Cenotaph War Memorial – a tribute to military personnel
By Arundathie Abeysinghe
Situated near Viharamahadevi Park and Public Library in Colombo, Cenotaph War Memorial is a monument dedicated to military personnel who died in action during the World War I and II. The *Cenotaph War Memorial comprises a towering Cenotaph as well as a Memorial Wall.
Initially, the War Memorial was located at Galle Face Green. The foundation stone for this memorial had been laid by Governor of *Ceylon Brigadier General Sir William Henry Manning on December 7. 1921. This memorial had been unveiled by Sir William on October 27, 1923 (at Galle Face Green). It was initially known as Victory Tower. It was initially built to commemorate Ceylonese as well as Europeans who died in action during the World War I.
Cenotaph and the Memorial Wall had been designed by the renowned architect *Sir Edward Lutyens.
During the World War II, it had been dismantled and re-erected at Victoria Park (at present known as Viharamahadevi Park) considered as a safe site.
The Cenotaph and the Memorial Wall have displayed a list of names of the brave soldiers who sacrificed their life during the World War I and II. Miss L. Midwood is the only female among the list of names displayed at the Cenotaph and the Memorial Wall.
An annual service is held every year at the Cenotaph and the Memorial Wall on *Remembrance Sunday, the closest Sunday to *Armistice Day.
- Armistice Day – This day is also known as Remembrance Day and is on November 11. The Day marks end of World War I on November 11th (11th month of the year) 1918 at 11.00 a.m.
- Cenotaph – An empty monument or tomb constructed to honor a person or group of people whose remains are interred elsewhere. According to scholars, the word derives from Greek (kenos meaning being “empty” and taphos meaning “tomb”). The vast majority of cenotaphs are built in honor of individuals. But some cenotaphs are built to commemorate groups of individuals such as military personnel who sacrificed their life in wars.
- Ceylon – Sri Lanka gained Independence from British Colonials in 1948. In 1972, Ceylon became a republic within the Commonwealth and Ceylon was thereafter known as Sri Lanka.
- Remembrance Sunday – This day is held in the United Kingdom as a day to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military as well as civilian servicemen and women in World War I and II. Generally, this day is on the second Sunday in November each year.
- Sir Edward Landseer Lutyens – Popularly known as Sir Edward Lutyens (1869 – 1944) was a famous British Architect renowned for creating imaginative traditional architectural styles to suit the requirements of his era. He played a prominent role in designing as well as building New Delhi. New Delhi is also known as “Lutyens’ Delhi” in recognition of his contribution. He also designed the Cenotaph in Whitehall in Westminster and the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in Thiepval in France.
Cenotaph War Memorial, Colombo