GC and TC WW2 vets re­con­nect

Cyprus Today - - SOUTH NEWS -

A GREEK Cypriot and Turk­ish Cypriot who fought side by side in World War II only to find them­selves in op­po­site camps in 1974, have re­con­nected for the first time af­ter over 70 years.

Greek Cypriot Menelaos Kouzoupis and Turk­ishCypriot Ke­mal Salih (Pili), both from Paphos, joined the Bri­tish army to fight in the war, which broke out in 1939 and cost the lives of 50 mil­lion peo­ple from 70 coun­tries.

Mr Kouzoupis, now 92, comes from the vil­lage of Ayios Pho­tios and Mr Salih, 95, from the Turk­ish Cypriot vil­lage of Falia, lo­cated in the same area and only three kilo­me­tres away.

When the war ended, they re­turned to Cyprus in the mid­dle of 1946, and had since then lost touch. They met again af­ter more than 70 years, and re­called their shared ex­pe­ri­ences which they still vividly re­mem­ber, in a meet­ing that took place at the of­fices of the Cyprus Vet­er­ans’ As­so­ci­a­tion in Ni­cosia which was ar­ranged through mu­tual friends.10

They both re­call join­ing up at the feast of Ezousas on June 29, 1944, in the Paphos vil­lage of Cho­los, fol­low­ing a news­pa­per ad­ver­tise­ment call­ing on the in­hab­i­tants of Cyprus, which was a colony of the Bri­tish Crown at the time, to join the Bri­tish forces in the war.

Mr Kouzoupis said that he was only six­teen-and-ahalf years old, and had not in­formed his grand­fa­ther about his de­ci­sion join the Bri­tish army for fear that he would for­bid him to do so be­cause of his young age. He added that he had to lie about his real age at the army re­cruit­ment office for ex­actly the same rea­son.

He said that af­ter be­ing ranked, they were trans­ferred to the Bri­tish camp at Polemidia for train­ing and then moved on to Syria, Pales­tine and ended up in Italy. Mr Kouzoupis re­mem­bers that he shared a tent with Mr Salih, and still re­calls their re­spec­tive mil­i­tary num­bers, 21139 and 21142.

At the time when the two vet­er­ans fought side by side, Mr Salih said that Greek Cypri­ots and Turk­ish Cypri­ots lived very well to­gether, “they were like broth­ers”. Now things have changed, he added, but “what can we do”.

Af­ter 1974, Mr Salih left his vil­lage and now lives in Sirinevler. De­spite the pass­ing of time he still speaks Greek flu­ently.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cyprus Vet­er­ans’ As­so­ci­a­tion, 30,000 Cypri­ots from all the com­mu­ni­ties of Cyprus took part in World War II.

Menelaos Kouzoupis and Ke­mal Salih

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Cyprus

© PressReader. All rights reserved.