construction activity.
06 Jan 87 Duty. BGen Kent Foster arrived (I served with him at HQCFE Lahr, 1981-1983).
07 Jan 87 Briefing for BGen Foster.
8 - 11 Jan 87 Duty and FOE study.
12 - 13 Jan 87 Duty.
14 -15 Jan 87 Two X ten mile run around the UNPA with FNC1.
(A. Savin Photo)
Othello Castle, also known as Othello's Tower, it was built by the Lusignans (rulers of the Kingdom of Cyprus) in the 14th century, and was later modified by the Venetians. The modern name of the castle comes from a stage note in Shakespeare's play Othello, which is set in a harbour town in Cyprus. The castle contains four circular towers, as well as refectory and a dormitory, which were constructed during the Lusignan period. The castle's yard contains cannonballs left behind by the Spaniards and Ottomans, relics of its turbulent history. Othello Castle was built to protect the port against possible enemy attack. It was also used as the main entrance to Famagusta. It used to be called the "impenetrable fortress" due to it being nearly impossible to attack because of very deep ditches surrounding it.
After Cyprus was sold to the Republic of Venice, the castle's square towers were replaced with circular ones to suit more modern artillery. After these modifications, a relief of the Lion of St Mark was engraved above the castle's main entrance. The name of Captain Nicolo Foscari, who directed the alterations to the castle, and the date 1492 are inscribed near the relief. Apparently Leonardo da Vinci advised the refurbishment in 1481. In 1900, the castle's ditch was drained of water to reduce the risk of malaria.
15 Jan 87 WO Dean J. Dunlop and I took an Iltis to the Ops B Conference at Camp Duke Leopold V, AUSCON, near Famagusta. The Austrians including Dr Miklautsch (Professor/Capt), arranged a guided tour through the old walled city of Famagusta. The guide pointed out where stone cannon balls still lay embedded in the walls from the eleven-month siege by the Turks against the Venetians in the 15t century, and where suspected treasures lay hidden, never reclaimed after the expulsion of the defenders. Afterwards we ate in a good Turkish restaurant.
16 Jan 87 With the MPIO to DANCON and Camp Xeros for another conference. Went to the Danish chocolate shop, then they took us for a visit to Soli and the 2500-year-old ruins of the mountain top palace of Vouni. The site had a fantastic view, one of the most picturesque on the island, overlooking the sea to the North.
17 Jan 87 I received a special invitation to a reinforced lunch at DANCON, taking a bus with two other Canadians to the Western base. We had Jubilee schnapps with every course (herring on buttered bread etc), washed down with Tuborg beer. It started on the bus drive over to the base, when one of the guests passed around some very potent Gammeldansk. We drove cross-country (as opposed to downhill) singing some songs in Danish and Swedish and consuming more liquid fuel en route. I’m afraid that the Ops B officer from CANCON did himself in, as two Danes emptied him into a nearby bunk at about 1900 hours hors-de-combat. Capt Dan Mantion and Capt Gord Ramsay eventually shoehorned him into a staff car and got us back to the Ledra palace.
18 Jan 87 About 0200 hours Capt Rick Fawcett and Capt Pat McAdam came in to wish me well and brought their own beer. We then drifted into Capt Richard Holt’s room and watched a total eclipse of the moon in progress. I finally crashed back in my own room. The sun is now up and its 0745 hours, so I am probably recovering-or at least I will later today. I was concerned about what had transpired, but I didn’t want to offend my Danish hosts by refusing their refreshments. Col Gaudreau received a direct invitation requesting my presence at the next DANCON event post-haste, bless them.
19 Jan 87 General Yuell, the CFA in Lebanon arrived to give us a brief on events across the water from Cyprus.
20 - 22 Jan 87 Duty.
