“BOMBS AWAY” – By Des Kelly

I am not sure how this “order” was made in Japanese,  but this did not really matter in 1942, and especially in Trincomalee, Ceylon, where the Japanese AirForce went on a bombing spree, under orders to destroy as many British ships, nestling closely in the biggest natural harbour in the World, at the time. This particular attack wasn’t entirely successful because of the superior strength of the British Navy who were “on guard” for the tiny Island which boasted the fact that it was possibly the most strategic point in the huge Indian Ocean, during the 2nd World War.

          Though now possibly forgotten by many, these true stories are part & parcel of why Ceylon never did come under Japanese rule.

Desmond Kelly.
(Editor-in-Chief) eLanka.

The1942 Japanese bombardment

Source: Sunday Observer

SS Sagaing

Since 1672 the strategic value of the Trincomalee harbour had been realized by foreign naval fleets. Many seniors from the vintage era of Ceylon will remember the Japanese air raid on Easter Sunday 1942 and the chaos in Colombo. But most Sri Lankans are not aware that a few days later the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) launched a fierce attack on the British Navy’s Eastern Fleet anchored at Trincomalee. To understand the facts of this historic aerial assault we journeyed to the Eastern Naval Command Headquarters. Within this massive compound consisting of many acres, are the docks and hills that were once targeted by the invading Japanese.

Background to the attack

the attack

To unravel the strategy of this daring air raid we need to first establish the British military presence in Ceylon during 1942 and the initial air raid on the Colombo Harbour. The Japanese military was celebrating their surprise attack on Pearl Harbour where the US Navy was inflicted with significant loses.

Winston Churchill and his senior commanders realized that the Japanese could take control of the Indian Ocean sea routes by attacking Ceylon. Churchill appointed Admiral Geoffrey Layton as Commander in Chief of Ceylon. He was assisted by Admiral James Somerville, who was Commander of the British Eastern Fleet.

The defence of Colombo city was hurriedly beefed up with the positioning of four coastal gun batteries manned by the Ceylon Garrison Artillery. This was supplemented with gunners from the 65th Royal Artillery Regiment, who took position in Colombo.

The Royal Air Force moved in and took control of the Ratmalana Air Port while the Colombo Race Course was quickly transformed into an airstrip. Admiral Somerville divided the Eastern Fleet ships into 2 groups. Group A – consisted of the aircraft carriers HMS Formidable, HMS Indomitable and the destroyer HMS Warspite. In Group B he was tasked with the deployment of HMS Hermes (light aircraft carrier), HMS Cornwall, HMS Dorsetshire and the Australian destroyer HMAS Vampire. While this fleet build up was a reassuring sign to the people of Ceylon the Royal Navy suffered a massive loss when their capital warship HMS Prince of Wales was sunk off the sea of Malaysia in December 1941, before the air raid in Ceylon.

One solitary warning

It is recorded that the British military was anticipating an attack by the Japanese. On the morning of April 4, 1942 a Canadian pilot Squadron Leader Leonard Birchall was on a routine reconnaissance patrol, flying his Catalina aircraft. Gaining altitude near Koggala he was surprised to see a flotilla of Japanese ships approaching Ceylon.

He immediately ordered his wireless operator to inform Colombo Air Defence office. The airman was able to transmit one SOS giving the location of the Japanese vessels, but not their number. Within minutes Japanese fighters shot down the Catalina and the crew were taken captive after the plane crashed into the sea (Leonard Birchall was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross). Admiral Nagumo had decided to attack the next day.

To this day it is deliberated if the content of that airborne radio message was clearly understood by the operators in Colombo, but the British had been warned. On March 30, in keeping with intelligence reports Admiral Somerville had already sent Group- A on a 100 mile patrol area South of Ceylon. On the morning of April 5, many Christians were in church.

At 7.30 a.m. the first wave of 180 aircraft (including dive bombers) under the command of Captain Fuchida (the same officer who attacked Pearl Harbour) dropped their bombs on Colombo Harbour and other installations. British pilots took off from the Race Course and Ratmalana to counter attack. British ships were sunk.

Attack on Trincomalee

We can assume that the British high command was recovering from the losses in Colombo. They would have anticipated an attack on Trincomalee.

Because on April 8, the ships at Trincomalee harbour were cleared at night.

The main ship, aircraft carrier HMS Hermes was being repaired and had sailed for trial towards Batticaloa, minus her 12 aircraft supplied by the 814 Naval Air Squadron. She had a displacement of 10,850 tons and capacity to carry 20 aircraft. She was escorted by the Australian Navy ship HMAS Vampire.

The other ships anchored around Trincomalee on the morning of April 9, 1942, were the naval corvette HMS Hollyhock and steam ship SS Sagaing.

