Book Review: Phase Line Attila: The Amphibious Campaign for Cyprus, 1974


by Edward J. Erickson and Mesut Uyat

Quantico, Va.: Marine Corps University Press, 2020. Pp. xxii, 326. Illus., maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. Free. ISBN:1732003084

The Cyprus Campaign of 1974

On July 20, 1974, in the aftermath of a military coup on Cyprus that abolished the internationally guaranteed 1960 constitution insuring power-sharing between the republic’s minority Turkish and majority Greek communities, the Republic of Turkey carried out amphibious and airborne operations that landed nearly 15,000 troops on the north coast of the island, and secured a beachhead that reached Nicosia within a few days before a cease fire was called. The Greek junta, who initiated the coup, was soon ousted, but negotiations to insure security for Turkish Cypriots failed. On August 14th Turkish troops, reinforced, began a two day offensive, securing control over nearly 40 percent of the island, as thousands of Cypriots fled, effectively causing a population exchange. The final cease-fire line, after which this book gets its title, still divides Cyprus.

In Phase Line Attila, Prof. Erickson, author of Gallipoli: Command Under Fire and many other works on Turkish military history, and his colleague at Antalya Bilim University, military historian Prof. Uyat, open by examining the process by which the Turkish armed forces developed “an expeditionary mindset and ability to conduct amphibious operations”, termed “amphibiosity”, a process that took more than a decade.

They then devote a chapter to the origins of the Cyprus crisis and one to Turkish planning and organization for the operation. They then give us a long chapter on the events during the landings on July 20th, and then one on Turkish movements through July 23rd. After a chapter on diplomatic, political, and military developments through mid-August, they cover the Turkish offensive of August 14-16. A final chapter, titled “Reflections on Amphibiosity”, offers an overview of the consequences of the campaign and lessons to be learned from it.

The authors offer considerable detail on the events, arguably the largest and most successful amphibious (perhaps “triphibious”?) campaigns since Inchon, and supplement the text with some useful tables and a number of very good maps. While clearly written from the Turkish perspective, unlike many accounts the authors have draw on sources from both sides and have done a good job of being even-handed.

While a valuable read for those interested in the Cyprus crisis, Phase Line Attila is perhaps even more important for students of amphibious and airborne operations.




Note: Phase Line Attila is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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