Anton Muttukumaru

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Anton Muttukumaru
Maj Gen Mutukumaru.jpg
Major General Anton Muttukumaru
Born 6 July 1908
Ceylon
Died 2001
Australia
Allegiance Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
Service/branch Flag of the Ceylon army (1949–1966).jpg Ceylon Army
Years of service 1934 - 1959
Rank Major General
Unit Ceylon Light Infantry
Commands held Commander of the Ceylon Army,
Chief of Staff of the Ceylon Army
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Order of the British Empire
(Military Division),
Efficiency Decoration,
War Medal 1939–1945,
Ceylon Armed Services Long Service Medal
Other work High Commissioner to Australia, Pakistan and
Ambassador to Egypt

Major General Anton M. Muttukumaru, OBE, ED, ADC, CLI (6 July 1908 - 2001) was the first Ceylonese Army officer to serve as Commander of the Ceylon Army (now Sri Lankan Army), a post he held from 1955 to 1959. He also served as Ceylon's High Commissioner to Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Ambassador to Egypt.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born to Dr. Philip Marian Muttukumaru and Mary Mount Carmel Alles, he and his siblings were brought up by their mother after the early death of their father. Educated at home by an English governess and then at St. Joseph's College, Colombo, he then entered Ceylon University College and in 1928, he left for Jesus College, Oxford to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. After completing his degree, he read for the Bar and was called by Gray's Inn to become a Barrister. After returning to Ceylon, he took his oaths as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon.

Military career[edit]

After returning from England, in 1934 he joined the Ceylon Defence Force, a part-time reserve force raised by the British to defend the island. Muttukumaru was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Ceylon Light Infantry (CLI) on September 11, 1934. IN 1939 he was mobilized with the rest of the CDF at the outset of World War II. During this time, he would go on to command the CLI Guard at the South East Asia Command headquarters in Kandy and was promoted Captain on 29 November 1940 and Major in 1942. On 1 November 1943 he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel and appointed Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion CLI in which appointment he continued to serve until the general demobilization which took place after the War.

After the war, Muttukumaru worked once again as a lawyer representing the Attorney General, in a variety of cases but soon gave up law to function as Officer in Charge of Administration in the Ceylon Defence Force HQ where he assisted in the initial plans for the formation of the Ceylon Army. When the Ceylon Army was formed in 1949, he was made a Lieutenant Colonel in the regular force, where he was the chief of staff to Brigadier the Earl of Caithness, and led Ceylon's contingent of soldiers to London on ceremonial duties for the victory parade in 1946, for the funeral of George VI in 1952, and for the Queen's coronation. There his men mounted guard at Buckingham Palace and in 1954, he was appointed an aides de camp to The Queen. Later, he followed courses at the Imperial Defence College, and at the Senior Officers' school at Devizes, where he was taught by Field Marshal Montgomery and made friends with the future Israeli defence minister Brigadier Moshe Dayan, before he returned home in 1955 to take command of the Ceylon Army. He was promoted to the rank of Major General in January 1958 During his time as commander, the army grew in size and was deployed on several occasions to curb civil unrest and riots. In 1959, he decided to retire so that younger officers could have their chance to command, even though Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike asked him to stay on.

For his contributions to Ceylon, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Military Division). For wartime service, he had earned the War Medal 1939–1945, and for service in the Ceylon Army, he received the Ceylon Armed Services Long Service Medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal and the Ceylon Armed Services Inauguration Medal.

Later years[edit]

After leaving the army, Muttukumaru was appointed Ceylon's High Commissioner to Pakistan (with concurrent responsibility for Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq) in 1959, and High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand from 1963 to 1966. Later in 1966, Muttukumaru became Ambassador to Egypt, concurrently he was Ambassador to Jordan, the Sudan and Yugoslavia. He permanently retired in 1969. In 1996, the General Sir John Kotelawela Defence Academy awarded an 'Honourable Doctor of Letters' to him for his contributions to the buildup of the Army and for being the first to publish a short history of the Army. The Military History of Ceylon — An Outline ISBN 81-7013-046-8. Muttukumaru died in Australia in 2001 at the age of 93.

Family[edit]

Muttukumaru married Margaret Vasanthi Ratnarajah in 1944. They had three sons: Anton Vasantha Muttukumaru, Philip Rajkantha Muttukumaru and Christopher Peter Jayantha Muttukumaru CB.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Past Army Commanders". Sri Lanka Army. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
F.S. Reid
Commander of the Ceylon Army
1955 - 1959
Succeeded by
H. W. G. Wijeyekoon