Sir John Harding

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Sir Allan Francis John Harding was a British military man and governor of Cyprus (1955 - 1957).

He was born on February 10, 1896, in South Petherton, Somerset, England. In 1911, Harding joined the Territorial Army and, during the First World War was called to the regular armed forces and assigned to the Middle East theatre of operations.

During the Second World War, Harding saw action in North Africa and Italy, eventually succeeding General Alexander as commander of British forces in the Mediterranean. In 1953, Harding was promoted to Field Marshall and on October 3, 1955, was assigned military governor of Cyprus.

As governor of Cyprus, Harding sought to defeat EOKA claiming on his arrival that the organisation's days are numbered. To this end, he instituted a number of harsh measures including curfews, closures of schools, the opening of concentration camps and the imposition of the death penalty for offences such as carrying weapons, incendiary devices or any material that could be used in a bomb. Nine such executions took place often with circumstantial (e.g. Michalis Karaolis) or flimsy evidence (e.g. Iakovos Patatsos) leading to a conviction.

Along with force, Harding also attempted to use negotiations to end the Cyprus crisis, however, when his negotiations with Archbishop Makarios III fell through, Harding exiled Makarios creating yet another martyr in the EOKA cause. At this point EOKA made an assassination attempt on Harding's life (March 21, 1956) which failed as the time bomb under his bed failed to go off.

Makarios eventually returned from the Seychelles where he was sent and, on June 19, 1957, presented to the world a list of well-documented, specific cases of torture that took place on Cyprus during Harding's administration.

Sir John Harding resigned on October 22, 1957 and was replaced by a moderate, Sir Hugh Foot.

On his return to England, Harding was made a peer. He died on January 20, 1989 in Nether Compton, Dorset.