|Full Name||80 Crown Colony of Ceylon|
|Alliance||Allies - Minor Member Nation or Possession|
|Possessing Power||United Kingdom|
|Entry into WW2||3 Sep 1939|
|Population in 1939||5,500,000|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseIn 1505, Portuguese explorer Lourenço de Almeida discovered the island of Sri Lanka and named it Ceilão. Portuguese forces soon arrived to conquer and colonize the seven kingdoms on the island. In 1517, the city of Colombo was founded as the capital of the Portuguese colony, and the city was used in the same capacity by the Dutch and the British, the latter of which arrived in 1815. British Ceylon, the name having directly translated phonetically from the Portuguese Ceilão, was eventually made a Crown Colony. It was a major source of rubber for Britain. When Britain initially joined in the European War, Ceylon hosted a colonial force (the Ceylon Defence Force on land and the Ceylon Navy Volunteer Reserve at sea), British Royal Navy facilities at Trincomalee, and British Royal Air Force (RAF) airfield also at Trincomalee. In terms of fixed defensive weapons, Colombo had four coastal batteries and Trincomalee had five. In 1941, the RAF took over the civilian airfield at Ratmalana near Colombo to house additional fighter aircraft, while construction was started for new permanent and temporary airfields at various locations. In early 1942, when Japanese forces threatened Singapore, the Royal Navy East Indies Station's home base was moved to Colombo and later Trincomalee. The Ceylon Defence Force was expanded during the war to bolster defense; by the end of the war, it was at the size of 10 infantry battalions and 3 artillery battalions. Some Ceylonese joined the British Army, Royal Navy, and RAF and some of them saw service in Burma, Malaya, North Africa, and Italy, but they were recalled from the front lines after Ceylonese troops attempted a defection to the Japanese at the Cocos Islands between Ceylon and Australia. The Australian 7th Division and units of the 1st (African) Division would also be deployed to Ceylon. The only attack on the island took place in Apr 1942 during the Japanese carrier raid into the Indian Ocean during which shore facilities at Colombo and Trincomalee were damaged by carrier aircraft while a light carrier, two heavy cruisers, and other warships were sunk out to sea. The campaign created a minor panic among the Ceylonese civilians, many of whom fled to Indian by boat.
ww2dbaseAfter the war, Ceylon was given Dominion status in 1948. In 1972, it gained independence from the United Kingdom, establishing the "Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka", which marked a return to the island's name as known in ancient Sanskrit texts.
Events Taken Place in Ceylon
|Raids into the Indian Ocean||31 Mar 1942 - 9 Apr 1942|
Ceylon in World War II Interactive Map
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