The RAF in Cyprus
In the fight against the EOKA (National Organization of Cypriot Fighters), the RAF played an important part in the operations. To begin with it airlifted reinforcements from the United Kingdom by Shackletons belonging to No.42 Squadron, and No.208 Squadron's Meteor FR9s flew anti terrorist patrols from Akrotiri and carried out photo-reconniassance over the Troodos Mountains. At the time however, the RAF was also heavily engaged in the pending Suez operations. With the British attention drawn off by the Suez operations, the EOKA terrorists took advantage of the lull to stage 416 terrorist incidents in November, and by the end of the year some 20,000 troops were on the island. No.208 Squadron Meteors had resumed their anti terrorist patrols after taking part in the Suez operations.
During 1957, the RAF element in Cyprus was strengthened with the arrival of Auster army co-operaton aircraft, Sycamores of No.284 Squadron and Whirlwinds of the JHU were used to advantage in the mountainous hinterland. By the end of the year, Meteor NF13s of No.39 Squadron were flying regular anti terrorist patrols and the occasional strike against mountain strongholds. Sea venoms of No.809 Squadron flew a number of rocket strikes against EOKA for a period in 1958 while H.M.S. Albion was in the Mediterranean. For over another year, military operations continued until the State of Emergency could be lifted. Other aircraft which were used in Cyprus were Chipmunks of No.114 Squadron and Hunter F6s of No.1 Squadron.
When the Cyprus finally gained its' independence in 1960, the RAF was at least able to retain the use of its bases, Although after Suez the service suffered massive Government cutbacks.
Our thanks to Anthony Kent for the following pictures.
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