23 Jan 87 To Xeri and La Palatsa Sports Centre for a DANCON chess tournament. I won two and lost 5. Major Mitchell had arranged to take a group of other ranks to Israel but was called out on a military task and handed me a file folder-”take these guys over for a weekend.” A few of them didn’t even have passports, but I was able to get them temporary Visa’s through the Israeli consulate, as the group swelled to about 17 people. We headed off to Limassol with the driver’s tape deck blaring Opus “Life is Live,” catching the boat at 1500 hours. I just made sure they had tickets, berths, timings, coordination points and booked the tour buses etc (rode herd so to speak). Having been there with Faye was a big help. We sailed on the M/V Sol Phryna, (she was later purchased by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and sunk on 16 February 1988). We got off to a slow start and had a rocky overnight voyage due to rough weather, arriving three hours late.
24 Jan 87 At 1030 we were on a tour bus with a former Israeli paratrooper for a tour guide. He was excellent and told enough stories to keep us enthralled throughout the tour. We visited Bethlehem first, and then went into Jerusalem, (where we bartered for burnouses), followed by a drive up to the Mount of Olives afterwards to view the city by night-it rained. Back to the mountain top of Haifa and on the boat for the night. We took a taxi downtown for about half-an-hour and then back to the ship to rest.
(Ondrej Žvárek Photo)
Horns of Hattin, near Tiberia in present-day Israel. This battle site stands beside a pass through the northern mountains between Tiberias and the road from Acre to the east. The Darb al-Hawarnah road, built by the Romans, served as the main east-west passage between the Jordan fords, the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean coast.
The Battle of Hattin took place on 4 July 1187, between the Crusader states of the Levant and the forces of the Ayyubid sultan Saladin (Salah ad-Din). It is also known as the Battle of the Horns of Hattin, due to the shape of the nearby extinct volcano of Kurun Hattin. The Muslim armies under Saladin captured or killed the vast majority of the Crusader forces, removing their capability to wage war. As a direct result of the battle, Muslims once again became the eminent military power in the Holy Land, re-conquering Jerusalem and many of the other Crusader-held cities. These Christian defeats prompted the Third Crusade, which began two years after the Battle of Hattin.
Battle of Hattin, engraving by Gustave Doré.
I had read a great deal about this battle, and am adding its story here to explain its significance.
In 1186, Guy of Lusignan became King of Jerusalem. Saladin had become vizier of Egypt in 1169 and had captured Damascus in 1174 and Aleppo in 1183, thereby gaining control of the entire Southern and Eastern flanks of the Crusader states. He united his subjects under Sunni Islam and convinced them that he would wage holy war to push the Christian Franks from Jerusalem. Saladin often made strategic truces with the Franks when there was a need to deal with political problems in the Muslim world, and one such truce was made in 1185. It was rumoured amongst the Franks that Raymond III of Tripoli had made a deal with Saladin under which Saladin would make him King of Jerusalem in return for peace. This rumour was echoed by Ibn al Athir, but it is unclear whether it was true. Raymond III was certainly reluctant to engage in battle with Saladin.
In 1187 Raynald of Châtillon raided a Muslim caravan while the truce with Saladin was still in place. Saladin swore that he would kill Raynald for violating the truce and sent his son Al-Afdal ibn Salah ad-Din and the emir Gökböri to raid Frankish lands surrounding Acre. Gerard de Ridefort and the Templars engaged Gökböri in the Battle of Cresson in May, where they were badly defeated. The Templars lost around 150 knights and 300 foot-soldiers, who had made up a great part of the military of Jerusalem. Jonathan Phillips states that "the damage to Frankish morale and the scale of the losses should not be underestimated in contributing towards the defeat at Hattin".
In July Saladin laid siege to Tiberias, where Raymond III's wife Eschiva was trapped. In spite of this Raymond argued that Guy should not engage Saladin in battle, and that Saladin could not hold Tiberias because his troops would not stand to be away from their families for so long. The Knights Hospitaller also advised Guy not to provoke Saladin. Gerard de Ridefort advised Guy to advance against Saladin, and Guy took his advice. Norman Housley suggests that this was because "the minds of both men had been so poisoned by the political conflict 1180-87 that they could only see Raymond's advice as designed to bring them personal ruin", and also because he had spent Henry II of England’s donations in calling the army and was reluctant to disband it without a battle. This was a gamble on Guy's part, as he left only a few knights to defend the city of Jerusalem.