Admiral Somerville had wisely sailed some of the other ships to the Maldives.

It is interesting to note that the SS Sagaing had sailed to Ceylon on April 3, carrying a cargo of assorted munitions, mines and 22,000 depth charges along with 20,000 cases of beer and whisky! The vessel had sailed into Trincomalee under the cover of fog, and discretely berthed at Malay Cove. She was minus her Browning anti- aircraft gun.

In the early morning hours of April 9, the Admiralty had warned of a Japanese attack but later given the all clear. It is reported that at 8.55a.m. a scout plane from the carrier IJN Haruna had spotted HMS Hermes.

The British crew realized its vulnerable position with no air cover from her resident attack planes and decided to sail back to the safety of Fleet Headquarters, Trincomalee. By 10.30 a.m. she was mercilessly dive bombed by 90 Japanese planes, absorbing 40 direct hits. The ship listed heavily and finally sank taking with her the lives of 308 men. HMAS Vampire was also sunk.

Tank 91

Another wave of Japanese planes swooped down on Trincomalee and unleashed their terror. We were able to see these hills within the dockyard area. They were intercepted by 22 RAF planes, but continued to attack. The HMS Hollyhock was sunk. The SS Sagaing was hit by gunfire. Her cargo of alcohol immediately caught fire. The explosives stored within the ship exploded, ripping out the deck.

The entire ship was engulfed in a red glow as she listed heavily, with sailors jumping into the sea. (The Sri Lanka Navy successfully salvaged the wreck of the SS Sagaing in a massive diving operation). Motivated by their success, Japanese pilots directed their bombs on the oil storage tanks north of China Bay.

There were 101 oil storage tanks built to hold fuel for the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

Built in 1924 in an area of dense forest each tank could hold 12,000 tons of fuel. A frenzied Japanese pilot navigated his plane into Tank 91 which was furthest from the other tanks, causing a massive explosion. The raging inferno had lasted seven days.

The entire raid on Trincomalee had lasted about 30 minutes. We saw some of the ballistic helmets and machine guns used by the British. A few bottles taken from the wreck of the SS Sagaing can be seen at the Navy Diving School. It is said there were allied 700 casualties. I have visited the British War Cemetery on a previous occasion.

I saw rows and rows of white marble stones with the names and ranks of those who boldly defended Trincomalee on that tragic day. A single cross stood in the middle of the cemetery.

The Japanese air raid on Trincomalee was an important battle. However, the Japanese could not sustain and build on this victory, thanks to the indomitable will of the allied forces at that time. The air raid on Trincomalee was a turning point in the Second World War. 

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Another Valentine’s day has just been and gone.

For true lovers however, I feel that every day, should really be celebrated in the same way. This day is generally connected with Saint Valentine, but also, in a different context, to Film Actor Rudolph Valentino, famous, not only for his acting, but also for his love affairs (and the techniques, involved), plus his good looks.
 Rudolph Valentino was reputed to be one of the most handsome  men of his era. Unfortunately, this era was short-lived, as he died of Peritonitis at the age of 31. To this day, on the anniversary of his death on the 23rd August, each year, an unidentified woman dressed in black, places a single red rose at the tomb of Rudolph Valentino.
          Getting back to “Valentine’s Day”, especially for the good readers of eLanka, please let me bring you another 
“Story in Song”, entitled “An Alpine Love Affaire”, a film/doco
which I hope to make, before too long. It is a true love-story that happened many years ago. With all the trouble & strife that our World is going through, at the moment, another 
Romeo & Juliet-style love story would not be too bad to get the equilibrium in order, so, if there are any interested film Directors/Producers around, they could get in touch with me via eLanka, of course, and let’s have a chat about it.
I have the background Music to it, and the “story” complete with the slight Shakespearean “touch”, follows.


In an Alpine Village fair, lived a maid, of beauty rare,
Golden tresses, eyes of blue, & they were of deepest hue,
Many lovers bold, had she, wooing her, on bended knee,
But she answered every swain, in the same light-hearted strain,
“Oh, no no”,  she cried, “I’ll not wed with thee,
 but, I’ll keep my heart, still, and fancy-free,
 what care I for words, meaningless, to me, 
 the flowers and the birds, shall my lovers be”.
Yet, beneath those silent stars, one at last, her soul unbars,
She had loved him long ago, tho her lips had oft said “no”, 
Yes, she loved him, and once more, she would try him, as of yore,
Give his love, one final test, ere she answered his request, 
“If thy love be true, there, on fields of ice,
where the skies are blue, grows sweet Edelweiss,
bring, but one dear flower, thy reward shall be,
my whole heart and hand, alone, for thee.
From the cruel heights above, dying day, had brought her love,
In his hand, sweet Edelweiss, but his life was sacrificed,
“Take this flower”, he gently said, ere his dying spirit fled,
“Keep it love, in memory, of the man who died for thee”
“Oh, my love”, she cried, “thou wast slain for me,
 would that I had died, in thy stead, for thee,
 Oh, my breaking heart, soon shall be at rest,

 Never more to part, from one whom I loved best.


