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Compiled by Brigadier AER Abeyesinghe

A Description of the Annual Camp Venue at Urugasmanhandiya and the Governors address at the first camp 1890 1902
(From the History of the Ceylon Garrison Artillery formerly Ceylon Artillery Volunteers: Authors not credited)

In September, 1890, the first organized camp of Exercise of Ceylon Volunteers was held at Urugasmanhandiya (better known as Urugas). On Monday, September 22, the train conveying the troops from Colombo arrived at Alutgama Railway Station at 7.55 a.m. The march to Camp was a trying one. The route lay for 12 miles along a dusty road under the strong rays of the noonday sun. Numbers of the infantry fell out en route, boots and blisters being the cause of their undoing, and the bootless followed in carts. At 12 noon the main body was still two miles from camp, but by 1.00 p.m. most of the troops had arrived. The total number present excluding the Officers was 492, which later was increased to about 600 with the arrival of detachments from Galle and other details from Colombo. The buildings of the camp did not occupy an extensive area. The distance from one end of the camp to other being 400 yards parallel with the road and the breadth about 200 yards. The huts were alike in being constructed of wattle and daub walls with cadjan roofs; N.C.O.s and mens huts had walls 4 feet high with an open space up to the roof all round, while in the Officers huts the walls were carried up to the roof. The Governor, Sir Arthur Havelock, visited the camp, and inspected the C.A.V. at gun practice. This was also the first occasion on which a Governor of Ceylon reviewed the complete body of the Ceylon Volunteers assembled in field order. At the conclusion of the review His Excellency addressed the parade as follows:Colonel Clarke, Officers, and N.C.O.s of the Ceylon Volunteers, I believe this is the first occasion on which a Governor of Ceylon had had the pleasure and honour of reviewing the whole body of Ceylon Volunteers assembled in field order as you are to-day. Believe me, I value and appreciate that honour and enjoy greatly that pleasure. Hitherto I have only had the opportunity of seeing the Ceylon Volunteers as Guards of Honour. Now I see the whole body assembled on parade to the number of between 400 and 500, there being present in camp between 500 and 600 out of a total strength of between 800 and 900. The muster, as far as numbers are concerned, is, I consider eminently creditable. But for this camp of exercise, which, I believe, is the first which has been held in Ceylon, I should not have been able to

Compiled by Brigadier AER Abeyesinghe


review you as I have done to-day, and that alone constitutes to me the great value of the new institution of this camp of exercise. Then for yourselves the advantages it confers are perhaps too great to be exaggerated. It is only when you are met together in this way that it is possible to drill and practice you in minor tactics and a variety of military evolutions and strategical work which I will not stop to enumerate. It is also valuable as teaching you discipline. It brings together men from various parts of the colony which perhaps, without this camp of exercise, might never meet, and thus establishes sympathy, goodwill, and change of intercourse between remote parts of Ceylon. We have here gathered together men from Kandy, Galle and Kurunegala, to meet those from Colombo, and under any other circumstances, I am sure that such a meeting would be impossible. Men, I am very much pleased at the way in which you have turned out this morning. I know the difficulty of keeping smart and clean in camp, especially after four or five days hard work which you have had here, but I think your appearance this morning, especially having regard to the fact that you wear white clothes, is remarkably creditable. I have heard with great satisfaction from your Commanding Officer that your conduct while in camp has been most exemplary. It is also very satisfactory to know there has been little or no sickness among you, though there has been considerable exposure that you have had to endure during the last three or four days. I am sure that you will carry away with you from this camp most pleasant recollections of your week here, and if there have been some little inconvenience and discomfort those will soon be forgotten, and during the course of the ensuing year you will not remember and talk of all that has been agreeable and satisfactory during your week here. I congratulate myself on, perhaps, having suggested the idea of this camp of exercise but this is a very easy thing to do. It is not hard to say to Colonel Clarke Dont you think a camp of exercise might be a good thing to start? The difficulty began at that point. A good deal of organization, a great deal of tact and good management were necessary on the part of Colonel Clarke and the Adjutant. That tact, good management, and organization had been admirably shown, and I thank them for it most sincerely, and I am sure you all join in thanking them also. I have heard with great satisfaction that since the new rifle has been issued to the Ceylon Volunteers, your shooting has very considerably improved. I am anxiously looking for the final return of the results of the years course, which I think will be completed about the end of November. When I receive it, and if it turns out as satisfactorily as I hope it may, I shall make a point of bringing to the notice of the Secretary of State the good shooting and performances of the Ceylon Volunteers, and if your shooting is as excellent as I hope it may be, I shall ask the Secretary of State to call the attention to it of your Honorary Colonel, His Royal Highness the Price of Wales. And now men, allow me to express the hope that I will have the pleasure and honour of reviewing you again in quite as large, if not larger, numbers next year, and possibly in several succeeding years.