In late May Saladin assembled the largest army he had ever commanded on the Golan Heights, around 40,000 men including about 12,000 regular cavalry. He inspected his forces at Tell-Ashtara before crossing the River Jordan on 30 June. Saladin had also unexpectedly gained the alliance of the Druze community based in Sarahmul led by Jamal ad-Din Hajji, whose father Karama was an age-old ally of Nur ad-Din Zangi. The city of Sarahmul had been sacked by the crusaders on various occasions and according to Jamal ad-Din Hajji the crusaders even manipulated the Assassins to kill his three elder brothers. Saladin's army was organised as a central force with two wings: Gökböri commanded the left of the army, Saladin himself commanded the centre and his nephew, Al-Muzaffar Umar (Taki ad-Din), the right.
The opposing Crusader army was gathered at La Saphorie; it consisted of approximately 18,000–20,000 men, including 1,200 knights from Jerusalem and Tripoli and 50 from Antioch. Though the army was smaller than Saladin's it was still larger than those usually mustered by the Crusaders. The usual levy of those who owed feudal service was extended, on this occasion of extreme threat, to include a call to arms of all able-bodied men in the kingdom.
After reconciling, Raymond and Guy met at Acre with the bulk of the crusader army. According to some European sources, aside from the knights there were a greater number of lighter cavalry, and perhaps 10,000 foot soldiers, supplemented by crossbowmen from the Italian merchant fleet, and a large number of mercenaries (including Turcopoles) hired with money donated to the kingdom by Henry II, King of England. The army's standard was the relic of the True Cross, carried by the Bishop of Acre, who was sent on behalf of the ailing Patriarch Heraclius.
Saladin decided to lure Guy into moving his field army away from their secure fortified encampment, located by the springs at La Saphorie (an important local source of water). He calculated the Crusaders could be defeated more easily in a field battle than by besieging their fortifications. On 2 July Saladin personally led an assault on Raymond's fortress of Tiberias, while the main Muslim army remained at Kafr Sabt. The garrison at Tiberias tried to bribe Saladin to leave the castle undisturbed, but he refused, later stating that "when the people realized they had an opponent who could not be tricked and would not be contented with tribute, they were afraid lest war might eat them up and they asked for quarter...but the servant gave the sword dominion over them." Within a day, one of the fortress' towers was mined and collapsed. Saladin's troops stormed the breach, killing the opposing forces and taking prisoners. Raymond's wife Eschiva held out with the surviving Frankish troops in the citadel.
As the Muslim troops began to construct a second mine to attack the citadel on 3 July, Saladin received news that Guy was moving the Frankish army east. The Crusaders had taken the bait. Guy's decision to leave La Saphorie was the result of a Crusader war council held on the night of 2 July. Records of this meeting are biased due to personal feuds among the Franks, but it seems Raymond argued that a march from Acre to Tiberias was exactly what Saladin wanted while La Saphorie was a strong position for the Crusaders to defend. Raymond also claimed Guy shouldn't worry about Tiberias, which Raymond held personally and was willing to give up for the safety of the kingdom. In response to this argument, and despite their reconciliation (internal court politics remaining strong), Raymond was accused of cowardice by Gerard and Raynald. This led Guy to resolve on an immediate counterattack against Saladin at Tiberias.
On 3 July, the Frankish army started out towards Tiberias, harassed constantly by Muslim archers. They passed the Springs of Turan, which were entirely insufficient to provide the army with water. At midday Raymond of Tripoli decided that the army would not reach Tiberias by nightfall, and he and Guy agreed to change the course of the march and veer to the left in the direction of the Springs of Kafr Hattin, only 6 miles (9.7 km away). From there they could march down to Tiberias the following day. The Muslims positioned themselves between the Frankish army and the water so that the Franks were forced to pitch camp overnight on the arid plateau near the village of Meskenah. The Muslims surrounded the camp so closely that "a cat could not have escaped". According to Ibn al Athir the Franks were "despondent, tormented by thirst" whilst Saladin's men were jubilant in anticipation of their victory.
