View Full Version : Herbert Austin Sydney GUNAWARDENA

30th September 2013, 17:04
Herbert Austin Sydney GUNAWARDENA.

I am trying to establish the WW2 service of the above, who was born in Ceylon. He passed away in 2005 in Sri Lanka, amongst his effects were his dog tags and a Royal Air Force Flying Clothing Card (issued in October 1945 from the RAF Station in Madley) in which he had hand written "No.4 Radio School, RAF Madley, Hereford.

Further information leads to him enlisting under the Euston band of service numbers.

An ‘appreciation of him’ in the Sri Lanken press states “ When World War II commenced, he volunteered to join the Royal Air Force and was selected for flying training. After several training postings in the UK he was deployed to the Fighter Command and rendered distinguished service as a fighter pilot in various RAF bases in the UK and in Europe, and served up to 1947.”

One of his daughters is trying to complete this history and any suggestions or information would be gratefully received. The service record is being applied for.

My thanks in advance.
Paul H.

30th September 2013, 17:40
I did a search on Ancestry.com and found a shipping arrival from Ceylon with a bunch of 'Volunteer (RAF)' passengers travelling to the Air Ministry. Arrival date in Liverpool from Bombay is 7 Oct 1943. The ship is the MS Staffordshire.

On board is a 27 year old H A S GUNAWARDENA
along with
19 yr old E L B Vanden Driesen
21 yr old A M H Daswatte
22 yr old E St B Van Der Wall
23 yr old W S Sabapathy
19 yr old W J Jenkins
24 yr old H B Peiris
19 yr old R G S De Saram

Does the age of your H A S GUNAWARDENA match up to 27 in Oct 1943? 27 has been written in in place of another age that was crossed out.

have you gotten his name and serial number in the AIR78 files?

30th September 2013, 22:29
Dennis, first thank you for the response and data. I have the dob for H A S GUNAWARDENA as 1923, so in 1943 he would have been 20. Whilst the surname seems fairly common in Ceylon but the forenames put it apart.

The name came from feedback on a wordpress site (which mentions my own fathrrs time at Madley), asking how to find out what the enquirers father did in the RAF. So I haven't looked at the AIR78 files.
I'm obliged
Paul H.

30th September 2013, 22:32
Will you be looking at AIR78 to get the serial?
I imagibe this is your airman, Ill look again, maybe the 27 is 21 and transcribed wrong.

30th September 2013, 22:36
I'm hoping to get that from the family.
My understanding is that te AIR78 files take some handling!
Paul H

30th September 2013, 23:17
No they don't and if you dont try wont become any easier!!! On a smart phone so cant look them up now.

30th September 2013, 23:33
I have been looking and think it may be Air78/67. I'll start again in morning, if I can find my password!!

Paul H

1st October 2013, 00:39
His number is 1899170.
You don't need to enter a password, just keep clicking through to checkout and then add your email address.


1st October 2013, 09:31
My thanks Pete for the advice and the number.
Paul H

After many attempts and waiting for slow download, I now have the pdf for air 78/67 and have found the entry. I bet the manual system used in the 40's was quicker.

Many thanks Paul.

14th February 2021, 21:22
Hello Gentlemen, I know I am coming in very late to this thread. I am researching the war service of Ceylonese volunteers in the RAF during WW2 and Herbert Austin Sydney Gunawardena was one of more than 60 of these volunteers that came to UK in about 6 batches. There were also several other Ceylonese that joined the RAF on their own, some were already attending university in UK when the war broke out. I was wondering if you all have found any additional details about Gunawardena? Also, would you be able to provide me with contact details for his daughter? Thanks, Charles.