The British in Trincomalee

On January 8, 1782 the fort was captured by the British, only to be recaptured by the French on August 29 of the same year. In 1783 the French ceded it to the British and subsequently Britain ceded it the Dutch. In 1795 the British recaptured and held it until Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948. The importance of Fort Fredrick was due to Trincomalee natural harbour. Through Trincomalee, it was believed a strong naval force could secure control of India’s Coromandel Coast. Prior to world war 2 the British had built a large airfield to house a permanent RAF base, RAF China Bay and a fuel storage and support facilities for the Royal Navy and HMS Highflyer naval base based there. After the fall of Singapore, Trincomalee became to home port of the Eastern Fleet of the Royal Navy, and submarines of the Dutch Navy.

Until 1957, Trincomalee was an important base for the Royal Navy and was home to many British people who were employed by the British Admiralty. One of the places inhabited by the British was Fort Fredrick which is now occupied by the Sri Lankan Army. Some of the old buildings in the fort were used as residences, including one previously occupied by The Duke of Wellington. In the early 1950’s The British Government built groups of bungalows within the Fort specifically for their employees. These bungalows still exist and provide accommodation for soldiers of the Sri Lankan Army. One of the groups of bungalows was named Edinburgh Terrace where the author of this piece lived with his parents for 3 years. Children of the British residents attended a Royal Naval School which was part of the Naval Base.

Naval and air bases were take over by Sri Lanka in 1957, today SLNS Tissa and SLN Dockyard are used by the Sri Lankan Navy, while the Sri Lanka Air Force is based at SLAF China Bay.

Trincomalee War Cemetery, is one of the six commonwealth war cemeteries in Sri Lanka, it is maintained by Sri Lanka Ministry of Defense on behalf of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Naval Museum The Navy Base is home to a naval museum called The Hoods Tower Museum. The name of the museum refers to a watchtower built on a hill commanding a 360-degree view of the harbor and the bay.

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