Kitchener, Horatio Herbert, and his short stay in Cyprus

Photo from the book of M.A.Sofocleous- “Pissouri, a village bathed in light”

“Cyprus, a little world in itself… no wild beast or reptiles disturb the solitude. The water is sweet and cool, the wine is nectar, and the food plain and good: above all, I know that my grave will be respected and that kind hands will close my eyes.” – From the 1936 book Historic Cyprus of Rupert Gunnis. 

While visiting the famous HANI restaurant and coffee shop with still amazingly tasty halloumi cheese and tomato sandwiches, in the village of Pissouri, halfway from Limassol to Paphos, I heard the traditional talk about the history of Cyprus and the organization of the island land registry. I was excited to have the privilege to be at this place at the right time and enjoy a lively exchange of knowledge. 

Time stopped for a while. I remembered my many stopovers at this place when the highway did not exist. Memories awoke and became alive again. Here we always had discussions about everything! From the exploration of the universe, the Cyprus issue, water supply, or simply daily news. Beautiful times when people were more relaxed, when simple common sense held all diplomas of this world, and when smiles, open hearts, and curious eyes were a regular feature. That was the secret, as said in the Little Prince-“It is quite simple: man sees well only with their heart.”

Those times are gone, but still, I confirmed once again that there are places, the oasis on this beautiful island you can find and feel the warmth of pure human souls. They are always right! Always! 

My attention got tickled further by the mention of Kitchener’s name. It was a short story about then lieutenant Kitchener I did not know. Kitchener came to Cyprus, did his job, and left to go to the legend! Those times are gone, but still, I confirmed once again that there are places, the oasis on this beautiful island you can find and feel the warmth of pure human souls. They are always right! Always! 

He became a famous visionary. That brave man went to the rank of Field Marchal and 1st Earl Kitchener. He was the British Secretary of State for War in 1914. He had tremendous authority in the whole British Army and he held that position until his sudden death on June 5, 1916 while on board HMS Hampshire. He was going for strategic talks with Russia by the order of then Primeminister Asquith who wanted to ensure that Russia would stay at war. Someone said that the “Good authorities concur that he was the one man who might have sustained Russia.” 

Strange things happen but never by coincidence! Especially if you learn that Primeminister Asquith resigned on December 5, 1916, to be succeeded by David Loyd George. Conclusions are yours, having in mind how the Bolshevik revolution developed and who were the organizers. If you do not know, investigate. 

As my memory refreshed, we started talking about the land registry and the experts that the British Crown sent to survey in 1878.

Here is the quote from https://maps.nls.uk/cyprus/info.html that explains the historical events and presents the work of Kitchener.

“In June of 1878, the Congress of Berlin took place where the “Great Powers” negotiated over the distribution of the Turkish possessions in the Balkans and elsewhere following the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78, in which Russia liberated almost all Ottoman European possessions. Through independent agreements with Russia and Turkey, Britain was given the administration of Cyprus. As a result of these negotiations, the island of Cyprus was ceded to Britain and came under the control of the Foreign Secretary, the Marquis of Salisbury, in 1878.

During the three hundred years of Ottoman occupation, there had been no detailed surveys or technical advances in the land mapping of Cyprus. Some considered the “best” existing map at the time of possession as that by the Venetian artist Giacomo Franco, printed in about 1570. The Foreign Office immediately recognized that a proper survey of the island of Cyprus was required. Kitchener was recommended to take on the survey work based on his recently completed trigonometric survey of Palestine. Kitchener’s Palestine survey was recognized as a model of its kind and one of the first where difficult terrain had been mapped with consistent accuracy.

Kitchener’s remit was to produce a survey of the island of Cyprus that would meet the requirements for administrative and revenue purposes.”

Kitchener, then a young rising star lieutenant of the Royal Engineers, came to Cyprus in 1878 after completing a survey of Palestine. 

It was another assignment he took seriously by personally visiting all the places in Cyprus overlooking the map making. 

The owner of Hani Restaurant and Coffee shop, who was quietly listening to our lively conversations, surprised me by presenting a copies of two articles posted on July 1st, 1927 in the Alithia newspaper and December 5th, 1936 in Cyprus Mail. Both were talking about the event that happened on December 5th, 1882 at the toponym known as “Strongilolaogo” at Pissouri village. 

So, what has happened?

Namely, on December 5th, 1882, while he was at the Pissouri village inspecting the road at the toponym “strongilolaogo” shots were fired at him! 

Image from the book of M.A.Sofocleous- “Pissouri, a village bathed in light.”

As one Moustafa Merixian of the Plataniskias in the Limassol area that was accused of the premeditated murder of one Mouharem Salih Aga of the same village, together with Salih Kritikos of Stavrokonnou who was accused of stealing sheep and goats from the farms in his village in Paphos area, escaped from detention and were wandering around Pissouri village area.

They spotted Kitchener in uniform riding the white horse. They thought that he was a policeman. Frightened that he was looking for them, Moustafa fired at Kitchener. The first bullet missed. He fired the second shot. Fortunately, Kitchener got just bruised by the second bullet and stayed alive! How would the history developed if Kitchener was assassinated one can just imagine. However we know how history developed after.

He reported this incident and a month after that, on January 4th, 1883 he left Cyprus, to go some years after directly to the legend! 

In the English School of Nicosia they still evoke memories of the 1st Earl Herbert Kitchener by naming one of the school’s sports teams after him.

Darko Richard Lancelot

Philosophyofgoodnews.com

Cypruswelove.com

16/12/2022

All rights reserved

%d bloggers like this: