Cyprus 1974

When the Turks launced their Invasion of Cyprus in 1974 does anyone have any information or know of any sites that cover the British response. I know the Turks stopped short of the SBA's. What units were on Cyprus, who reinforced them and what operations did they carry out as part of the Services assisted evacuation, humanitarian relief and securing Soverign Base areas?
The Signal Squadron with 19 Airportable Brigade (based in Colchester) were on Summer Camp. Some of us were in the Akamas mountains at the time of the invasion. We were transported back to Akrotori, established a Bde HQ at French Camp - and the rest (or some of) the brigade were airlifted in. It was along time ago - I can't remember the details of the units etc.
I think 16/5L were there and a few saracens were warmed up should they make way to a SBA
Many years ago I was involved in declassifying the massive 1974 report by the then Commander Near East Forces - though sadly I suspect the report may have been lost since in the drive to digital! Akrotiri was obviously a much busier base then, with, IIRC, seven RAF squadrons: two Lightning sqns, four (?) Canberra/Vulcan sqns, and a transport sqn with Hercs. The SBAs were broadly respected by both sides in the fighting - though the Greek Air Force very naughtily infringed SBA airspace when they attempted to fly their paras in to reinforce Nicosia; that did not end well since the Greek AA guns had not been warned off and shot down several of their own aircraft, and then the remaining transports were caught on the ground by Turkish Phantoms and bombed to buggery. As a result, a huge influx of refugees, and a lot of international airliners flown into Akrotiri. The Lightnings were kept busy escorting the evacuation flights out, as the Turkish fighters came up to intercept everything, and frequently had to be warned off. A couple of lost Turkish tanks also had to be protected from having their crews lynched by Greek locals when they found themselves out of fuel just inside the SBAs. And the British forces took the lead in coordinating the rescue of the survivors of a Turkish destroyer sunk by its own air force in a major blue on blue.

Nicest story was probably the commendation by the Commander of the RCT SNCO who commanded the maritime troop in Famagusta. As the fighting raged around them, he was ordered to pull out in their ramped lighter. Apparently, he drove the unit Mini straight off the quayside and dropped it onto the arse end of the lighter, then steamed out of the harbour at all of 5 knots with both the Greeks and Turks, each seeing a green landing craft that wasn't theirs, letting rip at it with everything they had. Luckily, their accuracy was appalling and the RCT det eventually made it unhurt back to Akrotiri.

One other stat that I can remember was that 12 Signals Unit sent over half a million words back on the teleprinters for journalists: in those pre-digital days, the hacks who flocked to cover the invasion suddenly realised they had no means to file their stories. HMG therefore decided that 12 SU should help fill the void, since it was important to the international diplomatic effort if everyone realised how nasty things were.

I think HMS Hermes was loitering off the island in a contingency evacuation role, and on at least one occasion was threatened by one side or other's artillery, who had to be threatened back...
An RAF view:

RAF Episkopi Emergencey 1974

The urban legends I heard about 6 years ago include:

A Turkish tank coming into the SBA near Ay Nik at night, out of comms and then out of fuel. It was re-fuelled by the Brits and pointed back northwards.

The CO (RRF?) driving to the crossing point in a Landrover and standing in the middle of the road to stop any immediate Turkish incursion.
I am sure that the MOD archives branch will have something. Also HQ BFC and HQ BRITCON in HQ UNFICYP also have some historical records and presentations.


I vividly remember as a school boy living in South Paramali in 1974, having the Royal Scots as the resident Battalion covering Episkopi garrison. This subject has been well covered on other threads.

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