Cyprus

The Wolfpack In Cyprus: Patrolling The Buffer Zone In The World's Last Divided Capital

27 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps are the latest to be deployed to Cyprus on peacekeeping duties with the United Nations.

Two-hundred and forty British soldiers are the latest to be deployed to the world's last divided capital in Cyprus on peacekeeping duties with the United Nations (UN).

Usually based at Aldershot, 27 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps patrol the buffer zone in Nicosia, which splits the island of Cyprus in two.

Known in the Army as 'The Wolfpack', they ensure the two opposing militaries do not encroach upon the demilitarised area, and also stop other activities, such as illegal hunting.

Corporal Richard Chamberlain, 27 Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, said: "We send out so many patrols a day, we have a period of time that we have to patrol the buffer zone for.

"So my job is just to manage that, and make sure that we're rotating round.

"The buffer zone is very unique, it's like a time capsule."

The UN's peacekeeping force was formally established in 1964, with around 6,500 soldiers at its peak.

In parts of the Nicosia, just metres separate the two sides, whereas elsewhere the buffer zone can be up to seven kilometres wide.

The British sector spans 30 kilometres, which the soldiers cover by vehicle, mountain bike and foot.

Lieutenant Colonel Darren Fisher, Commanding Officer, 27 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, said: "For about 50% of the regiment, this is their first time on operations and a lot of them have really taken to it."

The UN's peacekeeping force was formally established in 1964, with around 6,500 soldiers at its peak.

Nowadays, the number is less than 1,000 - the majority of whom are British.

The arrival of Turkish troops to the island in July 1974 prompted a short but bloody civil war, and in the aftermath, Nicosia's buffer zone was set up along the line of ceasefire.

After 45 years, some buildings there are displaying signs of ageing, in what was once the heart of a busy commercial area.

The British sector spans 30 kilometres, which the soldiers cover by vehicle, mountain bike and foot.

For the soldiers, each day is a history lesson.

Lieutenant Jack Turner, 27 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, added: "You can see where people were living their lives essentially.

"People lost their businesses, people lost their homes, and it's very interesting to see that it went from being an everyday pattern of life to suddenly nothing."

Worldwide, more than 600 British troops and police officers are currently on UN peacekeeping duties - nearly 300 in South Sudan, and a further 250 in Cyprus.

With a political solution to the Cyprus problem continuing to prove elusive, it is possible their involvement in Nicosia could continue well into the future.