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Our Lady of Lapithos, Ephrosyne Proestos saves 12 Cypriot soldiers

In the unequal battle of Lapithos on August 6, 1974, twelve Greek soldiers were cut off and trapped behind enemy lines.

These 12 soldiers were senn by Mrs. Efrosyne Proestou who aided them for a month. Three of them belonged to the 256th Infantry Battalion and the other nine to the 286th Motorized Infantry Battalion. All of them came from areas outside the province of Kyrenia and did not know Lapithos.

Mrs. Frosiny, who found them, stood by them like a mother. She hid them, he fed them. That August, she suddenly found herself mother to another twelve children: Panikos Paralimnitis, Costas Castellani, George Christofis, Stelios Theodoulou, Koulis Kyriakou, Nikos Papanastasiou, Pavlos Nikolaou, Andreas Grigoriou and Nikos Nikolaou, Polykarpos Petrou, Antonis Filippou and George Papanikolaou.

The testimony of Our Lady of Lapithos, Ephrosyne Proestos

On the 6th of August from 3.00 a.m. the explosions began... At 11.00 am. twelve children came into my house. "Grandma, save us." I said to them: "Where shall I put you, my son!" My heart broke. The trees were exploding, Lapithos was darkening; you thought the mountains were falling, bonfires, explosions... They were all eighteen years old. I said to them: "My son, if you will be saved there is an underground hole near here; hide there."

The mouth of the burrow was like the glass on the television. They entered there... Lapithos was full of [Turkish] soldiers. I made pies in the satji, put everything else I had in a bag and put them in a reed box... On August 8, the Turks came to my house; fifteen Turks with helmets entered. I was a midwife for forty years in Turkish villages. I knew Turkish. He says to me: "Everyone left, why didn't you leave, lady?" I thought of the twelve children who were in the burrow. I say to him: "I heard on the radio that while the Turkish army is coming to bring peace and the call for the Greeks to stay in their homes. Wherever you want, my son, I will go, but I beg you to leave me at home so that my daughters can take me."

I knew the one who asked me; I had given birth to him. "We're leaving," he tells the others. He cut back and said to me: "Go inside and close the door." At night I said to them: "Do not come out of the hole, because the Turks have come; even if one perishes, I will weep as long as I live.Take care and I will take care of you as much as I can."

However, the stubborn refusal of Mrs. Frosini to move from her house aroused the suspicions of the Turkish soldiers. On September 4, an attack was made against Kaplanis' house where the 12 soldiers were hiding. One of them started on foot and reached Astromeritis and from there Agros. A second was arrested in the area of ​​Vavila while a third managed to reach Kyrenia and surrender to Glaukos Clerides, who was at a a meeting with Rauf Dedkas. The remaining 9 were arrested together with Ms. Frosyni.

The horrible tortures

She was arrested first by the Turks as soon as they were spotted. She was interrogated very harshly at the Agios Loukas police station. She was severely beaten to confess where the 12 soldiers were. But the Lady of Lapithos did not open her mouth. She kept any details about the 12 young people under wraps. She was ready to undergo the horrible psychological and physical torture. They stripped her, tied her to a military jeep and dragged her through the streets to confess their hiding place. Mrs. Frosiny, however, did not budge. Despite the torture and humiliation they didn't get a single word out of her.

"They put me in a room where two old men had died at dawn. The chamber was full of blood. They were hitting me. I was unconscious. My side was all black. They kicked me with my shoes, with military shoes. They took off the chain I had on my neck with the cross and made me spit on the cross." When the soldiers she was helping were brought before her, seeing her face, they thought she had confessed. They asked the first: "do you know this woman?" The soldier replied "Yes, she gave me food." Then Mrs. Frosiny, clever as she was, turned to the soldier and answered: “What time did you come, my son, and I fed you? Morning or night;". Kyriakos realized his mistake. He answered "evening" and Mrs. Frosiny, taking advantage of the Turkish she knew, turned to the investigator and said: "Okay, my son, if you come at night, won't I give you food?" How do I know who's in the night. I myself birthed half the Turkish women. He can be Turkish, he can be Greek. How should I know?".

And in this way she deceived her interrogators, who thought that the 74-year-old woman had no connection with the soldiers. The torture and humiliation continued until she was identified by a Turkish Cypriot investigator. Mrs. Frosiny, a local midwife for forty years, had also given birth to him. "A Turkish Cypriot I knew came to the prison. He was an investigator. He sings to me: "If you are crying, baby, I will take you to your place" (...). I was trapped in Lapithos for six months and they brought me to a Greek Schoo.

l Mrs. Frosini, passed away on April 17, 1993 at the age of 93. The twelve soldiers who survived had her as their mother. "The fact that we are alive today, we owe it to Mrs. Frosini", they admit...

  • Published in Greece
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