The Nicosia Zone, Cyprus
United Nations Military Police Company
(UNFICYP MP Coy)
1964 - 1965
In 1964 there was some doubt that the mandate for the UN force in Cyprus would be renewed. While awaiting the renewal decision, my group; as part of a previously designated quick reaction force which had, earlier that year, done an exercise into Camp Gagetown from Camp Picton via Trenton, and Goose Bay changing from North Star to Hercules aircraft en route, were held for about four weeks in Picton before getting the orders to move to Cyprus
On arrival I found that little had been done to put the Nicosia Zone MP Coy on a more established basis. The unit personnel were housed, fed and administered by their individual national contingents. This daily dispersal had negative effects on the Coy's efficiency, cohesion and morale. The Coy, of approximately 50 members, was based at Wolsley Barracks, Nicosia, a former British Army HQ which was virtually astride the "Green Line"( the division between the warring Greek and Turkish Cypriots). The barracks were in a severe state of disrepair. A short distance away was the Zone Brigade HQ with unused capacity to feed additional troops.
LCol J Lawson, was the Force PM stationed at the UN Cyprus HQ. I'm not sure what his responsibilities were as he did not seem to have any unit other than the Nicosia Zone MP Coy within his functional responsibility. In any case, during my Cyprus tour, I had social contact with him; but little, if any, operational inter-action as my chain of command was through the Zone Brigade HQ.
An agreement by the Commander of the Danish National Contingent and the Zone Brigade Commander,resulted in my appointment as Zone PM and CO of the Nicosia zone MP Coy. With this authority and capacity I was able to start improving the unit's administration and operations. Before long our self-help program within Wolsley Barracks had completed many basic repairs to the buildings: offices, sleeping quarters, a Sgt's Mess and a Cpls Canteen were soon established Enterprising Finns converted the theatre dressing room into a sauna which we all enjoyed. Meals for all, except the Danes, were had at the nearby Zone HQ messes. The UN staff arranged for the provision of sewage services and furniture. Unit Standing Orders and Operational Procedures were formulated and published
Night and day, with a Greek Cypriot Policeman on board, the unit provided patrols of the "Green Line" in Nicosia. Generally it was without incident. Other mobile patrols were provided to assure the good behaviour and protection of UN personnel visiting the Nicosia bars and entertainment clubs.
During one week-end the Greek Cypriot National Guard troops were downtown in large numbers. Ssgt Stjernfeldt of Sweden, who was NCO IC patrols, reported that it appeared from a number of incidents that the local troops were spoiling for trouble. I instructed him to drop off the onboard Geek policemen at their Station, to increase the number of MP patrols, and to order all UN soldiers to return to their barracks. The action went smoothly and trouble was averted. Our system of extracting UN soldiers from confrontations in bars etc. worked well and the Finnish MPs (mostly of civil police origin) were particularly effective in that role.
In March 1965 Capt McDonald arrived to replace me. I met with the Danish National Contingent Commander and he accepted my recommendation that the 2IC, Capt Stampe Nielsen, of Denmark, be promoted to Major and appointed CO. I felt that it was essential that the CO have the rank of Major because of his responsibilities and levels of contact with Cypriot officials and the staff of the various National Contingents.
After a few short months with my family in Oakville I was posted to Gaza as the PM. and CO UNEF MP Coy
W.P (Bill) Stoker