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July 1974: Operation Victory – The Noratlas suicide mission in Cyprus

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The day after the invasion, on the night of July 21, 1974, with Ioannidis's junta in a state of collapse, he decided to “help” Cyprus. It was originally planned to send a Squadron with Olympic Air Force aircraft. The thought did not materialize and, in a state of panic, the tragic lot of sacrifice fell on A & # 8217; Squadron based in Maleme, Crete. The then commander of A & # 8217; Squadron Commander George Papameletiou, who passed away in 2018, remembered that when they boarded the buses to be transported to the airport of Souda, he informed the squadrons about the mission and told them what they should keep in mind for the first hours. No one was sure what they would face, as there was absolutely no information about the conditions prevailing in Cyprus.

Dive into the fire

When the Noratlas arrived in Cyprus, they saw fires everywhere from the ongoing battles. This helped the crews to orient themselves better and start their descent to Nicosia airport. The only areas that were illuminated were the British Bases of Cape and Dhekelia, and this was a lifeline for the rulers who used them as support points to be able to find the airport. In several areas the planes came under fire from the ground, but the situation was not worrying, as there were assurances that Nicosia airport was safe. No one had informed the crews that fighting was taking place and the airport runway had been bombed and only 1/3 of it could be used. As the commandos remember, as soon as they arrived over Nicosia, they started receiving thousands of anti-aircraft bullets and missiles. The commandos stood upright inside the planes to minimize their volume and reduce the chances of being hit. “The bullets came in from below and pierced the fuselage,” said one of the commandos. “We were loaded with grenades and explosives and there was a danger that we would all be blown up,” he added. The same danger was posed by crews and commandos from the possibility of hitting the fuel tanks.

The “oranges”

The then commander G. Mitsainas, who was the commander of “Niki 11”, states in his book about the operation: received heavy fire. The examination committee for the Cyprus Dossier blamed Athens and the Armed Forces Headquarters, since according to the members of the Parliamentary Committee, the signal was issued at 01:30 “, that is, when the approach of the aircraft had begun. Athens had informed the GEEF with the phrase: “The 15 oranges are coming”. However, the National Guard forces defending the airport were informed of the delay.

We dropped “Victory 4”

George Kalogirou was an anti-aircraft pilot in the early hours of July 22 at Nicosia airport. His testimony is shocking, as he is the man who tore down the Noratlas, which remained buried for 41 years in the Tomb of the Macedonian. “I was in charge of a quadruped that was at the beginning of the runway. Just before nightfall, someone came and told me that tonight is dangerous. There is information that Turkish planes may come at night and he asked us to keep our eyes peeled and not let any of them land.

When I heard the buzz of the plane, I could not see it, it had all the lights off and I was ready to shoot it down. As soon as he approached, I aimed at him, threw him, and that was it. The plane crashed.

I was waiting for the next one. Then I realized that the quadruple was blocked. I tried to fix it, but I could not.

The planes were passing over me, I was cursing my misfortune. Much later, when the planes had all landed, someone came and told me that the planes were Greek and I almost went crazy.

Since then I have regrets & # 8230; The next day, without doing anything, the gun was unlocked. “

Dive into the vacuum

The only one who managed to escape from “Niki 4” is the commando Thanassis Zafeiriou, who has authentically conveyed what preceded the downing. He recalls having 7 bullet holes in his chest and 6 grenades hanging from his belt when bullets began to pierce the fuselage: “The pilots,” he recalls, “were dead and the plane was under fire. The cannons with the grenades next to me had caught fire and I felt like I was burning, I was looking for a parachute, but I did not find it anywhere. I opened the door of the plane and jumped into space “. It should be noted that “Victory 7” also came under fire, but managed to land with one engine burning and the other destroyed by an explosion. In “Victory 7” two commandos were killed and another 11 were injured.


Noratlas (Victory 4) was buried as & # 8211; as at the point where it fell. The bodies of some commandos were transported and buried in the Lakatamia cemetery and the rest remained in the trunk of the aircraft for four decades. This is one of the most egregious miseries of the state, which showed no sensitivity to exhume the dead and hand over the remains to relatives. This happened after 4 decades, with apologies that were not enough to justify the analgesia of the state.

Source: politis.com.cy

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