Sue and I arrived in Israel, newly married, with a Brownie box camera !! Within months we decided to buy our first 35mm SLR to record our visits in and around Israel. This winter (2006-2007), 40-some years later, I scanned our 35 mm slides for a DVD slide show and wrote a narrative history of our travels. There are 40 pages, some with pictures. I plan to scan our Moscow slides and prepare a write-up describing the time we spent there on our second posting. This is one way to weather a damp and quite unusual winter here on Vancouver Island.
There is one portion I wish to share with OFARTS as it relates to and may evoke memories of similar incidents known to other, now retired, technicians of that era.
The Canadian Ambassador to Israel during my posting to Tel Aviv was also accredited as High Commissioner to Cyprus. Ambassador Arthur Julian Andrew was a fair manager, and his wife was a nice and caring person.
As the resident telecommunications technician in Tel Aviv, I was also responsible for the maintenance of equipment in Nicosia, Cyprus and Teheran Iran. John Carter visited Cyprus once that I knew of. Tel Aviv was responsible for maintaining Nicosia with Cairo acting as a backup.
Because of the hostilities between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots, the Canadian High Commission was temporarily established in Cyprus on August 1st 1964. With Ambassador Andrew's replacement in Israel in 1965 came the naming of a full-time Canadian High Commissioner to Cyprus. The appointment of Thomas Blake Burrill Wainman-Wood, who perhaps thought he was running a ship, was, in my assessment, a mistake. His arrival marked the beginning of a decline in civilian staff morale.
Prior to Mr. Wainman-Wood's arrival, civilian staff posted to Cyprus were accommodated at the Ledra Palace until they had located more permanent accommodation. This hotel had a nice restaurant, a swimming pool and other amenities that made a stay in Nicosia comfortable. The hotel was also very suitable for visitors on temporary duty at the high commission because it was within walking distance of the office. Today it is the UN Headquarters in Cyprus.
Mr. Wainman-Wood's arrival,
Canadian staff (senior officers excepted) were no longer assigned to the Ledra
Palace which was the only air-conditioned hotel in Nicosia. Other office
changes made things less pleasant for all. Fortunately the High Commission had
a small staff and half of them were seconded from the military, where they may
have become accustomed to his type of leadership.
I experienced his discrimination first-hand when called to Nicosia to undertake repairs to the telecommunications equipment. The response to my normal request for a hotel reservation gave the name of a heretofore unknown hotel. A similar response was received by the RCMP Liaison Officer who, quite coincidentally, was traveling to Nicosia at the same time. Requests to have both reservations changed to the Ledra Palace were unanswered before our arrival.
When the High Commission driver picked us up at the airport I asked him to wait outside the distant hotel while I went in and cancelled our reservations. We then had the driver take us to the Ledra Palace, where we checked in. Nicosia was not a tourist haven in those days and hotels were never fully booked.
The next day the administrative officer enquired about my accommodation; I told him I was unsatisfied with the hotel booked by the High Commission on the outskirts of Nicosia, far from restaurants and the office and that I had booked into the Ledra Palace. He was unprepared for this response and said "the High Commissioner will not be pleased".
day I was called in to "talk" with the High Commissioner. He went
directly to his point when he said there is a policy to not allow staff to
stay in a luxury hotel. He feared embarrassment to the High Commission's
reputation. I told him that the Ledra Palace was certainly not a luxury hotel
and that I had stayed there previously while on temporary duty. "The
difference in price between the two hotels was $1.00 and that I would happily
pay the difference if this became a problem."
Wainman-Wood was not very happy with my stand. "Next time you visit Nicosia you won't have the co-operation of the High Commission in booking your accommodation".
I'm almost sure this confrontation led to the posting of a resident technician to Cyprus.
Don Graham was the perfect candidate to introduce Thomas Blake Burrill Wainman-Wood to the wisdom of dealing fairly with his staff.
Donald Graham comments (February 10, 2007):
Terry has that spot on; TBB Wainman-Wood was exactly as described. One of his policies was to strictly adhere to the DiploNot booze allowance which was, I believe, a bottle per month on a case basis.
shortly after he began enforcing this policy, with the connivance of the
mission military guards, I was made a member on the Camp Maple Leaf sergeants
mess. We could have joined the Officer’s mess but the sergeants had better
food since they procured it, and the mess dress was less formal.
I explained my plight to the booze sergeant who told me to bring my wagon on out and take what booze I needed and he would put it on the CFA’s account. Since I paid for it by Canadian cash, it would never be known.
worked well until I
overpaid for a purchase and the finance sergeant tried to reimburse the CFA.
The game was up. I was expecting summary action, if not execution, by TBBWW
but before he could get to me he apparently had a nervous breakdown and
his way back to Nicosia his plane got high jacked and it really put him over
the edge. Never saw him again. The CFA was amused and the booze continued to
The hotel accommodation matter became a dead issue when TBBWM refused to put the diplomatic courier in the Ledra Palace. Col. Bill Lockhart, the Director of Telecommunications at the time, refused courier service in return.
Leigh Shankland Comments (March 4, 2007)
I got a kick out of reading Terry
Hayes and Don Graham's comments on the attitude of our High Commissioner in
Cyprus regarding hotel accommodation during their visits to that island.
Perhaps it was during their time in Cyprus that I first visited, as a Diplomatic Courier, this country. As I recall I met resistance from the High Commission by staying at the Ledra Palace hotel. In fact I was called in, on my return to Ottawa, by Archie Matthews, head of the Courier Section at that time, to explain my side of the story. I did so and within a day I was given a copy of a telegram which Archie had sent to the High Commission in Cyprus.
This telegram read, if I recall correctly (after 37 years):
'My Diplomatic Couriers have the authority to charter a plane, rent a boat, hire a rickshaw and stay in a hotel of their choosing while undertaking their duties on behalf of the Government of Canada. Please ensure that in future all Canadian Diplomatic Couriers are booked into the Ledra Palace Hotel while in Nicosia'
As Archie had the ear of Colonel Lockhart no more was heard of this from our HC in Cyprus and we duly stayed at the Ledra Palace during our layovers in that country.
The Former Ledra Palace Hotel was shelled by both sides during 1974 volatilities. Paratroopers from the Canadian Airborne Regiment rescued and evacuated the resident guests while under fire. The hotel became living quarters for the Canadian contingent afterwards and is now UN Headquarters in Nicosia in the buffer 'Green Line" zone between the Greek and Turkish sectors.
© OFARTS Canada 2006-2007 Old Foreign Affairs Retired Technicians, Canada The opinions expressed here are those of the contributors. Accuracy of facts has not been verified in all cases.