Brief History of Sri Lanka Ex-Servicemen’s Association

Even though the exact date of inaugural is not known an organization had formed as “Comrades of World Wars I & II” to look after the welfare of the Veterans who gave their active contribution to the World Wars. When the time goes the retired Servicemen who were not participated to the Wars also got the membership of this Association and the name was changed as “Ceylon Ex Servicemen’s Association”. This has happened in 1929 according to the records. But we do not have much details about this period and In the early 1940’s it is said that, a group of interested Ex-Servicemen assembled in an office at Royal Navy premises, Kochchikade in the Port of Colombo under the leadership of Captain W G Beauchamp CBE VRO Commanding Officer of Ceylon Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and had discussions to form an Association for them. Subsequently, on 20th August 1944 the inaugural meeting was held at the Ward Room RCyN Rangala, Kochchikade, Colombo 13, and ‘The Ceylon Ex-Servicemen’s Association’ was reformed with the following office bearers.

President: Captain W G Beauchamp CBE, VRO (CRNVR) 29.08.1944 – 26.06.1947
General Secretary: Major J A T Perera (CGA) 29.08.1944 – 24.02.1948
Treasurer: Commander G R M de Mel OBE (CRNVR)
(later Rear Admiral) became the first Ceylonese Captain of the Navy.
29.08.1944 – 24.02.1948

At the inception there were 08 Unites and Regiments were represented which ultimately formed the under mentioned Associations.

1. Ceylon Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Association CRNVR
2. Ceylon Artillery Association CAA
3. Ceylon Engineers’ Association CEA
4. Ceylon Signals Association CSA
5. Ceylon Light Infantry Association CLIA
6. Ceylon Service Corps Association CSCA
7. Ceylon Medical Corps Association CMCA
8. Royal Army Services Corps Association RASC

Ceylon Ex-Servicemen’s Association was established on 29th August 1944 with Captain W G Beauchamp CRNVR the then Chairman of Robertson Company as President.  He is considered as the pioneer of the Sri Lanka Navy.  Hony. Secretary was Major J A T Perera and Hony. Treasurer, Commander (Later Rear Admiral) Royce de Mel, who had the distinction of becoming the first Ceylonese Captain of the Navy. Originally the meetings were held at CRNVR Officers Ward Room at Kochchikade.


General Sir John Kotalawala was President for years from 1948 to 1981 and during this period meetings were held at his famous Kandawala Estate, which he subsequently donated to establish the present Kotalawala Defense University.  Defense Secretaries, puisne Judges, Service Commanders, senior retired Officers and Senior Secretaries of the Public Service have held the appointment of President with distinction.


Major boost for fund generation was done by General Deshamanya J E Dennis Perera VSV who managed to convince the Service Commanders to contribute towards the Benevolent Trust Fund he established.  Today this fund remains the back bone of SLESA financial stability.


With the growth of the organization arrangements were done to get the Association incorporated by an act of Parliament No. 8 of 1976. With the growth of the Association, it was decided to elevate the position of Hony. Secretary to Secretary General and Captain Ritchie Bandara was the first to hold the appointment Captain Patrick Jayasinghe was elected as Hony. Secretary General in 1999, which he held for 08 years till 2007.  This period saw a wide development in all fields, and welfare measures to Affiliated Associations, members both World War II and thereafter.


On January 2001, a Special General Meeting was summoned by Air Chief Marshall Harry Gunatillake to amend rules and it is still in force with amendments included at the General Meetings.


Poppy sales which were the main fund raiser have now improved several times over and Veterans Raffle was introduced basically with the intention of improving welfare measures for members and staff and improving the infrastructure facilities of the SLESA Secretariat.  Veterans Home was improved with the guidance of Major General Tilak Paranagama VSV USP, who was President from 2006 to 2007.  Additional chalets were constructed with the support of the three services and a main hall was constructed which was named after Captain William Molegoda who pioneered the Veterans Home project during his period as President. Ceylon Artillery built a Luxury Chalet at a cost of Rs. 1 Million during this time.  A new chalet is now under construction.


Commodore G E S de Silva PSV succeeded Captain Patrick Jayasinghe PSV as Secretary General when he relinquished duties in 2007 and was succeeded by Brigadier K A Gnanaweera USP in 2009 that holds this position up to now.


A Holiday Bungalow was established at Diyatalawa with a building donated by Sri Lanka Army, which was accepted by General Hamilton Wanasinghe VSV ndc , President and when he relinquished the position in 2010, Captain Patrick Jayasinghe took over as President SLESA.


Recent improvements are the erecting of an ornamental fence in the front of cenotaph, paving of front area of the cenotaph establishment of Sustainable Development Project to improve Veterans Home and the re-introduction of Veterans Raffle after the lapse of 03 years to improve the fund position.  SLESA has also embarked on a BOI project to improve income generation of SLESA.


Presently SLESA is the apex body of 31 Affiliated Associations, 05 Corporate bodies and 02 Branch Associations in Australia and United Kingdom, with a membership well over 4

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Naval Women 19.06.2019 at 1000 Hrs SLESA
CRNVR 22.06.2019 at 0930 Hrs SLESA
Gajaba 22.06.2019 at 0930 Hrs SLESA
Naval Patrolmen 22.06.2019 at 0930 Hrs SLESA
SIGNAL 16.02.2019 at 1500 Hrs SLESA
Service Corps 29.06.2019 at 0930 Hrs SLESA
Gemunu 30.06.2019 at 0930 Hrs SLESA

Naval Assn 22.06.2019 at 0930 Hrs Welisara

Maj Gen CJ Abeyrathna Signal Corps
Mr. MJS Gunasekara Medical Corps
Mr. A V Susantha Medical Corps
Mr. KA Karunarathna Gemunu
Mr. DCM Jayasekara NAVAL
Mr. M Wadugodapitiya NAVAL
Mr. LSC Fernando NAVAL
Mr. S Sinhathilaka NAVAL

External Link: RCEL - Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League
External Link: Sri Lanka Army Official Web Site
External Link: Sri Lanka Navy Official Web Site
External Link: Sri Lanka Air Force Official Web Site
External Link: RCEL - Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League
External Link: Sri Lanka Army Official Web Site
External Link: Sri Lanka Navy Official Web Site
External Link: Sri Lanka Air Force Official Web Site