Alarm on Pyla Plateau, Pyla, Cyprus
The following nights, days we keep to our routines, 6 hours duty 6 hours readiness and sleep. If there is no problem we can rest within the six hours, though community service is still asked of everyone, and that includes scrubbing floors, kitchen, bathrooms, etc. Although not much physical activity is required, one begins to feel exhausted, mentally, the close space living together with others creates tensions.
On the other side all is quiet, the Turkish forces have been told of my presence and their commander sends an official letter to the command demanding to meet with me. Even here in the far away plains where my superiors post me in order to reduce my contacts with the Turkish force command, word of mouth travels fast. I am able to post an uncensored letter by field post to the Turkish force commander to inform him I am on the Pyla plateau, much to the dislike of my superiors, the local commander prefers my company to theirs, being accustomed to language and well conversant with the customs of the Turkish people in general.
It is of no surprise to me that my superior is informed in no uncertain terms that the Turkish command would like to see me returned to the main village. This , however this request is turned down, and becomes a political message. On a field visit I am personally informed by my company commander to refrain from contacting the Turkish forces, be it on social, or official meetings. I am outraged, and I can see the typical 'narrow minded' mentality in this statement. When asked about my background I gain some valuable points when I mentioned Hauptmann Lukesch, and it saves me from further inconvenience.
I am in charge of radio communications, and as such the portable emergency radio. Mentions worthy, the monotony that sets in, creating boredom and in some, anxieties. When stationed in Pyla one of my colleagues went to a local pub, asked to drink some 'Cyprus Brandy', gets drunk. In the aftermath some local youths snatch his rifle which he stupidly leaves near the entrance to the 'Tavern'. When he discovers the theft, he gets berserk, already charged emotionally, follows the thieves with a Fin dagger drawn, into the nearest homes and frightens the local population. The local police is called in which informs the Military Police and the scenario is perfect. Court martial, repatriated disgracefully, he faces a civil suit back home, his career gone. The thieves later return the rifle, but he remains a victim of the highly charged emotions which gather steam during duty in the demilitarized zone.
Preparing for night duty at 24 HRS, I try to find some sleep around 8 PM and drift off as soon as I lay down, half way dressed, only our boots removed. I am awoken by a shrill whistle blow, amidst shouting 'Alarm, Alarm'. I am up in a second, stumbling to my feet, searching frantically for my boots. I notice the darkness around me, we have no power. Torches beam at us, I hear the Lieutenant's voice, Radio operator reporting to me in 2 minutes. How the heck do you want me to get ready in the darkness I think to myself. Within seconds I stumble with all my gear, clothes pulled over in haste, helmet, rifle slung, running into the command center next door, to grab the radio equipment. The radio is heavy and I struggle with its weight. Darkness all around us, I find the command ditch where our Lieutenant is already waiting for me, his helmet on I notice. I stand the rifle against the ditch, and set up the radio as per regulations, ready to make the initial contact. Comcen (Communications center) in Nicosia will be contacted. The Antenna is a foldable Antenna and needs to be unfolded. While this all happens in pitch darkness, the unthinkable happens and the Antenna is broken. Amidst sinister curses of the Lieutenant, who wants to earn his Laurels above all by staging the Alarm, I nearly burst out in laughter, once I realize what he is up to. He wants to impress his superiors that he is the 'Best' amongst the worst officers. All attempts to repair the Antenna proof fruitless, the call can not be made unless a spare Antenna is fixed.
Amidst the whole chaos he has created, a number of fellow comrades giggle from the other trenches when he announces the end of the practiced Alarm. I receive a scolding but notice that it was him who broke the Antenna and not me. The silence that follows proofs me right and I pack the equipment, rifle and stumble back through the darkness to return the radio gear. After assembling, we are reminded that this was a trial Alarm and we must be faster to get to our posts in the future. By now everyone in the platoon knows who we have as a leader. God forbids his presence in a real Emergency. I return after being dismissed to my bunk and relax the remaining 2 hours till my duty call. On this night, no further appearance by the Lieutenant is recorded, so the Logbook shows....
Next : Larnaca - a Helicopter ride .
Related Tags: training, alarm, cyprus, un, military, united nations, service for peace, pyla plateau
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