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Thomians remember their Men of Valour


Thomian officers serving the armed forces and the police pose with the Warden of S. Thomas’ D. Ponniah

by Richard Dwight - Daily News Thu Nov 7 2002

"They shall not grow old,

As we that are here grow old.

Age shall not weary them,

Nor years condemn, at the going

Down of the sun and, in the morning,

We shall remember them."

People the world over, around this time of the year, do pause for awhile in a special poignant way to remember those valiant men, who either laid their lives or went missing in war.

S. Thomas' College too, has been observing this with much emphasis for the past four years and will do so for the fifth year - when it will hold a service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving in honour and reverence of those Thomians who died, went missing or were maimed in the past two world wars and, thereafter in the defence of the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. They will also pray for God's guidance, grace and strength on those Thomians, who continue to serve in the forces and the police.

This significant service in the calendar of S. Thomas' as from its inception is being organized by the Special Events team of the STC - OBA. It will take place on Saturday the 9th of November at 5.00 p.m. at the College Chapel, where the preacher will be the Revd. Marc Billimoria, an old boy of S. Thomas'.

The Minister of Defence Thilak Marapone, an old Thomian, is expected to be present, along with the families of sacrificial Thomians, members of the staff, students, old boys and well-wishers.

This solemn remembrance service, befitting an occasion such as this - will truly give those of the Thomian fraternity, an opportunity to identify and associate themselves with an event, which seeks to perpetuate the memory of a courageous set of Thomians, who made the supreme sacrifice for the greater cause and common good. Perhaps in the quieter moments of this service, those present may find themselves gripped with emotion in recalling those searing challenging words, "Tell them for us, when you go home, that we gave our todays for your tomorrows."

The education and discipline imparted at S. Thomas' through the years, has moulded many a Thomian to be men of valour, faithful to the cause to rise up to the occasion. Leading the way was the father of our modern nation D.S. Senanayake, being one of the first Thomians to don uniform in the 1890's in the newly formed Ceylon Garrison Artillery.

Through it all S. Thomas' has lost a large number of Thomians, who gave their lives to different conflicts spanning from World War I, where the college lost over 70 of her sons, 6 were killed in World War II and 11 died in the Eelam war, with 3 missing in action. Mention must be made of Thomian Lt. Basil Horsefall, who was the only Ceylonese to win the Victoria Cross for exceptional gallantry, displayed in World War I, where he lost his life on the 21st March 1918 in France. Equally touching it is, to learn of the contents of an un-posted, prophetic letter received after death from the former head prefect of the school, Dugal Abeysekera - where he spells out his dreams for an independent and proud Ceylon, free of colonial rule and a country where proper values of liberty, justice and honour would prevail, and his hopes that the Ceylonese would unite at the end of World War II to create a free Ceylon.

In the light of Dugal's aspirations our commitment must surely be, that some day there will come a time "when the races have all blended, and the voice of strife is dumb, when we leap to a single bugle, march to a single drum. March to a mighty purpose, one man from shore to shore, the stranger becomes a brother, the task of the tutor over, when the ruined city rises and the palace gleams once more."