Grigoris Afksendiou (1928-1957)

Back to where you came from. The same text in Greek.

Grigoris Afksendiou {Γρηγόρης Αυξεντίου} (1928-1957). One of the most illustrious figures of the 1955-1959 Struggle for Freedom from British rule, which led to the liberation of Cyprus and to its being declared an independent republic in 1960, Grigoris Afksendiou was born in Lisi {Λύση} in Famagusta {Ammohostos ~ Αμμόχωστος}. On completing his secondary education in 1948, he went to Greece where he joined the Greek Army. He served until 1952 and ranked Reserve Second Lieutenent.

After his discharge from the ranks of the Greek Army, he came to Cyprus and helped his father with his business by working as a driver. At that time he also got engaged to be married. He joined the National Organization for the Cypriot Struggle {Ethniki Organosis Kiprion Agoniston ~ Εθνική Οργάνωσις Κυπρίων Αγωνιστών (E.O.K.A.)} and became Adjutant to Digenis {Διγενής}. He was known by the code name "Zidros" {Ζήδρος} and was top of the British list of wanted men. They had proclaimed a reward of 5,000 pounds sterling for him for blowing up British property. When the reward was proclaimed, he went to hide in the Pendadaktilos {Πενταδάκτυλος} mountain range. There he taught freedom fighters how to use weapons, and also taught the techniques of guerrilla warfare. He was very active in the Pendadaktilos range as well as on Mount Troodos {Τρόοδος}, which he moved on to later.

On March 3rd, 1957, while he was hiding at Maheras {Μαχαιράς} with three of his compatriots, Avgoustis Efstathiou {Αυγουστής Ευσταθίου}, Andonis Papadopoulos {Αντώνης Παπαδόπουλος} and Fidias Simeonidis {Φειδίας Συμεωνίδης}, the British found out where he was. Grigoris persuaded those fighting with him to surrender, but he remained and fought on alone against the enemy for 10 hours. When the British urged him to surrender he gave them only one answer, "Μολών Λαβέ" ({Molon Lave} = Come and Get; a response given by Ancient Greeks to their enemies). Eventually, as they were unable to force him out of his hiding place, they threw in petrol and incendiary grenades and burnt him.

Despite the fact that he was dead, the British Administration of the island refused permission for his burial in a proper cemetery. He was buried in the cemetery of Nicosia {Lefkosia ~ Λευκωσία} Central Prison, which was known by the name "Imprisoned Graves" {Filakizmena Mnimata ~ Φυλακισμένα Μνήματα}.

On Tuesday, March 5th, 1957, all the Athenian morning papers carried the news:

Grigoris Afksendiou supposed Second-in-Command of E.O.K.A. and Adjutant to Digenis was killed the day before yesterday after heroically fighting a strong force of British troops single-handed for ten whole hours in a cave near Maheras Monastery on Mount Troodos. The battle happened as follows.

The security forces were in possession of information that this patriot, who was on the wanted list with a 5,000 pound sterling reward out for him, was hiding in Maheras Monastery. On Saturday afternoon a detachment of the British Army consisting of 60 men moved towards the Monastery and surrounded it so as to apprehend the wanted Freedom Fighter. The British soldiers wrought havoc on the monastery and took all the monks into custody, including the Abbot. They then tortured them to make them divulge where Afksendiou was hiding. None of the monks said anything. While searching the area around the monastery, the British soldiers discovered a cave hidden by some bushes.

It is said that a shepherd told them Afksendiou was hiding in the cave. The British troops immediately surrounded the cave and called upon Afksendiou to surrender.

The leader of the British detachment, Second Lieutenent Middleton, approached the entrance to the cave and called: "Throw down your arms and surrender or we attack". Somebody answered: "All right. We surrender". Four men came out. Rewards of 5,000 pounds had been proclaimed for two of them, just as for Afksendiou, but Afksendiou was not among them. Second Lieutenent Middleton once again called upon him to surrender, only to be given the proud reply "Μολών Λαβέ".

Four men immediately charged into the cave. The heroic Fighter for the Freedom of Cyprus greeted them with a hail of bullets. Three of the four Britons, who had been hoping to claim the reward for Afksendiou, ran out in fear, and the fourth, who had been wounded in the chest, fell to the ground and died of his wounds a few hours later. The leader of the British troops, Second Lieutenent Middleton, immediately asked for reinforcements, which arrived by helicopter. The battle went on in this way for 10 whole hours. During the battle the British used tear gas bombs, among other things.

In the face of Afksendiou's unrelenting courage, and having used every weapon at their disposal, the British soldiers threw petrol bombs into the cave. Huge flames filled the cave and soon enveloped the Patriotic Hero's body.

The battle ended at 2 o'clock in the morning and Afksendiou's charred body was retrieved. Afxentiou was 29 years old and worked as a taxi driver. He was second only to General Grivas {Γρίβας} on the British list of wanted men.

Grigoris Afksendiou (1928-1957)

Grigoris Afksendiou (1928-1957)