Ceylonese Enlisting in RAF during World War II: More Data

Group Captain Kumar Kirinde, SLAF (Retd)


Clarence Shelton Anthony Perera  was a member of the 1st batch of Ceylonese to join the RAF. As per the only ATA record available he has first served in the RAF from September 1941 to January 1943. He has left the service as a LAC. He then in April 1943 joined as a Pilot Cadet in the Air Transport Auxillary (ATA), a civilian organisation ferrying aircraft for the RAF and Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy ” — Charles Amarasekere

“Kingsley W M N Perera from the 2nd batch who joined the RAF was my wife’s uncle.  He was killed during a training exercise in Canada on 8th December, 1942.  He was 29 years old”. Given below is an extract on his death notification and the copy of the Commonwealth War Graves Certificate*” Ananda Samaraweer

* From web pages linked to https://bcatp.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/three-corners-r-a-f-in-canada and https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find-war-dead/casualty-details/2849796/KINGSLEY%20WILFRED%20MILROY%20PERERA/

Hector L Asserapah from Negombo is from the 3rd bach of Sri Lankans who joined the RAF.  He was an outstanding sportsman from Trinity College mid 1930’s and a recipient of the Trinity Lion for Cricket & Rugby Football. In the RAF during WWII he flew Hurricanes & Spitfires” Rohan Moonamalle

“I believe the last name in the 5th batch, A A Wieyewickrema you refer to in your article in the Island, is my father’s name. We share the same initials (A A) and while his prenames were Algernon Anthony mine are Adrian Anthony. I have photographs*, some of his logbooks and pilots licenses as well as RAF service history”Adrian A Wijeyewickrema


                                                                     Sgt / Pilot Wieyewickrema

* A photo and the record of service are given below

                                                        Record of Service of Sgt / Pilot Wieyewickrema

“Joseph (Joey) Lobo* from Kandy joined the RAF during WWII. He was assigned to the 99 Squadron flying Vickers Wellington twin-engined, long-range medium bomber as an Observer.  He died early in the war, in 1941. Apparently the badly damaged aircraft of which he was a crew member crashed in the English Channel when returning after a mission and the aircraft and body were never recovered” Hilary White

* J. Lobo is NOT one of the 5 batches. He may have joined on his own. I had contacted the 99 Sqn and have several letters but nothing very interesting. He is in a group photo and got details of his last flight – Charles Amarasekere

 “I recall one Mr. Samuel*, a Tamil gentleman who was on the Board of Ceylon Cold Stores and Whitall Boustaed with me, between 1984 and 1988. He told me that he served with the RAF Bomber Command” – Kumar Soysa

* I don’t have anything about Mr. Samuel. Is that his first or last name? If it’s a last name, then there will be hundreds and it doesn’t say where one came from, so near impossible to identify – Charles Amarasekere

 “We met Mr. Donald Wageswara* in Malaysia after the war who was a photographer for the RAF” –              Ranjith Seneviratne

* I could not find him in the RAF database. I tried: Wageswara, Wargeswara, and Wagiswara – Charles Amarasekere

Comment by the compiler: Both Mr Samuel and Mr Wageswara could have been civilians employed by the RAF.

 “Several years ago, I was planting and my boss was Peter Uglow M.C., a captain of the Royal Marines, decorated and an escapee (by tunneling) from the Italians. There were several Europeans who were in the war and a few who served in RAF. One was Pater Innes*, who lost his left leg in the ‘Battle of Britain’, and he wears a wooden stump and from time to time, he used to threaten his subordinates with what he would do with his wooden leg if his instructions were not followed!! Fortunately, I did not work under him!” Kumar Soysa

* The website linked to https://bbm.org.uk/the-airmen/ lists all the RAF pilots that flew in the Battle of Britain. Search for Pater Innes led to the following two names giving the same surname, Sgt RA Innes and Fg Off RF Innes. It can be that one of them was known as Pater.

“I would mention Earl Nicol who went to England and flew Spitfires and Hurricanes for the RAF* in the Battle of Britain**” – Maj Richard Hermon

* The compiler of this eDoc during a brief web based research found that he has been in the RAF from January 1940 to April 1942 and after that had joined the Air Transport Auxillary (ATA), a civil organisation ferrying aircraft for the RAF and Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy.

** In the website linked to https://bbm.org.uk/the-airmen/ which lists all the RAF pilots that flew in the Battle of Britain, Earle Nicol’s name is not listed. Maybe he was going through training at that time.


Note by the compiler: The names given in ‘Red’ are the sources for the contents given. The first source Charles Amarasekere has done an extensive research on the subject “Sri Lankans who joined the RAF during WWII” leading to a conclusion that a total of 58 have joined in 5 batches during the period 1941-44.  He has also come across information to indicate that there have been others who have joined individually either while already being in the UK or going from the country for the purpose. He is continuing his research in this regard. Due to the fact that he has done an extensive research, all other inputs received were shared with him for more or less expert comments. These have been included wherever it is appropriate. All other names in blue are from the group of people who responded to the recent newspaper article on the subject and having a great interest in the beginnings of military aviation in Sri Lanka and to record it in the right perspective.




Filed under British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, cultural transmission, economic processes, education, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, martyrdom, patriotism, performance, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

5 responses to “Ceylonese Enlisting in RAF during World War II: More Data

  1. Lam Seneviratne

    My cousin Ranjit Seneviratne has mentioned the name of Donald Wageswara, Actually his full name is Donald Edward Wagiswara also a 1st cousin of mine. He was domiciled in India and would have been only about 18 years old in 1944.

    • Hello, I searched for Wageswara and Wagiswara but couldn’t find him in the RAF records at AIR 78 Reference – Index to Airmen and Air Women’s Service Record. Did he serve in the RAF or Royal Indian Air Force, or was he a civilian employee? Any additional details would be helpful to locate Donald Wagiswara’s service record. Thanks. Charles Ameresekere

      • Nimal Rambukwelle

        Donald Edward Wagiswara was a petty officer in the RN not RAF.
        He was the official photographer for RNSEC under Lord Mountbatten.
        In Indonesia he was taken prisoner by the Japs and repatriated to Ceylon in 1945/6.
        In Ceylon he was called to serve as a Captain in the SLA until he retired.
        He passed away in 1989.
        Information and documentary evidence with his medals are with his son Capt Naomal Wagiswara a pilot with Qatar Airlines.
        Nimal Rambukwelle

  2. To Mr Adrian A Wijeyewickrema,
    Could you please confirm that your father joined No. 33 Squadron RAF at Gutersloh in Germany in April 1949?

  3. Nimal Rambukwelle

    NICOL, Earl Donovan
    b. 13 August 1915 in Mahagama Ceylon.
    RAeC Cert no 15104 on DH60G Gipsy 85hp.
    At Whitney and Oxford Aero Club 25/6/37.
    I have his license and ATA group photograph.
    Was their a Mahagama or a spelling error for Maharagama ?
    Hope the above info is useful.

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