OTD: Canadian peacekeeper killed in Cyprus

On today’s date in 1974, a Canadian peacekeeper was killed during Greek-Turkish fighting on the island of Cyprus.

In 2014, the Royal Canadian Mint issued a $20 silver coin, marking the 50th anniversary of Canadian peacekeeping in Cyprus, which was the longest UN mission conducted by Canada. Designed by Canadian artist Silvia Pecota, the coin depicts a soldier standing at the base of an observation tower, with a second soldier in the foreground wearing the distinctive blue beret worn by peacekeepers worldwide. The coin has a very limited mintage of 8,500.

In August 1974, a new invasion by the Turks began to actively target United Nations soldiers. A ceasefire was quickly established with both Greeks and Turks preparing defensive positions; however, the airborne unit continued its patrols – visiting both sides and helping civilian refugees and prisoner of war exchanges – and during some hostilities, Private Lionel Gilbert Perron, 20, and Private Joseph Jean Claude Berger, 21, were killed; another 30 airborne soldiers were wounded.

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