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    As we go through life, there are lessons to be learned.

How we learn them, is up to each individual. First and foremost, we have to learn to “adapt” to any situation that comes our way. Mindset is essential in everything we do.

Learn to train your mind, for, if there is a problem, there is every chance that a solution is just around the corner.

Good luck, my friends, and, as a bonus, here are three 

“Thought-tips” to help you on your way.

Three beautiful thoughts!

  1. None can destroy iron, but its own rust can!
Likewise, none can destroy a person, but his own mindset and emotions can.

  1. Ups and downs in life are very important to keep us going, because a straight line even in an E.C.G. means we are not alive.

  1. The same Boiling Water that hardens the egg, Will Soften the Potato!
It depends upon individual’s reaction to stressful circumstances.

Beautiful saying — 
Mobile has taught us three things…

Whatever makes you happy — save it…

Whatever makes others happy — forward it…

Whatever will make no one happy — Delete it…


 Desmond Kelly.
(Editor-in-Chief) eLanka.


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 Yet another fascinating story on this fortified British Bastion, the biggest “natural harbour in the World,” named Trincomalee, also consisting several smaller Islands or rock

formations,around it, the largest of which was “Great Sober Island”, a strange name, indeed, on first glance, but on further perusal of this extremely interesting article, we find out that it was named after a certain young British Naval Lieutenant named S.Sober.

This certainly does not mean that this young guy was tee-total, as a matter of fact, this writer served for nigh on 8 years, in the Royal Ceylon Navy, and could not vouch for the fact that a single Navy man, that he knew, drank only Orange & Lemon Barley water. Anyway, let me take the chance to say “thank you” to D.Joseph for this most interesting “piece” on the Great Sober Island of Sri Lanka.

    Desmond Kelly.
(Editor-in-Chief) eLanka.

Great Sober Island: The fortified British bastion – By D Joseph

Source:-Sunday Observer

Sober Island – aerial view

For centuries Trincomalee has been a strategic maritime port. Its unique rock formation and assortment of islands made it one of the most heavily defended places in the history of Ceylon by the British Navy. The largest and most fortified island is named Great Sober Island, a tropical land mass rising 200 metres above sea level and covering an area of 175 acres.


During the British occupation it is estimated that up to 1,000 soldiers and sailors were able to camp here on transit, before being deployed to the Mediterranean. We set out on an expedition to explore this amazing place and discover the gun emplacements and fortified structures that still stand. I was accompanied by Lieutenant Commander Mark Ratnayake, from the Eastern Naval Command. We boarded an Inshore Patrol Craft, commonly referred to as water jet among sailors.

The jungle trek

The craft sailed past some small islands. A few merchant ships were visible in the distance. From about 300 metres the shoreline of Great Sober Island came into view. As we pulled alongside the pier a few sailors helped secure the boat. The tropical aura was overwhelming. We were now joined by our guide, Petty Officer Priyashantha, stationed on this island. He explained, “Sober Island was first occupied by the French under Admiral Jacob Blaquet de la Haye in 1672. The British took over the island after the Treaty of Paris in 1784 and later developed it for their military requirements. The place was named ‘Sober Island’ in memory of a young British Lieutenant S. Sober. As Trincomalee became the home of the British Eastern Fleet, they fortified the island with a battery of medium guns and one main gun”.

We began our jungle trek in earnest. After walking for about 15 minutes we came across a stone monument with an anchor and the numerals 45 engraved on it. This could be an indication of the height of the elevation or perhaps the position of a British troop. The dense foliage strewn with rocks in some places added to the feeling of adventure. The Petty Officer pointed out that there were deer, porcupine, rabbits and jungle fowl here and cautioned us about snakes and a resident python who had been spotted on a few occasions.

Cluster of Islands

Walking further we came across the first gun position on Great Sober Island. It was a massive iron tower rising exactly 24 feet from the ground, supplemented by a concrete room- which would have been the storage for the ammunition. The gun tower has been fitted with a ladder, and iron rings at regular intervals, for safety. We cautiously climbed to the top. It must be emphasized that climbing this gun tower is not advisable for those with a fear of heights. The platform on top had been reinforced with an iron plate.

