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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Sunday 3 April 2022

Cyprus 1974 - The Royal Navy

 My painting this week has included a squadron of Royal Navy ships for operations around Cyprus in 1974. The Royal Navy did not actually fire in anger during the Cyprus conflict, but it came pretty close. So, some scope for 'what-if' games using my rules of choice, naval commander in 1/3000.

The Royal Navy did evacuate 1,552 civilians from North Cyprus on 22/23 July, using helicopters from the carrier HMS Hermes and landing craft from Kyrenia harbour, which resulted in a confrontation with a Turkish tank. The Royal Navy commander had orders to resist any attempt by the Turks to intervene, and the British Prime Minister warned the Turkish Prime Minister he would ‘have to hold your Government responsible for any incident involving your forces.’  A squadron of English Electric Lightning interceptors at the Akrotiri airbase was available to fly Combat Air Patrols. Liaison between the Turkish political leadership and military commanders on the ground was not always evident during the conflict, and the Turkish military radioed that ‘Unless the operation were called off, Turkish authorities would take appropriate action.’ If any Turkish commander or pilot had attempted to stop this operation, it could easily have resulted in a military confrontation. 

A Royal Navy task force was also dispatched to the northern tip of Cyprus (Cape Andreas) on 25 July so it could blockade the island if the peace talks collapsed. In practice, this blockade would most impact the Turkish forces. However, the operation was called off because such a blockade would be ‘tantamount to war’, and the USA made it clear that they would not use force to deter Turkey. 

The Royal Navy forces around Cyprus were commanded by Rear Admiral A.D. Cassidi. He was an experienced naval officer who had served on the Russian convoys and at the Normandy landings in WW2. In 1970, he was appointed the Director of Naval Plans in the Ministry of Defence and went back to sea as Commanding Officer of HMS Ark Royal in 1972. In 1974, he was Flag Officer, Carriers and Amphibious Ships.

The ships immediately available to him came from Gibraltar and Malta. They included HMS Hermes (Carrier), HMS Devonshire (Destroyer), HMS Andromeda and HMS Rhyl (Frigates), later joined by HMS Brighton (Frigate). They were supported by RFA Olna and Gold Rover (tankers). The Oberon-class submarine HMS Onslaught was also off Cyprus at the time.

These are ships I have painted. I have added a few others from the period because other ships would have been released for Cyprus duty if a shooting war had broken out.

The Royal Navy squadron off Cyprus in 1974 - 1/3000 models from Navwar

And a few reserves.

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