UNFiCYP - Canadian Guards
Second Lieutenant Jack Mortlock was a member of 4th Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in 1965 when he deployed to Cyprus with the Canadian Guards. Thirty one years later he would be appointed Commanding Officer 15th Field Artillery Regiment RCA. But first, the Cyrus narrative from the Canadian Guards website...
As fall turned to winter we began receiving indications that the Greek Cypriot Militia was becoming restive, believing that an invasion of the northwestern beaches from the Turkish mainland was imminent. They began agitating for access to our outpost on the mountain ridge overlooking the suspected landing site but the OC Whiskey Battery, Major Don Creighton, insistently refused to permit any movement beyond the mandated areas. The pressure for our withdrawal continued to mount and one night, between Christmas and New Years, the outpost commander reported activity approaching his location. The artillery platoon commander, Second-lieutenant Jack Mortlock, moved to the outpost and tried to negotiate the Greek-Cyp Militia’s withdrawal, to no avail. Rather, 2Lt. Mortlock was told that if he didn’t abandon the post the Militia would take it by force. I was the watch-keeper that night and kept a log of the events, which included a call from the CO to UNFICYP HQ advising them of the situation as it escalated, including the request by 2Lt. Mortlock to be able to return fire, if necessary.
By this time, UNFICYP HQ had contacted UN New York, advising that the situation had deteriorated and the choice would soon become one of either defending the position by fire or withdrawing with the likely result that the Turkish-Cypriots would react militarily. As the hours passed, with no decision from the authorities in New York -- who were, apparently, attending a party and could not be reached -- the radio calls from 2Lt. Mortlock became increasingly frantic as sporadic small arms fire could be heard in the background. Eventually, in utter frustration, the CO ordered 2Lt. Mortlock to not return fire and withdraw from the position. He reluctantly led his men away from the outpost, taking only their personal weapons. When we eventually got the OP back, after the rumors of a Turkish invasion proved to be nine years too early, all of the Gunners’ property had been stolen and was never recovered.
Lt.-Col. Carlson wanted to recommend 2Lt. Mortlock for a valor award but, because the incident happened during ‘peacekeeping’ -- and the Canadian honors and awards systems had yet to be implemented -- none of the criteria were applicable. He did recommend him for a Mentioned in Dispatches but the award was declined by the Commander CANCON, the artillery colonel. Two years later, though, when each infantry battalion was given five Centennial Medals to be awarded to deserving soldiers within the unit, Colonel Carlson awarded one of the 2 Cdn Gds medals to 2Lt. Mortlock of 4RCHA on the grounds that for six months Whiskey Battery had been as much a part of the unit as any of us.
But the CO learned a lesson that night; the UN was a fickle bureaucracy which could not be relied upon to make a decision in a crisis. See the remainder of the Canadian Guards Cyprus story here.
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