The old gun is no longer here but judging from the steel bolts we can assume it was a medium calibre weapon. The 360 degree view from here was stunning. Lt. Cdr. Mark pointed out the oil tanks, which were visible across the water. There were 101 tanks built by the British. He said, “From here you can see many of the islands that give Trincomalee Harbour its natural defensive formation. Just across is Little Sober Island with a land mass of about 60 acres. Then there is Powder Island, Round Island, York Island, Chapel Island, Norway Island, Elizabeth Island and Elephant Island. Apart from this the British established some navigation points known as Foul Point (where there is a Light House), Flagstaff Point, Eagle Point and Clappenberg Point’. We climbed down and after a while we were back on the trail. Wild orchids in full blossom, and creepers hung above our heads .

The Main Gun

We came across the first of many twin gun positions, the walls of the gun turrets almost 3 feet thick. The brickwork and cement has stood for more than 300 years. The concrete bunkers showed the brilliance of British naval engineering. Petty Officer Priyashantha led us down a flight of 12 steps into the heart of the bunker. There were five ‘powder rooms’- where shells were stored. We could see another room possibly used by the gun crews to store their rations and cook. The heavy guns had a good vantage point and could fire a volley of shells at enemy ships. The trees and creepers concealed the gun positions. It is believed the British had used elephants to drag the heavy gun parts up these hills. From here we walked further before coming across a unique structure- a fortified gun wall.

Here there was a cluster of five gun positions with a distance of about 15 feet from each. The massive bunker had its own tank for collecting rain water. On one wall we were surprised to see the English alphabet carved into the wall with each alphabet being assigned a set of numerals- some sort of British code for transmitting firing signals.

The prudent naval engineers had installed an iron belt mechanism that lifted the shell from the underground storage, to be manually loaded into the gun. This iron mechanism is still perfectly intact! This amazing gun wall would have had a crew of 20 men stationed for duty.

By now it was pretty hot, but there was shade from the trees. A few inquisitive monkeys eyed us from a mango tree. After trekking another 15 minutes we came across the ‘mother’ of all guns on this island. The Main Gun turret was actually similar to a building.

It had a circular concrete outer perimeter. The massive gun would have weighed 10 tons (a similar gun can be seen at Ostenberg Ridge-Trincomalee). Today all that remain of the super gun on Great Sober Island are the 48 iron bolts that held it to the ground. This super gun had its powder rooms and staff quarters.

From here the crew can fire in a 300 degree turn, as the gun was rotated. It was the primary defence to protect the approach way to the Trincomalee harbour where the British Eastern Fleet was anchored. It is believed that once the British were ready to leave this island they had dismantled their guns, towed them to sea and sunk these massive weapons.

After climbing down a short iron ladder we came across another surprise. There were a row of stables for the horses. Without using wood these stables were made out of concrete- which shows the important role of the horses. It required speed and energy to travel between the gun batteries and British officers would mount their horses for this task. Each stall could hold two horses.

Orlando Beach

The British Admiralty realized that the men on the island needed some recreation. Manning these heavy guns by day and night would have been tiring. So they created some entertainment where the men could unwind and relax. Petty Officer Priyashantha led us down 112 cemented steps to a pristine area called Orlando Beach. The turquoise waters were refreshing. Here British gun crews and visiting ship crews would swim and enjoy a BBQ. We had spent 2 hours on this expedition.

The Sri Lanka Navy has performed an excellent task in preserving these maritime gun positions, and maintaining the privacy of this island. A small modern restaurant and few rooms are operated by the navy for visitors on one section of this massive island. Those desiring to explore the island must do so with a navy guide and prior permission. Great Sober Island is a testament to the British Navy’s coastal defence planning. 

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Desmond Kelly.
(Editor-in-Chief) eLanka.


Source:Daily Mirror

It will always be a matter of pride and gratification to the people of Sri Lanka that the struggle for political emancipation was launched, supported and sustained by a long line of patriots so fired by their devotion to make this country a better place to live in, rid of the shackles of alien rule.

The road to independence has been a hard and rugged one. Immeasurable therefore is the country’s debt to those intrepid pioneers for the courage and determination they showed in the face of insuperable odds to launch and carry out their campaigns. One such pioneer was …   

Charles Edward Victor Senewiratne Corea of ‘Sinhapura’ Chilaw 

Charles Edward Corea – proctor had three sons and two daughters – Charles Edgar (C.E.), Alfred Ernest, Agnes, Evangeline and Victor. When Victor was only an year-old, the young family lost their father and they came under the sole guidance and upbringing of their mother Henrietta, a young widow of 21 who sought to implant in them the spirit of their father and nurture them in traditions of a family that sought to free the country from the incubus of an alien yoke. Independence Day Supplements issued by Daily Mirror on February 4, 2013 and 2014 celebrating 65 and 66 years of independence has this to say about Victor Corea:

“ As well as being a successful advocate and politician, Victor Corea also spent much of his time fighting for Sri Lanka’s independence against the British or against anyone or anything where there wasn’t justice. He fought fearlessly with the help of his older brother Charles Edgar Corea and became two of the most famous political figures their country had ever seen, and were particularly well-known in their hometown Chilaw.”   

