Long-term Peacekeeping Begins
On the island of Cyprus, a former British Crown Colony which became independent in 1960, fighting broke out between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
Initially, it was thought that NATO would provide some sort of peacekeeping force, however, the Soviet union objected rather loudly to that proposal so it was up to the United Nations to deal with the problem. On 4 March 1964 the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was established by the Security Council.
The Canadian Army decided to dispatch its standby infantry battalion, the 1st Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment. The RCD, then stationed in Gagetown, were tasked with providing the armoured reconnaissance squadron. The advance party, consisting of seven Ferrets and a 3/4 ton Fitters vehicle, left the Fredericton Airport and headed east on 13 March 1964.
The main body of the Squadron moved to Halifax the next day and started loading HMCS Bonnaventure with the remainder of the vehicles and kit. Colonel E. A. C. Amy, a Dragoon who had commanded the Regiment from 1953 to 1956, commanded the Canadian Contingent.
The Squadron was quickly into the complex routine of negotiation, patrolling and occasional fighting. The low point of the tour came when Trooper J. H. Fess Campbell, swerved to avoid an old woman and her sheep on a winding mountain road. His Ferret crashed over an embankment, landing on its back and killing Campbell instantly. The following day, the Mayor of the small Greek village near the scene of the accident arrived with a wreath of flowers in hand to express the sympathy of the villagers and to thank the Dragoons for taking care of them. Trooper Campbell is commemorated by a Regimental hockey trophy named in his memory.
The Squadron was back in Gagetown by 7 October, 1964, having been relieved by the Strathconas. No sooner had they returned when A Squadron, under Major A. K. Casselman, was warned for the tour they would start in March 1965.
The Squadron was involved with two special projects during the tour consisting of Operation NIGHT RIDER - the evacuation of 500 or more Turkish university students from Cyprus - and escorting Turkish Army rotation convoys as well.
The Squadron rotated back to New Brunswick in May of 1966 to be replaced by Major K. G. Troughton’s A Squadron, who would be home for Christmas of that year themselves. They didn’t know it at the time, but when A Squadron boarded the plane to come home they would be the last Dragoons who would deploy as a formed body on United Nations peacekeeping duty until 1989.
In 1989, the Regiment deployed complete to Nicosia under Lieutenant- Colonel Mike Appleton. Whilst there, the Regiment was under command of Major- General Clive Milner, himself a Dragoon, who had been appointed Force Commander. Major-General Milner was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross for his action in Cyprus and the Middle East.