Rohan Amerasekera

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Ekanayake Edward Rohan Amerasekera
Born 21 May 1916
Kegalle, Ceylon
Died 20 March 1974 (aged 57)
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Allegiance Sri Lanka Ceylon
 United Kingdom
Service/branch Ensign of the Sri Lanka Air Force.svg Royal Ceylon Air Force
 Royal Air Force
Years of service 19 years (RCyAF)
8 years (RAF)
Rank Air Vice-Marshal (RCyAF)
Flight Lieutenant (RAF)
Commands held Commander of the Sri Lankan Air Force
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Distinguished Flying Cross and BAR,
1939-1945 Star,
Air Crew Europe Star with the France and Germany Bar,
Defence Medal,
War Medal

Air Vice-Marshal Ekanayake Edward Rohan Amerasekera DFC & BAR, RCyAF (21 May 1916 – 20 March 1974) third Commander of the Royal Ceylon Air Force and World War II Royal Air Force Navigator.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Kegalle, Ceylon on 21 May 1916, was one of the seven children of Edward Henry Ekanayake Amerasekera and Joslina Amerasekera (née de Silva Samarasinghe Siriwardena). Orphaned at the age of four, he was brought up by his uncle and aunt, Victor and Eda de Silva Siriwardena and later lived with his eldest sister, Hyacinth and her husband, Ashley Peiris at 'Ash Court', Kegalle. He received his education at Wesley College, Colombo (1925–29), Kingswood College, Kandy (1929–32), St. Mary's College, Kegalle (1933–34) and at the Pembroke Academy (1935–39).

RAF career[edit]

With outbreak of World War II Amarasekera joined Ceylon Defence Force but was forced out by his sister and other family members. He like his compatriots Rex de Silva and Ananda Kularatne then, applied to join the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 19 September 1940, was selected and left for England with the first batch of RAF Recruits from Ceylon in June 1941 on the S.S. Exeter. He was commissioned while serving with No 158 Squadron as a Pilot Officer,[2] General Duties (Navigator) Branch RAFVR. He flew as part of Halifax bomber crew. In 1943 he transferred to No. 35 Squadron of the Pathfinder Force but went back to his old squadron. Amerasekera was promoted to Flying Officer on 29 January 1944 [3] and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.[4] In August 1944 he joined No 640 Squadron, serving till 1945. In 1945 he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant [5] and was awarded the Bar to the DFC.[6] He returned to Ceylon in Early 1946 and served at RAF Kandy, Ceylon until August 1946 and resigned his commission on November, 1946.

Medals[edit]

Distinguished Flying Cross[edit]

The citation for his DFC reads "This officer has displayed a high degree of courage and determination in navigating his aircraft to the target and back, often under great difficulties. In November 1943 whilst on a flight to a distant target, the oxygen supply failed early in the sortie. P/O. Amerasekera, though suffering from lack of oxygen and extreme cold continued his duties and the mission was successfully completed. This officer has proved himself to be a navigator of outstanding ability.".[7]

Bar to Distinguished Flying Cross[edit]

The citation for the bar to his DFC reads "This officer has completed the second tour of the operational duty. In December, 1944 on route to Essen his aircraft was engaged by searchlights and heavy anti-aircraft fire causing severe damage to the aircraft. Despite shell splinters entering his compartment Flying Officer Amarasekera took evasive action and completed his allotted task. His other targets have been Ruhr Valley, Chemnitz and Hanover. On all occasions FO Amarasekera had a set a fine example by his tenacity and devotion to duty".[8]

Other medals[edit]

In addition to the DFC and Bar, he received the 1939-1945 Star, the Air Crew Europe Star with the France and Germany Bar, the Defence Medal and the War Medal.

Civil Aviation[edit]

Amerasekera joined the Department of Civil Aviation on 20 August 1946 as the Assistant Aerodrome Officer (Flying Control) at the Ratmalana Airport, while on leave from the RAF, and on 1 October 1950, he was promoted to Acting Airport Controller.

Royal Ceylon Air Force[edit]

He left this Department in May 1951 to join the newly formed Royal Ceylon Air Force under the Command of Group Captain Graham Bladon, an officer seconded from the RAF. On 15 May 1951 he was commissioned as Pilot Officer (Service number 01002) and promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader with effect from the same date.

1955 he was promoted to the rank of Wing Commander, followed by promotions to the ranks of Group Captain (1 July 1959), Temporary Air Commodore (13 November 1962), Air Commodore (1 January 1964) and Air Vice-Marshal (1 October 1967) becoming third Commander of the Royal Ceylon Air Force in 1962.

While with the RCyAF, Ameresekera trained as a Pilot, first in Chipmunks and later in the Jet Provost under the guidance of Paddy Mendis, who would later succeed him as Commander of the RCyAF. Whilst in RCyAF, Amerasekera received the Ceylon Armed Services Long Service Medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal and the Ceylon Armed Services Inauguration Medal .

Rohan Amerasekera died on 20 March 1974 at the young age of 57, and is survived by his widow Aloma (née Dender) whom he had married on 12 November 1958, and by his son and daughter. He was accorded a funeral with full military honours by the Government of Sri Lanka. His ceremonial sword and miniatures of his medals are on display at the Sri Lanka Air Force Museum.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "World War II Database Rohan Amerasekera by C. Peter Chen". ww2db.com. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  2. ^ "The London Gazette Tuesday 12th October1943". www.london-gazette.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  3. ^ "The London Gazette". www.london-gazette.co.uk. 4 February 1944. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  4. ^ "SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 15 FEBRUARY, 1944". www.london-gazette.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  5. ^ "The London Gazette Tuesday 17th December 1946". www.london-gazette.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  6. ^ "The London Gazette". www.london-gazette.co.uk. 4 December 1945. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  7. ^ "AVM Ekanayake Edward (Rohan) Amerasekera DFC & Bar. R.Cy.A.F. By Charles M. Ameresekere". www.ceylonmedals.com. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 
  8. ^ "Amarasekera was a daring pilot He flew bombing raids over Hitler's Germany By Wijitha NAKKAWITA Sunday Onbservor, 8 March 2009". www.sundayobserver.lk. Retrieved 2012-11-22. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
J. L. Barker
Commander of the Royal Ceylon Air Force
1962-1970
Succeeded by
Paddy Mendis