Army General Service Corps Association holds AGM
The Regimental Association of Sri Lanka Army General Service Corps
will hold its Annual General meeting at the Panagoda Regimental
Auditorium on September 15 at 9.30 am under the Presidency of Major
General R K P Ranaweera. Transport has been arranged from the Colombo
Fort Railway Station to leave at 0800 hrs and also to return after the
meeting on this day.
Executive committee meeting
The Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps Association will hold its Executive
Committee meeting on Friday September 14 at the SLESA Secretariat.
Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment Ex-Servicemen’s Association will hold its
Executive Committee meeting on Sunday September 16 at the SLESA
The monthly meeting of the Welfare Grants Committee will be held on
September 17 at 0900 hrs at the SLESA Secretariat 29 1/1, Bristol
Street, Colombo 1.
Office-bearers of the Sri Lanka Air Force Ex-Signals Association for
the year 2012/2013
President: Ldr. P L I
Vice President: Capt.
Hony. Secretary: Noel
Treasurer: K L S Fernando
Asst. Treasurer: Ranjith
And 11 Members were elected to the Committee.
A historical account of the Ceylon Defence Force (1881-1949)
In the First World War the CPRC sent a force of 8 officers and 229
other ranks commanded by Major J. Hall Brown. The unit sailed for Egypt
on October 1914, and was deployed in defence of the Suez canal. The unit
was officially attached to the Australia New Zealand Army Crops (ANZAC)
and was in 1915 dispatched to Anzac Cove (‘Z Beach’) on the Gallipoli
Peninsula. The CPRC Performed operational duties as guards to ANZAC
headquarter staff, including the General Officer Commanding ANZAC,
Lieutenant General William Birdwood , who remarked, “I have an excellent
guard of Ceylon Planters who are such a nice lot of fellows.” According
to its are time Commanding Officer Colonel T.Y.Wright (1904-1912), the
CPRC had sustained overall losses of 80 killed and 99 wounded in the
First World War.
In 1915 far away from the front lines, ethnic tensions in Ceylon
spilled over into major civil unrest between angry crowds of mainly
Sinhalese Buddhists and Muslims. Governor Robert Chalmers (1913-1916)
mobilized the CDF, under Martial Law proclamations lasting 100 days, to
confront its first major internal security operation. This was under
taken alongside 300 regular infantrymen of the Brtish-Indian Army’s 28th
Punjabi’s, who were temporarily on garrison duty in Ceylon. An
illustration of how the Police and armed forces were used in the ‘1915’
riots’ was described in a situation report by Ceylon’s Deputy Assistant
Adjutant General , Captain LA Northcote, “Disturbances, with outbreaks
of fire and looting ,were Frequent occurrences in Colombo and elsewhere,
and order was not obtained until a few rioters had been killed and
others wounded by rifle fire and bayonet.” According to official figures
116 people were killed, 63 by military and Police forces.
After the ‘1915’ riots’ the 28th Punjabi’s were dispatched to
Mesopotamia and replaced in January 1917 by a detachment of the
British-Indian Army’s 80th Carnatics. Frontline manpower shortages and
budget cutbacks also compelled the transfer of the 80th Catrnatics, the
last regular military unit to be stationed in Ceylon on garrison duties.
As a consequence the colonial government then raised the specially
formed Mobilized Detachment of Ceylon Light Infantry consisting of
approximately 200volunteer soldiers who remained continuously mobilised
on a fixed basis.
The Second World War transformed the structure of the CDF, which was
mobilised and considerably expanded to fortify Ceylon in meeting the
threat posed by the Japanese.
By 1945 the CDF reached its wartime peak at 645 officers and 14,247
other ranks. Examples include the Ceylon Supply and Transport Corps (CSTC),which
grew from 18 Officers and 150 other ranks in 1939 to 59 Officers and
2,369 other ranks by August 1945.
The largest facet of CDF development was represented by the CLI,
which grew from one, to five battalions by 1946.
CLI troops in 1941 escorted Italian Prisoners of War (POWs) from the
Middle East to Ceylon, and later in1946 Japanese POWs from Ceylon to
India. In addition, CLI troop detachments were stationed at Kandy in
defence of Supreme Commander, Lord Louis Mountbatten’s South East Asia
Command (SEAC) headquarters. Some CDF units were placed outside Ceylon,
undertaking garrison duties in Seychelles and the Cocos Islands. In fact
the Cocos Islands was the scene of an alleged ‘mutiny’ described by Nocl
Crusz in his book “The Cocos Islands Mutiny” . The ‘mutiny’ occurred
amongst a dissident group of soldiers from the Ceylon Garrison Artillery
(CGA),leading to the trial and execution of two Gunners and one
Later in 1947 during the post-war years, the CDF was again mobilised
in its last major internal security operation to suppress a general
strike, or mass stoppage of work. The CDF was given additional support
by an armed detachment of British Royal Marines from HMS Glasgow,who
were utilised to deter strikers in Colombo. In his summary of the ‘1947
general strike’ the Ceylon Army’s first post independence Ceylonese
commander, Major General Anton Muttukumaru (1955-1959),who was also in
1943 the CO of the CLI’s 2nd battalion, explained.,
“In1947, the Ceylon Defence Force was recalled from leave in order to
aid the civil power dealing with a major crisis in the trade union
field. I laving gone through the experience of a major war, the brush
with civilian organization was rather strange. The experience was
however valuable in taking control of disturbed areas, making judgments
as to the degree of force to be used and, in any case assisting the
civil police in the maintenance of law and order.”
