Buried in the main at the British military cemetery at Wayne’s Keep and long locked away in the No Man’s Land of the UN buffer zone which marks the separation of that divided island, the British dead appeared to have been forgotten in large part because of the difficulties of access to the cemetery. UN records showed that on average over the year only some 50 relatives and friends managed to make their way there.
Hundreds more returned home disappointed after finding that the administrative procedures for obtaining a visitor’s permit were simply beyond them.
Accordingly, in building the memorial to those ‘forgotten’ through political circumstances, the British Cyprus Memorial Trust, under the patronage of the Duke of Wellington, chose as its site the Old British Cemetery in Kyrenia, established at the dawn of British rule on the island in 1878 and which contains the graves of many who gave distinguished service to their country — including the only VC buried in Cyprus, Sgt William McGaw of the Black Watch.
The cemetery itself required considerable refurbishment, and in bringing it back to the standard befitting both its own history and as site for the Memorial, the Trust invested some £40,000 in repair and restoration. With the Memorial as its focal point it was unveiled on Remembrance Sunday 2009 — Sunday November 8 — at an impressive ceremony conducted by the Rt Rev Michael Lewis, Anglican Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and attended by some 700 people from both sides of the island, from Britain, and even as far away as Australia. For relatives and veterans alike it was a moving experience and certainly one which will long be remembered by those privileged to be there.