Opened in October 1943 the Royal Naval Air Ceylonese Training Establishment was tasked with recruiting and training Ceylonese boys as Aircraft and Motor Transport (MT) mechanics. Once trained they were to take the place of British personnel on duties within Ceylon. Lieutenant Commander L. C. Orman, DSC was appointed as Officer-in-Charge and the establishment was borne on the books of HMS BHERUNDA, RNAS Colombo Racecourse.
Recruits came to the establishment after completing technical and other educational courses at colleges around Ceylon and after a successful interview with the establishment's Recruiting Officer Mr W. H. R. Allson, RN, began training.
The 9 month long accelerated
training programme included basic military training during
first three months, including use of small arms, parade
drill, physical training and preliminary lectures on the
Royal Navy and Aircraft & MT. Beginning in month four
trainees received lectures specific to their career path,
for example those going forward as Air Mechanism were taught
about aerodynamics and MT trainees were taught to drive and
the workings of the Internal Combustion Engines; all
trainees learnt metallurgy, engineering drawing and
technical mathematics while practical work was done in the
Workshop training included the use of basic hand tools, leading to a precision metal fitting exercises involving cutting out, and shaping to fit, a ¼ inch thick metal square which must fit into a corresponding square hole in a ¼ inch thick plate. They also also repeated the test with the more demanding hexagonal shaped piece in the same way.
During the final two months trainees were given instruction on engines; MT trainees on Petrol and Diesel engine, Air mechanic trainees on aero-engines, both the British ‘inline’ Rolls-Royce Merlin and the American Pratt & Whitney double-wasp ‘radial’ engines using dismantled and cross-sectioned parts as visual-aids. A decommissioned Fairey Fulmar two-seater fighter was used for practical training for the Merlin engines and (it is assumed) a single seat Chance- Vought Corsair for the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp. On completion of training, the new Ceylonese Mechanics were posted to Royal Naval Air workshops and Air Stations in Ceylon.
Commissioned as H.M.S. MONARA
On December 1st 1944 the establishment was commissioned as HMS MONARA, ceremonial divisions were held and Rear Admiral H C Rawlings, CB, DSO (Rear-Admiral Naval Air Stations, Indian Ocean) took the salute at the march past. As part of the proceedings the Admiral launched a 48-inch-long model of an aircraft carrier made by the trainees. In keeping with tradition, he broke a flask of wine on the bow and the model slid down a track into the stations water tank while the ship’s company looked on.
he establishment continued its work after the end of the war, Commander G.T. McInnes was appointed as Commanding officer in January 1946. It is possible the site become an RN transit camp once the need for Boy recruits had passed but is not clear when it was closed.
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Liyanaratchi, K. (2006). Employment problems of recent Sri Lankan skilled immigrants in Australia. Accessed March 1st 2019