Unique character of our troops
Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya (Wanni security Forces Commander),
Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne (53 GOC) and Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias (57
GOC) in the final battle ground
Their road to victory was never a bed of roses. Totally defeating the
entire Army of terrorists, true sons of the motherland proved their
strength to the entire world. They were the smartest.
For the Army this achievement was a massive team work. For them no
one would have survived if not for the other. For them living and
surviving is nothing but a miracle. Breaking the heavy resistance of the
ruthless Tiger terrorists, the turning point was the fall of the `No
Fire Zone' - the last resort of the LTTE existence.
"The courage of a soldier, to move forward while his fellowmen fall
dying on either-side facing the severe resistance from the enemy is
always a miracle.
This was the strength, the platform that made us come this far,"
Major General Kamal Gunaratne, General Officer Commanding 53 Division
said. "To win a war we should be able to place trust on those who would
put our orders into action. It comes only if the entire team is well
trained and skilful. Fortunately, due to the clear vision of our
Commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka the country is gifted with a disciplined
skilful Army," he said.
Of this crucial mission troops of the 5 - Gemunu Watch (GW) regiment
battalion performed a highly commendable job. The 5 GW is a battalion
that forms the Air Mobile Brigade along with 5 - Vijayaba Infantry and 6
- Gajaba regimental battalions under the Sri Lanka Army 53 Division. The
Air Mobile Brigade is extensively trained to breach enemy lines when it
is tough and unbreakable for the forwarding infantry troops. During
their successful forward march the 58 Division under the command of
Brigadier Shavendra Silva which cornered the terrorists towards the 'No
Fire Zone', had to face a growing resistance of the LTTE while crossing
the Vellayamadam general area in late April. According to the ground
situation by then troops of the 58 Division would have undergone severe
difficulties during this vital cross over.
Colonel G.V. Ravipriya - Commander Task Force 8
Lt. Col. Rohan Palayangoda
Sheer guts and willpower
They clear rescue paths and they carry the people to safety
The trenches made to cross the lagoon
A kovil in the middle of the battle field
Half built LTTE earth bund in Puthukuduirrippu
"The dedication and sacrifice of the average soldier is the top most
reason behind any successful operation. They need to be recognised and
appreciated," said Colonel G.V. Ravipriya, Commander of the Task Force 8
functioning under the 53 Division's command.
"A Commanding Officer must have proper communication with his men to
encourage them and boost up their morale," he further said.
Major General Kamal Gunaratne ordered the 5 GW battalion to take a
foothold in the enemy earth bund that hugged the West side of the
stretch the 58 Division troops were to take. "On the day we were
deployed the initial step was to reconnaissance the approximately 2.5 km
long LTTE earth bund and find the most appropriate position for us to
launch the attack," Lieutenant Colonel Rohan Palayangoda, Commanding
Officer of the 5 GW battalion said while explaining their tremendous
efforts. Moving cautiously in the night, crawling at times, avoiding
getting detected by the enemy in 250 - 300m in area covered with water
is quite inexplicable. "We had to find a solution for the water problem.
That night itself my battalion started putting up temporary stands with
covers of used artillery," Lt. Col. Palayangoda explained. In this open
field the soldiers at times did not even have a proper place to cover
themselves. For their luck, the 5 GW battalion found a well grown
Platoon Officer Samathapala
Making shafts they ferried their ammunition during night time and hid
them further in the front closer to the enemy line where they were
planning the assault. Since they launched the assault in the mid-night
of the next day the furious fight lasted for well over 6-7 hours until
the 5 GW battalion successfully breached 600m of the enemy earth bund.
"When we were getting hold of the bunkers the LTTE blasted them using
remote controlled devices. It was quite a threat at that crucial point,"
Breaching was not the sole task. The battalion had to hold the line
until the infantry troops of the 58 Division go forward. Holding this
part of the earth bund, which was around 250m from the Vellayamadam
junction, amidst heavy attacks from the LTTE with rains of mortar and
artillery pounding on them, could only be done by true heroes who loved
their motherland most.
Lt. Col. Mohan Ratnayake - Commanding Officer, 6 Gajaba Regiment
The 6 - Gajaba regiment battalion (GR), under Commanding Officer Lt.
Col. Mohan Ratnayake faced a crucial point during a severe attack in
early April. On return that morning the 6 GR battalion was getting
reorganized to take over their Forward Defence Line.
"During a confront in Puthukuduirrippu North general area we were
getting seriously sandwiched between the enemy attacks," Lt. Col.
Ratnayake said. Captain Pradeep Marasinghe the officer in charge of the
Alpha company and Lieutenant Nishantha Arunasiri the officer in charge
of the Charlie company joined with their CO to explain their success.
"We were fighting from the lagoon front and our CO warned us that
there could be a breach in between our two groups," they added.
Immediately planning to withstand the enemy they organized two four man
teams in `L' shape enabling effective counter attacks.