Charles Edgar entering Royal College had a brilliant career and made his mark as an outstanding speaker and matchless debater. He passed out as a proctor, joined the Chilaw Bar and rose to the top of his profession. He exerted himself professionally on behalf of the victims of oppressive laws and made his services freely available to villagers. He formed the Chilaw Association to safeguard the rightsof the villager which before long became the most powerful political body in Ceylon.

Alfred Ernest went to S. Thomas’ College and later passed out as a doctor. During the deadly ‘Parangi’ epidemic, Dr. Corea volunteered to work free-of-charge when no one was prepared to run the risk of exposing themselves to the epidemic. Victor too entered S. Thomas’ College and later passed out as an advocate of the Supreme Court practising in Chilaw, Puttalam and Kuliyapitiya courts.   

“Mahatma Gandhi paying a glowing tribute to Victor Corea presented him with a coloured poster captioned ‘FIGHTERS FOR SWARAJ’”

Young Lanka League – March 2, 1915 

Victor Corea was a firm believer that the youth of the country should be trained to play a significant role in nation-building. His sole objective was to instill in the minds of the youth that they were the future leaders of the country and that it was their responsibility to groom themselves to play that vital role. He was the founder-president of Young Lanka League and in order to inspire the youth to undertake such responsibility, he spent a vast sum of his own money in purchasing a printing press, housing it and recruiting staff to launch the journal titled ‘Lanka Tharuna Handa’ which will inspire the formation of a young dynamic force.   

Sinhala-Muslim riots – 1915 

During the Sinhala-Muslim riots of 1915, Victor Corea and his brother C.E. Corea protected the Muslims in Chilaw from the wrath of embittered Sinhalese and thanks to their intervention, the people of Chilaw were exonerated from paying damages which was a penalty imposed on all citizens of Ceylon.   

“Victor Corea was a firm believer that the youth of the country should be trained to play a significant role in nation-building”

Religious harmony 

Victor Corea respected all religions. He was responsible for building the Buddhist temple and pirivena in Chilaw and obtaining the spot to erect a Buddhist shrine in Colombo Fort. By tradition, he was the lawyer for Munneswaram Temple and was also the legal adviser to the Bishop of Chilaw, Rt. Rev. Dr. Edmund Peiris OMI.   

Nation-building efforts – 1924 

Victor Corea presided over a meeting at Tower Hall where a packed audience of Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers met and pledged to be united. At this meeting, he was acclaimed as a great national hero in believing that all races living in Ceylon should unite sinking their differences for the greater glory of the country. Whenever a rift occurred between the North and South, Victor never permitted that rift to widen into a gulf. Many a time, he crossed the Elephant Pass and stretched his hand of friendship to Tamil leaders and the rift became a bedrock of goodwill.   

First President of Ceylon Labour Union – 1920 

When A.E. Goonesinha formed the Ceylon Labour Union to fight for the rights of Ceylonese workers, he was determined to have a president endowed with courage and the will to give the union a fearless and astute leadership. The popular choice was Victor Corea who gave the labour union the desired brand of dynamic leadership with an aura of respectability.   


“Victor Corea respected all religions. He was responsible for building the Buddhist temple and pirivena in Chilaw and obtaining the spot to erect a Buddhist shrine in Colombo Fort”


Poll tax – 1922 

When the British Government imposed the iniquitous Poll Tax requiring ALL MALES above 21 years to pay the government Rs.2, Victor Corea relentlessly opposed it on the grounds that the majority could not afford it and publicly declared that he was prepared to go to jail and fight against it to the bitter end. Under the scorching heat of the sun, he was made to break boulders with a pickaxe on the public highway. Inside the jail, he was made to beat coconut husks and twist coir rope and in the night he had to sleep on a wooden plank with no pillow to rest his head. The desire to see the spectacle of their hero fighting their cause drew unprecedented crowds which kept increasing each day.

His palms were covered with blisters but he decided to suffer in silence without complaining. He lived on plain bread and water throughout his month’s stay in jail and finally when the British Government decided to abolish the Poll Tax and release Victor Corea, his popularity was such that he came all the way from Chilaw and decided to contest E.W. Jayewardene (President Jayewardene’s father who was his relative) and won the election by an overwhelming majority as the member for Colombo North in the Legislative Council of Ceylon.   

