BRITAIN'S MOST WANTED
11 February 1956:Two masked men, wearing black robes, murder the venerated Abbot of Chrysorroyiatissa, Epiphanios Georgiades, in his living room at the monastery. One of the killers blasts the priest with both barrels of a shotgun, while the other keeps monks away with a loaded revolver.
Eoka considers Georgiades a traitor to its cause because he refuses to express anti-British views from his pulpit. He is always grateful to British Forces for the help they gave Cypriots in September 1953 when an earthquake struck the Paphos area.
The Abbot's funeral service is conducted by Archbishop Makarios, who blesses the priest - and the Eoka organization!
* 18 March 1956: Four masked EOKA members charge into St George's Greek Orthodox Church at Kythrea/Degirmenlik, 8 miles northeast of Nicosia. Manoli Pierides, a 45-year-old lay reader, is chanting passages from the Gospel to a congregation of about 40 villagers. Under gunpoint, they are ordered to stand up, face the nearest wall, with their hands raised. A single shot is fired at Manoli at close-range. He dies instantly and falls to the church floor. The assassins leave. Grivas alone had decided Manoli was a 'traitor' to the enosis cause.
* 4 March 1956: Only a delayed departure from Nicosia Airport of a civilian Hermes aircraft saves the lives of 68 members of service families - mostly women and children - when two time bombs explode and destroy the aircraft.
* 3 October 1958: Mrs. Catherine Cutliffe, her daughter Margaret, and their German born friend Mrs. Elfriede Robinson, are in Hermes Street, Famagusta. As they leave a shop in the Greek quarter of Varosha/Maras, two youths open fire. One gunman shoots Mrs. Cutliffe twice in the back, then twice more, as she lies bleeding on the street. She dies almost immediately and is buried in Wayne's Keep Military Cemetery, because her husband is a Sergeant in 29 Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. Mrs Robinson is shot by the other youth, who continues to fire as she falls to the pavement. Margaret is unhurt. Mrs Robinson eventually recovers from her injuries and in 2006 was living with her husband in Germany. The author has circumstantial evidence to identify the two Eoka killers.
'Eoka harmed only those who harmed us; I never ordered an attack on a woman or child throughout the struggle and anything of the sort would have been severely punished.'* - COLONEL GEORGE GRIVAS.
Archbishop Makarios and Colonel George Grivas, a right wing, Cypriot-born Greek Army officer, founded Eoka in the early 50s, while both were still in Athens. Their aim for Cyprus was enosis - union with Greece after gaining the island's independence from the British, who had ruled the Island since 1878 when they had acquired it from Turkey on a long lease. Grivas had no love for Turks and saw no future role for them in Cyprus, where, in the 1950s, they formed 20 per cent of the population and whose interests the UK Government had to take account.
In 1954, with the blessing of the Greek Government and the Orthodox Church, Grivas drew up plans for his terrorist campaign. With Makarios, he set about recruiting Eoka members in churches, schools and colleges. By his own statements, they could be trained as 'better' terrorists than their elders and would follow his orders without question. He also believed that the police and military personnel would be inhibited to take strong counter-measures against these young people, some not even in their teens. Every recruit took an oath administered by a priest.
'I swear in the name of the Holy Trinity that I shall work with all my power for the liberation of Cyprus from the British yoke, sacrificing for this even my own life... I shall never reveal to anyone any secrets concerning our Organization, neither the name of the Leader nor that of any of the members, even if I am caught and tortured... If I betray this oath, I shall deserve every punishment meted out to me as a traitor and may I suffer eternal shame.'
Eoka's first pamphlet to appear gives reasons for the armed conflict to 'overthrow the British yoke'.
The Eoka campaign was launched on 1 April 1955 and lasted - officially - until 31 March 1959. During this period up to 35,000 British troops were expected to break Eoka and restore peace to Cyprus.
Greek Cypriots who did not wish to support Eoka were executed on the direct orders of Colonel Grivas, the terrorist leader. Among those who chose to support the organization were several senior Greek Cypriot police officers and priests.
During the four-year run of Eoka terrorism, Britons, Turks and Greek Cypriots came under attack. These were the very people Grivas claimed he was liberating from the yoke of British colonialism.
But, in fact, Eoka killed more Greek Cypriots than Britons and Turks together as it promoted itself as an organization of gallant 'freedom fighters', a myth still taught in Greek schools.
AGAINST this background, the Turks of Cyprus were ultimately forced to form their own underground organisation, the TMT. It was designed, said their politicians, to protect themselves against Greek assaults.