"The fight started around 9.30 in the night and it continued till
4.30 - 5 the next morning. We were able to link up with some of the
battalions of the 58 Division and at the end the LTTE got trapped. It
caused maximum attrition to the enemy," CO Lt. Col. Ratnayake explained.
Capt. Pradeep Madarasinghe and Lt.
Corporal Nalin Bandara of the Charlie company and Lance Corporal
Dayan Kumara, who gave a tough resistance to the enemy added more giving
a clear picture of the true spirit of our brave soldiers.
"At times finding a cover to protect ourselves from the enemy,
shooting was very difficult as the land we fought was flat field," they
said. "When we crossed the shrub lands, LTTE had set land mines on the
path knowing that we would definitely follow it. So, we had to go across
the thorny shrubs but still kept our momentum," they added explaining
the reality behind this victory.
Finally this battle killed more than 200 terrorists including top
leaders like Theepan.
Crossing the lagoon
The sixth Sri Lanka Light Infantry troops, of the 55 Division, under
Commanding Officer, Major Manada Yahampath was given the task to cross
the waterway that connects the Nanthikadal lagoon and the sea. The Army
Commander directed Brigadier Prasanna de Silva, General Officer
Commanding the 55 Division to face this task. With his innovative
thinking and enduring courage, he exactly knew how to meet the
Coporal Nalin Bandara and Lance Coporal Dayan Kumara
The pearl colour of the sand made every single movement visible even
in the dark in addition to the unpredictable tide of the sea.Under the
command of Brigadier Prasanna de Silva the 11th Genumu Watch battalion
of the 59 Division was already in action making the path towards the
northern bank. Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Thisantha Fernando under the
593 brigade commander Lt. Col. Sujeewa Senerath Yapa had already gone
about 150 - 200 metres in the approximately 300 metres long sand dune.
"This sand dune exists only during a specific time of the year and
during the time we were crossing sea water broke our line at several
places," Brigadier Prasanna de Silva added.
Flanked by the 11GW battalion, the 6 SLLI was given the task to get a
strong foothold in the northern bank. Receiving the instructions from
their GOC on the May 5, the 6 SLLI team landed in Mullaitivu on May 6.
Having less than a day to study ground situation Major Yahampath had to
deploy his team to take over the rest of the mission.
A suicide mission
"LTTE was utilizing their entire fire power in direct action," Mjr.
Yahampath said explaining the tough resistance they faced. Being a full
moon day their movements were quite obvious to the LTTE against the
pearl coloured sand and the LTTE was continuously firing from 122mm
artillery guns based in the Farah III ship wreckage. The mission was
impossible during the day time. "We had to dig trenches in the sand dune
but the sand walls of the trenches broke. So we had to use logs and
metal sheets to keep the walls steady," Mjr. Yahampath added. No vehicle
could move in this path and hence it was the soldier who carried the
logs to the front. Crossing the lagoon mouth was a mission performed
solely on the courage and determination of each and every soldier of
Eventually ending the tedious crossing over, 6 SLLI battalion reached
the northern bank and had another 20 metres width of waterway to cross
to reach the enemy line. Troops settled themselves in the beach side of
the northern bank.
"Beyond the waterway we found there was a mine field laid by the LTTE
to protect their line," Platoon Officer Samathapala who commanded the
team said.Samathapala, along with three 8-man teams crossed the waterway
and hit the LTTE bunker line without even considering the danger of the
"Until we hit their line the LTTE was totally unaware that our
presence was that close," he said. The three eight man teams were led by
Sergeant Priyantha, Corporal Pushpakumara and Sergeant Dayawansa. "All
three teams made the first assault," they started explaining the story.
"There was a LTTE cadre hiding inside a barrel-like thing placed in a
comparatively high level and that was made of bullet proof thick metal
plates," Samathapala added. Troops could only destroy the attack by
reaching this point and throwing grenades into this hollow compound.With
continuous reinforcements our valiant troops faced 4-5 waves of heavy
enemy attacks but ultimately chased them to their second line by the wee
hours of the next day. Feeling the threat the LTTE tried a suicide boat
attack on the lagoon front that never succeeded in bringing down the
morale of our soldiers.
With this expansion the 12 SLLI battalions under the command of
Lt.Col. Wasantha Herath was given the task to advance towards the east
eventually clearing the causeway that made a safe passage for the
trapped civilians to escape. Lt. Col. Thisantha Fernando with his 11 GW
battalion marched forward with continuous support from the 4th battalion
of the Special Forces hugging the beach until they linked with the 58
troops on May 16 in the Vellamulliwaikkal general area.
This severe thrust on the LTTE obviously weakened their power, thus
making their leader Prabhakaran and his notorious gang to live the last
few days of their lives in fear of death.
They also feel the pain, agony and stress while moving forward when
their fellowmen are falling dead on either sides. This is a victory
succeeded solely on the blood, sweat and tears of our brave young men to
whom the Country and the people are ever grateful.