A Message from Brigadier Geoffrey Van Orden MBE MEP

The terrorist insurgency of the LTTE has inflicted the most enormous damage on a beautiful and once happy country, deepened the divisions among its peoples and held back its economic prosperit

y. Over 70,000 people have died in the conflict in Sri Lanka over the last quarter century and many more have been seriously injured or displaced from their homes.

Every life lost is a tragedy but how much deeper is the sorrow when the victim is known personally to you, how heart-breaking when that person is someone close to you - a friend, and a man of great distinction.

Such a person was Clancy Fernando who was assassinated by an LTTE suicide bomber at 8.35 a.m. on Monday 16 November 1992.

I first met Clancy at the Indian Defence Services Staff College at Wellington in south India in 1977. We were both among that small group of overseas officers attending the Staff College as students. He was a naval officer who had originally trained in England at the Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. I was a British army officer. We soon became close friends as did our wives Monica and Fanny. We were determined to enjoy both the instructional life of the college and the social round with equal intensity. Clancy and Monica introduced us to Sri Lanka that summer, when we made the first of many visits, toured widely and met JR Jayewardene, then leader of the opposition and subsequently, of course, President.

Clancy was clearly an outstanding officer and it was therefore no surprise to us that, over the next fifteen years, he should rise to become Navy Chief. He was very dedicated to his profession, deeply concerned for the future of his country, and at the same time a very warm and caring family man. His death was an enormous blow to all of us that were close to him - a most profound tragedy. I feel sure that his greatest wish, after the happiness and security of his family, would be the reconciliation of the peoples of Sri Lanka and an end to this terrible and unnecessary conflict which has brought so much sadness.

I feel honoured to have this opportunity to pay tribute to Clancy and associate myself with the launch of the Admiral Clancy Fernando Trust