One of the wettest winters in years has posed a challenge to British troops based in Cyprus. 

The island is home to one of the highest military stations in the world.

Around 70 centimetres of snow has fallen on the Troodos Mountains, making life more difficult for personnel.

Perched on top of the island’s highest mountain, Troodos is the oldest British base in Cyprus.

It was built at the end of the 19th century as a place for the British military to escape the island’s summer heat and what was then endemic malaria. 

In 2019, it is a communications centre manned by a small contingent of RAF and Army personnel.


At half-past four in the morning, the clearance team at Troodos begin moving snow.

In winter they work flat out clearing roads, both inside the camp itself and the routes leading to it.

Snowy Troodos in winter is a long way from how most people imagine a British base in Cyrpus.

“The operational nature of what we do here, it’s absolutely key that we keep the roads open and the camp functional,” said Lieutenant Colonel Max Davison.

“So the snow clearance, which is in two elements really.

“We’ve got the contractor, John, who works from the Troodos hotel. It’s his side of life.

“Then it’s also the individuals cleaning the paths around their own stations. So that work is absolutely key to what we deliver here.

“Also it creates a safe environment for us to operate from.”

From Troodos, a mile or so up the mountain is an even smaller outpost of the British military. Perched at the top of the mountain, at the highest point in Cyprus, is a remote radar station.

This is known as the Mount Olympus site and it is the base for a small detachment of RAF personnel.

Soldiers shovelling snow in Cyprus.

Olympus is home to Number 1 Air Control Centre – an RAF unit that specialises in deployable air surveillance.

It is thought to be the highest base run by the British military, but for the airmen based up there winters can be austere.

“My family expected me to come back with a tan,” admits Senior Aircraftman Charlie Toon.

“But that faded after the first month. And yeah, I’ll be going back pasty and white. Really it’s a bit of a shock to the family.”

Servicemen at the Mount Olympus Radar Station.

In the past there has been up to three metres of snow here. 

2019 hasn’t been quite that bad…

But this being Cyprus, as quicky as the snow came, it will be replaced by warm sunshine. 

“So usually we get sandwiches down at the bottom site and then we take them up with us after breakfast,” said Senior Aircraftman Harry Davies.

“But sometimes if the weather’s really bad then we have to get the rations, which is not the best, but it’s just part of being in the military really.”

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