On April 1, Cyprus commemorates the start of the insurgence against the British in 1955.
Following the Russo-Turkish war (1877 – 1878), Cyprus was leased to the British Empire and was formally annexed by Britain at the end of the First World War.
Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston (EOKA) was a Greek-Cypriot guerrilla organisation founded on April 1, 1955, that aimed to fight for Cyprus’ independence against the British colonies and its union with Greece
Despite the fact that the Cypriots were against war and violence, the strong and persistent attitude of the British provoked them from resorting to an armed struggle however limited only to guerrilla warfare and to defensive opposition.
The most glorious battle for EOKA was the Battle of Spilia, fought on 12 December 1955 when 12 Greeks took on 700 British soldiers in the Troodos mountains and won. The British Army attempted to encircle the headquarters of EOKA, but it did not work out that way. Instead Georgios Grivas, leader of the EOKA guerrilla organisation, divided fighters in two as the British came up the mountain in two units. EOKA then retreated to the summit of the mountain after fighting the British in heavy fog. Eventually the British reached the summit in heavy fog and thought they surrounded the EOKA fighters and begun shooting and calling airstrikes at each other for over 8 hours. In this battle, the British suffered 127 deaths, 102 injuries and 21 missing. A lot of this came from the confusion EOKA made by withdrawing from their positions in heavy fog with two British units fighting against each other, with EOKA only having to pick off straddlers and did not lose a single man.
Watch this video titled ‘1st April 1955’-
Cyprus continued the fight for almost four years hoping that the British would grant their petition. The people remained strong and determined in spite of the many tortures and captures they faced with the British.
The campaign of the EOKA formally ended on March 31, 1959.
On August 16, 1960, a cease fire was declared by EOKA because of the Zurich agreement.
Ever since 1960, the 1st of October marks the anniversary of the island country’s independence from the British colonialists after the EOKA struggle in 1955-1959.