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Superb Insight into a Forgotten War
on 11 April 2014
Despite the substantial military involvement, the Cyprus conflict and its aftermath has not attracted the attention of many authors. It could almost be consigned to the “Forgotten Wars” basket. Thankfully the gap has been filled by Nick Van Der Bijl, who generously acknowledges contributors to the britains-smallwars website, and a host of other internet sources among his research.
This is a meticulously and exhaustively researched book which begins with a summary of the historical conflict. The author takes the reader through the formation and structure of EOKA and its leading personalities. The tension between the various elements, along with the somewhat shambolic nature of the organisation, was one of many revelations of the book.
Despite the almost amateur approach to many of its operations, EOKA was ruthless in its selection of targets. Unarmed and off duty personnel were murdered in front of their families. Service wives were also deliberately targeted, including a 38 year old mother of five, shot and killed in the middle of Famagusta. There are profuse examples of the attacks on the military and police between 1956 and 1959. EOKA was equally merciless with those it regarded as informers or traitors. The brutality of the sectarian conflict between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots is also extensively documented.
An influx of UK policemen, soldiers, better intelligence, improved military and police cooperation helped bring the military conflict to a close while a political solution was sought. Van Der Bijl leaves us in no doubt that EOKA was defeated, with the exhausted terrorist leader Grivas departing for Greece while Archbishop Makarios returned from exile and election to President. The involvement of the Church in providing succour to EOKA is also laid bare.
The author covers the 1974 Turkish invasion which is very well described. The final chapter focuses on the casualties, whose names are listed on the island’s British Cyprus Memorial. This book tells their story.