The shocking story of an Irishman in the EOKA race
On May 10, 1956, Michalakis Karaolis walked on the gallows, condemned by British colonialists to death for his actions in EOKA, sacrificing his own life in the struggle of the Greeks of Cyprus for liberation and union with Greece. The greatness of his sacrifice, as well as the history of the English conspiracy in the trial to convict the freedom fighter, is more or less known.
What is not known to many is the story of an Irishman who served in the British army. The two never met. However, their path to death was parallel.
The unknown and at the same time shocking story of the Irish soldier who became one with the EOKA fighters and the glorious and hard end, was recently brought to light by the journalist-researcher Panagiotis Papadimitris, with a brief reference to the case of Ronnie Silton.
The reference was made in his speech during a lecture at the Academy of Historical Studies of the EOKA Liberation Struggle Foundation 1955–59 on the contribution of the Lysis community to the struggle.
Panagiotis Papadimitris later told us extensively about the story of the young Irish soldier, who became one with the EOKA fighters, but was eventually executed by the members of the group with which he worked, following orders from Digenis.
Ο Ronnie SiltoHe was an Irish father and an Italian mother from Santa Barbara, Italy, and in 1955, at the age of 22, he arrived in Cyprus with other British soldiers to suppress the EOKA liberation struggle, according to Panagiotis Papadimitris.
The story begins in October 1955 when the British invaded Famagusta and swept everything. They beat the residents, destroyed houses, injured hundreds, imprisoned so many others and generally turned Varosi into a prison of revenge when EOKA accidentally killed a British woman.
Among those soldiers was a young Irish sergeant named Ronnie Silton, who was keen to see the EOKA fight and in some cases helped young students escape arrest when he found suspicious items in their suitcases.
This young Irishman of the Lestersiair Battalion met in Famagusta in the neighborhood where he was in charge in the days of the great corps, a young woman named Agni. At the same time he had read some EOKA pamphlets addressed to British soldiers about the struggle, which he later reportedly liked. So, when he found himself in a difficult prison for minor offenses in Varosi, he escaped and rushed to Agni, where he told the whole truth: EOKA wanted to help him return to his homeland.
Agni brought him in contact with EOKA and at the beginning of March 1956 the British found out that he had escaped from the detention center of Famagusta and disappeared. The young sergeant who was secretly transferred to the house of Andreas Tofias, the first executive of EOKA in the village, who was later elected mayor of Lysis for many years after the appeal.
The friendship with the head of the Red Rural sector
According to the narration of Panagiotis Papadimitris, Andreas Tofias kept a hideout in his house, where the head of EOKA's Kokkinochori sector, Michalakis Rossidis, lived. Ronnie was 8 years old and Rossidis 1956. "We sleep in the same room," Rossidis later told the court. They became friends and they liked each other.
Along with Ronnie, the owner of the house, Mr. Tofias, and of course his wife Antonia, who in some way had his responsibility, also kissed, as she was the one who could move more comfortably both at home and in the village and bring supplies. from the Cooperative. Antonia dyed his hair black, bought him clothes and dressed in political clothes.
The area's chief of staff, Andreas Tofias, and Irish soldier Ronnie Shiilton met with other EOKA men at Tofia's home each night to build bombs that were distributed throughout the area as part of the EOKA operation.
The young Irishman even knew more than his Cypriot friends and advised them on how to prepare bombs.
Day by day, the young Ronnie was winning the love of the Lysiotes fighters and as Andreas Tofias mentions, Ronnie had gained so much of his trust that he accepted everything he was told.
At the time, the trial of Michalakis Karaolis, who had been sentenced to death, was over, and Iron Governor Sir John Harding was threatening to execute him.
So EOKA announced that it had in its hands the soldier Ronnie Silton and would execute him if the governor proceeded to hang Karaolis, extorting to prevent such a thing.
EOKA sent a message that it was holding the soldier hostage…
Harding denied that EOKA was holding a British soldier hostage, so Andreas Tofias set off to present evidence. "One night," he says, "we took Ronnie Shiilton, a photographer, to Panayi and photographed him." Then we published a pamphlet with his photo to blackmail Harding, but he didn't take his word for it. He insisted on the opposite and proceeded to hang the two heroes.
For EOKA, the question was whether it should implement its threats.
So in Kyrenia he executed the captain Gorton Hill, but in the Solution Andreas Tofias and the head of the department Michalakis Rossidis did not know what to do, because ten days ago EOKA executives from Nicosia went to the Solution at the behest of Digenis and asked him to some statements against the English to be published in a pamphlet and sent to Santa Barbara, Italy, where his mother and sister lived.
That is why Rossidis did not order his execution, according to the instructions of the leader of EOKA, on May 10, who hanged Karaolis and Dimitriou.
Antonia, who was the watchful eye for Ronnie Silton's moves, was transported to Nicosia by an EOKA executive with a doctor's certificate that she needed treatment and after communicating with EOKA, as she was not suspected by the British, she brought her message to the Leader: To be executed.
Everyone froze when they read what the leader of the organization ordered. How would they execute a young man, all good, who became their friend and collaborator and lived with them for two whole months?
Rossidis was later arrested. In a statement to the British, he said before being convicted that he had been threatened by other EOKA members in the area that Ronnie had to be executed because it was an order, otherwise, as he was told, "we will kill you."
He added: I am telling the truth to soothe my conscience. From that day I lost my sleep and Ronnie's ghost appears in front of me at night "…