It wasn’t until he landed in Cyprus in 1964 that Edward Murray learned just how awful that country’s atrocities were.
The Greeks and Turks who inhabited the island just didn’t get along, and it was getting worse. In a horrific 1963 incident, a group of Turkish villagers were killed in a deadly massacre.
By 1964, Edwards was part of the first contingent of Canadians who began Canada’s longest-running peacekeeping mission, part of a United Nations post.
His time there is captured in one of the many volumes of journals the 97-year-old retired major has penned. Despite a stroke at 94, Edwards has kept up the self-publishing from his unit at the Lodge at Broadmead, having taught himself to write with his left hand. Apart from working in crisis zones Edwards spent a career as a Canadian Forces instructor.
Sadly, he often was deployed to crisis zones, and his tales include some of most horrific modern atrocities.
When he arrived at Cyprus, it was soon after Greek Cypriots instigated the fall of the Cyprus’ civil government at Christmas of 1963. Thousands of Turks fled Cyprus at the same time.
“One of the first things the UN did was set up the Green Line, right through Nicosia [largest city on Cyprus] with Greeks on one side, Turks on the other,” said Edwards.
Edwards quickly learned there were several problems with this.
“We got a call that armed Greeks had crossed the Green Line, but by the time I was there to investigate they were gone.”
Then he met a pair of Turkish businessmen.
“They approached me to say their steel wool factory was awaiting a shipment of German steel rods,” Edwards said. “The problem was the merchant ships were in the harbour on the Greek side of the Green Line.”
Edwards contacted Brigadier General Tedlie, his superior, and “he got the rods.”
Not only that, Edwards was then appointed economics welfare officer to assist the unstable Cyprus government.
Initially, Edwards was in the U.S. when the Second World War picked up. He returned to Canada and enlisted with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and also toured in the Korean War.
His tales include that and more, such as the early days of Israel.
“My arrival was a real eye-opener,” Murray said. “You wondered how one human being could do something like that to another.
“When I tried to tell a reporter, the military wouldn’t let it be told.”