Home Articles A Visiting Fireman in Africa A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4 - Page Five
A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4 - Page Five Print E-mail
Written by Ray Critchell   
Sunday, 05 July 2009 23:37
Article Index
A Visiting Fireman in Africa. Chapter 4
Page Two
Page Three
Page Four
Page Five
Page Six
Page Seven
Page Eight
Page Nine
Page Ten
Page Eleven
Page Twelve
Page Thirteen
Page Fourteen
Page Fifteen
Page Sixteen
Page Seventeen
Page Eighteen
Page Nineteen
Page Twenty
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The fierce fighting in the streets outside had now moved away to the outskirts of the town, although there would be occasional bursts of shooting much closer. The town itself was full of Turkish soldiers in full battle kit who had overrun the defences, and there were now Turkish flags flying all over the place.

Just after dark, a man came quietly into the lounge, where by this time we were all trying to prepare ourselves for another long and threatening night, and introduced himself. He was Fred Hamilton, one of a group of film makers that was staying at a seafront hotel a couple of hundred yards from ours, and had taken it upon himself to contact as many of the Hotels in the town as possible to tell any British holiday makers he could find of a plan to assist our rescue.

His group was the film unit making the very popular TV series 'Callan'. The principal star of the show, Edward Woodward, was staying in an hotel on the other side of the island with several of his colleagues. The half dozen in Kyrenia were staying at the Hesperides Hotel nearer to the beach, and included one of the other lead actors, Anthony Valentine.

If ever the BBC give awards for courage, then Fred Hamilton, who I believe was one of their camera men, would assuredly be at the top of any list. At the time of his walkabout, anyone moving in the street was liable to be shot. Neither the Turks nor the Greeks were likely to stop and ask if you were there on holiday.

Their group had managed to establish a telephone link with someone in authority on the other side of the island and a plan was being formulated whereby the Royal Navy, which was heading full steam for the scene from other parts of the Mediterranean, would attempt to rescue us from selected beaches. A tentative agreement had been reached with the Turkish Government for this providing no attempt was made to remove Greek Nationals. The first step in this was to try and stay alive. The second was to make our way quickly and quietly down to the other hotel under cover of darkness!!

We were strongly advised to reduce our luggage to the bare minimum as the evacuation plan envisaged the possible use of helicopters. Space would be at a premium and we should only carry what was absolutely essential, and so our few possessions that we had brought out of Africa were reduced even further. The American holiday maker left behind a whole range of expensive photographic equipment which was in purpose made leather containers. The hotel keepers said they would try to keep all these belongings safe but I don't think any of us had any illusions. And so, slowly and apprehensively, we made our way down towards the beach. There were no lights showing anywhere, apart from several burning buildings and there was still gunfire around the town. That plus the billowing smoke reminded me again of the war in London. No one interfered with our movements and we found quite a large group of holiday makers already gathered there, Some of the wounded had received some treatment from a Vet. Remarkably in that size group there appeared to be no Doctors or Nurses.

We all moved up to the first floor, feeling safer up there, and soon joined in the discussions for our rescue. Again Marjorie went with a couple of other women to forage for water and food and we dined again that night on tinned fruit and a ration of bottled water. The first plan involved commandeering cars and driving down to a popular beach to await boats. This was scrapped when it was learnt that the Turks had mined the roads out of town. Also, it was unlikely we could get enough cars as we now numbered over a hundred souls. Although the arrangement was for us not to include the Greek population of the town, our group now included several local women and children and having seen for ourselves and been told what their fate would be, there was no question of leaving them behind.