As far as the Turks were concerned, Enosis - union with Greece for Cyprus - was completely out of the question and, if Britain were to give the Island independence, then they demanded Taksim or division of the island between the two populations.
Eventually, under pressure from the United States and the United Kingdom, mainland Greece and Turkey agreed Cyprus should become a co-partnership Republic, with a Greek Cypriot President and a Turkish Cypriot Vice-President.
For its part, the United Kingdom agreed to grant independence to all but 99 square miles of the Island, which would remain Sovereign property, until London decided otherwise. Here the UK established two military bases from which the Middle East and parts of the Communist bloc countries could be monitored. The bases would be home for a large rapid reaction-force ready to face any contingency.
On 04.04.59, Makarios began lining up former EOKA terrorists for ministerial posts in the post-independence government. To give them experience, they joined what was called the 'Transition Committee'. Its members worked alongside British officials who, until the London Agreements were signed, had been trying to hunt down.
Over several months, in 1959 and 1960, all parties hammered out a complex Constitution for the new Republic. It ruled out Enosis - union with Greece - and safeguarded the rights of the Turkish minority to serve in government, the civil service and defence forces to prevent complete Greek domination. The Constitution also allowed for a measure of self-government and tax-collection in those areas where Cypriot Turks were in the majority.
An independent Supreme Court, with a non-Cypriot judge having the final vote, would decide cases where plaintiffs claimed the authorities were in breach of the Constitution.
In addition, Britain, Turkey and Greece became 'Guarantor Powers', promising to defend the Republic's integrity by all necessary means. To ensure this, small contingents of the Turkish and Greek Armies were posted in the island.
Eoka members parade through Nicosia in March 1959, after an amnesty is declared following agreement on the future of Cyprus. The 'former' terrorists have suddenly found uniforms and boots to wear, which none wore during the conflict - unless they were having photographs taken for propaganda purposes. An observer comments: 'The whole effect is rather ludicrous, with a great many youths, who have been hiding in holes in the ground for the past three years swaggering around in uniforms which they would never have dared wear in the Emergency, and are all too obviously brand new.' While they paraded, British troops are confined in their camps to avoid needless clashes.
From the outset, President Makarios did not accept the permanence of the co-partnership arrangements and saw the independent Supreme Court as a temporary measure. By late 1963, he was trying to amend the Constitution to remove the Turks' minority rights. He also promised his people that enosis would take place, an anathema to the Cypriot Turks - and Turkey, which was not prepared to allow Greece to control its southern seaways. Turkey is a mere 40 miles from the north coast of Cyprus.
ON 21 December 1963, an apparently minor incident in Nicosia erupted in angry demonstrations and Greek Cypriot militia turned on the Turks. Vicious fighting developed between the two communities. The co-partnership government ended. According to the Turks, they were expelled by force. The Greeks claimed they walked out and became rebels determined to overthrow the Island's legitimate authorities.
From 1964 to 1974, Greeks and Turks led separate lives. At first, the 'Truce Force', commanded by General Peter Young, was created from Sovereign base resources as a temporary measure to keep the peace. As a first measure, General Young drew a 'green line' through the capital, Nicosia; Turks were to stay north and Greeks south. For three months, the Force bravely tried to prevent the fighting between the two feuding sides.
NATO, fearing Turkey might launch a full-scale invasion in support of its Island cousins and cause the partition of Cyprus, offered to send a 'Peace' Force, recruited from its own ranks, hoping it would prevent all-out war between two members of the organization, which had been created by the United States for the defense of Europe against Soviet expansion.
Makarios, who was busy working to become the leader of the 'Third World' or non-aligned nations, including Egypt and Yugoslavia, refused to accept a NATO force and opted instead for a much weaker UN Force (UNFICYP), which could act only with his approval.
The Greek Cypriots now held all the reins of power and represented the Island in all foreign fora, including the United Nations. They, in particular, received considerable support in the General Assembly. The Turkish Cypriots, confined largely to enclaves scattered throughout the island, with no access to communications, had only one tiny port on the north coast through which they could acquire food and medical aid provided by Turkey, just 40 miles away across the water. They called the port Erenkoy (the Greeks knew it as Kokkina) and, in August 1964, held off an assault of several thousand well-armed and trained Greek soldiers led by Grivas, now promoted to General, with fewer than 800 defenders, mostly students who had given up their studies to return home from abroad.
