Remembrance Sunday in North Cyprus
By Margaret Sheard……
Sunday 13th November was bright and sunny and on arriving at the Old British Cemetery in Girne (Kyrenia) there was a very large crowd of people who had come along to join in the Remembrance Service to honour those who lost their lives in 2 world wars as well as other conflicts, including the 371 British personnel and 21 police officers who lost their lives during the Cyprus Emergency 1955-59.
The Royal British Legion, Kyrenia Branch, Chaplain – the Reverend Wendy Hough conducted the service, which started with Bidding Prayers and the hymn “I Vow to Thee my Country” , followed by The Address, Act of Remembrance, and The Exhortation. After the Last Post and Reveille, the Kohima Epitaph was read by Flight Lieutenant Mike Burgess (late Royal Air Force) and then came the laying of the wreaths by representatives of the many Regiments who lost personnel during the Cyprus Emergency. Wreaths were also laid on the Police Memorial which now has a place in the Old British Cemetery and was unveiled in 2015. Following the wreath laying there followed prayers and the hymn “O God Our Help”, the National Anthem and The Blessing.
It was unfortunate that because of the non-time change this year in Turkey and Northern Cyprus the service did not coincide with the chimes of Big Ben in the UK but the chimes were still played and it did not affect the solemnity of the service for those that attended…..
Normally Chris Elliott handles the photography and videos for cyprusscene.com but this year we decided it would be good for me to position myself in the cemetery to take photographs of the wreath laying ceremony. This was a very different experience for me as I stood beside the Memorial and could see the grave of Sergeant Samuel McGaw VC who was buried in the Old British Cemetery in 1878, and also the grave of Philip Newman who chose to settle in Cyprus in 1922 and raised a family in Kyrenia, his grandson who is buried with him and the grave of his daughter-in-law – a family about whom I have written many articles under the title Newman’s Farm and have become associated with some of the remaining family in the UK and Australia, so this was very nostalgic for me as well. I noted that all of the graves in the cemetery had a spray of flowers placed on them which was a very nice gesture.
As there were so many wreaths laid at the Memorial it is not possible to show them all but I have produced a selection below.
This is always a very moving ceremony and I am sure that the Cyprus veterans who made the journey from the UK felt a great deal of emotion when laying wreaths to their fallen comrades.
Following the ceremony many of those attending made their way to the Ship Inn in Karaoğlanoğlu for a 3-course lunch which was followed by the usual sing-along of some of the old wartime favourites, and also a chance to catch up with friends and acquaintances, some of which we do not see from one year to the next and it is always a very happy gathering.
As we will shortly be visiting the UK, I had previously made an arrangement with Brian Thomas, the Chairman of Royal British Legion, Kyrenia Branch, to take a small wreath to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire to lay at the Cyprus Rock Memorial, which was unveiled this year, on behalf of the Branch, and Brian handed the wreath to me together with some small crosses which will also be laid at the Rock. Having been able to attend the unveiling, it will be nice to pay another visit to the Arboretum and see the Cyprus Rock again as well as having a chance to see more of the vast area of the Arboretum.