H. S. Kadigawa - World War II Paratrooper

The death occurred recently at the octagonal age of 87 of H. S. ‘Rajah’ Kadigawa who served with distinction as a paratrooper in the Theatres of Burma, Greece and France in World War II and in the Sri Lanka Police Force from which he retired as a SSP.

When Sir Richard Aluvihare who succeeded Dowebiggin to be the first Ceylonese Inspector General of Police and wished to have an elite Police Force he cast the net far and wide in 1948. The intakes, all from Public Schools were in alphabetical order:-

Jim Bandaranayake Trinity retired as DIG

N. N. de Silva St. Peter’s retired prematurely to emigrate to Canada

Basil Gunasekera Royal retired prematurely to join the Navy

Noel Halangoda Trinity retired prematurely to live in Spain

H. S. Kadigawa Ananda retired as SSP

Ralph Jansz S. Thomas retired prematurely to emigrate to Australia

Brindeley Patternott S. Thomas retired prematurely to emigrate to Australia

Michael Schokman Trinity retired prematurely to emigrate to Australia

Neil Weerasinghe St. Joseph’s retired as DIG

John Weinman Royal retired prematurely to emigrate to Australia

There appears to be a certain bias in that Sir Richard being a Trinitian had selected three aspirants from his old school.

H. S. Kadgawa joined the Police Force having culled fresh laurels for serving meritoriously as a Paratrooper in the King’s Army, the Royal Army Service Corps. He operated mainly in the War Theatres of Burma, Greece and France and was awarded the Oak Leaf the overflow of the Victoria Cross) for having single-handedly kept a German platoon at bay until reinforcements arrived to totally wipe out the enemy and destroy a German Power Station that was supplying electricity to German searchlights.

He was also awarded the Military Cross for Acts of Gallantry and Distinguished Service. He is mentioned in Churchill’s Memoirs and in the ‘Red Beret’ which is the official monograph of the Paratrooper Regiment. ‘Rajah’ Kadigawa also received a gazette notification of appreciation by the King of England for his distinguished service.

As my father’s first cousin he taught me a lesson in my callow youth which has come in good stead ever since. I was late for lunch and as most thirteen-year olds would, was gobbling away with Uncle Rajah speaking to me on trivia. At the end of my meal he asked me if I had ever been to a kamatha. I said, yes and he continued, "Have you seen rice being pickedup meticulously where there is so much on the ground?" I said yes, sort of amende honorable. "Pick up the rice around your plate and eat it!" he commanded. That was the soldier in him.

I am told by his buddies in the Police Force that he brought in a certain military discipline into the Police Force, as well. I have used his name to test the waters. When I have asked a cop if he had known H. S. Kadigawa and he has told me, "Aiyo, he was impossible," I have deduced that cop to have been a ‘bad egg’.

A non-smoker and a teetotaller to the last breath of his life, he went without wavering through the Army barracks of Greece and Scotland where liquor is considered by soldiers to be mother’s milk and in France which consumes most wine per capita but a Frenchman is never seen drunk.

I asked him one day if he had seen any of the films made on the war and he told me with a glint in his eye, "No, son, I have been in some of the plays."

He married Manil Pilimatalawa of the Kandyan aristocracy in 1963 and sired three daughters in Namali, Charmala and Gingi. With his death ends the male line of the Kadigawas.

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