When Worlds Collide, by Nalaka Gunawardene

Text of my ‘When Worlds Collide’ column published in Ceylon Today Sunday newspaper on 1 April 2012

Few among us have personal memories of the Japanese air raid of Ceylon that happened on the Easter Sunday, 5 April 1942.

Yet the event’s 70th anniversary, falling this week, is a good occasion to reflect on how timely gathering and sharing of information can change the course of history. Although technology has advanced by leaps and bounds since, fundamental lessons can still be learnt.

The Colombo air raid took place exactly 119 days after the Pearl Harbour attack. In that time, the Japanese military had advanced westwards in the Indian Ocean with astonishing speed and success.

When Singapore fell in February 1942, it was widely believed that the next Japanese target was Ceylon. Once their battleships, aircraft carriers and submarines were based in Ceylon, their domination over the Indian Ocean would be…

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