BY 2007, the Greek Cypriot Government of the Republic of (South) Cyprus was still regarded by the UN Nations as the only legitimate authority of the whole island. It was also a member of the EU. Many former Eoka members still held senior positions in the administration, with Tassos Papadopoulos as President. He was one of Eoka's key players in Nicosia. In 1964, he had advocated the immediate extermination of all Cypriot Turks should Turkey invade.
Former RoC President Glafcos Clerides was also a leading member of Eoka. He was alleged to have been in command of Nicosia's Ledra Street - 'Murder Mile' - assassins, who included Nicos Sampson.
Clerides, an RAF navigator in World War II, was a London-trained and highly skilled lawyer. During the Eoka period, in addition to his other activities, he acted as defence attorney for terrorist suspects arrested, charged and tried by the British.
Nicos Sampson, who posed as a photojournalist, was one of the worst terrorists. His favourite targets were unarmed British service personnel, police officers and civilian families out shopping in Ledra Street. He shot them in the back and then photographed their bodies for publication in the local press.
For a period in 1955-56 Charles Foley, the editor of The Times of Cyprus employed Sampson as a freelance. Foley later befriended Grivas for whom he ghosted the terrorist's 'autobiography'. The editor's personal lawyer was Glafcos Clerides.
The stagnation between Greek and Turkish Cypriot political parties to agree anything continued largely unchanged until July 1974, when, on the morning of the 15th, the Greek junta in Athens engineered a coup using its Forces in Cyprus as the means to overthrow and kill the President. Makarios survived and escaped to Paphos, where he had supporters. From there, he was taken by British helicopter to the Akrotiri-Episkopi Sovereign Base. With British Government approval, RAF aircraft flew him to London and then to the UN in New York.
Almost simultaneously, Turkey's Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit dashed to London for urgent consultations with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Foreign Minister James Callaghan.
Ecevit feared Nicos Sampson, the newly appointed President of the Greek-Cypriot Republic, would set out to militarily destroy the Turks of the Island. He wanted Britain to take action singularly or jointly with Turkey to intervene under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, using troops from the two UK Sovereign Bases, to prevent this happening. Wilson and Callaghan, however, vacillated.
With little time to argue, the Turkish Prime Minister returned to Ankara to give the order to his Armed Forces to prepare to act alone. The Turkish General Staff replied that they could land in north Cyprus the following Saturday, 20 July.
At precisely 05.00, the Turkish Air Force and Turkish Navy began attacking Greek targets in Cyprus. A few hours later Turkish Marines landed a few miles west of the north coast port of Kyrenia/Girne and were pressing forward, while Turkish paratroops dropped on the plain between the Kyrenia Mountains and north Nicosia, where Cypriot Turks were in the majority.
The Turks planned to capture Kyrenia/Girne, move down the main road to the capital, linking up on the way with Turkish Cypriot fighters who held St Hilarion Castle and then the paratroops.
Neither side in the conflict paid much respect to UN troops, who were brushed aside as battles raged.
The Greeks, who had been divided in their loyalties a few days earlier, were now working together to resist the Turks. Although some units fought bravely, they stood little chance against the overwhelming strength of their enemy's air and land forces and fell back.
When it appeared the Turks would capture Nicosia International Airport, UNFICYP, with a strengthened British contingent, took up battle positions between the Greek and Turkish frontlines, told the combatants that the airport area was now 'a UN Protected Area' and declared Blue Beret troops would fight anyone who challenged their authority. The belligerents stopped. Since summer 1974, the area has remained in UN hands.
Despite an early UN organized ceasefire between Turkish and Greek forces - during which Nicos Sampson quit as President and the Colonels in Greece gave up the reins of government to civilians - there was still unfinished business for the Turks.
After failing to agree a political solution in discussions chaired by Britain's James Callaghan in Switzerland, Turkish Forces ended the ceasefire in the early hours of 14 August. By day's end of the 16th, they were in control of about 35 per cent of the Island's land area concentrated in the North, including the Panhandle/Karpasia/Karpaz, Famagusta/G. Magusa and the Greek tourist resort of Varosha/Maras. The latter in 2006 was still off-limits to all except the Turkish Army. The hotels, apartment blocks and shops had deteriorated beyond practical repair.
The Turks had achieved Taksim or partition by the end of August 1974. The Greeks had failed with their ambitions for Enosis. Greek Cypriots, some voluntarily, but most forced, now rushed southwards as refugees, leaving their homes, possessions and properties behind. A similar flood of Turks flowed north under UNFICYP protection. These transfers of population were agreed between Glafcos Clerides, the acting president, and Rauf Denktas, the leader of the Cypriot Turks.
