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Introduction to the Emergency

British troops arrive

In August 1954, the 2nd Battalion the Green Howards arrived from Egypt closely followed by the 2nd Battalion the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. As the military build-up associated with the sitting of Middle East Headquarters progressed, the first stirrings of the Enosis movement were felt throughout Cyprus. Serious rioting in Nicosia and Limasol ended with British troops shooting two rioters.

General George GrivasIn the mountains of Cyprus, the self-styled General George Grivas, a retired Greek Army colonel, was busy setting an army of guerillas. The movement was named Ethniki Organosis Kypriou Agonistou (EOKA). The terrorist campaign started on 1st April 1955 when a series of bombs exploded in different parts of the island. Leaflets, signed 'The Leader Dighenis', after a legendary Byzantine warrior, proclaimed that with God's help and the support of all the forces of hellenism the struggle to throw off the British yoke had begun. The EOKA launched a major offensive with attacks on police stations in Kyrenia on 19th June.

An attempt to find some solution involving talks with Turkey and Greece in London ended in deadlock as the Foreign Secretary of Britain needed a secure base for the Middle East. In September, sixteen imprisoned EOKA terrorists escaped from prison and several went onto become terrorist group leaders. Public confidence plummeted in the administration. The British Government was persuaded by this and the burning of the British Institute in Metaxas Square. On 25th September Field marshal Sir John Harding handed over his job as Chief of the Imperial General Staff and was appointed Governor of Cyprus. He arrived on the 3rd October, closely followed by an influx of troops. On 26th November, the Governor proclaimed a State of Emergency. British Forces were committed to Cyprus.

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