Since the age of 17 I have attended many Services of Remembrance having served in the military myself then because I married a serviceman who only retired in 2002 but I can honestly say today’s service was one of the most poignant and significant I have ever attended.
On a perfect clear day in excess of 800 people sat and stood side by side outside The Old British Cemetery in Kyrenia. We were a diverse group, ex military, family of ex military, some who had no connection to the military whatsoever but thought that this was the right place to be. They were right and they were not disappointed.
The Service was no different to one you might have found in London, Hong Kong or even in Singapore but what most people had come for, and one couple had come from Australia, was to see the unveiling of the British Cyprus Memorial marking the 50th anniversary of the ending of the four-year conflict which preceded the independence of Cyprus in 1960. The Memorial has been established to honour the memory of the 371 British servicemen who died during the course of that conflict with both a Roll of Honour Memorial Book (now online) and a permanent memorial bearing their names. The Old British Cemetery was chosen as the site for the Memorial as those who perished in the conflict are, in the main, buried at Wayne’s Keep and should this island ever become not Greek, not Turkish but Cypriot again then the Memorial will be re-sited at Wayne’s Keep.
The Right Reverend Michael Lewis, Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East took the service and after the unveiling of the Memorial, wreaths were laid by representatives of 33 of the Regiments/Units honoured on the Memorial. There are actually 48 depicted on the wall which also provides an historic reminder of many Regiments and Corps, which 50 years on, no longer exist in their own right.
Laying the wreath on behalf of the Queen was His Excellency, Mr Peter Millett, British High Commissioner, Cyprus and on behalf of The Families of the Fallen, The Earl of Illchester and Mr Edward Hollely, nephew of a fallen sapper (Royal Engineers). The Last Post and Reveille was again played by Cpl James Christopher RM who is an Instructor at The Royal Marine School of Music.
After the Service of Remembrance was over those who wished were given time to wonder at the magnificence of the wall and read the Roll of Honour and then over 400 people went to the Pia Bella Hotel and had an excellent 3 course sit down meal. Many old acquaintances were renewed and many new friendships formed. This will be a Remembrance that will be talked about for many years to come.
The Memorial is constructed from dark grey granite and was manufactured by Master Craftsmen at HL Perfitt Limited in Diss, Norfolk and transported to Cyprus by sea. The overall cost was £200,000 and funded entirely from public donations.
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