From Captain to Army Commander — Sepala Attygalle’s illustrious career

Former Army Commander General Sepala Attygalle who passed away on Monday at the age of 79 was educated at Royal College, Colombo.

He gave up his University career to join the Army during the Second World War. He was Commissioned in the Ceylon Defence Force on November 15, 1940 in the rank of Second Lieutenant at the age of 19 years.

After the war, he was demobilised and joined the public service as an Assistant Controller of Textiles and Assistant Controller of Exports and Imports.

On the formation of the Ceylon Army, he joined as a Captain in the Ceylon Light Infantry.

After a long attachment to the Queen’s Dragoon Guards (Armour Unit) he was made the Commander of the Squadron of the new Armoured Corps raised on October 10, 1955 under the then Ceylon Army. In 1958, the Squadron was expanded to a regiment and General Attygalle was appointed as its first Commanding Officer in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

As a senior officer, he held several Staff appointments and was Chief of Staff for two years immediately prior to his appointment as Commander of the Army at which time he was also promoted to the rank of Major General on October 1, 1967. He served in this capacity up to 1977. During this period he was promoted Lieutenant General on April 4, 1974 and was the first officer of the Sri Lanka Army to hold this rank.

He graduated from the Staff College, Camberley in 1953, attended several courses in the UK before entering the Imperial Defence College in 1966.

After his retirement from active duty, he further distinguished himself by holding a number of top-level appointments such as Additional Secretary and then Secretary Ministry of Defence. Then as High Commissioner at the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom, after which he served as Chairman of Air Lanka Ltd, and finally, as Chairman, Airport and Aviation Services Ltd.

The remains are lying at 6, Fairfield Gardens, Colombo 8 (Tele: 699407).

The funeral will be held on Wednesday, January 17 at 4.30 p.m. at the General Cemetery, Borella.