February 4th 1948 marked the formal end of British Imperialism in
Ceylon. Nonetheless, British influence still held considerable sway,
illustrated by the 1947 Anglo- Ceylonese ‘Defence Agreement’. Apart from
safeguarding British strategic interests, the accord gave British
military advisors a significant role in designing the structure and
composition of the post-independence regular and volunteer Ceylon Army,
renamed in 1972 the Sri Lanka Army, which was outlined by its first
Commander, Brigadier The Earl of Cattiness (1949-1052).
“There is already a close affinity between the Ceylon Army and the
British Army Many of the Army’s customs and regulations are based on
those of the British Army, and all Regiments and Corps of the Ceylon
Army are now affiliated to corresponding British Regiments and Corps. To
the British Army the Ceylon Army owes much of its formation.”
Under British auspices, the Ceylon Army’s reconstruction program
continued until the tenure of the first two Ceylon Army Commanders, who
were British, Brigadiers the Earl of Cattiness and Sir Francis Reid
The CDF was officially disbanded on 11th April 1949 and reconstituted
by Army Act No. 17 of 1949 as the Ceylon Volunteer Force (CVF), later
the Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force (SLAVF). Solders who had experience
in the CDF were activity recruited in to the newly constructed regular,
and reconstructed Volunteer Ceylon Army.
In its first few years, and with few exceptions, the only new
recruits enlisted were officer cadets and soldiers below the rank of
Warrant Officer. Ex-CDF veterans featured prominently in the post
independence regular Ceylon Army until General D S Attyalle (1967-1977)
finished his term as Commander. The last ex-CDF veteran to leave the
Army was Brigadier TSB Sally of the SLAVF; who ended his service tenure
in 1979, closing the final chapter on the CDF in Sri Lanka’s history.
Memoirs of a War Veteran Abyzov meets Serafina
The desolate appearance of the Zhuravli village disturbed Abyzov. The
houses were scattered on the slope of a hill irregularly. It looked as
though they (houses) would slip into the hollow, through which a rivulet
flowed if a strong wind blew. Most of the roofs were thatched exept for
a few. Some houses had wattle fences and the others had none at all.
Stupakov’s house was dilapidated, to the extent that the sky could be
seen though the roof.
The lady of the house, Serafina by name looked sickly and emaciated,
with three children on her hands. It seemed that she had lost all
confidence and was totally exhausted. Abyzov’s presence did not evoke
the slightest interest in her.
“Couldn’t he have come himself” she asked
“No he couldn’t” he said
He did not want to tell her that Lieutenant Stupakov was fighting in
the front, far away.
Serafina began to soften on the third or fourth day Abyzov visited
the chairman of the collective farm. He had returned from the front
after losing a leg at Rzhev. He was a kind hearted man burdened with all
sorts of cares big and small. Abyzov organized the repairs to the roof
of stupakov’s house with the help of an old grey-bearded man who was
completely deaf, and some village youths.
Even at the end of May this old man wore his winter hat and felt
boots. Abyzov went to the woods with the boys to collect wood, after
having borrowed a cart with a horse from the farm.
On the eve of Abyzov’s departure, the chairman hobbled into
serafina’s house and put a bottle of turbid moonshine on the table.
Serafina drank with the others and was initially in high spirits but
suddenly broke down sobbing,
“Chairman, I am going to die soon, what will happen to my kids?”
Abyzov informed Captain Volkov of everything and handed him a letter
from the Chairman of the farm who assured him that he would look after
“This alone is enough to ask to be transferred to the front to fight
and beat up those rascals!”
shouted Captain Volkov, thoroughly agitated. One fine day in autumn
when there were silvery webs floating in the air, a group of graduates
from the sniper school were sent to fight in the field and Abyzov was
one of them.
They were worried that the war would end before they could get to the
front. After the Germans had suffered defeat on the Kursh Bulge, at
Leningrad in the ‘Crimea, the Ukraine Byelorussia and the Baltic
everybody was in high spirits. Abyzov’s mother too had written about it
as she had been in Moscow when a salute was being fired in honour of the
liberation of Kishinev capital of Soviet Moldavia. She wrote that tears
ran from her eyes as she watched the crowds cheering in Moscow. Times
have changed, the Russian troops had not only reached the frontier, but
had gone beyond it to liberating the other peoples from the Nazi
Mother also wrote, that Abyzov’s mathematics teacher Pavel ivanovich
had been killed in action and his classmate Volodya Korogodov had
perished in a burning tank. Bors Kurovoski had been severely wounded in
Polesye in Byelorussia and it had taken a long time for him to recover
He had spent a few days leave in Ozherelye and had visited Abyzov’s
family, thinner and more mature and had won two orders and a medal.
The train continued without a stop almost to Moscow, the wheels of
the car tapped, as if saying “To the front, to the front”, but at a
junction beyond Moscow they were delayed, however, this delay did not
change the course of developments.