24th June 2001
Sports| Mirror Magazine
Lt. Col. Chandana TalpawilaTen years have passed now,
Since you left us in a tragic manner,
Though your absence was so long,
You were not out of our minds.
Taking delight doing something daring,
You were family's pride at one time,
Your life as an army officer,
You manifested your capabilities in full measure,
Your last involvement in the war at Trinco,
You were not spared unhurt either,
It is said that the "good die young",
Greater service can no man render to his country,
When your motherland was ravaged by war,
You are always fondly remembered,
P. Talpawila (Thaththa)
Ariyadasa De SilvaOld soldiers never die, they just fade away, they say. That is how we remember Ariyadasa De Silva Guardie Punchihewa - a gallant chief petty officer of the Ceylon Navy Volunteer Reserve (CRNRVR).
He passed away at the ripe old age of four score and two years recently at Rawathawatta, Moratuwa. He was my dear first cousin with whom I had a close relationship from my boyhood days. To us he was Ariyadasa Aiya or "Sudu Aiya". Among ex-servicemen; his friends and old colleagues, he was known as Punch or Punchi.
Ariyadasa Aiya was educated at St. Bendict's College, Colombo, where he excelled in the Ceylon Cadet Battalion. He rose to the rank of sergeant NCO - Quarter Master and showed his prowess as a top marksman. He carried away several awards as an excellent rifle shooter. He was a long-standing member of the Ceylon Rifle Association and won many shields and awards.
While at school, he actively took part in cricket, athletics, gymnastics and swimming.
After World War II, most of the army and navy units were disbanded and the men demobilized. He found employment in the then Colombo Port Commission, as an assistant patrolling officer of its security division.
While at the Colombo Port Commission, he took an active part in its Buddhist activities. He was general secretary of the Varaya Bauddha Bala Mandalaya for many years and life member of the Sarvodaya Sharmadana Society, vice president of the Ceylon Ex-Servicemen's Association and past president of the Kathaluwe Guardie Punchihewa family society.
After retirement, he and his wife Siripali (who pre-deceased him a few years ago), migrated to Australia and the U.S.A to live with their daughter Ramani and husband in California and also with their younger son Nimal and his wife in Australia. Ariyadasa and Sripali were a loving couple.
The tragic turning point of Ariyadasa Ayiya's life came with the untimely death of his wife Sripali, after which his health declined. His eldest son Raja and his wife live at Kelaniya. Besides his three children, he leaves behind his eldest sister Nandaawathie Perera and his elder brother Keerathidasa.
His son Raja disclosed that he had left a written document typed and signed by him, detailing how his obituary notice should be written and the way the last rites should be accorded. He had wanted Buddhist last rites but no floral tributes, no funeral orations, no tom-tom beating, no navy band, only the Last Post-the bugle to be sounded with a volley of gunshots, and that he be dressed in his naval uniform.
All his last wishes were duly fulfilled by his children. May he attain Nibbana.
Gamini G. Punchihewa
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