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GrahamCooper
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In Charles Messenger's book The Commando 1940 - 1946, he mentions the Cyprus Commando.

On page 111 he states that the commando was formed from men of the Cyprus Regiment, with British officers and Nco's.

Formed June 1941 and disbanded Jan 1942.

Is there any more info on this unit.ie did they do commando training, who were the British personnel involved etc.

Many thanks

Graham.


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Pete
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In another of Charles Messenger's books - The Middle East Commandos, I recall reading that 'C' Bn. of Layforce went to Cyprus in May 1941.

Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
God and the Soldier, all men adore, In time of danger and not before.
When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.


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mike beckett
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Hello Graham

Looking through the computer index of files held at the National Archive / Public Record Office, Kew - there is a War Diary reference: WO (War Office) 218 (Series) 165 (Item) - abbreviated as: WO 218/165 relating to 'The Cyprus Commando' June 1941 to Jan 1942. I have not seen this file but imagine it is a good source of information.
If anyone has accessed this file I would also be interest to learn more.
Regards Mike Beckett

PS - I am not sure if this link will work:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATLN=6&CATID=26958&j=1

PPS - For a time the remnants of former No11 Commando (C Bn Layforce) were based on Cyprus, after the Litani River action of 8 June 1941, awaiting eventual break up.
I note Charles Messenger does mention formation of the Cyprus Commando from the Cyprus Regiment with British Officers and NCO's - organised as five squads each of eleven men - to operate behind enemy lines if the enemy invaded the island. I wonder if there were any links with No11 Cdo given the chronology (re training/secondment of personnel) - purely conjecture on my part without evidence from the file

GrahamCooper
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Mike and Pete

Thanks for your replies,and like yourselves I suspect that 11 Cdo / C Bn may be involved, because of the timing and location of both units.
Will contact National Archives, to see costs and availability of the war diary WO 218/165.

Thanks again,
Graham.

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mike beckett
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Graham

Please do keep us updated of developments. It would be interesting to learn more of 'The Cyprus Commando' drawn from The Cyprus Regiment etc.

To be sure No11 Cdo were based on Cyprus before the Litani River action, as well as afterwards, having been sent in Mid May 1941 'to strengthen the defences there' - again per Charles Messenger 'The Commandos 1940-1946' see pages 96, 103, 106.

You may well be familiar with 'Litani River' by Ian McHarg, an exceptional account of the action. Chapter 4 deals with No11 Cdo deployments on Cyprus during April - June 1941, subsequent Chapters are primarily concerned with the Litani River action itself

Mike
Alan Orton
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The ship carrying No.11 (Scottish) Commando to Cyprus docked at 15.00 on the 30 - 04 - 1941.
At 02.30 on the 06 - 08 - 1941 the main party left for Alexandria they docked at 19.30 just as the baggage party left Cyprus, the rear party final joined them on the 31 - 08 - 1941.
There is no mention of any of their number joining any other units in the war diary apart from those officers and men who joined L Detachment (2 and 12 respectively) and 4 who went to the R.C.S.
Alan.
mike beckett
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Thanks for this Alan. You can not really beat War Diary references.
Two very good friends of mine - Walter Marshall and Jack 'Pop' Anderson - both left No11 for Mission 204. I believe that as well SAS another choice on breakup of the Commando was G(R) Raiding pool or of course voluntary RTU. (sorry to digress slightly from the subject of Cyprus Commando)
Mike B
Alan Orton
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I've dug out the War Diary for No.11 again and found a reference dated 24th of June 1941 stating that the 'C' Company Commander (by this time they had adopted a Company basis ) Captain Ian Glennie of the Gordons (8 Troop) being sent to the Cyprus Regiment Training Depot to dig defences on the Gata Peninsula as part of 7th Divisions plan for the defence of the island. Glennie did though return and was down to take part in Keye's Operation Flipper in November 1941.
Alan.
Pete
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Here is a link to the photo we have of Captain Ian Glennie:

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/units/11/Capt+Ian+Glennie+8tp.jpg.html

I will contact Jimmy Lawson to see what his recollections are of Cyprus


Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
God and the Soldier, all men adore, In time of danger and not before.
When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.


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Pete
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I spoke with Jimmy who remembers Cyprus before and after the Litani action. He states their main role was Garrison duties in and around Famagusta. He does not recall any Cyprus Commandos nor any Commando training of Greek Cypriot forces. There is a nice picture of Jimmy at Famagusta here:

http://www.commandoveterans.org/cdoGallery/v/units/11/lawson/piper+jimmy+lawson.jpg.html




Pete Rogers, son of LSgt Joe Rogers MM & nephew of TSM Ken McAllister. Both No2 Commando.
God and the Soldier, all men adore, In time of danger and not before.
When the danger is passed and all things righted, God is forgotten, and the Soldier slighted.


**** nb. I no longer monitor the pm facility ****
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mike beckett
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Pete
I guess this all makes the War Diary WO 218 / 165 even more interesting. It would be good to know something of this 'Cyprus Commando' our attention has been drawn to.
Regards
Mike
GrahamCooper
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Did they exist or not that's the ongoing question.

I have contacted the National Archive to get a quote on War diary WO 218/165, so am waiting from them.
I have been in contact with the Cyprus Veterans Association of WW 2, and asked if they can help with the question, again a question of waiting.
Will keep you informed as and when any answers come in.
Thanks to all

Graham.

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geoffmurray1
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For interest I served 4 years in Cyprus and had a very good friend who served with the present day (this was in the 80s) Cyprus Commandos (National Guard). I had the opportunity to visit their camp in the forest of Stavrovouni, north west of Larnaca. They do wear the Green Beret however, and not meaning to be disrespectful, did not seem to be trained to the high standards expected of British Commandos.

