Securing the base

Fighting EOKA terrorists in Cyprus

in Defending the realm?
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British military intervention in Cyprus reached a crescendo in the major counter-insurgency campaign fought by the island's Security Forces between 1955 and 1959. The terrorist group EOKA, led by Colonel George Grivas, immediately embarked on enosis (union with Greece) through an armed campaign. EOKA was backed politically by Archbishop Makarios III, leader of the Cyprus Orthodox Church, who, while not taking an active part in the terrorist campaign himself, ‘hinted that the Church would not shrink from violence if necessary’. Makarios had been making inflammatory anti-British speeches in public for some time, which were designed to push the issue of British occupation to the forefront of public attention in Cyprus and across the world. Thus, Grivas's aim was ‘not to expel or to defeat the British, but to draw the attention of international public opinion by harassing them’. The whole idea was to feed into Makarios’ plan – with the backing of Greece – to lobby hard on the world stage for the liberation of Cyprus by forcing the United Nations to apply pressure on Britain to withdraw. This chapter details the duel that ensued between Cyprus Governor Field-Marshal Lord Harding and Colonel George Grivas throughout the emergency.

Defending the realm?

The politics of Britain’s small wars since 1945

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