Untitled Document

CYPRIOT VOLUNTEERS IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR 1914-1918

After Turkey joined the Central Powers in the 1914-1918 war, Britain declared war against it and abrogated all bilateral agreements and Treaties which existed between the two countries, including the 1878 Treaty on Cyprus. This resulted in the change of the status quo concerning the occupation of Cyprus by Turkey and to its final annexation to British Rule in November 1914.

In the course of these diplomatic developments, the Greek Cypriots had demanded at the beginning of the war, the formation of a Cypriot Expeditionary Force stuffed with veterans of the Balkan Wars 1912-1913. The British Government ignored these demands although during the first two years of the war a few Cypriots had enlisted as volunteers in the British or French Armies. These included several immigrants and students living abroad.

In the beginning of 1916, the Military Commander of the four British divisions in the Salonica front, had requested authorisation from the Ministry of War for the formation of an Army Corp of “muleteers” which he considered essential in order to confront effectively the strong fortifications of the Bulgarian and German armies at the mountainous region of Macedonia .

In the summer of 1916 a massive enlistment of Cypriots to the British Army had begun for a special Corp of Muleteers. The recruitment started on 4 th July 1916 and by January 1918 some 9200 recruits had arrived in Salonica. Another 401 remained at the training centre in Famagusta.The pay of the volunteers was quite high for the conditions of those days at 3 Drachmas per day. Until March 1919 the numbers of this Force reached 15.910 strong, while the population of the island according to the Census of 1921, was only 150.000. It was estimated that 89% of those recruited were Greek Cypriots and 11% Turkish Cypriots. These muleteers, after a brief basic training in Famagusta were transferred to Salonica. They served in the Macedonian front, in Doirani, in Serres, in Rodoppi, in Serbia at the valley of river Strymon, in Varna , in Rostouki, in Kallipoli, while some of them entered Bulgaria and Constantinople as victors.

According to their contract the Cypriot muleteers had the privilege not to carry arms and to refuse active combat. However, notwithstanding these conditions, they suffered casualties. In five military cemeteries in Macedonia we can find the graves of 30 Cypriot muleteers killed in action between the years 1916-1919. The total number of Cypriot volunteers killed in the various European fronts during the first World War was of course much higher.

A large number of Cypriot muleteers joined the Greek Armed Forces on the expiration of their contract and took part in the battle of Skra in 1918 at which five Cypriots lost their lives. Many other had enlisted as volunteers in the Army of the National Defence Movement of the Salonica Government where they were joined by a substantial number of Cypriots who had remained in the Macedonian capital at the end of the Balkan wars of 1912-13.

 

 

Roll of Cypriot Volunteers killed in action during the First World War 1914-18  

"ARIKOL" Military Cemetery

RANK

SERVICE NUMBER

Ν. Demetriou

Muleteer

6283

23/9/1918

V. Costis

»

11596

22/9/1918

Α. Costas

»

10607

13/5/1918

S. Louca

»

-

6/1/1917

Κ. Aristides

Sergeant

-

31/9/1917

Ν. Demetri

Muleteer

7761

18/10/1917

 

"STROUMA" Military Cemetery

NAME

RANK

SERVICE NUMBER

DATE OF DEATH

Ν. Ierarchos

Muleteer

8665

23/10/1918

P. Themistoclis

»

10180

31/12/1918

Α. Pierakos

»

7223

31/12/1918

 

"LAHANA" Military Cemetery

NAME

RANK

SERVICE NUMBER

DATE OF DEATH

Sergis Yiannos

Muleteer

7945

26/10/1917

S.K. Kramvis

»

4778

23/2/1918

Μ. Tsiarakli

»

7664

29/3/1918

Costas Kremmidakis

»

1473

6/8/1918

Savvas Theochari

»

9404

16/8/1918

Ν. Nicolas

»

8971

18/10/1917

Christos Lazaretes

»

556

26/10/1916

P. Prodromou

»

333

17/9/1918

Kyr. Savva

»

10263

19/9/1918

 

"ODOS LEMPET" Military Cemetery Salonica

RANK

SERVICE NUMBER

DATE OF DEATH

Farakos

Muletteer

693

7/9/1916

 

"MIKRA" Military Cemetery Salonica

NAME

SERVICE NUMBER

Ioannis Achilleos

Muleteer

13684

20/12/1919

Ν. Antonis

»

10398

31/12/1918

Τ. Kypreos

»

12097

11/11/1918

Yian. Christophides

»

12103

2/11/1918

G. Erotokritos

»

1022

9/12/1918

S. Ioannis

»

9027

23/1/1918

I. Kyprianou

»

9542

8/2/1920

Ι. Polydoros

»

11040

7/10/1918

Τ. Savva

»

10360

5/12/1918

Κ. Sotiris

»

8362

Grave No. 1854

Κ. Giannakos

»

7595

14/10/1918

 

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