Mahatma Gandhi’s glowing tribute to Victor Corea – 1927 

Victor Corea launched a campaign to inculcate a feeling of nationalism and a distaste for what was alien and foreign as was done by Mahatma Gandhi in India. Mahatma Gandhi in 1927 accepted an invitation from the Corea brothers, C.E. and Victor, to be their guest at ‘Sigiriya,’ a stately and exquisitely designed residence that belonged to the Corea family in Chilaw.

At a banquet given by the Corea brothers in his honour, Gandhi paying a glowing tribute to Victor Corea presented him with a 15” x 20” coloured poster captioned ‘FIGHTERS FOR SWARAJ’ in which all Indian patriots who fought fiercely for India’s independence were individually featured in oval shaped, bust size photographs with Victor Corea’s photograph also included in appreciation of the campaign he launched in Ceylon which gave added strength to Gandhi’s campaign in India. Such was the high regard and respect Mahatma Gandhi had for his partner in the fight for their country’s independence!   


An entire village turns to Victor Corea 

The villagers of Merawela in Chilaw earned their living through the limestone business. When the British Government vested the business as a State monopoly and villagers found themselves helpless without a source of income, the seniors in the village went in a deputation to Victor Corea’s residence pleading for his support. He fought for their rights and had the business restored.   

Beating of Hewisi in Dalada Maligawa 

Although a Christian, Victor Corea rose in protest against the order sent to Diyawadana Nilame by the Government Agent in Kandy, a Britisher to stop forthwith the beating of hewisi because it was a source of disturbance to his wife. Victor Corea rose on that occasion to display the courage he was well-known for by asking the GA to shift his residence and that the beating of hewisi must continue in accordance with tradition. If the DN were not prepared to resume the beating of hewisi, Victor Corea solemnly promised that he would come to the Maligawa and make sure the beating of hewisi was resumed. Since Victor Corea by that time was known to be a man who lived up to his promise, the GA withdrew his order fearing there would be unrest in the country.   

Unveiling of his statue 

On December 2, 2008, the life-size statue of Victor Corea was unveiled adjacent to the Chilaw District Court by Urban Council Chairman Hillary Prasanna Fernando in the presence of a large gathering of residents and well-wishers in Chilaw.   

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“THINK TANK” – By Des Kelly


Sometimes, busy as you are, it pays to stop & think.

Without trying to be too philosophical, they say that laughter could be the best medicine, and life, as we know it, could be very funny at times, so, here you are folks. Just take a short break from your busy schedule & read the following quotes.

They are “Especially for you”. 

 Desmond Kelly.
 (Editor-in-Chief)  eLanka.

Philosophy – with laughter

Love is grand; divorce is a hundred grand.

I am in shape. Round is a shape.

Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.

Conscience is what hurts when everything else feels good.

Talk is cheap because supply exceeds demand.

Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason.

An optimist thinks this is the best possible world. A pessimist fears this is true.

There will always be death and taxes; however, death doesn’t get worse every year.

In just two days, tomorrow will be yesterday.

I am a nutritional overachiever.

I plan on living forever. So far, so good.

Practice safe eating — always use condiments.

A day without sunshine is like night.

It’s frustrating when you know all the answers, but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.

The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.

Brain cells come and brain cells go, but fat cells live forever.

Age doesn’t always bring wisdom. Sometimes it comes alone.

Life not only begins at forty, it also begins to show.


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This is not about broken bones, folks. This is all about 

BREAKING NEWS”, in the true sense of the word. A 57 floor brand new hospital, built in just 19 days, give or take an hour or two. China has achieved this amazing infrastructure

obviously because of this new epidemic of Coronavirus that could well become a pandemic, as hundreds of people have already perished, most of them, in China. This Virus is spreading rapidly, a modern-day Plague that began in China,

nonetheless, it seems that Chinese Authorities have moved

just as rapidly to stall this horrendous “bug” and thus, should be congratulated on the building of this hospital, the first of a couple more, I am led to believe, in order to treat all patients who have been diagnosed with this wretched disease. Please watch this video to be thoroughly amazed.

The introductory “song” has been chosen by me, not in jest, but simply because “Doctors” generally fit in with hospitals.


 Desmond Kelly.

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Say no more. 1928 saw the beginning of one of the most-read Newspapers in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Now, on 

eLanka, we proudly present this Show-piece that was  “on-show” at many thousands of homes in Colombo, each and every Sunday morning. Thank you, folks, & please enjoy.

Desmond Kelly.
(Editor-in-Chief) eLanka.

Sunday Observer celebrates 92nd Anniversary

 Source:Sunday Observer

It is with pride that the Sunday Observer celebrates its 92nd anniversary in two days. The Sunday Observer has remained the undisputed market leader over the years due to the faith placed by its widespread readership who have been with us since the first issue saw the light of day on February 4, 1928.

