The Argyll and Sutherland
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The journey to Cyprus in H.M.T. Devonshire proved to be a very pleasant time for everyone. The weather was good, for all but the worst sailors, and there were very few who missed any meals. An exception to all this was "Cruachan," who, with his heavy winter coat, began to get extremely warm after the ship passed Gibraltar. Fortunately, the boat stopped at Algiers where he was taken ashore and clipped. The result looked rather like a soldier with a "pudding bowl" haircut, but it apparently achieved the object and made "Cruachan" more comfortable.
The Battalion disembarked at Limassol on 1st February 1958 in lovely weather. The whole operation went very quickly and without a hitch. "Q" Movement wanted the Battalion to wait another hour, just because it was planned to start at a certain time however the Battalion won, and got off to a very good start. The Band of the 1st Bn, The Middlesex Regiment, played the Battalion ashore. This meant playing for about an hour, because the disembarkation was carried out in small lighters from the troopship which lay about three-quarters of a mile off shore. The journey from Limassol to the camps proved a very good way of breaking everyone into the Cyprus roads. The Cypriot bus drivers, drive like Calcutta taxi-drivers — with one foot permanently on the accelerator and one hand continuously on the horn.
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The Battalion was split, C and D Companies going to Polemi Camp and the remainder to Limni Camp. Both camps were in very bad condition throughout and consisted of tented accommodation, and huts for messes, cookhouses, etc. In both camps there were no hard roads and in wet weather everything became a sea of mud. Since the Battalion arrived a great deal has been done, and there is no doubt that the former occupants of these camps would have great difficulty in recognising them again.
On arrival the Battalion was allowed one week to get to know the country and job, before taking over the I.S. commitments. Fortunately, there was no trouble and the Battalion found it possible to carry out some normal training, as well as I.S. duties. This was helped by the fact that the Battalion strength has steadily been increasing by the influx of drafts from the Regimental Depot.
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Since arrival on Cyprus the Battalion have had several visitors. On 6th February, the Governor, Sir Hugh Foot and Lady Foot visited, they were both greatly pleased with the special guard in No. 1 Dress, and with "Cruachan" who was presented in his No. 1 Dress. The Governor's party stayed only for a short time, but had sherry in the Officers' Mess before leaving. During this visit the Governor and Lady Foot expressed a desire to attend a service in our Regimental Church. This was not possible until Sunday, 23rd March, when the Battalion received a signal to say that the Governor, Lady Foot and party were coming to the Church service and afterwards to lunch. Unfortunately, the Governor could not manage as a high wind made it impossible for his helicopter to fly, but Lady Foot and the remainder of the party came by road and spent a most enjoyable day with the Battalion. The next visitor was Major-General Kendrew, Director of Operations, who came on 10th February. He spoke to all ranks of the Battalion and welcomed the Battalion to Cyprus. He afterwards toured the camp and had lunch at the Officers' Mess. On 25th March, Lt.-General Sir Roger H. Bower, K.B.E., C.B., C-in-C M.E.L.F., visited both camps. He was accompanied by his M.A., Major Cheyne of The Seaforth Highlanders. He toured the camp area and spoke to many of the soldiers. Afterwards he had lunch at the Officers' Mess.
On the sporting side the Battalion football team marched on, and, despite a complete lack of training opportunities, the cross-country team was the first Army team home in the all-island cross-country championships on 1st March. Captain MacMillan, as usual, ran a brilliant race and finished well up in the field. Soon after arrival in Cyprus, "Cruachan" and Pte. Morrison, the Pony Major, were sent on a course to the R.A.V.C. Depot in Nicosia. " Cruachan" came back looking very much like a race horse; Morrison looked much the same.
On 31st March the Battalion started exercise ''Village Green." This exercise took all Companies out into their areas where they carried out patrols, ambushes, and, where necessary, cordons and searches. In this way everyone got to know their job and the country extremely well, and lots of valuable information was obtained about the very many villages in the area. The exercise continued until 25th April, by which time everyone had become seasoned bivouac hands and thoroughly allergic to Mutton Scotch Style.
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Operation "Kingfisher" started on 15th May and was finally ended on 3rd July. A detailed account of the exercise is given on a separate page, but it must be said that, although there were no tangible results from their labours, everyone learned a great deal during this operation.
