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Project Two


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

A sample biography

General The Rt.Hon. Sir John Lionel Kotelawala PC CH KBE KStJ LLD
The only recipient of the CH in Ceylon

Sir John Kotelawala was born on 4.4.1897, and was the son of the late John Kotelawala and Alice Elizabeth (she was created a MBE (Civil) in 1939 and promoted to CBE (Civil) in 1951). He was educated at Royal College, Colombo, and Christ's College, Cambridge. LL.D. (University of Ceylon). He was a proprietary planter and mine owner, and a JP for Ceylon.
He was commissioned in to CLI as 2/Lt. on 15.9.1922 and was promoted Lt. on 27.10.1924, followed by further promotions to Capt. 23.8.1929 and Maj. on 1.10.1933. He was appointed 2nd in command of the CLI on 1.7.1939 and CO CLI 1.9.1939. On 1.10.1940 he was promoted to Lt.Col. and posted to the Reserve of the Corps. He was promoted to Col. on 2.7.1942

Sir John Kotelawela

He was the member for Kurunegala and the Acting Minister of Agriculture and Lands in the First State Council (1931-35), Minister of Communications and Works in the Second State Council (1936-47), Minister of Transport and Works, and the Leader of the House in the First Parliament of Ceylon (1947-52) and the Second Parliament (1952-53). He was the Prime Minister of Ceylon (1953-56) and was also the Minister of Defence and External Affairs. He was created a member of the Privy Council (PC) on 22.4.1954, when sworn in at Queen's House on the only occasion when a meeting of the Privy Council was held in Ceylon.

He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the following Orders:
Legion d'honneur (France) 1954, Order of Merit (Italy) 1954, Order of Merit (Fed. Rep. of Germany) 1955, Order of the White Elephant (Thailand) 1956, Order of the Netherlands Lion (Netherlands), and appointed 1st Class, Order of the Rising Sun (Japan) 1954, and an Associate KStJ (16.11.1965). He was created a KBE (Civil) on 10.6.1948 and appointed a CH on 2.1.1956.
He is also the recipient of the 1939-45 Defence and War Medals, Jubilee Medal 1935, Coronation Medals 1937 (C/G 18.6.1937) and 1953, Efficiency Medal (Ceylon) and 1st clasp (11.2.1949), Ceylon Armed Services Inauguration Medal 1956, Ceylon Armed Service Long Service Medal 1968, Republic of Sri Lanka Armed Services Medal 1972 and the Sri Lanka Army 25th Anniversary Medal 1974. He was the first Chairman of the CLI Association in 1974. He died on 2.10.1980.
Today his estate "Kandawala", houses the Kotelawala Defence Academy (KDA) and his Orders, Decorations & Medals and other memorabilia are on display there.
Address: Kandawala, Kotelawalapura, Ratmalana, Ceylon.; Brogues Wood, Biddenden, Kent.
Publications: An Asian Prime Minister's Story (1956)
Recreations: Polo, Tennis, Riding. Clubs: Orient Club, No 10 Club (Institute of Directors), Sinhalese Sports Club and Eighty Club.

Orders, Decorations and Medals belonging to Sir John Kotelawela as displayed at the Kotelawela Defence Academy.

Medals worn by Sir John Kotelawela
Top Left to Right: Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, Jubilee Medal
1935; Coronation Medal 1937, Coronation Medal 1953, Efficiency Medal
[Ceylon] with clasp for additional service, Ceylon Armed Forces Inauguration
Bottom Left to Right: The Republic of Sri Lanka Armed Services Medal (1972),
Ceylon Armed Forces Long Service Medal and the Sri Lanka Army 25th
Anniversary Medal (1974).
Further Right: Miniatures of the 3 medals mentioned above.


KBE (Neck and Breast Badges)

Companion of Honour (CH) Neck Badge


Order of Merit (Italy)  Ext. Link

The Badges attached to the sash seem to be from a different Order.

Order of the Netherlands Lion (Netherlands)


Order of the White Elephant (Thailand)

Order of Merit (Fed. Rep. of Germany)


Order of the Rising Sun (Japan)

Legion d'honneur (France)




Associate KStJ


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