On This Day…

On the 7th June 1958 fighting broke out between Turks and Greeks on Cyprus

From 1947 personnel and equipment had been transferred to Cyprus from Palestine and Iraq. Up to 1,000 British radio operators and technicians were stationed in two sites in Cyprus, living in tents in the early years. Signal and covert intelligence-gathering by electronic means (SIGINT and ELINT) were collected during the Arab–Israeli War, the Suez Crises and the Cypriot EOKA campaign.

In 1955 a terrorist group called EOKA launched a campaign of sabotage in Cyprus in support of its aim of union with Greece. A state of emergency, which was to last four years, was declared. During this and in later periods of unrest, the Royal Corps of Signals played an important part. One task involved the manning of a radio relay station on top of Mount Olympus (6,400ft) in the Troodos mountain range, a cold, lonely and exposed outpost vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The station provided essential communications not only to troops around the island but also for the main and brigade command nets, the RAF Police, coastal radar sites and minesweepers on anti-smuggling patrols.

On the 7th June 1958 a bomb exploded outside the Turkish Government Information Office in Nicosia. The intention was to give the impression it was a Greek Cypriot attack on a symbol of the Turkish Cypriot community, but the bomb had been planted by the Turks themselves. No one was injured but a crowd of Turks assembled shouting anti-Greek slogans. They stoned cars and policemen, and started fires. Fighting broke out resulting in deaths and injuries on both sides.

From June through to August 1958 Cyprus descended into violence. There were fifty-five assassinations and twenty-six attempted assassinations by Turks on Greeks, and fifty-nine assassin­ations and forty-one attempted assassinations by Greeks on Turks.
During this time EOKA also continued to attack Greek Cypriots killing twenty-five of them, attempting to kill a further seven and causing extensive damage to property in the process. In 1959, Britain, Greece and Turkey agreed that Cyprus should become an independent country.