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PROJECT ONE - Orders, Decorations and Medals relating to Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
from 1795 to the present.

A sample from the section on Campaign Medals


This very rare medal was awarded for gallant conduct during the Kandyan
Rebellion of 1818, by the Ceylon Government.

Obverse- Inscription CEYLON 1818 surrounded by a wreath.

Reverse- REWARD OF MERIT around the edge. The recipients name is usually found engraved in the centre.

Size- 38.5 mm in diameter
Metal- Gold (2), Silver (45)

Designer- Unknown. Issued by the Ceylon Government

Naming- Engraved

Ribbon- 38.5mm wide, blue

Ceylon Medal 1818


Regts present- 19th , 73rd (2nd Batt., the Black Watch), 83rd Foot, 1st, 2nd
Ceylon Regiment & 7th , 15th & 18th Madras Native Infantry.

A special Gold Regimental Medal was awarded to L/Cpl. MacLaughlan and his
three companions.

Details from the General Orders of July 7, 1818 and June 2, 1819.

'In concluding these orders, it is with feeling no less gratifying that the Commander of the Forces places on record a display of heroism most honourable to the individuals who achieved it, in the instance of Lance Corpl. McLaughlin of the 73rd, and a detachment of four rank and file of the 2nd Ceylon, when on their march on the 16th ult. from Passera to Badulla.

This small party was beset about mid-way by a horde of rebels in a thick jungle who fired on the detachment from their concealment killing two soldiers of the Light Infantry, 73rd . (James Southerland and William Chanleer), on the spot, and immediately showing themselves in numbers around this little band of brave soldiers, whom they no doubt considered a certain prey, but regardless of their menaces and faithful to their fallen comrades, ten of these gallant men encompassed the dead bodies of their brother soldiers, while Corpl. McLaughlin, with the remaining five, fought their way to Badulla at two miles distance through some hundred Kandyans, to report the situation of the detachment they left, surrounded by so immense and disproportionate a force, in conflict with which they continued for two hours, when being relieved by a party detached by Major MacDonald under the command of Lt. Burns of the 83rd Regiment from Badulla, they had the triumph
of seeing the insurgents fly before them, and of bringing the dead bodies of
their comrades to be honourably interred.

The Commander of the Forces has not language sufficient to extol the noble trait of generous feeling, to save from barbarous insult and mutilation the bodies of their dead comrades, which he ventures to believe is without parallel, and to mark his admiration of such an act, the Lt.Genl. is pleased to promote Lance Corpl. McLaughlin, to be a supernumerary sergeant in the 73rd to bear date on the 16th ult., and to succeed to the first effective vacancy that occurs in the regiment, and with respect to the detachment that he commanded. The Commander of the Forces desires that Major MacDonald will report their names, that the Lt.Genl. may consider how it may be in his power adequately to distinguish them.'

June 16, 1818- James Sutherland and William Chandler
Privates of the 73rd Regt

"On the 16th instant, while the H.C. 18th NI were halting at Passara for  refreshment, Lt. Wilkinson sent into Badulla, a small party to announce their arrival. This party consisted of six Europeans, 6 Malays and 6 Caffres. They had not been used to go quite to Badulla, but to meet the escorts halfway, and so were not aware of there being within two miles of Badulla a patch of jungle which was a favourite lurking place of the Rebels. When they approached this spot a heavy fire was opened upon them by the Kandyans from their ambuscade close by, and two fine soldiers of the 73rd Regt. James Southerland and William Chandler, were unfortunately killed upon
the spot. The gallant conduct of the rest of the party well deserves public notice and approbation. They were resolved not to abandon their comrades even in death, nor to suffer their bodies to be insulted by a barbarous enemy. Lance Corporal McLaughlan with another european and four natives formed themselves into a circle around the dead bodies which they had previously removed to a spot of open ground, while the Corporal and his companies made their way good to Badulla, followed and constantly fired at by numerous Rebels; the determined band posted around the bodies were  assailed for upwards of two hours by strong parties of Kandyans, who urged on by their Chiefs from the hills, for they always keep at a distance themselves, advanced within 150 to 200 yards and poured in volleys of musketry. The cool intrepidity of the of soldiers was shown in the judicious reserve of their fire, for they never returned more than two shots at a time, which was sufficient to keep off the dastardly enemy until Lt. Burns with a detachment from Badulla drove them all into the jungle and the bodies were brought off and interred in Badulla.

("The Uva Rebellion" despatches from the Ceylon Govt. Gazette)

1996 -2002, Charles Ameresekere. Content may not be copied by any form without the prior consent of the Author.