Regards

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&biw=1675&bih=806&tbm=isch&prmd=imvnsfd&tbnid=LOMOgsvt4egJZM:&imgrefurl=http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php%3F82872-Cypriot-National-Guard-Photo-Thread/page18&imgurl=http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0euy1az2CFe3k/610x.jpg&w=610&h=402&ei=9UtCUJWuLOql0QW344HACQ&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=569&vpy=158&dur=642&hovh=182&hovw=277&tx=166&ty=110&sig=113121782973008297275&page=1&tbnh=143&tbnw=186&start=0&ndsp=31&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:0,i:79

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 01/09/2012 20:45:05


Geoff Murray


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GrahamCooper
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Have just had a reply from the Cyprus Veterans Association of World War 2.
Quote "Apparently this subject was treated as very confidential, because none of our members has any knowledge of the Cyprus Commando operation.
Are they saying it existed but was secret,or there is no knowledge,therefore it did not exist.?
Still awaiting the quote from National Archives.

Graham

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mike beckett
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I am deeply indebted to Dr George Kelling, a retired US Army Officer with whom I have been in correspondence. George has made a study of Cyprus for his Doctoral Thesis and has provided the following extracts of the CYPRUS COMMANDO War Diary for the benefit of our members. George also provides context and brief objective analysis on this particular aspect of his findings:

I made a pretty good extract of the Cyprus Commando war diary from the PRO and will transcribe my notes here:

WO 218/165 War Diary Cyprus Commando

27/6/41 26 men enlisted in the Cyprus Regiment and were posted to the commando along with six British NCOs. Located Wolseley Barracks Nicosia

28/6/41 28 more enlisted

30/6/41 Note that fourteen Turks enlisted, only five or six of whom can speak Greek

1/7/41 (1) Enlisted interpreter for Turkish soldiers, (2) Taught troops how to shave

2/7/41 Organized into five squads x eleven men. Note that men lack coordination and suppleness.

3/07/41 Issued unpolished Cypriot knee boots.

5/7/41 Issued Italian 6.35 carbines. Captain Howard and Captain Harman leave on recce.

14/7/41 Issue green commando berets with silver Lusiginian lion silver badge.

Jul 41 Move to camp at Mitsero.

28/7/41 Capt C R C Donald Cyprus Regiment replacement for Howard

30/7/41 Capt H A C Howard Coldstream Guards relinquished command. Capt D O Hanson took command.

6/8/41 Conservation of Forests Capt R R Waterer, OC ?C? Bn Cyprus Volunteer Force visited. Mentions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 squads.

They were given general military training. Taught to dress and shave, lots of range firing. ( My note Their job wsa apparently guerrilla, more like stay-behind parties than amphibious)

1/12/41 some ammunition was deposited in a secret dump I the Adelphi Forest.

13/12/41 Men wishing to prolong their service with the commando for a further period of nine months after the expiration of their first six months?engagement signed the appropriate forms, while discharge papers were made out for the remainder.

28/12/41 Capt Hanson went ot Nicosia to confer with the GSO(1) and was informed that it was proposed to disband the commando forthwith.

27/12/41 Mentions petrol and ammo dumps

30/12/41 Mentions Panayia Bridge

5/1/42 The remaining men of the command were paid off and discharged.

Let me give you a few of my own ideas re how this fits into the overall scheme of things. First, the British Army was going through a total shakeup of organization, tactics, and leadership in 40-41, similar to what the US Army experienced in 42-43. They hadn?t really gotten stuck in to the implications of airpower and armor, and even less in into the idea of irregular warfare. Churchill was, of course, pushing hard for these changes and eventually it all took place, and produced the formidable war machine the British Army became in 44-45. If there was an air of unreality in the story of the Cyprus Commando, with teaching them to shave first etc, I suspect it was because the order came down ?Form a Commando! Soonest!? and the officers on the ground didn?t know exactly what that was. I have not seen any link between 11 Commando and the Cyprus Commando, but it might have been there.

The island defense scheme was also rather bizarre, and is found in WO 201/148. There is a gothic or medieval air about Cyprus which tends to influence the thinking of all who go there for any period of time (me included). In line with that, the defense of the island was based on ?the keep? which was a defended area in the mountains from which armor could sally out to raid the enemy. The role of air power was not really mentioned.

Functionally the commando was more like Freddie Spencer-Chapman?s stay-behind parties than commandos per se, and we have to ask just what they would have done with a six-month enlistment had the invasion come.

To put the thing in the Cyprus and Mediterranean context, Crete had just fallen to air assault, and it would be difficult to believe that Cyprus was not next. In fact, some official documents were making plans for ?when Cyprus falls? and it was all but accepted that Cyprus would be next. It was not generally known until after the war that the German airborne troops got a bloody nose in Crete they did not want to repeat. With the pitifully small garrison of the island it really didn?t make much difference what defense scheme was used. As it turned out, the British occupation of Syria more or less ended the invasion threat. It is entirely possible that ULTRA told the chiefs of staff that an airborne invasion of Cyprus was not inevitable, but I have not checked on that. The ULTRA papers were not so readily available when I was doing the research.

Well, two points from this. First, NEVER, NEVER get a historian talking about his subject. More important, I hope you will not take my thoughts as criticism of anyone. I can and do analyze, but my approach is that only those who were there may criticize.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

You will see that the War Diary entry for 14/7/1941 mentions - issue of green beret with silver Lusiginian Lion beret badge - I (Mike Beckett) would appreciate any information or illustrations of this or other unit insignia.

Regards and thanks again to George
Mike B

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 26/01/2013 13:48:12

 
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