Rajan Kadiragamar

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Rajan Kadiragamar
Born 1922
Allegiance Sri Lanka
Years of service 1941-1970
Rank Rear Admiral
Commands held Captain of the Royal Ceylon Navy
Battles/wars World War II

Rear Admiral Rajanathan "Rajan" Kadiragamar, MVO, ADC, RCyN (born 1922) was Sri Lankan Admiral. He was the second Ceylonese Captain of the Royal Ceylon Navy from 1960 to 1970 and as such the longest serving Commander of the Navy.

Early life[edit]

Kadiragamar came from a Tamil Protestant Vellala family with deep roots in Jaffna. His father was Sam J.C. Kadirgamar Sr, JP, UM a Proctor, who was the President of the Colombo Proctor's Association and the founder President of the Law Society of Ceylon. He had three brothers. His older brother S.J.C.Kadirgamar Jr., QC was an eminent lawyer in commercial law, his youngest brother was Lakshman Kadirgamar, PC former Minister of Foreign Affairs, and his third brother was Selvanathan "Bai" Kadirgamar was a Major in the Ceylon Army.[1] Kadiragamar was educated at Royal College, Colombo, where he was the senior sergeant of the cadet contingent and played rugby in the annual Bradby Shield Encounter.

Naval career[edit]

With the outbreak of World War II, Kadiragamar joined the Ceylon Naval Volunteer Force as a cadet officer. After completing his officer training he graduated, winning the Sword of Honour at the passing out parade at Trincomalee, in 1941. He was thereafter commissioned as a probationary Sub Lieutenant in the Ceylon Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (CRNVR) on 1 January 1942 and was attached to the Royal Navy for the duration of the war. During this time he served on board ships of the Eastern Fleet and saw action off the cost of Burma. Following the general demobilization at the end of the war Kadiragamar, who was now a Lieutenant, remained in the CRNVR and in 1946 led the CRNVR's contingent in the victory parade in London. In 1949 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

With the formation of the Royal Ceylon Navy in 1950 he was commissioned as a regular officer with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. In 1951 he was made the commanding officer of HMCyS Vijaya the first ship of the new navy. Taking successive commands at sea and in shore establishments of the now growing navy, he was promoted to the ranks of Commander in 1955 and Captain in 1959, by which time he was Chief of Staff of the Navy. In 1960 he was made acting Captain of the Navy with promotion to the rank of temporary Commodore, when Rear Admiral Royce de Mel was relieved of command following an inquiry into officers smuggling contraband.

When a coup d'étata was attempted in 1962, which included de Mel, Kadiragamar was targeted by the coup and was planned to be held under house arrest. The coup failed and its leaders arrested shortly. Even though his brother was a defense council for the coup leaders in the long trial that followed, Kadiragamar remained head of the navy, when other service commanders were quickly changed. In 1964 his appointment was confirmed and he served as Captain of the Navy until his retirement in 1970 with the rank of Rear Admiral. Even though funding was cut and recruitment halted in the navy by the government, he established the Naval and Maritime Academy in Trincomalee. He was a working director at Port Cargo Corporation and played a major role in establishing the Ceylon Shipping Corporation.[2]

Kadiragamar was appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO) for service to HM Queen Elizabeth II and had been awarded the 1939-1945 Star, the Burma Star for war service from 1939–1945. For service in the Royal Ceylon Navy he received the service medals Ceylon Armed Services Long Service Medal, Ceylon Armed Services Inauguration Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. He had also served as extra aide-de-camp to three Governor-Generals. He also served as President of the Swimming Union.


He was married to Rajeswari "Girlie" Gunaratnam and had two daughters Lakshmi and Sharmala and was the fatherinlaw of Captain Arjuna Wijayatilake and Ralph Kanagasingham.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Royce de Mel
Captain of the Royal Ceylon Navy
Succeeded by
D. V. Hunter