The Cypriot Mule corps, imperial loyalty and silenced memory

Most Cypriots and British today do not know that Cypriots even served in the Great War. This book contributes to the growing literature on the role of the British non-settler empire in the Great War by exploring the service of the Cypriot Mule Corps on the Salonica Front, and after the war in Constantinople. This book speaks to a number of interlocking historiographies, contributing to various debates especially around enlistment/volunteerism, imperial loyalty and veterans' issues. At the most basic level, it reconstructs the story of Cypriot Mule Corps' contribution, of transporting wounded men and supplies to the front, across steep mountains, with dangerous ravines and in extreme climates. The book argues that Cypriot mules and mule drivers played a pivotal role in British logistics in Salonica and Constantinople, especially the former. It explores the impact of the war on Cypriot socio-economic conditions, particularly of so many men serving abroad on the local economy and society. The issues that arose for the British in relation to the contracts they offered the Cypriots, contracts offered to the muleteers, and problems of implementing the promise of an allotment scheme are also discussed. Behavioural problems one finds with military corps, such as desertion and crime, were not prevalent in the Cypriot Mule Corps. The book also explores the impact of death and incapacity on veterans and dependants, looking at issues that veterans faced after returning and resettling into Cypriot life.

The inconsequential possession

Cyprus' importance was always more imagined than real and was enmeshed within widely held cultural signifiers and myths. This book explores the tensions underlying British imperialism in Cyprus. It presents a study that follows Cyprus' progress from a perceived imperial asset to an expendable backwater. The book explains how the Union Jack came to fly over the island and why after thirty-five years the British wanted it lowered. It fills a gap in the existing literature on the early British period in Cyprus and challenges the received and monolithic view that British imperial policy was based primarily or exclusively on strategic-military considerations. The book traces the links between England/Britain and Cyprus since Richard Coeur de Lion and situates these links within a tradition of Romantic adventure, strategic advantage, spiritual imperialism and a sense of possession. The British wanted to revitalise western Asia by establishing informal control over it through the establishment of Cyprus as a place d'armes. Because the British did not find Cyprus an 'Eldorado' of boundless wealth, they did not invest the energy or funds to 'renew' it. British economic policy in Cyprus was contradictory; it rendered Cyprus economically unviable. Hellenic nationalism, propelled by the failure of British social and economic policies, upturned the multicultural system and challenged the viability of British rule. Situating Cyprus within British imperial strategy shows that the island was useless and a liability.

El Dorados, utopias and dystopias

Modern imperialism was a phenomenon which had highly complex motivations arousing intense emotional desires. This book explores how imperial powers established and expanded their empires through decisions that were often based on exaggerated expectations and wishful thinking, rather than on reasoned and scientific policies. It examines a variety of El Dorados, utopias and dystopias - undertakings that are based on irrational perceived values. By exploring various cases, the book seeks to show how El Dorados arose in Europe across imperial traditions, colonial projects and periods in time. The Darien project was an aborted Scottish colony, which pointed out that women in Scotland might not have possessed any special immunity from the financial mania and risk-taking in markets. While modern industrial methods made Bambuk gold extraction productive and profitable, for the people, the industrialized extraction of gold is more a curse than a blessing. By the early twentieth century Indochina was arguably France's most prosperous colonial possession; however a closer investigation reveals Indochina's repeated failure to live up to its rulers' expectations. The Swan River Colony remained an 'inconsequential possession' of the British Empire until the discovery of gold in the 1890s. Included in the discussions are cases related to Patagonia, the land of broken Welsh promise; the German Templer colonies in Palestine; and the British Mesopotamian El Dorado. The book offers new insights into the nature of imperialism and colonial settlement, but recognized that imperial causality consists of interlocking motivations.

Abstract only

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book argues that Cypriot mules and mule drivers played a pivotal role in British logistics in Salonica and Constantinople, especially the former. It explores Cypriot society from late Ottoman through to early British rule, until the Great War. The book covers the role of Cyprus during the Great War beyond the Mule Corps to show that the Cypriot contribution was much greater. It explores the impact of the war on Cypriot socio-economic conditions, particularly of so many men serving abroad on the local economy and society. The book delves into the formation of the Mule Corps. It also explores questions such as why and how Mule Corps was formed, why Cypriot mules and men were selected, and its administration and organisation.

in Serving the empire in the Great War

This chapter shows that the history of the Cypriot Mule Corps contributes to various rich historical and theoretical debates. Including the Cypriot case within this historiography will contribute to various debates, especially around enlistment/volunteerism, imperial loyalty and veterans issues. The ethnic origin of the muleteers is unspecified, but since the majority were Cypriots and Indians, Seligman's muleteers must include the Cypriots. There has been little research carried out on British Cyprus during the immediate years before, during and after the Great War. The chapter contributes to the understanding of allied-occupied Constantinople, where the Cypriot Mule Corps was based after Salonica. Despite the recent thorough account by Wakefield and Moody, the men who served in the Macedonian Campaign have never lived down the tag of 'the gardeners of Salonica'.

in Serving the empire in the Great War
From backwater to bustling war base

This chapter explores the development of Cypriot society from its late Ottoman period and the first decades of British rule to understand the conditions that pushed and pulled so many Cypriot men to enlist in the Cypriot Mule Corps. During Ottoman rule Cypriot society had greater socio-economic and sociopolitical cleavages than religious or ethnic. Cyprus attained some strategic significance from mid-1916 as a bustling military, humanitarian and provisions base connected to the 'Eastern Campaigns', which impacted on the island. The chapter overviews the impact of the war and the role of Cyprus in it beyond the Cypriot Mule Corps. The war diary of the Director of Supplies and Transport, Salonica, Brigadier-General Arthur Long, shows how valuable Cyprus was for allied supplies in Egypt, Salonica and France.

in Serving the empire in the Great War

In summer 1916, the British authorities established the Cypriot Mule Corps for service in the British army at the Salonica Front. This chapter deals with its formation, answering why and how it was formed, why Cypriot mules and men were selected, and outlining the roles of the various authorities involved. In the absence of a document that discloses why Cypriot mules and drivers were chosen, this chapter suggests prior British experiences. By integrating the local with the global, this chapter shows how the British Empire operated and how Cypriot mules and muleteers were selected for this important war service. A historical survey shows that Cypriot mules and muleteers had good reputations. The organisation and running of the Cypriot Mule Corps was a complex endeavour involving three different authorities: the British military authorities in Salonica; the Cypriot government in Nicosia and Troodos; and the Mule Purchasing Commission.

in Serving the empire in the Great War
Pushed or pulled?

This chapter contributes to the ongoing debates (Mansfield, Osborne, Pennell and McCartney) about enlistment in the Great War. It argues that mules were procured and muleteers were enlisted by using legal methods that left mule owners and men of military age with little alternative. Before discussing muleteer recruitment, it is important to understand mule procurement because initially, as reflected in the name of the operation at Famagusta, the Mule Purchasing Commission, the focus was on purchasing mules. By July 1917, the focus had clearly switched to muleteers when the name changed to Muleteer Recruiting and Supply Purchasing Staff and greater numbers of muleteers were recruited in comparison to mules. In the case of the Cypriot Mule Corps the peasant and labouring classes were given little option but to enlist to serve in the British army, as the British were able to play on local push factors to pull in volunteers.

in Serving the empire in the Great War

This chapter outlines the issues that arose for the British in relation to the contracts they offered the Cypriots. Pivotal to recruitment was the contracts offered to the muleteers, which defined their rights and responsibilities, and those of the British. The significant threat to recruitment was the outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis in muleteers at the Famagusta Mule Depot in April 1918. The chapter deals with the problems of implementing of one of the main British responsibilities, the promise of an allotment scheme. Running the allotment scheme was one of the most important tasks of the Cypriot government. It had agreed with Sisman on 24 July 1916 that it would distribute muleteer allotments to their dependents if the military provided the amounts, names, addresses and conditions under which the allotments were payable.

in Serving the empire in the Great War

This chapter explores what conditions were like in the Cypriot Mule Corps, the health and working conditions of the muleteers and mules, and how the muleteers treated their mules. It argues that conditions were harsh: the climate, terrain and nature of the work challenged the men and impacted on their welfare and that of their mules. Initially mule procurement was just as important as muleteer recruitment and perhaps even seen as more significant because the name of the operation at Famagusta was the Mule Purchasing Commission. The work of muleteers differed in Salonica compared to Constantinople and depended on which unit they served. Some muleteers also had health problems, especially venereal disease. Many men, particularly those enlisting early, contracted venereal disease at Famagusta, cutting short their service and having to cover treatment costs.

in Serving the empire in the Great War