Cengiz Topel

Cengiz Topel (September 2, 1934 – August 8, 1964) was a fighter pilot of the Turkish Air Force, who was tortured to death after his plane was shot down while supporting the Turkish army during the 1964 inter-communal conflict "Erenköy Resistance", known as the Battle of Tylliria in Greek Cypriot parlance.

Cengiz Topel
Cengiz Topel.JPG
Statue of Topel in Eskişehir, Turkey
Born(1934-09-02)September 2, 1934
İzmit, Turkey
DiedAugust 8, 1964(1964-08-08) (aged 29)
Paphos District, Cyprus
Service/branchTurkish Air Force
Years of service1955–1964
Unit112th Air Squadron
Battles/warsBattle of Tylliria Executed


Topel was born in İzmit on September 2, 1934 to Hakkı Bey, a tobacco expert from Trabzon and Mebuse Hanım in İzmit, where his father was working for the Turkish tobacco company Tekel. He was the third sibling of four children.

Cengiz Topel was schooled in Bandırma and Gönen of Balıkesir Province. He finished the primary and the secondary school in Kadıköy, İstanbul, where his family moved following his father's death. After a brief time at Haydarpaşa High School, he entered Kuleli Military High School, from which he graduated in 1953. Cengiz Topel joined the Army in 1955 with the rank of a second lieutenant following his education at the Turkish Military Academy.[1]

His interest in aviation took him to the Turkish Air Force. He was sent to Canada for flight training. In 1957, he returned to Turkey and was appointed to the 5th Air Wing in Merzifon Air Base. Cengiz Topel served from 1961 on at the 1st Tactical Air Force Command at Eskişehir Air Base. In 1963, he became an Air Force captain.[1]

Combat missionEdit

On August 8, 1964, Topel was appointed to a combat mission during Turkey's military intervention during the Battle of Tylliria. He led a four-fighter flight of the 112th Air Squadron leaving Eskişehir Air Base around 17:00 local time for Cyprus. Topel's F-100 Super Sabre was hit by 40mm anti-aircraft fire from a Greek Cypriot gun emplacement and shot-down as he was strafing the Arion, a Greek Cypriot patrol boat. He was able to eject from his aircraft and made a safe parachute jump over land. He was promptly captured and brought to a hospital. However, members of the Cyprus National Guard allegedly took him from the hospital to their headquarters at Kykkos Monastery. An autopsy of his body showed that he was heavily tortured and his corpse was shot afterwards. In detaille: One of his eyes was goughed out, a metal construction nail was hammerd in his skull, in his both arms were holes drilled, his testicals was smashed, his legs were broken. Some of his inner organs has been robbed. He suffered unimaginable pain till he got shot and murdered. [2]

His corpse was returned on August 12, 1964 to the Turkish authorities only after insistent attempts.[3] On August 14, 1964, he was laid to rest at the Edirnekapı Martyr's Cemetery in Istanbul.[1]

He is known as the first Turkish pilot to be killed in action.[1]


A former Turkish Air Force base located near İzmit, currently in use as Cengiz Topel Naval Air Station, is named after him. A monument was erected on the coastal road in the village Gemikonağı near Lefke in Northern Cyprus, where he had landed by parachute.[3] A bronze statue in Eskişehir depicts him in flight suit. A number of places,[4][5][6][7] schools[8][9][10] in Turkey and a hospital in Northern Cyprus[11] are named after him.


  1. ^ a b c d "Cengiz Topel (1934–1964)" (in Turkish). Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı Okulweb. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  2. ^ "Cengiz Topel Kimdir?". Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Cengis Topel Memorial – Gemikonagi, Near Lefke, North Cyprus". What's on North Cyprus. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  4. ^ "Erzincan Cengiztopel Village". Baybul.com. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  5. ^ İETT. "Cengiz Topel Street in six districts of İstanbul". Iett.gov.tr. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  6. ^ "Malatya Cengiz Topel Street". Malatyaguncel.com. July 27, 2009. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  7. ^ "Gaziantep Cengiztopel Neighborhood". Kenthaber.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  8. ^ "Antalya Cengiz Topel Kindergarten". Cengiztopelanaokulu.k12.tr. Archived from the original on October 25, 2011. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 1, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-23.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Tarsus Cengiz Topel High School
  10. ^ http://www.cengiztopellisesi.meb.k12.tr/ İzmir Güzelbahçe Cengiz Topel High School
  11. ^ "KKTC Sağlık Bakanlığı > Anasayfa". www.saglikbakanligi.com. Archived from the original on May 16, 2008. Retrieved August 23, 2009.