Richard Udugama

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Alexander Richard Udugama

Member of the Sri Lanka Parliament
for Matale
In office
7 June 1970 – 18 May 1977
Preceded byAlick Aluwihare
Succeeded byAlick Aluwihare
Personal details
Born11 November 1911
Died14 May 1995(1995-05-14) (aged 83)
NationalitySri Lankan
Political partySri Lanka Freedom Party
Burma Star,
Defence Medal,
War Medal 1939–1945
Military service
AllegianceSri Lanka
Branch/serviceCeylon Defence Force
Ceylon Army
Years of service1940–1966
RankMajor General
UnitCeylon Light Infantry,
Ceylon Sinha Regiment
CommandsCommander of the Ceylon Army
Battles/warsWorld War II

Major General Deshamanya Alexander Richard Udugama, MBE, psc, CSR (11 November 1911 – 14 May 1995) was a Sri Lankan military leader, politician and diplomat. Former Commander of the Ceylon Army (1964–1966), he was elected as Member of Parliament for Matale in 1970 and served as Sri Lankan Ambassador to Iraq from 1979 to 1982. He was accused of an alleged coup d'état in 1966.

Early life[edit]

He was born on 11 November 1911 in Matale to a rich family, who claimed to be linked to the Uva Rebellion. Educated at Trinity College, Kandy and won a Trinity Lion.

Military career[edit]

With the out break of World War II, he joined the Ceylon Defence Force and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Ceylon Light Infantry in 1940. Thereafter he was posted to the 1st, 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Ceylon Light Infantry and undertook several infantry courses in Ceylon and India. He was promoted to the rank of Captain on 1 January 1943. In November 1943, he was transferred to the British 14th Army operating in Burma Campaign. During this time he served with the 7/2nd Punjab Regiment in the Arakan area, on the eastern side of Mayu Range. At this point he was captured Japanese and held in a POW camp until the end of the war in 1945. For his war service he was awarded the Burma Star, the Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939–1945. After the war, he was demobilized and became a planter. However he joined the new Ceylon Army when it was established in 1949 as a regular officer with the rank of Major.

By the early 1960s he had reached the rank of colonel and was attached to the Ceylon Sinha Regiment as its commanding officer and was stationed in Jaffna as commanding officer of Troops Jaffna. There he was noted for breaking up a protest organized by the Federal Party.

Following the 1962 attempt coup d'état he was brought back to Colombo and appointed Commander of the Ceylon Army in 1964, by passing seven more senior officers after Major General H.W.G. Wijeyekoon had to retired in 1963. He was the first Sinhala-Buddhist Army Commander with the rank of Brigadier.


Major General Udugama was recalled while on an official tour in Europe, and arrested on his arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport. He was arrested on the charges of plotting a coup against the government of Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake in what was known as the Bathroom coup.[1]

He was held at the Welikada Prison for three years as the trial took place and the Supreme Court found him not guilty and acquitted him of all charges. His legal counsel was Neville Samarakoon, QC and Tissa Wijeyeratne.

Later years[edit]

Following his acquittal he contested the Matale seat from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and was elected as a Member of Parliament which he held till 1977. By the late 1970s he became a supporter of the United National Party and in 1979 he was appointed as Sri Lankan Ambassador to Iraq until 1982. The government of Sri Lanka bestowed the title of Deshamanya and on his death in 1995 a State funeral was granted with full Military honours.[2]


General Udugama married Rita Nugawela Kumarihamy, daughter of Tikiri Banda Nugawela Rate Mahatmaya of Udu Nuwara and sister of Colonel Allan Nugawela. They had a son (Ajith Ravindra) and a daughter (Kshanika Udugama).


See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
H.W.G. Wijeyekoon
Commander of the Ceylon Army
Succeeded by
Bertram Heyn