CEYLON CADET CORPS – HISTORY THROUGH THE AGES By Brigadier AER Abeyesinghe Compiled by Major Anton Edema The

Colonial Period In 1881 a Volunteer Unit was formed under the aegis of Royal College, Colombo, for the purpose of promoting discipline among students by doing drill – the principle role of this endeavorur being the training of youth to become law abiding and useful citizens in the community at larger by instilling in them a keen sense of discipline and responsibility; and the capacity to lead and to follow, and to command and obey. The values of drill has been commented on by Lord Gort of the Grenadiers, in 1917, as “in peacetime training eh great thing is Drill. No doubt you want something to help you over your fears and if you can get control over your nerves, as you do in drill, it helps largely and helps to drive men forward in war…… the feeling of unionism of moving together – is a great help, and this is got by training – Drill”. Since 1902 a movement was initiated to set afoot a Cadet Battalion recruit from schools to be attached to the Ceylon Light Infantry. Companies were formed at Royal, St. Thomas and Wesley College in Colombo, Trinity and Kingswood Colleges in Kandy, and Richmond College in Galle. Officers were selected from teachers and senior students. It is said that military discipline was so evident that the Principal of Royal College, who was a Private in Ceylon Planter’s Rifle Corps, would salute student Lieutenants whenever they appeared in uniform! In time, 17 School Contingents were affiliated to the Ceylon Light Infantry. The Cadet Battalion first identified as CB-CLI in 1910, was later reorganized in 1920 as the Ceylon Cadet Battalion with two divisions, under the Ceylon Defence Force. The Junior Division which had school cadets between the ages of 12-16 years formed into Companies commanded by teachers. The Senior Division which consisted of those teaching 16 years of age, formed Passed Cadet Companies of the Ceylon Light Infantry, commanded by officers seconded from the Ceylon Light Infantry. In accordance with the Ceylon Defence Force Regulations, Cadets were not called out on Active Service. Further, the junior Division of Cadets did not form part of the Ceylon Defence Force, but was only affiliated to the Ceylon Cadet Battalion; and was funded by the Education Department of the Government. For lack of authentic records available at the time of writing, the training curriculum of the Cadet Battalion during the colonial period cannot be commented on, save noting that individual training was been conducted in school under the supervision of officers at the school, and collective training of the Battalion was conducted

annually; initially at Urugasmanhandiya, and later at Diyatalawa. The junior Division held its Annual Training Camps at Boossa, in Galle. Senior Cadets of the Ceylon Cadet Battalion have been trained to handle and fire both the .22 and .303 calibre rifles, and there is evidence that teams of selected cadets have competed on equal terms with adults in open rifle shooting competitions, and proved their mettle by winning trophies at one time of another. The association Battalion officers had with defence duties during World War I is obscure; however officers of the Cadet Battalion were attached on Active Service to the Ceylon Light Infantry during World War II. When World War II terminated and the Ceylon Defence force commenced reorganizing itself to peacetime strength, a Colonel of the Cadet Battalion officiated as the Commandant of the Ceylon Defence Force.

THE DOMINION PERIOD In 1949, with other units of the reorganized Ceylon Defence Force, the Ceylon Cadet Battalion, comprised of school teachers and school boys, and geared to a non combatant role, became a constituent Unit of the Volunteer Force of the Ceylon Army. In 1950, the Ceylon Cadet Battalion was reorganized into two battalions and redesignated as the Ceylon Cadet Corps, and it pushed itself to expand – to live its role of training its members to be law abiding citizens in the community by instilling in them a sense of discipline and responsibility, and a capacity to lead and to obey; and, simultaneously provide a disciplined and responsible feeder base of school leavers with limited rudimentary military knowledge, as prospective candidates for selection as Officer Cadets and recruits in the country’s Armed Services. The 1st Battalion initially had its headquarters ad Kalutara, and the 2nd Battalion had its Headquarters in Kandy. In 1953 3rd Battalion was raised in Colombo, and the 1st Battalion was relocated in Galle. A 4th Battalion was raised in 19634 at Kurunegala; and the 5th Battalion in 1968, at Anuradhapura. Though performing a non Combatant role, the Ceylon Cadet Corps held a peculiarly unique position in the Ceylon Volunteer Force during this period; in that, since 1968, it was the only Regiment comprised of five Battalions commanded by a Regimental Commander, among the integrant units of the Volunteer Force – and perhaps also the largest single unit of the Ceylon Army at the time! All school Cadets were not called out on Active Service; and the Junior Division of the Ceylon Cadet Corps was no part of the Ceylon Volunteer Force of the Ceylon Army, but was only affiliated to the Ceylon Cadet Corps, and was funded by the Ministry of Education, This status quo remained until the junior Division was subsequently disbanded years later. While Officers commissioned into the Ceylon Cadet Corps received such levels of initial training compatible with that imparted to Officer Cadets of Arms and Service Units of the Volunteer Force; Senior Cadets, apart from training in Drill with and without Arms,. received only rudimentary military training in subjects such as weapon training on the .22 and .303 Calibre rifles, Field Craft, Map Reading and First Aid. Cadets of the Junior Division were not inducted into rudimentary military subjects. The main aspects of their curriculum of training were, Physical Training, Drill, Firing the .22 calibre rifle and First Aid. Training programmes were drawn up by Regular Force Officers of the permanent Staff of the Corps. Training of Cadets under Supervision of their own Platoon Officers was carried out at School level twice

weekly; and once monthly training was conducted under the supervision of permanent staff. Collective Training at battalion level was conducted at the Ceylon Volunteer Force Camp, Diyatalawa. Coveted Challenge Trophies were presented annually to the best platoon in the Senior and the Junior Division; which made the preparation and competitions for overall efficiency very keen and enthusiastic throughout all Platoons. As time went by, Battalions of the Corps raised Western or Oriental Band Platoons, and as they grew in numbers and skills, the Band Platoons competed for the challenge Trophies special to them. School Cadets and their Officers paraded to provide Guards of Honour to VIPP visiting their schools and institutions; and participated in the annual Independence Day Armed Services Parade. Ceylon Cadet Corps Officers have amply demonstrated their combat preparedness, initiative, and their administrative and professional capabilities as teachers during a diversity of national emergencies and other exigencies, when attached on Active Service to Units and institutions of the Regular and Volunteer Forces of the Ceylon Army. Two separate episodes during this period have gratified the Ceylon Cadet Corps. The majority out of the very first batch of ten prospective officer cadets selected for the Regular Force of the Ceylon Army; and sent to England for training at the Mons Officer Cadet School in and thereafter the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst in 1949, were one time Senior Cadets who cut their teeth on rudimentary military training in the Ceylon Cadet Battalion. Two of them went on to command the Sri Lanka Army later. In Pioneer Corps of the Volunteer Force, and be its first Commanding Officer, which appointment he held for five years.

THE REPUBLICAN PERIOD In 1979 The Sri Lanka Cadet Crops raised its 6th Battalion in Diyatalawa. In 1981 the Corps commemorated the Centenary of its raising with many celebratory events. The Corps whose origins in 1881 were a small band of students and teachers in one school; had, at its Centenary, six battalions comprised of ninety five Senior Cadet Platoons, three hundred and nine affiliated Junior Platoons and fifteen Band Platoons; organized in three hundred and nine schools throughout the island.

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