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Van Doos: Keeping the peace in Cyprus

During the First World War, Canada decided to create a military unit that would represent its French-speaking population. As soldiers and peacekeepers, the Royal 22nd Regiment – the famed "Van Doos" – have been among Canada's vanguard in both World Wars, and in hotspots that include Korea, Cyprus, Congo, Bosnia and East Timor. The distinct language and culture of the regiment have afforded unique opportunities, and posed frequent challenges.

After 50 years of combat service, the Van Doos are now committed to keeping the peace. Fully trained for United Nations peacekeeping operations, they have been on UN standby for three years when they are urgently needed in the Mediterranean. Operation Snowgoose airlifts 1,000 Van Doos to the tiny island of Cyprus, where tensions between Greek and Turkish residents are boiling over. The Royal 22nd are there to help prevent a civil war.

Most of the Van Doos soldiers don't speak Greek, Turkish or English, but they are the only force ready to relieve the beleaguered British troops on the island. When the Royal 22nd's 1st Battalion lands on Cyprus, CBC Television's Morley Safer is given a hair-raising Jeep tour of the "Green Line" (known locally as "Murder Mile") separating the armed partisans.
• Cyprus is an island a little bigger than Prince Edward Island, located south of Turkey. After centuries of rule by Greeks, Romans and Ottomans (among others), the island became a British colony. Cyprus became an independent republic in 1960. The island's Turkish community rebelled in 1963, and Turkey threatened to invade, prompting the United Nations to intervene.

• Hostilities boiled over once again in Cyprus in 1974, and Turkey invaded and captured more than a third of the island, which they still control. The United Nations has maintained a peacekeeping presence in Cyprus ever since, supervising ceasefire lines, maintaining a buffer zone and helping with humanitarian activities.

• Morley Safer began his journalism career as a newspaper reporter. He was a CBC Television correspondent and producer in the 1950s, then joined CBS News in the United States in April 1964. In 1970, he became co-editor of 60 Minutes.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Newsmagazine
Broadcast Date: March 18, 1964
Guests: Col. Amyo, Georges P. Vanier
Host: Harry Nuttal
Reporter: Morley Safer
Duration: 27:09

Last updated: July 18, 2013

Page consulted on February 13, 2014

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