Ceylon Defence Force, 1940-1947

Scope and Content

Papers of JH Smith on the Ceylon Defence Force, 1940-1947; comprising official reports on the Ceylon Defence Force (CDF), Jan-Nov 1943; examination papers for Commissons in the CDF, with comments by the examiners, 1942; and three letters of application to the CDF, 1940-1947.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers, were established in 1881 by proclamation of the lieutenant governor. This new volunteer force was commanded by British officers, while the ranks were filled out largely with Burghers, a highly Westernized group that adapted well to the demands of volunteer service. A mounted infantry company was added in 1892, and in 1900 this contingent was called to South Africa to assist the British army in the Boer War.
In 1910 the volunteer corps was redesignated as the Ceylon Defence Force. Although Sri Lankan units were not deployed outside the island in either of the world wars, individual soldiers served in the British and British Indian armies. In World War II, the British crown took direct control of the island's armed forces from the colonial government. During this period, the Ceylon Light Infantry grew from 1 battalion to 5 battalions, while the total number of troops in uniform increased to 12,000. Most of these were engaged in maintenance and transport functions. Their most direct contact with the war came in April 1942 when the Japanese launched an air attack on Colombo.


Divided into three series as described above.

Access Information

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Acquisition Information

The source of acquisition by ICS is not known.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued to item level (see link to repository catalogue).

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Alan Kucia as part of the RSLP AIM25 Project.

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Corporate Names

Geographical Names