from Cypriots in Australia or from Cypriots when I had visited
in 2000–1 and 2002, and lived there between September 2006 and January
2009, that it had been excluded from Cypriot national consciousness.
This chapter attempts to understand the individual and
collective memory of the CypriotMuleCorps from the 1920s until today.
This necessitates exploring the post-war attitudes of the men who served
In summer 1916, the British
authorities established the CypriotMuleCorps for service in the
British army at the Salonica Front. Officially styled the Macedonian
Mule Corps, the majority of the men were Cypriots, not Macedonians. 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
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.
Two things I am interested in are
my own family history and the life of Steven Georgiou/Cat Stevens/Yusuf
Islam. How are these connected to this book let alone this
chapter? As the dedication to this book reveals, my
great-grandfather and my wife’s grandfather served in the CypriotMuleCorps and so did Yusuf’s father. Stavros Georgiou, born in
Tala, Paphos, in May 1900
pushed and pulled so many Cypriot men to enlist in the
CypriotMuleCorps; and second to provide an overview of the impact of
the war and the role of Cyprus in it beyond the CypriotMuleCorps.
By the end of Ottoman rule there were deep class/social
cleavages in Cypriot society across the urban and rural divide and among
religious communities. These divisions continued during British rule,
yet were less
historian can often be all-consuming. The stanza from my poem above
reflects how this project has dominated my thoughts and the poem goes on
to show how day and night I would be transported to scenes from the
stories of the CypriotMuleCorps.
The power of history over the historian differs from the
power of the British Empire, yet both have the ability to control lives.
The British Empire had the ability to
chapters they were not afraid to complain when they felt
the harsh hand of British injustice.
Behavioural problems one finds
with military corps, such as desertion and crime, were not prevalent in
the CypriotMuleCorps. Desertion is faced by all military units,
whether personnel were in a war because of conscription or because they
volunteered, and usually it is the
In autumn 1921 Varnavas Michael
Varnava, dressed in his best garb, lined up with other veterans of the
CypriotMuleCorps in Famagusta to receive his British War Medal. With
their families watching, the ceremony must have given them great pride.
Such ceremonies as this, which was attended by my great-grandfather,
were held across all the towns of the island in autumn 1921. Sadly my
satisfied with these makeshift Cypriot muleteers. On 6 September 1917, a
little over a
year after the CypriotMuleCorps was established, Major General Sir
William Henry Rycroft, the Deputy Quartermaster General at Salonica,
reported to General Milne, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces
in Macedonia, that he was satisfied with training at Lembet Road.
Although some men were too old, they could
soldiers as souvenirs. 2
What were conditions like for the mules and the Cypriot
muleteers? Chapter 1 outlined
how this book will contribute to the growing literature on equines in
war and the experiences of men serving in British uniform. This chapter
explores what conditions were like in the CypriotMuleCorps, the health
and working conditions of the muleteers and