Throughout the night the Muslims further demoralized the crusaders by praying, singing, beating drums, showing symbols, and chanting. They set fire to the dry grass, making the crusaders' throats even drier. The Crusaders were now thirsty, demoralized, and exhausted. The Muslim army by contrast had a caravan of camels bring goatskins of water up from Lake Tiberias (now known as the Sea of Galilee).
On the morning of 4 July, the crusaders were blinded by smoke from the fires set by Saladin's forces. The Franks came under fire from Muslim mounted archers from the division commanded by Gökböri, who had been resupplied with 400 loads of arrows that had been brought up during the night. Gerard and Raynald advised Guy to form battle lines and attack, which was done by Guy's brother Amalric. Raymond led the first division with Raymond of Antioch, the son of Bohemund III of Antioch, while Balian and Joscelin III of Edessa formed the rearguard.
Thirsty and demoralized, the crusaders broke camp and changed direction for the springs of Hattin, but their ragged approach was attacked by Saladin's army which blocked the route forward and any possible retreat. Count Raymond launched two charges in an attempt to break through to the water supply at Lake Tiberias. The second of these enabled him to reach the lake and make his way to Tyre.
After Raymond escaped, Guy's position was now even more desperate. Most of the Christian infantry had effectively deserted by fleeing in a mass onto the Horns of Hattin where they played no further part in the battle. Overwhelmed by thirst and wounds, many were killed on the spot without resistance while the remainder were taken prisoner. Their plight was such that five of Raymond's knights went over to the Muslim leaders to beg that they be mercifully put to death. Guy attempted to pitch the tents again to block the Muslim cavalry. The Christian knights and mounted sergeants were disorganized, but still fought on.
Now the crusaders were surrounded and, despite three desperate charges on Saladin's position, were broken up and defeated. An eyewitness account of this is given by Saladin's 17-year-old son, al-Afdal. It is quoted by Muslim chronicler Ibn al-Athir:
“When the king of the Franks [Guy] was on the hill with that band, they made a formidable charge against the Muslims facing them, so that they drove them back to my father [Saladin]. I looked towards him and he was overcome by grief and his complexion pale. He took hold of his beard and advanced, crying out "Give the lie to the Devil!" The Muslims rallied, returned to the fight, and climbed the hill. When I saw that the Franks withdrew, pursued by the Muslims, I shouted for joy, "We have beaten them!" But the Franks rallied and charged again like the first time and drove the Muslims back to my father. He acted as he had done on the first occasion and the Muslims turned upon the Franks and drove them back to the hill. I again shouted, "We have beaten them!" but my father rounded on me and said, "Be quiet! We have not beaten them until that tent [Guy's] falls." As he was speaking to me, the tent fell. The sultan dismounted, prostrated himself in thanks to God Almighty and wept for joy.”
Prisoners after the battle included Guy, his brother Amalric II, Raynald de Chatillon, William V of Montferrat, Gerard de Ridefort, Humphrey IV of Toron, Hugh of Jabala, Plivain of Botron, Hugh of Gibelet, and other barons of the Kingdom of Jerusalem.
Guy of Lusignan and Raynald of Chatillon were brought to Saladin's tent. Saladin offered Guy a drink, which was a sign in Muslim culture that the prisoner would be spared, although Guy was unaware of this. Guy passed the goblet to Raynald, but Saladin struck it from his hands, saying "I did not ask this evil man to drink, and he would not save his life by doing so". He then charged Raynald with breaking the truce. Some reports, such as that of Baha al' Din, claim that Saladin then executed Raynald himself with a single stroke of his sword. Others record that Saladin struck Raynald as a sign to his bodyguards to behead him. Guy assumed that he would also be beheaded, but Saladin assured him that "kings do not kill kings."
After the battle, the True Cross was supposedly fixed upside down on a lance and sent to Damascus. The Crusader king, Guy of Lusignan, was taken to Damascus as a prisoner, and granted release in 1188, while the other noble captives were eventually ransomed.
