Thursday, 13 September 2012

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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 Secretariat.

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

Office-bearers of the Sri Lanka Air Force Ex-Signals Association for the year 2012/2013

President: Ldr. P L I Fernando

Vice President: Capt. Wijegunawardena?

Hony. Secretary: Noel Isaac

Asst. Secretary: Wimalaratne

Treasurer: K L S Fernando

Asst. Treasurer: Ranjith Perera

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 Bombardier.

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 (1952-1955).

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 Stupakov’s family.

“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 occupation.

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 in hospital.

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.


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