4 December 2002

Cyprus # 8. Goodbye

OldEric says :-) One day I suddenly realized the magic day was not too far away and I would soon be saying goodbye to Cyprus. I had my Ham transmitter and this would have to be sent sea freight. Phoning the shipping agents down in Famagusta put me in the picture. I dug out the wooden collapsed packing case and fitted the transmitter in and nailed up the case. How I got the packing case to the docks I cannot remember now but if I had had a hassle I'm sure I would have remembered. Anyway later after I returned the UK the packing case arrived and the transmitter when tested worked perfectly.

Early November came and the magic day arrived. I must have said goodbye to all the friends I had made over the fourteen months I had spent in Cyprus and I was transported to Nicosia. I never saw my relief for my post, no doubt the workshop Sergeant had to leave his workshop chair and carry out the daily maintenance duties until my replacement arrived.

On arriving in Nicosia we were herded together from all over the island. There were quite a number of us of all ranks. There was no others from my unit. We were each called and given our discharge papers or transfer papers and a small box. To my surprise the box contained the General Service Medal ( GSM ) with the Cyprus clasp. Many years later and married I used to tell our two boys when they were small made up tales of the medal and how we saw the whites of the enemies eyes whilst fended off the enemy. I don't think they believed me, or maybe just a little.

I'm very hazy of my return to the UK except that we were given a travel warrant for the journey home. Before discharge a feeling of elation was felt. In a period 72 hours this cog had been removed from a well oiled machine, a new cog slipped in and the old cog discarded. My joy of arriving home soon evaporated and I remember a feeling of dejection. Or was it rejection? I missed my friends, my room-mates. I missed my job and Famagusta. I missed Cyprus. For quite a while I felt like a loose end waving in the breeze.

After a while I put this feeling behind me. I am, I think, a forward looking person and forward to me is the name of the game. But that is another story.

Even now I still remember Cyprus with much pleasure. I wish I could visit once more just for look, just as I wish for other things. Would it be the same? A fear in the back of my mind says not. There was a program on British TV quite a few years ago and shown in NZ which I used to watch. It was based on a British expatriate, a bar and the local police inspector. The name escapes me. That brought back happy memories. But it will be just another wish, other things take precedence in our life as I will soon retire now I'm afraid.

What did I do?

I was a Ground Wireless Fitter and my discharge papers says quote :-

Trade in civil life :- Radio Officer.

Description of Duties :- Undertakes major repairs, modifications and reconditioning; diagnoses and rectifies faults; installs and rewires complete installations; checks the daily performance of equipment and adjusts to maintain efficient operation; calibrates D/F stations; and phases aerial systems.

Remarks :- A most reliable and competent airman who has been a marked asset to this unit.

To achieve this I had to do a full time course at Compton Bassett in Wiltshire, England lasting 33 weeks excluding leave. I will write of my training and tales in later episodes. I was in Cyprus from October 1956 to November 1997 and stationed at Ayios Nikolaos.

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