UNFICYP's role now was to maintain the peace between two defined areas. What were previously 'green lines' separating the communities in various large towns and patrolled by UN troops, had now become an island-wide UN Buffer Zone, which, in parts is several miles wide and in others less than a few feet. In the heart of the BZ, there are two 'mixed' villages, where UN Civilian Police (CIVPOL) maintains law and order.
Britain continues to be the greatest contributor to the Force by providing the largest contingent and most logistic support via its two Sovereign Bases, which operate much as before - Greek and Turkish civilians still recruited to fill many posts. They are expected to work side-by-side in harmony. And they do!
DESPITE countless attempts to reconcile the demands of the leaders of the two communities and create some form of single Cyprus Government, partition remains, one side known as the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) and the other the Republic of Cyprus (Greek). Each governs from its half of Nicosia/Lefkosa, the only divided capital in the world.
Since 2003, there has been some improvement in relations between North and South. Initiated as a gesture of goodwill, the Turkish Cypriot authorities opened their border to Greek Cypriots that year. The Greek administration followed with a reciprocal gesture.
A UN plan to reunite the Island was put to referenda in 2004. The Greek Cypriots voted against by around the same amount as the Turkish Cypriots' who gave their acceptance. Once again, stalemate.
Most 'neutral' historical experts believe Eoka, the Greek Cypriot terrorist organization, by demanding union with Greece for Cyprus, set the conditions for the eventual war between Greek and Turks and the partition of the Island. Others claim the division of Cyprus was plotted and achieved by politicians in Washington and London.
Whichever theory is accepted, the fact remains the total number of Eoka activists was probably no more than 600 individuals. But the Eoka Association in today's Republic of Cyprus has produced a registry of the organization's membership during the 1955-59 conflict. It lists 20,633 names. Bona fide Greek Cypriots can only buy this registry, published in the Greek language. On seeing the registry volumes, a former British soldier quipped: 'Eoka must be including all their Uncle Tom Cobbelys, cleaners, cooks, sandwich makers and bed companions.'
Using the most common English spellings of their names, the list below shows the most dedicated Eoka members,
placed in alphabetical order, not organizational ranking. But, mostly excludes the minor Eoka supporters. I cannot guarantee complete accuracy as some similar names may belong to one person and not two or more. Any reader who finds an error, please contact me with the correct information.
Where these terrorists operated in areas now part of Cyprus governed by Turkish Cypriots, I have given the Turkish place names next to the Greek.
NOTE: There may be others whose names will be included if we are made aware of their details. Because translators converting the Greek alphabet into English letters may not follow a standard form, it is possible that some of the names of the Eoka members listed above may appear written differently elsewhere.
Most of the young men of Kalavasos village boasted they belonged to Eoka. Many of them today live and work in the UK and still take pride in the 'heroism' of the 'GRIVAS boys.'
Organizations in the (Greek) Republic of Cyprus today claim there were at least 20,633 Eoka members. Their lists include individuals who were not alive until after 1959!
* EOKA CLAIMS THESE MEN WERE TORTURED TO DEATH BY THE INTERROGATORS OF THE SECURITY FORCES. ALL REPORTED CASES OF ALLEGED TORTURE WERE INVESTIGATED. VERY FEW WERE PROVED TO HAVE ANY BASIS IN FACT.
*** NINE INDIVIDUALS, AGED BETWEEN 19 AND 24, WERE HANGED IN NICOSIA'S CENTRAL PRISON AND ARE STILL BURIED THERE. TO SAVE SPACE, FOUR GRAVES CONTAIN TWO BODIES EACH.
THEIR FUNERALS TOOK PLACE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THEIR EXECUTION. A SMALL RELIGIOUS SERVICE WAS CONDUCTED BY THE PRISON'S PRIEST OUTSIDE THE CLOSED ENTRANCE TO THE SMALL CEMETERY. FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE DEAD WERE NOT ALLOWED TO BE PRESENT.
GREGORIS AFXENTIOU, STYLIANOS LENAS AND KYRIAKOS MATSIS ARE ALSO BURIED THERE AFTER BRITISH FORCES KILLED THEM IN COMBAT.
ACCORDING to W BYFORD-JONES, the author of Grivas and the story of Eoka:
'It would be silly to say there were no acts of bravery. There were one or two rare examples, but there were also acts of treachery and cowardice, betrayal and surrender to offset them.
