Lt. General Gerry de Silva


General Gerry De Silva – proud old Josephian

Posted on 31 May 2015 by admin

Gerry de SilvaGENERAL GERRY DE SILVA : An officer and a gentleman!

My congratulations and good wishes to you on your 75th birthday and the thanks of millions of our citizens for your life and the service you did for our country. May 75 years be merely a statistic and may you serve our country for many more years to come.

It was in the late 1980s that I had the pleasure of meeting Gen. Gerry de Silva in Delhi when he came to the Indian Defence College for a programme when I was serving as Deputy High Commissioner. Though I had of course heard of him I had never met him but his cordial and unassuming manner was such that I immediately took a liking to him and I found that I was not alone in my profiling of him for the Indian Army Generals who had served in Lanka with the IPKF were of the same opinion of him. These were perhaps the most difficult times in our relations with India for President Premadasa had requested the IPKF, which had sacrificed over 1,400 men in the war with the LTTE to leave the country. There was an understandable hostility towards us; we could not even get a call to Colombo from the Mission – I recall I had to go to the Chinese, the Norwegian or the then Yugoslav Mission to get a call to Colombo; but Gen. Gerry related to his Indian colleagues well. Interestingly our only ‘friend’ in Delhi at that time was none other than Rajiv Gandhi who had lost his Premiership to V.P. Singh – but was deeply interested in the situation in Lanka and invited both the High Commissioner Prof. Stanley Kalpage and me many times for discussions. He was more than helpful to us.

I got to know Gen. Gerry better when we served on the committee of the Health Ministry which authorised the gifting of kidneys for transplantation, this was of course after our retirements – I noted how he felt for fellow human beings. I also got to know him and his jovial and cheerful wife Junie better on a trip a group of us did to Pakistan at the invitation of the Pakistan government. Gen. Gerry really made it a memorable trip where we met senior Pakistani officials for extended discussions; but I must confess that I really got to know Gen.

Jerry through his book A NOBLE PROFESSION in which he sets out his experiences, including a most interesting chapter on the first JVP uprising, followed by the details of action during the war and the key roles played by the officers — some of whom sacrificed their lives for the country. This is a book which must be translated into Sinhala and Tamil for it contains so much valuable information which we, as citizens, should know. Incidentally it is only he and Gen. Ranatunge who have written of their experiences, many others who were wholly involved in the war owe it to us to share with us their experiences.

To conclude, I hope that Gen. Gerry will treat us to another book or two, for his writing style is appealing and inimitable.

Good luck and all the best to you Sir in the years ahead.

K.Godage –

General Gerry De Silva is a younger brother of Benito De Silva, co-founder of Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association of Canada. Benito lives in Toronto, Canada.

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