After executing Raynald of Chatillon, Saladin gave orders that the other captive barons were to be spared and treated humanely. All 200 of the Templar and Hospitaller Knights taken prisoner were executed on Saladin's orders, with the exception of the Grand Master of the Temple. The executions were by decapitation. Imad ed-Din, Saladin's secretary, wrote:
“Saladin ordered that they should be beheaded, choosing to have them dead rather than in prison. With him was a whole band of scholars and sufis and a certain number of devout men and ascetics, each begged to be allowed to kill one of them and drew his sword and rolled back his sleeve. Saladin, his face joyful, was sitting on his dais, the unbelievers showed black despair.
Captured turcopoles (locally recruited mounted archers employed by the crusader states) were also executed on Saladin's orders. While nominally Christian, these auxiliaries were regarded as renegades who had betrayed Islam.
The rest of the captured knights and soldiers were sold into slavery. The high-ranking Frankish barons captured were held in Damascus and treated well. Some of Saladin's men left the army after the battle, taking lower-ranking Frankish prisoners with them as slaves.
On Sunday, 5 July, Saladin marched the six miles (10 km) to Tiberias, and Countess Eschiva surrendered the citadel of the fortress. She was allowed to leave for Tripoli with all her family, followers, and possessions. Raymond of Tripoli, having escaped the battle, died of pleurisy later in 1187.
In fielding an army of 20,000 men, the Crusaders states had reduced the garrisons of their castles and fortified settlements. The heavy defeat at Hattin meant there was little reserve with which to defend against Saladin's forces. Only some 200 knights escaped the battle. The importance of the defeat is demonstrated by the fact that in its aftermath fifty-two towns and fortifications were captured by Saladin's forces. By mid-September, Saladin had taken Acre, Nablus, Jaffa, Toron, Sidon, Beirut and Ascalon. Tyre was saved by the arrival of Conrad of Montferrat, resulting in Saladin's siege of Tyre being repulsed with heavy losses. Jerusalem was defended by Queen Sibylla, Latin Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem, and Balian, who subsequently negotiated its surrender to Saladin on 2 October.
According to the chronicler Ernoul, news of the defeat brought to Rome by Joscius, Archbishop of Tyre caused Pope Urban III to die of shock. Urban's successor, Pope Gregory VIII, issued the bull “Audita tremendi”, calling for a new crusade within days of his election. In England and France, the Saladin was enacted to raise funds for the new crusade. The subsequent Third Crusade did not get underway until 1189 but was a very successful military operation through which many Christian holdings were restored. Nonetheless, Christian control over territories in the Holy Land remained vulnerable for decades until the Battle of La Forbie of 1244, 57 years after the Battle of Hattin, which marked the genuine collapse of Crusader military power in Outremer. (France, John (2015). Hattin: Great Battles Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press; Steven Runciman. A History of the Crusades. The Kingdom of Jerusalem and the Frankish East, Cambridge University Press 1968; Nicolle, David (1993), Hattin 1187: Saladin's Greatest Victory. Campaign Series #19)
25 Jan 87 Up early with the same tour guide, departing at 0800 to visit Nazareth and Mary’s Well. We then drove East, passing the Horns of Hattin, where Saladin defeated the Crusaders on 4 Jul 1187, followed by his capture of Jerusalem. We went up over the hill to the Sea of Galilee just as the sun broke through the clouds and made it look just beautiful. We stopped at the South end to see the Jordan River, then drove North on the East side of the lake under the Golan Heights, passing groves of Banana’s wrapped in blue protective plastic. We crossed back over the Jordan again and stopped just below the Mount of the Beatitudes. On along the shore towards Capernaum, where we stopped to visit the Church of the Multiplication. This was where Jesus traditionally changed the loaves and fishes to feed the thousands (multitudes) who had come to see and hear him. It was the most peaceful and beautiful setting in Israel-I will return here again one day. Back to Haifa and shopping in the afternoon. They put on a folk-dancing show on boat for us in the evening. Spoke to a few of the other tourists as the weather deteriorated, all to bed early (mostly to try not being sea-sick) as the boat started to rock and roll in a nasty cork-screw motion-many ill on-board.