Ninety two years as the leading English newspaper is no easy task, especially among the English-speaking population. Yet, the Sunday Observer has come a long way facing many challenges from the post-independence era to the modern day web news on smart phones and mini notebooks.

Although the newspaper industry the world over is challenged by the electronic media, the Sunday Observer has continued to remain Sri Lanka’s English newspaper with the largest circulation, apart from millions of visitors who visit our website from every corner of the globe.

It has produced many illustrious editors who had maintained the rich traditions of their predecessors.

Producing a quality and readable newspaper accepted by millions of people around the world is certainly a gigantic task. But the editors, sectional heads and journalists of the Sunday Observer have worked hard during various eras to maintain the identity as well as the quality of the newspaper.

The day the late D.R. Wijewardene, the founder of Lake House, chose to release the first issue of the Sunday Observer – February 4 – ultimately turned out to be a day that changed the destiny of a nation.

It was exactly after 20 years since the launch of the Sunday Observer that Sri Lanka gained independence from the British. When the founder of the nation, the then Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake proudly hoisted the Lion flag in an independent Sri Lanka, the Sunday Observer was celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Flagship English newspaper

During its more than nine decade proven track record as Sri Lanka’s flagship English newspaper, the Sunday Observer has been equally popular among people in all walks of life. It has maintained its position as the family newspaper which has been close to the people of different segments in society.

The Sunday Observer has maintained its own identity as a responsible newspaper which reads the pulse of the masses. Though many English newspapers emerged subsequently and adopted various strategies to win the confidence of readers, they could never pose a challenge to the popularity of the Sunday Observer.

The key to the Paper’s success is its ability to understand the needs of each and every family member. From its humble beginnings 92 years ago, the Sunday Observer is now enriched with different segments to meet the different reading needs, from kindergarten children to senior citizens.

What is more important is the fact that it has gone well beyond a customary newspaper and established its position as a truly corporate citizen, partnering in many corporate social responsibility projects.


The Observer School Cricketer of the Year has turned out to be an established brand, not only among the sports-loving public, but among all Sri Lankans.

This contest was inaugurated by the Sunday Observer in 1978/79 at a time when there wasn’t a single school cricket awards ceremony to recognise the raw talents of schoolboy cricketers.

Thanks to the premiere role played by the Sunday Observer in the country’s sports promotions, the Observer School Cricketer of the Year has produced many world-class cricketers during the past 40 years.

Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, the Most Valuable Player in Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup triumph Sanath Jayasuriya, spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan and the Chief ICC Match Referee are among the galaxy of world cricket stars who first entered the big league after their graduation at the Observer School Cricketer of the Year contests.

The Sunday Observer has been associated with many charity projects, beauty contests, business and academic awards. It has provided an ideal platform for the country’s budding inventors, entrepreneurs, fashion designers, artistes and even amateur politicians to make their mark.

Tower of strength

There are also important players in the wider spectrum of the Sunday Observer’s success, such as the departments of Advertising, Circulation, Commercial Printing, Web Marketing and others.

Vanquishing the assumption that Opposition politicians do not get an opportunity in the State media, the Sunday Observer has always offered a fair deal to Opposition politicians to take their ideology to the masses.

On this memorable occasion, we salute our valued readers who have reposed their faith in the Sunday Observer. They have been a tower of strength behind the success story of the Sunday Observer.

A great newspaper is hard to define. But readers could identify it at first glance – when they see one.

If being great means having the nation taking note of our articles, having arguments over them, having them reprinted, having them emailed, if being great means holding a paper packed with national, world, provincial and city news as well as sports, features, business, arts, entertainment, together with a separate magazines for children (the Junior Observer) and the young adults (Youth Observer Magazine), then the Sunday Observer is surely among the top of the list.

The Sunday Observer over the years, has produced illustrious journalists. Though the list would be long to spell out, among the distinguished journalists the Sunday Observer produced include the Sri Lankan Editors: H. A. J. Hulugalle (1930-1931), H. D. Jansz (1931-1952), Tarzie Vittachchi (1953-1961), Denzil Peiris (1961-1970), Ernest Corea (1970-1973), Lionel Fernando (1973-1977), Harold Peiris (1977-1988), Leslie Dahanayake (1988-1990), H. L. D. Mahindapala (1990-1994), Ajith Samaranayake (1994), Jayatilleke de Silva (1999), Lakshman Gunasekara (2000-2004), Rajpal Abeynayake (2006), Dinesh Weerawansa (2006-2015), Chandani Jayatilleke (2017), Dharisha Bastians (2018 – 2019) and Dinesh Weerawansa who is back on board as the Editor-in-Chief of Sunday Observer.

