The Green Line in Cyprus

Britain Responds

President Makarios, fearing a Turkish invasion and Vice President Küçük, keen for a respite from attacks against his community were anxious for a ceasefire. This would have to be monitored and by the end of Christmas Day it became clear that this role would fall to the British. The commander was to be Major General Peter Young and available units from the Sovereign Bases were placed on 24hr notice. The Sherwood Foresters were preparing to depart the UK together with the air-portable 'C' Squadron of the 14th/20th King's Hussars who just happened to be fairly close by in Benghazi. 



'C' Troop 14/20th King's Hussars photographed near Benghazi in 1963

At 06:35hrs on the 26th December the Cyprus Government formally accepted that, "Forces of the United Kingdom, Greek and Turkey, stationed in Cyprus, shall be placed under a British Commander" and at 07:00hrs Air Chief Marshall Barnett and Major General Young flew to Nicosia from the Episkopi Airstrip (most probably in an AAC Auster).
Note: It was agreed that the Greek & Turkish National Contingents, despite the political undertakings, would not be used for peacekeeping duties and neither Contingent ever constituted a useable element of the Joint Force. 



The type of aircraft most probably used by Air Chief Marshall Barnett and Major General Young when they flew from Episkopi to RAF Nicosia

A major challenge was to set up a Joint Force HQ at RAF Nicosia (next to the International Airport) and by 10:00hrs the nucleus of this was operational.
Major Michael Perrett-Young was ordered to join the staff as the G2 Intelligence Officer. Together with the General's ADC (Captain Christopher Meynell) they left Episkopi at 11:30hrs in the General's staff car.
Major Perrett-Young recalls, "I gathered maps, background files with all the Intelligence Office impedimenta I could lay my hands on, including, significantly as it turned out, a full range of chinagraph pencils".





The view en-route to Nicosia from inside the GOC's Staff Car.......approaching and passing a Ferret of 1 Gloster's
Note that the flag flying from the bonnet of the staff car was hastily (and unofficially) added using part of a Red Ensign
Both images by kind permission of Christopher Meynell


Arriving at the High Commission at around 13:00hrs they learned that, since his arrival, the GOC had been involved in a series of high level meetings with political and military leaders pushing for a sustainable ceasefire. The only units currently available to help in Nicosia, 1 Glosters and the RAF Regiment were immediately deployed on patrol while the Green Jackets remained in Dhekelia for peacekeeping in Larnaca. These units were "sorely pressed" to respond to the number of incidents that were being reported and the island remained, "within a hair's breadth of a major conflict".
Implementation of the Truce Force's mandate (agreed at 06:35hrs that morning) was the only major factor in holding the belligerants in check.

Reinforcements in the form of the Sherwood Foresters and 14th/20th Hussars began to arrive at RAF Akrotiri at around 07:15hrs (Friday 27th December).
The advance parties of the Foresters were deployed to Larnaca and the 14th/20th Hussars commanded by Major W D Garbutt arrived in Nicosia at 11:50hrs. Both units were quickly on patrol.

On the 28th December a small Tactical HQ was set up in the empty passport office next to the British High Commission. The distance from the Joint Force HQ at the airport to the High Commission was making control and coordination difficult.



The Tactical HQ next to the High Commission building........click the image for a larger version
Image by kind permission of Christopher Meynell