Battle of Machairas

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The Battle of Machairas was fought between March 2 and March 3, 1957, during the EOKA struggle against the British. It took place in the Troodos mountains near the monastery of Machairas.

On March 2, 1957, a force of approximately 60 British soldiers acted upon information that Grigoris Afxentiou, second in command in EOKA to Georgios Grivas-Digenis himself, was hiding in a cave in the area, entered the monastery and interrogated all the monks as to the guerrila's whereabouts. When they received no answers, they searched the surrounding area and came upon - possibly through an informer - a cave hidden by some bushes.

Sublieutenant Middleton, who headed the detachment, called upon Afxentiou to surrender. At this point, Afxentiou asked his four companions to leave the cave and give themselves up but refused to do so himself saying "...I must die". When the British saw that Afxentiou was not among their prisoners, they rushed into the cave only to be repelled by a burst of gunfire. One of them, a corporal, was killed. The British immediately requested reinforcements and continued to assault the cave with gun fire and tear gas. Seeing that this brought no result, they next told one of the companions, Avgoustis Efstathiou, to walk into the cave and convince his leader to give up. Instead, Efstathiou remained in the cave and fought alongside Afxentiou.

The battle lasted ten hours. Finally, at 02:00 AM of March 3, 1957, The British poured a large quantity of petrol into the cave and set it alight. Efstathiou managed to escape and was captured. Afxentiou was burned alive. He was 29 years old at the time of his death.