Thursday, 21 July 2022

Commonwealth War Cemetery (Jawatta)

Jawatta Commonwealth War Cemetery
Jawatta Commonwealth War Cemetery (Sinhala: ජාවත්ත පොදුරාජ්‍ය මණ්ඩලීය යුද සුසාන භූමිය) is a part of the Jawatta Burial Ground (or Liveramentu Cemetery) situated in Jawatta in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. It has been established to honour the Commonwealth servicemen who died during World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945).

Sri Lanka in World Wars
Sri Lanka in the First World War
World War I centred in Europe began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, as a part of the British Empire, offered the service of approximately 2000 volunteers from the Ceylon Defence Force, and 442 among them did not survive. Their names are presently found recorded in the Cenotaph War Memorial in the Colombo Public Library premises. The closest fighting to Sri Lanka took place in the Bay of Bengal, where an Australian warship sank a German cruiser.

Sri Lanka in the Second World War
World War II was begun on 1 September 1939 and lasted till 2 September 1945. The two naval bases in Colombo and Trincomalee in Sri Lanka were attacked by Japan after the fall of Singapore and the Netherlands East Indies. The port at Colombo was bombed by them on 5 April 1942 while the port at Trincomalee was attacked on 9 April the same year. The destroyer Tenedos (under refitting) and the armed merchant cruiser Hector (under repair) that were in Colombo harbour were sunk and the quays and workshops there were damaged by the attackers. Also, the carrier Hermes, the destroyer Vampire, the corvette Hollyhock, a tanker and a fleet auxiliary were sunk off the Trincomalee coast.

War graves in Sri Lanka
There are over 2,000 World War burials in Sri Lanka. They include those who were killed in the attacks of April 1942, garrison deaths and casualties from formations which underwent jungle warfare training on the island before proceeding to Burma (present Myanmar).

Jawatta War Graves
The cemetery at Jawatta is one of the nine cemeteries maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Sri Lanka. It preserves 610 tombstones, a cremation memorial and memorial tablets containing the names of Commonwealth servicemen who died during the First and Second World Wars.

In addition, a memorial commemorating 28 Italian prisoners of war who died during 1939-1945 and who are buried in Sri Lanka, is found within this cemetery.

Cremation Memorial
This memorial is in the form of an urn-crowned stone pylon, with wing walls bearing the columns of names of 165 men of the Hindu faith who died during the Second World War while serving in Sri Lanka, and who were accorded the last rite required by their religion, committal to fire. The inscription written in English, Hindi and Sinhala above the names can be read as follows; 

1939-1945 IN HONOUR OF THESE SOLDIERS WHO DIED IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY AND WHOSE MORTAL REMAINS WERE COMMITTED TO FIRE

Memorial Tablets
These memorial tablets are made of Portland stone and are affixed to the low walls forming the entrance to the Commission's War Graves Plot. Names of over 345 men who died during the Second World War while serving in Sri Lanka, whose graves either could not be found or, if found, could neither be permanently maintained are mentioned on tablets. The dedicatory inscription which is in three languages, English, Hindi and Sinhala can be read as follows; 

1939-1945 THE OFFICERS AND MEN WHOSE MEMORY IS HONOURED HERE DIED IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY AND LIE BURIED ELSEWHERE IN SRI LANKA

Muslim Cemetery
This cemetery is located on the neighbouring Jawatta Jummah Masjid premises. Memorial plaques of 27 people who died in the First and Second World Wars are preserved here.

Jawatta Commonwealth War Cemetery Jawatta Commonwealth War Cemetery
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See also

Location Map
This page was last updated on 26 July 2022

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