The Battalion nearest neighbours, the 46 H.A.A. Regt, R.A, were relieved by the 1st D.L.I. During the period 21st July-5th August, when the hand/over, take/over, was going on, the Battalion was responsible for the whole of the Paphos area. This meant moving A Coy. and C Coy. down to the Gunner’s area, and spreading the remainder of the Battalion a little thinner over our own district. This put a tremendous strain on the Companies, especially as during this fortnight there were numerous incidents, and one major and one minor operation. This major operation was the gigantic round-up of suspected men over the whole of Cyprus. Of the number listed, the overall percentage of the men detained was 40 per cent. From the Battalion point of view it was most successful, as in Phase I of the operation bagged 75 per cent and in Phase II 80 per cent. The Gunners' area, which included the town of Ktima, kept A Coy. and C Coy. very busy. Both Companies did splendidly and achieved a well-earned success in the last few days. An A Coy. patrol, commanded by 2nd Lt. Campbell, picked up two Greeks on a motor cycle in the town. They were apparently carrying nothing more suspicious than a bag of salt, but on further investigation, which included the searching of their houses, a tremendous haul of explosives, etc., was found. C Company's success began with the chasing of an armed terrorist patrol and the shooting of one of them at 600 yards range. The scene was a deep gorge, reminiscent of the North-West Frontier and the Platoon Commander, 2nd Lt. Tennant, very properly used two of his best shots to fire at the runaway terrorists. When the man was picked up later he was found to have been hit five times, which proves the effectiveness of C Company's fire.
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Summary of Events - September 1958 to July 1959
2nd Sept.—Forest fire above Yialia: very fierce and fanned by a variable wind. 350-400 men sent from Battalion: fire brought under control after about 36 hours.
11th Sept. — Lt.-General Sir Roger Bower. K.B.E., M.C., G.O.C., M.E.L.F., visited Limni and stayed for lunch.
13th Sept.—At 1930 hrs. a vehicle returning from Limni to Polemi was ambushed, and Pte. Morrison of C Coy. was fatally injured and later died. In the follow-up of this ambush a Greek Cypriot. who attacked Pte. McChristie, was shot dead by L./Cpl. Fair. Pte. Howieson was slightly injured in the original ambush.
14th Sept.—A Greek Cypriot. who failed to halt when challenged, was shot dead at a road block near Kathikas.
15th Sept.—Pte. Morrison's funeral in Nicosia.
16th Sept.—Major-General Kendrew, Director of Operations, visited the Battalion.
23rd Sept.—Mrs. Barbara Castle visited the area.
24th Sept.—A Coy left for Tobruk. For more information please visit http://www.theargylls.co.uk/tobrukcompany.php
25th Sept.—Major-General Kendrew paid a farewell visit to the Battalion.
26th Sept. — “Limni Follies," a concert party organised by Lieut. Smith.
29th Sept.—A sorely-needed N.C.O.s cadre was begun.
30th Sept.—H.M.S. Alamein paid the Battalion a final two-day visit. High jinks and high seas!
2nd Oct. — B Coy. were called upon to assist the D.L.I, in a cordon and search in Mesoyi, where they showed the superiority of their experience and training in such operations.
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5th Oct. — Police vehicle ambushed at Ayios Demetrianos.
6th Oct. — Commanding Officer visited A Coy. In Tobruk. Police vehicle ambushed at Lyso.
7th/8th Oct.—Follow-up operations in Lyso produced a " wanted" man, a hide and a large amount of information which was later to be of great use.
12th Oct.—C.S.E. Show: Alex. Finlay and supporting cast. Police vehicle ambushed near Goudhi.
13th Oct.—Small arms cache found near Goudhi.
18th Oct.—Football team ambushed: no casualties. They went on to win 5-1!
20th Oct.—Two Turkish police shot in Kinousa.
22nd Oct.—Major J. D. C. Graham joined Battalion.
23rd Oct.—Major-General Darling, G.O.C., visited the Battalion. Major Howat ambushed at Psathi.
24th Oct.—Empty hide found near Kinousa.
25th Oct.—Balaclava Day. Sports, followed by Limni Follies- II.
26th Oct.—Church Service attended by Major- General Darling.
27th Oct.—Major Wood ambushed near Yiolou. Slightly injured in arm.
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30th Oct.—Operation •' Goldfish " commenced. The aim of this was to exploit the information gleaned from previous ambush follow-ups and other sources. Lyso, Steni and Ghoudi were searched and large quantities of arms and explosives found, together with various suspects who provided further information.
8th Nov.—" Killer Groups '' were formed to lie out for several days to observe and patrol suspect areas.
9th Nov. — Hide and arms cache found in Lyso. A Coy. took part in Memorial Day Parade at British War Cemetery, Tobruk.
10th Nov.—Large land mine found near Peristerona.
11th Nov.—A Coy. provided Guard of Honour and Riot Demonstration before King Idris of Libya. Commanding Officer found an abandoned hide near Kathikas.
23rd Nov.—The Battalion advance party left for Dhekelia.
2nd/6th Dec.—The Battalion moved to Dhekelia.
Dec. 6, 1958—Battalion arrived in Dhekelia. A Coy took over guard duties at Pyla Detention Camp. C Coy. took over town duties.
Dec. 20—Christmas visit bv Major-General K T Darling, C.B., C.B.E.. D.S.O.
Dec. 24—The Battalion took over all duties in Larnaca during the Christmas period E 0 K A "truce leaflet" appeared.
Dec. 28—The Battalion football team won the Garrison Trophy, beating 152 Bty. L.A.A. 2-1.
Dec. 31—1st Greenjackets took over the Pyla camp.
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Sources - RHQ and Thin Red Line Magazines
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Updated: 27 January 2015