In 1955 some 80% of the Cypriot population were
of Greek origin and the remainder were largely Turkish.
The island had been leased by Britain from Turkey
in 1878 and then become a British colony in 1923.
The Greek Cypriots wanted to be united with Greece,
a concept called Enosis. But the Turkish minority
feared for their own position should this happen.
After 1945 the demand for Enosis grew, spearheaded
by Archbishop Makarios. George Grivas, a Greek
Army colonel formed EOKA, a terrorist group to
force ENOSIS. It used strikes and riots in towns,
and ambushes on government posts and security forces
to achieve its aim. Up to 25,000 British troops
were involved in Cyprus at the height of the emergency.
The 1st Battalion in Cyprus 1955-6
The Battalion arrived in Cyprus in November 1955
as part of the first re-inforcements on the island.
There were constant patrols, guard duties at vulnerable
sites, road-blocks and curfew enforcement. As well
as constant vigilance, the work required good communications
and self-reliance, because most of it was done by
small parties of men.
Sadly, the largest loss of life was caused by a
forest fire during a military operation which took
place in June 1956. 21 men were killed, five of them
from the Royal Norfolk Regiment.
The British, Greeks and Turks agreed to a peace
formula in 1959. The Cypriots, Greeks and Turks would
govern themselves and the British would keep a small
sovereign area on the island as a base to fulfil
her treaty obligations. This formal peace agreement
has not stopped sporadic violence between Greeks
Cyprus was formerly a British colony until 1960
when it became an independent republic and a member
of the Commonwealth in 1961. In 1974, following years
of violence between the ethnic Greeks and Turks,
there was an attempted coupe d’état
by Greek Cypriot nationalists, of whose aim was to
annexe the island to Greece. Following the invasion
by Turkey in 1974 to one third of the island and
the displacement of thousands of Cypriots, there
continue to be tensions. The Republic of Cyprus is
now an advanced economy and has been a member of
the European Union since 1st May 2004. In January
2008 it adopted the euro.