Beginning as Sunday Observer and Commercial Advertiser on February 4, 1834, there were many British Editors in the Observer. Among them were E. J. Darley who was in charge when the paper was launched, George Winter, Dr. Christopher Elliott, A. M. Ferguson (1859), John Ferguson (1867), R. H. Ferguson, Charles Tower, C. Drieberg (1923-1924), P. B. Marshall and J. D. Quirk.

One of the significant aspects of the English press in Sri Lanka was that it was read by the academia, artistes, political elite, the members of the Judiciary, business tycoons and the English educated civil servants and teachers.

The other important specialised areas that attract readers across the social strata are Sports and Finance in addition to Political commentaries.

Although many rival publications emerged into the newspaper arena over the years, the Sunday Observer retains its position as the most widely read English weekly in Sri Lanka and will proudly march towards its centenary celebrations in eight years.

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“HERMAN SAYS” – By Des Kelly

With all of the trouble & strife that we have been going through recently, it’s time for all the good readers of eLanka to enjoy some light-hearted comedy cartoons of this character named Herman. These cartoons have been publicised around the World for many years, and I do feel proud and privileged to present them to you, my friends.

Please pass them around, and if you are not already an esteemed member of the biggest & best website for all Sri Lankan Aussies, everywhere, make this your resolution for 2020 to join us on eLanka. It costs absolutely nothing to join, and enjoy a weekly newsletter, into the bargain.

Simply google eLanka & become a member. We number more than 20.000 at the moment, & would welcome you.

In the meantime, please enjoy Herman, for a smile or three.

Desmond Kelly.
      (Editor-in-Chief)  eLanka.


Herman cartoons ran for 18 years in 600 newspapers through 25 countries

Hope you  enjoy the selection below, and start your day with a



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Very recently, a television documentary caught my attention, and held it tenaciously, even though it was a fairly long “true story” regarding James (Jimmy) Ellis, a simple Americsn Country lad whose only wish was to be a great entertainer, pursued his dream, made his way to the “big sticks”, to finally be presented with the stage-name Orion, the masked “ghost” of the king of rock n roll Elvis Presley.

          This is just an introduction to what was a most interesting story, which proves how tremendously difficult it is, for anyone to gain recognition, let alone “Star-status”, in  

the entertainment field, in America, or anywhere else, for that matter. Orion “made it” alright, but only as a masked 

Lone Ranger figure, emulating his own idol, Elvis, who had already passed on. Orion did not need that mask, and this is where the story becomes interesting. Orion, the man who would be King, actually recorded a song with the great Jerry Lee Lewis. The song was”Save the last dance for me”.

Credits for the song include the name Elvis Presley, but folks, Elvis was nowhere around when this song was recorded at the Sun Studio, in Nashville, Tennessee. It was Jerry Lee Lewis singing the song, with the co-oporation of Jimmy Ellis (Orion, without the mask). 

          I certainly hope that all our readers of eLanka will read and enjoy the story of “Orion, Personification of Elvis.

Desmond Kelly.
 (Editor -in-Chief)  eLanka

Orion: The Man Who Would Be King – poignant story of Elvis soundalike

Source:The Guardian

The tale of a talented singer and his part in the Elvis-is-alive myth is stranger than fiction, and comes with a sad, shocking ending

 Jimmy Ellis, profiled in Orion: The Man Who Would Be King. Photograph: Sun Records
John Updike’s comment about celebrity being a mask that eats into the face occurred to me watching this desperately sad film. It is the story of Jimmy Ellis, a singer from Alabama who was cursed with having a voice identical to that of Elvis Presley. He travelled to Nashville and tried to break into the music business – but found that everyone was only interested in his eerie soundalike resemblance to the King. Poignantly, he even released a single entitled I’m Not Trying to Be Like Elvis.
Then an extraordinary disaster-cum-opportunity occurred; in August 1977, the real Elvis died, and cunning record producer Shelby Singleton – who had become owner of the legendary Sun Records – marketed Ellis as a mysterious singer called Orion who wore a mask. This tongue-in-cheek publicity campaign tried to imply to an excitable and credulous public that it actually was Elvis, and the mask was to conceal botched plastic surgery Presley had undertaken after faking his death to escape the burden of world-fame. Jimmy Ellis’s preposterous career more or less created the Elvis-is-alive myth that persists to this day, and Ellis became imprisoned by Elvis’s ghost. There is some intriguing speculation about Ellis’s background and a sad and shocking ending. This is a movie that might have interested cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard, that connoisseur of simulacra. Jimmy Ellis’s story really is
stranger than fiction. Guardian Members can join director Jeanie Finlay for a screening of Orion on 25 September followed by a Q&A with film critic Danny Leigh 

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