'The people of Cyprus who had been deceived into thinking that they were slaves were similarly cheated into thinking that EOKA men were heroes, the equal of any of the warriors of ancient Greece.
'A few Cypriots I know well, while giving far too little credit to successive British generals for their efforts to eradicate terrorism, were also not able to score up any marks for skill, daring or bravery on the part of EOKA.
'Even though these "patriots" were inflamed to the point of near mad-ness by the lies issued from the propaganda factories of Athens Radio, they still thought too much of their own safety to make concerted attacks.'
AS soon as the news broke about the terrorist attacks on London commuters on 7 July 2005, Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos sent his condolences to British Prime Minister Blair. Mr Papadopoulos, a former Eoka leader in Nicosia, said: 'The Government and the people of Cyprus strongly condemn such horrendous acts of terror and stand in full solidarity with the British people and the rest of the international community in the fight against terrorism of all kinds.'
ON 20 June 2006, the media in Greek Cyprus reported former Royal Signals' soldier John Miller, 67, had given the Eoka Museum in Nicosia, the flag that was lowered at 19.18 for the final time from the flagpole outside the Governor's Mansion on 15 August 1960, the evening before Britain gave up being the Island's colonial ruler.
(The Cyprus flag of the British Colonial period handed to Thassos Sophocleos, former Eoka executioner, (left) by ex- Royal Signals' soldier John Miller)
The flag, accepted by EOKA Association president Thassos Sophocleos, ex-executioner and gang leader in the Kyrenia district 55/59, said: 'For 82 years, the flag represented the British occupation of Cyprus and it is a symbol of the end of colonisation. When it was lowered, Cyprus at last breathed free air and the Republic was created.'
Miller claimed: 'At the flag changeover ceremony, I asked Governor Sir Hugh Foot for permission to keep it and he agreed. It remained in my wardrobe in Lowestoft in Suffolk until I returned to Cyprus in 1999. I love Cyprus and have made Finikaria village in Limassol my home. Even though the flag is valuable, I was never been tempted to sell it and always wanted to bring it back. I believe the flag belongs here as part of the Island's history. I feel very proud and happy today in returning it.'
In 2006, more than 45 years after the end of the Eoka conflicted, Miller's action still angered former British service personnel.
Some servicemen believe Miller could not have been present at the formal standard-lowering ceremony to receive the flag from Sir Hugh Foot. They insist, too, the flag would have been passed to British officers for safekeeping and returned to the United Kingdom.
'In my opinion that Flag should have been given to a British Museum,' said one. 'Miller has forgotten his countrymen who are buried in Wayne's Keep Cemetery.'
Another observed: 'He has insulted the memory of Mrs Cutliffe and all the good young men who died in Cyprus and are resting in Wayne's Keep Cemetery. I served there 1957-1959, and I am appalled at what he has done. I am positive all who served there are feel the same.'
A soldier who served at Kykko West with Cyprus District Signal Regiment best summed up the opinion of most. 'If this story is true, then the guy responsible wants sh---ing,' he declared bluntly.
Wayne's Keep Military Cemetery, Nicosia, sited in the UN Buffer Zone between the military forces of north and south Cyprus.
In 2005, the Cyprus Eoka Association said Grivas led a force of more than 20,000 in the 1955-59 conflict. In his Memoirs, the Eoka leader declared: 'Our total frontline strength was never more 273 men.'
Between 2005 and 2006, President Tassos Papadopoulos of the (Greek) Republic of Cyprus awarded medals and diplomas of service to 21,000 individuals for allegedly taking part in the EOKA struggle.
A Greek Cypriot journalist comments: "I would not be surprised if many of these people were honoured for doing nothing more heroic and dangerous than sacrificing their afternoon siesta to attend a meeting with the village priest." One of the recipients of a bravery medal, he added, qualified only for "being the son of Makarios' maid".
Some of the information seen here has been taken from the works of Andreas Varnavas, published by the Foundation of the Liberation Struggle of Eoka 1955-59, Nicosia, Cyprus. I am also grateful to many others, British and Cypriot, who delved into their personnel files and provided me with facts and illustrations. They have chosen not to have their names mentioned in case they were to become targets of Eoka's successors.
'...the EOKA fighters were engaged in a struggle for a goal that was strategically misguided and unachievable, using methods, including terrorising civilians, that were extreme and unnecessary and in many ways counter-productive to achieving the realistic goal of an independent and democratic bi-communal republic.' - Nicos A Pittas in the Cyprus Mail 04.04.2005
© David Carter 2007