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“Sgt Allen Was My Father”

How one Online Book helped shape our business

The story of one particular Online Book – the British Cyprus Memorial Book – played a significant role in the developments that have seen us become The Online Book Company we are today.

This book was established a decade ago (2009) to commemorate the fallen British servicemen of what became known as the Cyprus Emergency that ran from 1955-1959. Much engaged with to this day, the Online Book enables friends, family and comrades to discover and share stories of, and pay tribute to their loved ones as well as remembering them on special days. Its establishment marked the first time official recognition was given to those who had lost their lives in the campaign.

A son’s discovery

Company founder and Managing Director, Jonathan Haward recalls,

“An entry in the book on 28th July 2009 by David Clifton is one I shall always remember.

Opening with the words: “Sgt Allen was my father” it went on to say how, in coming across The British Cyprus Memorial Trust’s remembrance of Sgt Allen in the online book, he had learnt, for the first time, how his father had died.

Too young to remember much of his father himself, and with a mother who had been reluctant to talk of that terrible time, he had grown up not knowing anything about his father’s death.

Sgt Allen, a 28-year-old Regular from Clare, Suffolk was murdered by three masked gunmen who had intended to take him hostage in retaliation for an EOKA man facing the death penalty for the murder of RAF Cpl Hale three months earlier. The unarmed Sgt Allen put up such a fight that they shot him dead. His killers were never caught and he is buried at Wayne’s Keep in the British military cemetery in Cyprus.

How one online book helped shape our business

Finishing with the words, echoed in other tributes, “I am very proud of him,” it brought home to me, with heart-rending poignancy, the immeasurable value of what we had created and was instrumental in my decision to sell my other business concerns and make Friends and Relations my over-riding passion.”

Helping the Cyprus Veterans organisation

Now running to over 1600 pages, The British Cyprus Memorial Book, has been instrumental in the Cyprus Veterans organisation’s work in finding and contacting the families of the 372 British servicemen who died on active service during the four-year Emergency, and offering them recognition for the sacrifices made by their loved ones.

A growing number of families have now attended special ceremonies and been awarded the Elizabeth Cross* as well as honouring their loved ones with General Service Medals and Memorial Scrolls.

The book also carries an additional section “Also Remembered” that pays tribute to the 26 servicemen killed on the island before the end of 1959 but not included within the UK Government’s time frame of the conflict.

Late last year we learnt the wonderful news that some 10 UK-based veterans, now in their 80s, were able to attend the Remembrance Sunday Service in North Cyprus last November. And at the beginning of 2019 we helped Cyprus Veterans track down the son of Sgt Alexander Mills Brown who had posted a moving tribute to his father in late 2015. Preparations are now under way for Sgt Mills Brown’s son, Duncan, to receive the Elizabeth Cross.

* Note: The Elizabeth Cross was introduced in 2009 and is awarded in national recognition of the loss and sacrifice suffered by the families of those service personnel killed on operations in the line of duty.

Eva Seymour“Sgt Allen Was My Father”
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