Compiled by Brigadier AER Abeyesinghe

How the Trincomalee Section of the Ceylon Artillery Volunteers attended the Volunteer Camps at Urugasmanhandiya
(From the History of the Ceylon Garrison Artillery: as ante) Commencing with the year 1893 four successful Volunteer camps at Urugasmanhandiya were attended by the members of this section. The journey to camp was a somewhat extended one, and the following descriptions is typical of the manner in which it was accomplished. The party embarked at Trincomalee on one of the Lady boats employed on the island streamer service, touched at Batticaloa to pick up the C.L.I. Company of that station, and in the evening weighed anchor for Hambantota, where they arrived the following morning. Here, all the Volunteers aboard were invited ashore as the guests of the Hambantota Company, of the C.L.I. at breakfast, and the complete party landed and marched to the latters headquarters, headed by the Batticaloa Company band playing The British Grenadiers. On arriving at the headquarters they were accorded a great welcome. After breakfast a game of cricket was played and later the party fell in at headquarters and accompanied by the Hambantota detachment, marched back to the pier, again headed by the band, to proceed on board. In the evening the vessel weighed anchor for Galle; arriving off that port the next morning, the harbour was entered and the vessel anchored at about 7 oclock. Some of the party then went ashore, sight-seeing in the Fort and town. In the afternoon the steamer sailed for Colombo, arriving there early the following morning. On landing the combined party was met by the full band of C.L.I. who played them down to the Infantry Headquarters in the Pettah, where they were dismissed. The following noon the Trincomalie section fell in with the Colombo sections of the C.A.V. and were marched down with the C.L.I. to the Pettah railway station to entrain for Kosgoda. At Kosgoda they detrained with guns and baggage, and, having sent on the baggage by cart, they marched with the other troops to the to the Camp at Urugasmanhandiya. The return journey was performed by the same modes of conveyance, in the reverse order. On the third occasion the Trincomalie Section marched overland to Matale, a distance of 93 miles, the baggage being transported in two double bullock carts. On the evening of the third day they arrived at Matale, and after resting for the night at the Railway Guards bungalow, they entrained the next morning for camp, the Kandy Company of the C.L.I. joining them on the way. The same route was followed for the return journey. A note by the compilers The Research and Publication Unit of the 2nd (Volunteer) Battalion visited the location which was pointed out by village elders as the site of the Army Camp at Urugasmanhandiya. It is not a large extent of land, but more or less appears to be close to what is described in the History of the Ceylon Garrison Artillery. The extent of land appears neglected and overgrown with weeds; foot paths meander all over it going in different directions, and children use it as a playground ! It is not known whether some of the buildings around it have encroached on what was earlier land belonging to the camp site.

Compiled by Brigadier AER Abeyesinghe It is likely that during the period 1890-1902 military training and exercises were conducted on bare unutilized land beyond where the camp buildings once stood ; which may have been built on now or, otherwise utilized since. Apart from what the majority of elders in Urugasmanhandiya say there is no monument, tablet or other indicator to say that this is the site where the first pioneering Volunteers held their Annual Camps of Exercise. The last Annual Camp of Exercise was held at Urugas in 1902. Over what is on record of Urugasmanhandiya and Volunteering what lingers are the waning strains of that ditty of yester years familiar to the old generations.

gd rd rd nQfha Ta ra - ra W!re.iaux ykaosfha iqoafoda tkjd kx.sfha fodr jymka fndkafha

boomdiye Urugasman Suddo enava Dora wahapan Bondiye

handiye nangiye