Friday, March 5, 2010

An interesting picture from the past

Some days ago I heard that Sri Lanka's ministry of tourism is going to develop a village called Kalpitiya in the western cost of the island, as a new tourist destination. I tried to find more information. It is quite a nice place with many small islands, white sandy beaches and yea! dolphins. Looking forward to travel there and see how it looks like.

But the interesting picture I found is something else. It take us all the way back to the 2nd world war. I heard that Japanese bombed colombo that time. Then it was still Ceylon the british colony. Obviously they made it as a base for the war.
1941-44 St. Petersburg (Leningrad that time) being surrounded by Germans. Many things happened similarly through out the world.
And guess what happend in this neck of the woods during 40's! aha, Elephants were towing aircrafts . Good way of ground handling huh?

Now compare with the modern towing machine.

It's amazing how the world changed during the last century.
The article about the aircraft from Kalpitiya is below. More exactly the photograph was made in 1944:
"In April 1942 the island had been narrowly saved from invasion by gallantry of Canadian pilot Sqn. Ldr. Leonard Birchall who, flying a Catalina patrolling 250 miles south of Ceylon, sighted a huge Japanese invasion fleet. Under attack from Zero fighters he managed to radio the alarm before being shot down into the Indian Ocean. Alerted, the British forces withstood the heavy air and naval assaults that followed."

"As the British expanded operations on the island, the hastily built airstrip of HMS Rajaliya was carved out of dense jungle at Puttalam. The soft grass strip, reinforced with metal. Somerfield tracking, enabled the heavy American-built Chance Vought F4U Corsairs to use the runway, but during the monsoon season the Corsair’s tricky landing characteristics often sent them slithering off into the water-logged ground. It was then that the Navy called in its secret weapon to haul the Corsairs back to firmer ground – The Puttalam Elephants! Operating in conditions where towing tractors became quickly bogged down, the Puttalam Elephants provided an invaluable service, and became much loved by the pilots and ground crews."