26 Jan 87 Very few of us up to have breakfast, and those of us who were, had to hold everything in our hands to keep it from spilling everywhere. The crossing was very slow, talked to some grey looking faces and chewed on dried cherries. Stayed on the upper deck to breath as much fresh air as possible (one ralph, and everyone has to). Felt OK but some didn’t The sun came out as we docked in Limassol about 1300 instead of 0700. The bus was still waiting for us, and we dropped a few of the passengers off en route to Nicosia, thankfully with all 17 of the group intact. On duty in the evening. Interesting trip, and I would really like to visit Galilee again.
27 - 29 Jan 87 Duty.
30 Jan 87 To Camp Pergamos and Kingsfield with students, but winded out and back to Nicosia. I had to organize a Country and Western Night in the mess-preparations and invitations to UN units etc.
31 Jan 87 1861-1862 1447 C-206 Kingsfield, Cyprus, one jump plus a ferry load. I took seven students to jump, all got one in. Back to Nicosia for the C & W Night in the mess. I had to supervise the operation in detail and finally closed the mess down after the last guest left.
01 Feb 87 1863-1864 1448-1449 C-206, Kingsfield. Left for Kingsfield at 0530 to catch the first lift of the day with more students, got the two jumps in, then the wind came up again.
02 Feb 87 Duty. Went to a three-part play at the Municipal Theatre in the evening called “Real Thing.”
04 Feb 87 Duty.
05 Feb 87 To the SWEDCON Camp in Larnaca to attend a concert put on by a band for the Swedes.
06 Feb 87 Visited the Turkish consul and met Hilmi Aka, to try and arrange to jump with the Turkish para-club. High hopes, but the delays extended beyond our current tour of duty.
07 Feb 87 1865-1866 1450-1451 C-206, Kingsfield.
08 Feb 87, 1867 1452 C-206, Kingsfield.
09-10 Feb 87 Duty.
11 Feb 87 To Kingsfield, but weathered out. Turks acting up.
12-13 Feb 87 Duty.
14 Feb 87 1868-1869 1453 C-206, Kingsfield. Ferried one load and jumped on the next. Eight first timers, dropped two loads, third winded out. Back to Nicosia.
15 Feb 87 Sunday. Col Gaudreau’s Ops get-together. Studied, sunned some. Duty run through checkpoints South and back, one of the crossings closed so had to go the long way around on the return leg.
(Cpl S.C. Banning Photo)
WO Dean J. Dunlop, MCpl Chuck J. Spillane, Capt Harold A. Skaarup, Cpl R. Grant Oliver, Nicosia, Feb 1987.
16 Feb 87 Duty.
17 Feb 87 Two line tours with visitors, one in the AM, one in the afternoon.
18-19 Feb 87 Duty.
20 Feb 87, 1870 1454 PBN-Turbo Islander, Kingsfield, Cyprus. 1871-1874 1455-1458 C-206, Kingsfield, Cyprus. Last jump of five today and in Cyprus. Kebab dinner at Cessac.
21 Feb 87 Over to Tim and Carol Larson’s home with the Ops B crew for a farewell dinner. Left them my bicycle.
22 Feb 87 Over to Famagusta and Salamis for a last look on tour. Walked along the beach and drove around the defensive walls of Famagusta to get a closer look at the cannon ball still lodged in one side of it.
The fortifications of Famagusta are a series of defensive walls and other fortifications which surround the city. The walls were built by the Lusignan Kingdom of Cyprus in the 14th century. Famagusta fell to the Genoese in 1373, and in 1489 it was taken over by the Republic of Venice along with the rest of Cyprus. The walls were redesigned by the Republic of Venice in 15th and 16th centuries before the siege of Ottoman Empire in 1571. The fortifications of Famagusta withstood an 11-month siege before the city capitulated to the Ottoman Empire in August 1571.
The Fourth Ottoman-Venetian War broke out in 1570, when an Ottoman force invaded Cyprus and took control of most of the island including Nicosia within a few months. On 15 September, Ottomans surrounded Famagusta, which was the last Venetian stronghold on the island, and began the Siege of Famagusta. The city held out until August 1571, when the Venetians asked for terms of surrender. Although terms were agreed and the inhabitants began to evacuate the city, at the surrender ceremony Lala Mustafa pasha learned that some Muslim prisoners had been killed and he had the Venetian commander Marco Antonio Bragadin mutilated and flayed alive, and the remaining Christians in the city were massacred.
