An organizing committee has been struck and planning is well underway for a pilgrimage to Cyprus in November 2024. The event will coincide with the 50th Anniversary of the Turkish Invasion of the island in July 1974.
The Canadian Army had been on the island since 1963, soon after the country gained its independence from Britain. Members of the RCE and CME have served in every contingent. From an peak strength of 1100 all ranks in the early days, Canada's contribution had fallen to 480 in 1974 when the Turks started their landings. At that time, the Canadian Contingent (CANCON) was built on elements of the Canadian Airborne Regiment including 1 Airborne Field Squadron. It was centered on Nicosia and the mountains north to the seaside town of Kyrenia. After the ceasefire in August1974, the island was partitioned into the Turkish Republic of Cyprus in the north and the Republic of Cyprus in the south. An 180-kilometer buffer zone separates the two entities. CANCON's responsibility was for the buffer zone through the city of Nicosia and out into a stretch of farm land to the city's east. Canada withdrew its force in 1993 and currently has one staff officer left.
The goal of the pilgrimage is to recognize the significance of the 1974 war and of UNFICYP's mission in Canada’s history. While based on the operations of the Canadian Airborne Regiment during the invasion, it will allow veterans to revisit the sites, recapture the memories and honour our fallen. Participation in this pilgrimage is open to all who have served in Cyprus as well as their families. Colonel David Burke (Ret'd) is the CMEA contact. The organizing committee has a very informative Facebook page with planning information and SITREPs.