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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
Andrekos Varnava

Modernisation had seen life expectancy rates rise and infant mortality rates drop, resulting in a dramatic increase in the Cypriot population, which led to a surplus of people searching for work. The British prevented them from migrating to places with work, thus making the Cypriot Mule Corps a golden opportunity. The service of Cypriots in the British armed forces during the Great War was truly enormous proportional to the population of the island. The British knew how to pull the Cypriots into the Mule Corps, and they knew how to limit their own responsibilities towards these men too. British imperial power was reflected in the passing of laws to procure mules more or less forcibly. In Salonica, they were worked very hard. Yet it was soon realised that mules, no less than men, needed to be rested to reduce sickness and casualties, and extract more effective work out of them.

in Serving the empire in the Great War
Andrekos Varnava

This chapter explores the impact of death and incapacity on veterans and dependants. It looks at issues that veterans faced after returning and resettling into Cypriot life, which had changed dramatically because of the Great War. The chapter discusses what the Cypriot government and military authorities did to alleviate the social and financial difficulties of veterans and their families, and what private organisations, namely the British Legion, did to aid those in need. It also looks at one of the solutions found by the men, emigration. Emigrating was one way out of the poverty. Military service had given the men a taste of working overseas. Many veterans were repatriated only to soon emigrate, while others stayed behind. Many members of the Cypriot Mule Corps remained in the Ottoman Empire/Turkey to continue to serve or had settled in Constantinople and wanted their medals.

in Serving the empire in the Great War
Andrekos Varnava

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
From backwater to bustling war base
Andrekos Varnava

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
Pushed or pulled?
Andrekos Varnava

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
Andrekos Varnava

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
Andrekos Varnava

This chapter argues that criminality, such as desertion, theft and violent crimes, did exist, and it must be understood in its appropriate social and economic contexts. Behavioural problems one finds with military corps, such as desertion and crime, were not prevalent in the Cypriot Mule Corps. Before exploring desertion of Cypriot muleteers in Salonica and Constantinople, it is important to understand that desertion occurred in Cyprus before service began. The incidents of striking a superior officer or police occurred in Constantinople, further indicating the frustrating peacetime service there. Stealing from a fellow muleteer was difficult to detect and prove. For this reason the majority of theft cases deal with the theft of public goods. Sexual crimes were quite uncommon. Life in the military was obviously isolating, leading to sexual frustration, yet in the case of homo-sexuality there was greater opportunity.

in Serving the empire in the Great War