The Ottomans repaired the damaged parts of the walls, but did not make any major alterations. The city began to expand outside its walls in the late Ottoman period, and this increased after Cyprus fell under British rule. Although many buildings within the old city of Famagusta is in a state of disrepair, the fortifications are still in relatively good condition.
23 Feb 87 Clearing up the debris from six months in Cyprus. To a Cyprus music presentation in Nicosia.
24 Feb 87 I turned in my 9 mm pistol at BBC, then cleared customs about 1530 on base. The bus took us down the long road to Larnaca and straight onto the B-707. 1875 B-707/CC-137, Larnaca, Cyprus to Lahr, Germany, and the end of my UN tour in Cyprus. As the aircraft lifted off everyone cheered, we couldn’t help it, and I did too. After a 1-½ hour stop in Lahr the cheer was even louder when we took off for the second time and headed back to Canada. 1876 B-707/CC-137, Lahr, Germany to Ottawa, Ontario. My brother Chris came out to the airport to meet me, good to see him. I then got on the bus to Petawawa. Faye, blond and beautiful was there to meet me, and we went home to the boys early on 25 Feb 87.
25 Feb 87 Home! Got big hugs from Jonathan and Sean and even Böe did some dancing around.
23 Mar 87, 1877 1459 Back in the air for a jump from a C-130 Hercules, Petawawa, Ontario.
24 Mar 87, 1878 1460 C-130 Hercules, Petawawa.
25 Mar 87, 1879 1461-1462 C-130 Hercules, Petawawa, Ontario. S/L # 54, then an MFP ramp jump.
01 Apr 87, 1881 1463 C-130 Hercules, Petawawa, Ontario. The navigator was way off in his calculations, too bad we can’t use our own Mark 1 eyeballs. After making the MFP ramp jump, all of us landed in the forest to the West of the DZ.
13 Apr 87 Lunch with Faye at the Officer’s Mess, then on a bus to Trenton to take a non-stop B-707 flight to Edmonton. 1886 B-707/CC-137, Trenton, Ontario to Edmonton, Alberta. We got off the aircraft at Namao and walked almost straight on to a Hercules for another flight to Wainwright. 1887 C-130 Hercules, Edmonton, Alberta to Wainwright, Alberta. Bus to the bivouac area, arriving about 3 AM on the 14th. Into a tent/hooch for the next six weeks of field exercises. The weather was sunny but cool, with spring coming on. 13 Apr-22 May 87 RV-87, Wainwright, Alberta, Div FTX. Learned how to rappel from buildings, towers, and helicopters. Field showers, dug-in CPs, and an interesting exercise. Threw hand grenades on the pairs range and met a lot of Army Int people. A very long time away from home this time, and very hard on the family.
29 Apr 87, 1888 CH-136 Kiowa helicopter, Wainwright, Alberta. Photo recce flight to get pictures of the enemy force for the pathfinders.
02 May 87 1889-1891 CH-135 Huey helicopter, Wainwright, Alberta. Rappelling on three separate helicopter lifts.
05 May 87, 1892 CH-136 Kiowa helicopter, Wainwright, Alberta. Recce flight.
May 87 Went to Griesbach barracks with WO Dunlop and MCpl Oliver, then paid a brief visit to the Edmonton Mall, then back to Wainwright in the Int van.
20 May 87, 1893 C-130 Hercules, Wainwright, Alberta to Edmonton, Alberta. 1894 B-707/CC-137, Edmonton, Alberta to Ottawa, Ontario.
21 May 87 Home from Ottawa by bus 0630 hours. Long day. Faye has a conference in Toronto coming up, looking forward to sharing it with her.
19 Jun 87, 1905 1466 C-130 Hercules, Petawawa, Ontario. S/L # 55.
More exercises, courses, jumps and interesting experiences to follow, many lessons learned from my Cyprus deployments, and postings to Germany, CFB Borden, CFB Gagetown, SFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina, CFB Kingston, NORAD in Colorado, CFB Halifax, KMNB in Kabul, Afghanistan, and finally with 5 CDSB Gagetown, retiring in 2011.