Cyprus has had a history of warfare dating back to the time of the Ancient Greek dominance in the Mediterranean world. The Greeks fought against Persians and Turks in the course of their war history. With aid from the Egyptians, the Athenians fought for the Union of Greece with Cyprus, for the freedom of the Cypriots, and to bring an end to the Greek-Persian wars. In some of the wars Empires were born, while in others massive destruction was evident. Strategies employed defined the outcome of the battles and sometimes small armies relying on war strategy won against massive troops relying on numbers and might.
Battle of Salamis, 451 BC
Around this period, Athens had made a truce with Sparta, and for years the Athenians had been allied with the Egyptians against the Persians. Cimon, with 200 triremes of the Confederacy, sailed to Cyprus, sending 60 Ships to the Nile Delta to aid Amyrtaeos, the Egyptian Prince in the fight against the Persians, Cimon matched to Cyprus with the rest to join the Cypriot Greek and laid siege to Citium. When Cimon died in the assault, Anaxicrates took command and matched to Salamis where he engaged the Phoenician and Cilicians. In Salamis, the Greek gained victory on both the sea and land. The victory brought an end to the Greco-Persian Wars.
Battle of Actium, September 2nd, 31 BC
The Battle of Actium was a remarkable event. On September 2nd, 31 BC, the fleets of Mark Antony and Cleopatra met Octavian’s fleet just outside of the Gulf of Actium. Antony, who was a war genius and commander of the armies of Julius Caesar, had large ships built primarily for sinking and ramming enemy vessels. However, a Malaria outbreak resulted in his 500 ships and 70,000 troops undermanned. Octavian 400 ships were small and fully manned with 80,000 healthy men. Quintus Dellius, a general of Antony, sided with Octavian. Octavian won after destroying more than 5000 men and 300 ships while Cleopatra and Antony's ships escaped the war for the open ocean. Shortly afterward, Octavian had Caesarion, Cleopatra’s son, murdered, and annexed Egypt into the Roman Empire. Three years later, Octavian declared himself Emperor Augustus Caesar of the Roman Empire.
Battle of Spilia, December 12th, 1955
The Battle of Spilia, fought on December 12, 1955, was the greatest friendly fire incident in the history of Cyprus. The British army wanted to end the campaigns for the Union of Greece and Cyprus. An informant snitched on the location of the EOKA. So when the 700 soldiers attempted to encircle the guerrilla headquarters, General Grivas divided his troops into two one led by himself to fight the units coming from the north and the other led by Grigoris Afxentiou to fight those ascending from the south. The EOKA engaged the British at the summit for a while before escaping West under cover of a dense fog. The enemy troops soon reached the summit and unable to see clearly opened fire at each other for eight hours. There were 250 casualties 127 British soldiers dead, 102 injured, and 21 missing. The EOKA victory was significant since it formed a basis for the independence of Cyprus 5 years later.
Battle of Tillyria, August of 1964
The fight took place in Kokkina. In the wake of events leading up to 1964, the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots engaged in intense confrontations over the control of a strategic location on the region’s major highway. On August 6th, a Greek army led by George Grivas attacked and surrounded Kokkina. The Turks and other civilians were forced to evict and retreat to a narrow beachhead. A massive artillery barrage of the beachhead hit the village causing more casualties and extensive damage. The Turks managed to hold the base in the beachhead until August 8th when Turkey intervened with aerial assaults on civilians and military personnel alike. The Turks bombed a nearby hospital killing many and inducing horrific injuries to others. The attack was so intense that the UN council intervened. The Soviet Union stopped the annihilation by threatening to attack the Turks with their state of the art of weapons. The President of Cyprus promised to destroy every Turkish Cypriot Village in the country if the air raids did not cease. On August 9, 1964, Turkey ceased fire, and UNFICYP forces deployed to the area. Ever since the village heavily tarnished and damaged by the war has been a memorial ground.
A Heritage of War
Cyprus, as noted, has brushed shoulders with many enemies in the course of its history. From the Romans, the Turks, to their greatest ancient enemies, the Persians, the Cypriots have for long fought. When time called for confederacies, the Cypriots joined forces with allies that had their enemies as their enemies. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. However, the battles did prove beneficial to the Cypriot Greeks course. Most of the battles brought an end to the oppression brought forth by their rulers or adversaries. Even so, some, such as the Battle of Tillyria, were so severe that healing would take a long time.
What Was the Greatest Battle in the History of Cyprus?
Major battles in the history of Cyprus include the Battle of Actium, the Battle of Spilia, and the Battle of Pente Mili Beachhead.
|Greatest Battles in the History of Cyprus||Date|
|Siege of Kition||451 BC|
|Battle of Salamis-in-Cyprus||451 BC|
|Battle of Actium||September 2nd, 31 BC|
|Battle of Agridi||June 15th, 1232|
|Battle of Lepanto||October 7th, 1571|
|Battle of Spilia||December 12th, 1955|
|Battle of Tillyria||August of 1964|
|Battle of Pentemili Beachhead||July of 1974|
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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