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HM Naval Base, Trincomalee
HMS Highflyer
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryFlag of Ceylon 1875 to 1948.png British Ceylon
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy

Trincomalee was a naval base and area command of the Royal Navy during World War Two.


King Parakramabahu I used Gokanna (Trincomalee) as his eastern port, to launch a successful invasion of Burma in the 12th Century. Trincomalee which is a natural deep-water harbour that has attracted seafarers like Marco Polo, Ptolemy and Sea Traders from China and East Asia.

With the expansion of the Portuguese colonial possessions in the coastal areas, they built a fort in 1623 which was captured in 1639 by the Dutch. Known as Fort Fredrick it went through a phase of dismantling and reconstruction until was attacked and captured by the French in 1672.

The French handed it back to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) at the Peace of Paris in 1784. In 1795 it was taken over by the British and built naval facility Trincomalee Dockyard. In 1819 Royal Naval Hospital, Trincomalee was established and remained operational until 1956.

Trincomalee became the home port of the Eastern Fleet of the Royal Navy, and submarines and flying boats of the Dutch Navy. The harbour and airfield were attacked by a Japanese carrier fleet in April 1942 in the Indian Ocean Raid. Until 1957, Trincomalee was an important base for the Royal Navy.

In Command

Captain-in-Charge, HM Naval Establishments, Ceylon (1938-1939)

  1. Captain Edward Lyon Berthon, 15 October, 1938 - 25 August, 1939, (see Ceylon).[1]

Naval Officer-in-Charge, Trincomalee (1939-June 1942)

  1. Commander G. E. Hardern, 25 August, 1939 – 20 December, 1941.[2][3]
  2. Captain Percival Henry Gwynne James, 20 December, 1941 – 10, February, 1942.
  3. Captain Frederick Secker Bell, 13 February, 1942 – 23 March, 1942.[4]

Flag Officer-in-Charge, Trincomalee (Mar-Jul 1942)

Naval Officer-in-Charge, Trincomalee (May 1942-Oct 1944)

  1. Captain Percival Henry Gwynne James, 6 May, 1942 – 18, June, 1942.[5]
  2. Captain Frederick Secker Bell, July, 1942 – December, 1943.[6]
  3. Captain Leslie Swain Saunders, December, 1943 – October, 1944.

Commodore-in-Charge, Trincomalee (Mar-Jul 1945)

  1. Commodore 2nd Class Francis Cyril Flynn, 15 March, 1945 – July, 1945,[7] (also Naval Officer-in-Charge, Trincomalee).[8]


Naval Establishments

Unit From To Ref
Trincomalee Dockyard 1795 1956
Royal Naval Hospital, Trincomalee 1819 1958


  1. Admiralty, British. (March 1939). The Navy List Monthly. Flag Officers in Commission. Trincomalee. H.M.S.O. London. p.199.
  2. "BBC - WW2 People's War - The Bombardment of Trincomalee, Sri Lanka by the Japanese". BBC. 11 November 2003. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  3. Admiralty, British (February 1941). The Navy List (Bi-Monthly). H.M.S.O. London. p.1093.
  4. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  B". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  5. War Despatch No. 804/E.I. 260, from the Office of the Commander-in-Chief Eastern Fleet, 18 June 1942.
  6. Houterman and Koppes
  7. Admiralty, British. (April 1945). The Navy List Quarterly. Flag Officers in Commission. Trincomalee. H.M.S.O. London. p.2353.
  8. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  F". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 8 September 2020.