Great Britain's multi-million rupee, 1373 - acre, air base was formally handed over to the Ceylon Government today by Mr T.
Great Britain's multi-million rupee, 1373 - acre, air base was formally handed over to the Ceylon Government today by Mr T.L.Crosthwait, deputy High Commissioner for the United Kingdom. More than 2,700 distinguished guests were witness to the ceremony.
In his speech the Prime Minister, Mr Bandaranaike said "Today our independence is complete. The United Kingdom, throughout its connexion with dependent territories, has treated their anxiety to conduct their own affairs with understanding and sympathy". He paid tribute to Britain for the dignity, cordiality, friendship, and good grace with which she had handed over the bases at Trinconalee and Katanayake.
Mr Crosthwait recalled that the R.A.F. had preserved Ceylon at the most critical period during the war.
Although control of Katanayake was formally handed over today. Britain will continue to enjoy facilities for communications movement, and storage for another five years. Also the Ceylon Air Force has yet neither the man-powers nor the equipment, not to speak of the finance, to maintain the base on its own.
Today's ceremony was characterised by the presence of the usual military bands and guards of honour which were inspected by the High Commissioner (deputy) and the Prime Minister of Ceylon.
The lowering of the Royal Air Force ensign and the raising in its place of the Royal Ceylon Air Force ensign signified that the base was now in the control of Ceylon. As such Ceylon became host and accordingly paid marks of respect to all departing important personages.