The Battle of Spilia is the name given in Greek Cypriot sources to a minor engagement of the Cyprus Emergency that took place in the neighbourhood of the Cypriot village of Spilia on either 11 or 12 December 1955. The engagement involved approximately 12 members of Georgios Grivas’s EOKA group and a 40 man detachment of the 45 Commando Royal Marines.
In British military sources this is known as part of a wider operation known as ‘Foxhunter’ that was tasked with breaking up the EOKA presence in the Troodos mountains and capturing EOKA leader Georgios Grivas.
Grivas’ memoirs describe the event as a disaster for the British in which a small band of EOKA fighters took on a large ambushing force of British soldiers. He claims that he heard after the fact that there were at least 50 casualties although British sources claim ‘two slightly wounded’. Grivas claims Lieutenant Colonel Tailyour was killed in action even though Tailyour went on to serve as Commandant General Royal Marines dying in 1979.
British sources state that a Greek man was arrested in the vicinity carrying a rifle and cordex fuses and gave Grivas’ location away during interrogation. A 40 man patrol then set off in search of the hideout. Grivas and his men managed to escape and 2 Marines were ‘slightly wounded’ in a friendly fire incident when a mortar exploded on tree branches.
The engagement resulted in Grivas’s escape but with the EOKA no longer able to operate in the Spilia area.
- ^ "Η θρυλική μάχη στα Σπήλια. Ο ηρωικός Γρηγόρης Αυξεντίου στήνει παγίδα θανάτου στους Βρετανούς, που μπερδεύονται και αλληλοεξοντώνονται!". Μήχανη του Χρώνου.
- ^ Foley, Charles. The Memoirs of General Grivas. p. 54.
- ^ a b c Simmons, Mark (2015). The British and Cyprus: An Outpost of Empire to Sovereign Bases, 1978-1974. ISBN 9780750965811.
- ^ French, D. Fighting EOKA: The British Counter-Insurgency Campaign on Cyprus, 1955-1959, pp.88-9
- ^ "Norman Hastings Tailyour". Commando Veterans Archive. Retrieved 29 July 2020.
- ^ Young, D. Four Five: The Story of 45 Commando, Royal Marines, 1943-1971, (1972) p.234
-  Grigoris Afxentiou, a Cypriot fighter
-  Archived 30 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine Learn About Cyprus article (Greek language article about Grigoris Afxentiou)