16 October 2002

Windy--another Friend

OldEric says (:-} Windy was Ian Wyndham-Lewis and we met near Famagusta in Cyprus while doing part of my 2 years National Service in the RAF. I was in my early 20s at the time. Windy was not a close friend, he was more a relaxation friend. Windy was quiet, laid back, came from southern England and appeared to have been well educated, otherwise I did’nt know much about him and he did’nt volunteer much about himself either. I’m not sure how we met, one day he just seemed to be there, we drifted together but we became firm friends for the 16 months I spent in Cyprus. Windy worked in the teleprinter hall and did shift work like most personnel in our section but I, as a staff technician worked days only. We used to go down town together for our relaxation. If Windy was working a late shift, I would usually go down town with others. When Windy came off shift he always knew where to find me, early in a large open air garden bar, or later one particular restaurant or late another particular bar.
The section we were both employed in was the Circuit Control Centre which handled all incoming and outgoing RAF traffic between the UK, the Middle and Near East areas. A highly sensitive restricted section ringed by high fences and guarded by the RAF Regiment with shotguns at the gates (can't remember the name of the guns they carried, the barrels were distended at the end to scatter shot in a broad arc and the cartridges were--- big). Although the camp area was big, for large aerial arrays the personnel numbers were not great. We all took our turn at night guard duty on the perimeter fence with search lights and loaded weapons, this came round about every 4 weeks or so.
Windy’s turn came for guard duty one night so I did’nt expect to see him next day and that evening I went up to the NAFFI for a quiet beer and company when different people came up and said “did you know, Windy’s locked up?”. I was soon told the story. When the night guard weapons were handed in, bullet from a magazine traced to Windy were short, two rounds were missing. This was a serious offence in the 1950s especially in Cyprus. This was the time of the EOKA Greek terrorists wanting liberation to become part of Greece, the population were majority Greek and the minority were Turkish. Assassinations were common and loose ammunition was much frowned upon.
Windy was subsequently court marshalled and thrown in jail, the only jail there, belonged to the Army. The Army jails were known as the ‘glass-house’ and were very tough. Six weeks later Windy turned up, a very thin woe-begotten hunched up Windy. All the stuffing had been knocked out of him and he became a very morose Windy. We still went down town, we still had a beer, I tried to cheer him along but as long as I knew him after that he was changed. I tried to talk to him about his experience in jail but all he would say was “I never want to go into that place again!”.
In the next episode I will illustrate why the loss of weapons or ammunition was so serious with another story.
The Greek terrorists did’nt get their way, Turkey invaded Cyprus in later years and partioned the island, it remains so to this day in 2002.

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