OTD: Canadian peacekeeper killed in Cyprus

On today’s date in 1974, Greek and Turkish hostilities on the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus led to the deaths of two Canadian peacekeepers.

In August 1974, a new invasion by the Turks began to actively target United Nations (UN) soldiers. While a ceasefire was established with both Greeks and Turks preparing defensive positions, the UN’s airborne units continued its patrols, visiting both sides and assisting civilian refugees and prisoner of war exchanges.

During some ensuing hostilities, Canadian Privates Lionel Gilbert Perron, 20, and Joseph Jean Claude Berger, 21, were among more than 30 casualties.

Perron, who died that day, and Berger, who died a few weeks later on Sept. 10, 1974, were the first Canadian combat casualties since the Korean War about two decades earlier.

2014 PEACEKEEPING COIN

The 50th anniversary of Canadian peacekeeping in Cyprus – the longest UN mission conducted by Canada – was marked on a $20 Proof silver coin issued by the Royal Canadian Mint in 2014.

Designed by Canadian artist Silvia Pecota, the coin depicts a soldier standing at the base of an observation tower in the background while a second soldier – a master corporal – wears the distinctive blue beret worn by peacekeepers worldwide.

The coin has a weight of 31.39 grams, a diameter of 38 millimetres and a mintage of 8,500 pieces.

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