Britain's Colonies in the War: No. 7 - Ceylon
Greatest single producer of rubber for the United Nations at the present time, Ceylon became a British colony proper in 1815. Most of its 25,332 square miles are utilized in the war drive. In addition to rubber (of which in peacetime 600,000 acres produced 85,000 tons annually) the island's tea production is vast; the pre-war figure was 218 million lb. yearly. Coconut oil is the third great contribution, from thousands of trees. Also produced is plumbago, a mineral essential in electrical engineering. Pursuing her intensive war programme, Ceylon has, for irrigation purposes, made use of her centuries-old artificial lakes, two having been rebuilt to supply a great acreage of land. Indication that her sea bases will play a part in the fight against Japanese was contained in the announcement on April 16, 1944, that Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander in South-East Asia, had transferred his headquarters from Delhi to Ceylon. Where once was jungle are now several airfields. Some of the thousands of tons of copra (coconut kernels from which oil is extracted) are being unloaded at a river jetty.