General Ian Spencer Gourlay From the British Army, who served in Cyprus in 1995, described his experiences on the island in an article titled “Terror in Cyprus” written in 1959 when he was a lieutenant colonel.
Here are some parts of that forgotten article;
“It was a very ordinary bike. There, leaning against the curved, corrugated sheet-walled canteen hut, and the metal latch on the old saddlebag gleaming in the scorching sun, the bike was parked in the barbed wire around the military camp; like trucks, jeeps, and passenger cars, he looked as innocent as a child sleeping in every day, of course, landscape. At noon, it was time to eat. A reckless group of British soldiers was crossing the training ground, talking and laughing, and were moving towards it with an ice-cold beer in their minds to meet in the canteen. They might have glanced at the bike for a while as they approached the canteen, perhaps in a rather haphazard fashion. They advanced without stopping, and as they continued their sarcasm, passing through the doors that greeted them warmly, they immediately began to forget themselves. At this moment, the essentially flimsy canteen hut was shaken by a sudden explosion, breaking the midday silence with a deafening noise. The sky suddenly darkened with an ugly whirlwind of timber, corrugated metal, freshly painted furniture, and brightly colored curtains. One by one, the debris fell again, surrounding the hut’s skeleton in a grim sight. Along with this incident, among the items that fell, parts of the bike were spotted a short time ago. No trace of the saddlebag was ever found. The owner of the bike was nowhere to be seen. Could this person have been one of the workers whose numbers were quite high in the camp? If this was the case, there was no doubt that he had long since left the exit gates unnoticed in front of the red-capped guards. Even now, he was perhaps celebrating his success in a far away pub as the roar of his ingenuity reached his ears.”
Lieutenant Colonel Gourlay stated that the terrorist attack with the bicycle bomb occurred on April 1, 1955.
He also pointed out that since that date, the Greek Cypriot EOKA (National Organization of Cypriot Fighters) terrorist organization started a campaign of intimidation, sabotage, and murder with more bomb attacks throughout the island. What is interesting is that these attacks also targeted the Greek Cypriots who did not support ENOSIS.
GOURLAY: “Those who do not know the source of this restlessness will be astonished when they see that the Cypriots have suffered the most from these attacks. A few examples will show what terrorists intend to do. A priest of a monastery was shot dead in his monastery, a sick woman was shot in her hospital bed; a man was shot in front of his children while praying in church; indiscriminately, bombs were dropped on pubs and coffee houses.”
Lieutenant Colonel Gourlay has extremely important findings. We can list some of these findings as follows:
If the problem had been simple, a solution could have been found much earlier. If there is one thing that is true, it is that this problem is not simple. Terrorism takes its power from political, racial, or religious factors all over the world. All three of these factors are present in Cypriots.
The most important factor is probably the political one.
The source of the restlessness is ENOSIS or the annexation schemas of its island Greece. This is not a new idea either. The island that Turkey renounced in return for British protection against Russia, was occupied by the British in 1878. Thereupon, the high commissioner, who was immediately sent here, was greeted by a priest when he arrived on the island and it is said that this local bishop stated that he hoped to help Cyprus unite with Greece, as Great Britain did in the Ionian Islands. You will encounter the significant fact that the person who revealed this political hope was a local churchman. This fact was significant because the person who assumed the political leadership in the struggle for unification with Greece was also a churchman. The association of the church with a political party or sect in the minds of western nations was at least unusual, but we must remember that the eastern churches were not only a cradle of religious power but also a cradle for those who had expertise in national issues. The Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church, which was administered by a bishop during the Ottoman period, was not allowed to engage in politics. However, he was given considerable authority, provided that he did not play a political role in any way in the administration of the island. He gradually directed his activities to politics so that his influence would not be shaken; He explained the causes of ENOSIS in his preachers and his wanderings around the island.
The first serious conflict with the British authorities took place in 1931, when Bishop Kitium falsely forced all members of the Cyprus Legislative Council to resign, resulting in rebellion and the burning of the government house.
In 1950, a Greek community leader stepped on the scene and his struggle introduces him to the world. This man, the 3rd Makarios, is the current Archbishop and was a unique “National Leader”. Young and ambitious, he took the leadership of the ENOSIS movement.
In 1951, he brought Colonel Georgios Grivas, who had previously served as an officer in the Greek army and became a guerrilla leader after the war, from Greece for a visit and advised him to establish the militia youth organization PEON. From that moment on, it was only a matter of time before a decision was made to carry out the ENOSIS campaign through terror. This decision was taken in 1954. Returning to Cyprus to lead the EOKA organization, Grivas immediately founded a terrorist organization based on PEON, which until then was the center of an underground movement. On April 1, 1955, as we witnessed, with the full approval of the national leader and the council of advisers, the war began with a coordinated chain of bomb explosions over the whole island, and the Cyprus Radio Broadcasting Station was one of the first government buildings to be bombarded. Propaganda leaflets began pouring in ever-increasing numbers from EOKA’s secret duplicator machines. These leaflets exclaimed: “British Soldiers…Peace or War…Choose Our Friendship or Our Bullets!” Below them was the signature “EOKA Chief Dighenis”. (Dighenis was the codename of Grivas).
GRIVAS PLACED A BOMB ON THE AIRCRAFT PREPARED FOR THE BRITISH SOLDIER’S FAMILIES
By character, Grivas is tough, disciplined, persevering, energetic and to some extent ruthless. So much so that he did not even hesitate to order a time bomb to be placed on a transport plane that was preparing to take off for the transport of the families of British soldiers. In this case, the bomb exploded prematurely.
In the remaining part of General Gourlay’s article, how the fight against terrorist organizations that carried out bloody acts on the island was done; used by terrorists; explains the methods used in combating them and the conflicts experienced.
British General Basil Ian Spencer Gourlay died on July 17, 2013, at the age of 93.