• Warning: Spoilers
    The Cyprus Emergency was my generation's Iraq.Except in one vital sphere.Iraq is being fought by a volunteer army,Cyprus was fought by conscripts.Badly trained,much of their uniforms and equipment left over from the second world war,most of the British soldiers had never been further away from home than Blackpool or Southend,unlike their 21st century counterparts who are fitter,stronger,more cosmopolitan and beneficiaries of far more sophisticated battlefield medicine - the legacies of numerous conflicts in the intervening four decades. There was no such thing as post-traumatic-stress-disorder,no counselling,no letters to the newspapers complaining about bullying,the squaddies of 1961 just got on with it.They moaned and groaned of course,they had every right to.After all the vast majority of them were too young to vote for a government that could send them against their wills to die in a country where the same government made certain they couldn't afford to holiday. These unfortunate young men were led by officers for the most part unused to fighting a guerilla war,much happier leading their chaps in tactical formations tried and tested against two generations of Germans who,for all their faults,were at least a visible enemy. They didn't like fighting against "civilians" in hot and dusty towns and villages,hemmed in by houses,and surrounded by stone-throwing young men.In short,everything that late 20th century wars were to become. Private Potter(Mr Tom Courtenay)a perfectly decent,ordinary young working-class lad is pushed,along with his comrades,into this unlikely and hostile theatre of war.Urged to maintain absolute silence prior to a major attack,he cries out,alerting the enemy to the soldiers' presence."Pour encourager les autres",presumably,he is Court- Martialled and runs the slightly unusual defence of having had a vision of God. For all it's intriguing premise,"Private Potter" is a bit of a mess.The night battle scene is virtually indistinguishable ,the interiors like an Am Dram production of "Journey's End" and the acting mediocre.Mr COurtenay was to play another Court-Martialled soldier a year or two later in "King and Country" to much better effect. Together with "The high,bright sun","Private Potter" is one of the very few films about the British Army in Cyprus,and as such is a curio,but not much more.With Northern Cyprus now opening up for general tourism it shouldn't be forgotten that a lot of our young men went there to fight a war they had absolutely no stake in and no choice but to wage. Please give them a thought when you're throwing your towel over your sunbed.