Trincomalee has a story and a history of its own. Sri Lanka was under the rule of three foreign powers, the Portuguese, Dutch and British. However, Trincomalee was targeted by a fourth nation, the French who attempted to capture the famous Trincomalee Fort, also known as Fort Fredrick.
The area also had a close relationship with the Chinese and the China Bay was a result of it. More importantly Trincomalee played a strategic role during the north-east conflict.
When the road link to the North was obstructed by the LTTE, Jaffna and its environs were supplied by ships operating from Trincomalee. With the end of the civil war Trincomalee is now gradually turning out to be an important and significant hub for tourism due to its pristine beaches of Nilaveli and Marble beach, the seven hot springs at Kinniya, snorkeling at Pigeon Island, whale-watching and the historical and archeological sites.
The army which fought a bloody war during the past three decades has joined in to boost Trinco’s attraction by way of an open air museum. Sri Lankans and foreigners who visit the eastern part of the country will now find another ‘must visit place’ in Trincomalee in the form of the country’s first Open Air Army Museum.
The museum named ‘Orr’s Hill Army Museum’ is set up at the 22 Division Headquarters, in Trincomalee and was declared open by Army Commander Lieutenant General Crishantha de Silva on September 19.
The museum provides a complete picture of colonial and recent military history with explanations by experts on military subjects.
The idea conceptualized by Major General Kumudu Perera who is the present General Officer Commanding the 22 Infantry Division has been made a reality by internationally renowned architect Kumudu Munasinghe with his voluntary contribution.
The museum overlooks the Trincomalee harbour near the Naval Dockyard and the entrance to the harbour.
The Indian Oil Company, Prima flour factory and the Sober Island are visible from the museum and in close proximity.
For someone who needs to get a basic study about the weapons from the smallest to the largest or about the war tanks from lightest to heaviest, there is A-Z information how it works, where it was produced, where it can be used and already used in the battlefield and many other details.
For example if a visitor wishes to know the country which the 12.7 T85 weapon is produced, all details are available.
“It is from China and invented in 1985. The maximum range is 1800 metres and effective range is between 600 metres to 1600 metres”, says one of the explanations.
The type of ammo used, the expected damage, weight and many other details are also available for the curious visitor.
Commanding Officer Major General Kumudu Perera said that the concept came off lavishly by many in different ways. “Infantry weapons, armoured vehicles, artillery guns and a resource person-manned audio-visual room plus a cafeteria, a souvenir shop and a shooting area have also been included taking into account the interests of local and foreign visitors,” said Major General Kumudu Perera.
The venue is open for the public at normal working hours daily. The entrance for schoolchildren is free while others will be charged a nominal fee.
Major General Perera also said that the funds generated by the museum will be utilized for welfare initiatives concerning the families of service personnel who served during the war.
He assured that the museum offers a family-friendly environment as narrators will be at hand to explain the exhibits. “Visitors can watch a 15-minute-long video clip about the army’s regiments and their activities. Further illustrations of the flow of the last Humanitarian Operation will give you an insight how the 30-year-old war against separatism was brought to a victorious end”, he said.