H. W. G. Wijeyekoon

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H.W.G. Wijeyekoon
Born 25 June 1911
Died April 1969 (aged 57)
Allegiance Sri Lanka Ceylon
Service/branch Ceylon Defence Force
Ceylon Army
Rank General
Unit Ceylon Light Infantry
Commands held Commander of the Ceylon Army
Battles/wars World War II
Awards OBE,
Efficiency Decoration
Other work High Commissioner to Pakistan,
Ambassador to Italy

Major General Hemachandra Wickrama Gerard Wijeyekoon, OBE, ED, CLI (25 June 1911 – April 1969) was a Sri Lankan military leader, and diplomat. He was the second Ceylonese Commander of the Ceylon Army from 1960 to 1963 [1] and formerly Ceylon's High Commissioner to Pakistan and Ambassador to Italy.

Early life and education[edit]

He was the eldest son of Sir Gerard Wijeyekoon, former President of the Senate of Ceylon and Lady Wijeyekoon. Educated at St Joseph's College, Colombo and University of Oxford gaining a BA. Later he became an advocate of the Supreme Court of Ceylon and became a Land Settlement Officer.

Military career[edit]

He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Ceylon Light Infantry in 1935. With the break of World War II and the mobilization of the Ceylon Defence Force he began active service, being promoted to Captain in 1940. He was posted to the 3rd Battalion, Ceylon Light Infantry and underwent tactical training in India. In 1942 he was promoted to Major and Lieutenant Colonel in 1944 taking command of a battalion of the Ceylon Light Infantry. At the end of the war he was demobilized in 1946.

Following Ceylon's independence in 1948 Prime Minister, D.S. Senanayake selected Lt. Col. Wijeyekoon to serve as Secretary to the Chief Whip in the House of Representatives.

With the formation of the Ceylon Army in 1949, Lt. Col. Wijeyekoon joined the regular army in 1950. He became the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, Ceylon Infantry Regiment which shortly became the 1st Battalion, Ceylon Light Infantry and he went on to become the first commanding officer of the regiment. During this time he started the tradition of toasting the motherland or the queen with arrack. In January 1954 he took up the post of Chief of Staff of the Ceylon Army and was promoted to the rank of Colonel in 1954, becoming the commanding officer of the Task Force Anti-Illicit Immigration[2] and was appointed as the first Commandant of the Ceylon Volunteer Force from 1956 to 1959. Several times during this period he was the acting commander of the army. In 1959 he was made a Brigadier and Major General in 1960, taking over as Commander of the Ceylon Army. During his service he introduce Sinhalese for parade ground commands and formed the Army Hewisi Band of oriental music. He retired from the army in 1963 following the 1962 attempt coup d'état of which he was not a part of.

For his military service he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (Military Division) and received the Efficiency Decoration for volunteer service. 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.

Diplomatic career[edit]

After his retirement he was appointed as High Commissioner of Ceylon to Pakistan, with concurrent accreditation to Iran. Thereafter he was made Ceylon's Ambassador to Italy with concurrent accreditation to Greece. During his tenure in Italy, he met with a fatal motor accident. His military funeral was held in Colombo.

Family[edit]

He was married to Olive Wickramasinghe, they had two sons and a daughter.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Anton Muttukumaru
Commander of the Ceylon Army
1960–1963
Succeeded by
Richard Udugama