Cyprus returns remains of 5 Greek soldiers killed by Turks in 1964

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Cyprus returns remains of 5 Greek soldiers killed by Turks in 1964Tensions between the two communities, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, have been going on for years but their cooperation has also been extensive enabling tourism on the island to thrive

NICOSIA – Their fate and mission remained a mystery for years under government orders, but the remains of five Greek soldiers on board a patrol boat bombed by Turkish planes in a 1964 battled were finally handed over.

The turnover came at a Jan. 9 ceremony where they were given to Greece’s Alternate Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas, the Cyprus Mail said.

The men were on board the boat Phaeton, that was old, ill-equipped and had the wrong ammunition for four of its five guns but they heroically stayed on board even while knowing they were targeted during the Battle of Tyllirias following nationalist tension between Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots.

The Phaethon was quickly strafed with 75mm rockets and burst into flames, killing seven crew members and wounding several others. Its engine still running, the surviving crew managed to guide it aground and then abandoned ship.

Speaking at the event, Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, Photis Photiou said the deceased had “offered their lives at the altar of Cypriot freedom,” identifying them as  Lieutenant Panagiotis Chrysoulis from Athens, Plutarch Spyridon Agathos from Corfu, Plutarch Nicholas Panagos from Arcadia, Antipaspostor Panagiotis Theodoratos from Kefallinia and Piertis Nikolaos Kappadoukas from Skopelos.

The losses sustained by the crew were the first battle casualties of the Hellenic Navy after World War II. Due to the top-secret nature of the mission, the Commander and crew of the boat, including the fallen, weren’t recognized by Greece and Cyprus until Jan. 19, 2016.

In 1964, the government of Georgios Papandreou sent a Greek army division to Cyprus to help establish the Cypriot National Guard. As part of the same policy, two patrol boats, the Phaethon and the Arion were sent to Cyprus in a top-secret mission to assist in the naval operations which were taking place at Tillyria. Upon arrival to Cyprus, the two boats raised the Cypriot flag, installed guns on the boats, started patrolling the island and became the only two vessels serving in the Cypriot Navy at the time.

Two other members of the same crew, Antipaspisist Nikolaos Niafas from Lamia, whose remains were repatriated in January last year, and Cypriot volunteer from Morphou Akis Filatas, whose body was buried in his birthplace, Photiou said.

He said Cypriot was also handing over the remains of two Greeks, Reservist Vasilios Koukousoulis, who also died at Tyllirias in August 1964, and Colonel Athanasios Fotopoulos who was killed in the battle for Nicosia airport in July 1974 during an unlawful Turkish invasion that split the island, as it remains today.

“Fifty-four years after the Turkish attacks on Tylliria and 44 years since Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus … we do this as the Cypriot state with a great apology for the delay due to mistakes or omissions of the past, as well as to reasons that were judged necessary in our course over time,” said Photiou, referring to the deaths being kept secret.

He also thanked the staff and scientists who worked to carry out the exhumation and identification of the remains of the Phaethon crew.

Read more here.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons Copyright: Golbez License: CC-BY-SA

Source: thenationalherald.com

 

 

 

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