The British High Commissioner in Nicosia on Wednesday paid tribute to Loizos Demetriou, 93, one of the 30,000 Cypriots who fought alongside the allies in WWII.
High Commissioner Ric Todd and Defence Advisor Colonel Seb Pollington, visited Demetriou at his Nicosia apartment as part of activities to mark Remembrance Sunday this weekend, according to the BHC Facebook page.
“Those were the days,” Demetriou said, remembering his days as a soldier.
Demetriou’s wartime service took him to Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and to Britain where he was selected for officer training and stationed in North Wales.
The 93-year-old WWII veteran was part of the Cyprus regiment, formed by Britain, the colonial ruler at the time.
The regiment was part of the British Army structure, mostly made up of Greek and Turkish Cypriot volunteers, but also included other Commonwealth nationalities.
It comprised of infantry, engineers, transport, and pack transport companies.
Cypriot mule drivers were the first colonial troops sent to the Western Front.
They served in France, Ethiopia and Italy, carrying equipment to areas inaccessible to vehicles.
On a brief visit to Cyprus in 1943, Winston Churchill praised the “soldiers of the Cyprus Regiment who have served honourably on many fields from Libya to Dunkirk.”
About 30,000 Cypriots served in the Cyprus Regiment, which saw action from the very start and served in France, Greece — about 600 soldiers were captured in Kalamata in 1941 — North Africa (Operation Compass), Middle East and Italy.
Many soldiers were taken prisoner especially at the beginning of the war and were interned in various POW camps, including Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf, Stalag IV-C at Wistritz near Teplitz (now in the Czech Republic), and Stalag IV-B near Dresden.
The soldiers captured in Kalamata were transported by train to prison camps.
In the post-war years the regiment served in Cyprus and the Middle East, including Palestine during the 1945-1948 period. The regiment was disbanded on 31 March 1950.