After gaining Independence in 1948, the Government felt the need for expanding the infantry capability of the Army. A Rifle Regiment designated the 1st Battalion Ceylon Sinha Regiment, was raised on 1 October 1956, with its headquarters at the Imperial Camp in Diyatalawa. The regiment’s motto is a true endorsement of their military prowess – Swift & Bold. The regiment was styled after the famous Green Jackets of the British Army (95th Infantry Regiment) who wore a green uniform with black buttons.
In May 1990, a small army detachment guarding a transmission tower in Kokavil, was surrounded by terrorists. The officer in charge was 27 year old Lieutenant Saliya Aladeniya of the Sinha Regiment. The men had put up a counterstrike and some were injured. The order to withdraw was issued, yet Lt. Aladeniya, a fine product of Trinity College, Kandy, would not leave behind the injured, and kept on fighting. There was a large explosion that claimed the lives of the camp’s defenders. Thus, he perished alongside his comrades.
For his act of extreme gallantry Lt. Saliya Aladeniya was promoted Captain and posthumously received the Parama Weera Viibhushanaya, the nation’s highest military decoration. He is one of five men from the Sinha Regiment who was awarded the PWV medal.
After gaining Independence in 1948, the Government felt the need for expanding the infantry capability of the Army. A Rifle Regiment designated the 1st Battalion Ceylon Sinha Regiment, was raised on 1 October 1956, with its headquarters at the Imperial Camp in Diyatalawa.
The regiment’s motto is a true endorsement of their military prowess – Swift & Bold. The regiment was styled after the famous Green Jackets of the British Army (95th Infantry Regiment) who wore a green uniform with black buttons. Lieutenant Colonel RD Jayatilleka, MBE, was appointed as its first Commanding Officer.
On 22 May 1972 when Sri Lanka became a Republic, the Ceylon Sinha Regiment that comprised one regular battalion and two volunteer battalions was renamed as Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment.
Later, on 21 October 1989, the Regimental Headquarters was relocated to Ambepussa along with the 1st Battalion Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment. Today, the Colonel of the Sinha Regiment is Major General Boniface Perera, an outstanding officer.
The regiment’s flag symbolizes; a field of black with two broad vertical stripes in green. In the centre, is a powder horn with the word “Sinha” in Sinhala characters inscribed across it, surmounted by a lion holding a sword.
On 30 January I was able to visit the Regimental Centre of the Sinha Regiment at Ambepussa, along with Lt.Colonel Duminda Fernando, Major Marasinghe and Major Jayakody.
The camp was very busy as the President was arriving in a few hours to award the Regiment with the Presidential Truncheon for their outstanding contribution during the three decades of conflict. The Sinha Regiment had sacrificed 3,862 gallant men.
This is further endorsed by the fact that they received 5 Parama Werra Vibhushana Medals, 2 Weerodara Vibhushana Medals, 23 Weera Wickrama Vibushana Medals, 499 Rana Wickrama Medals and 3,857 Rana Sura Medals. The regiment has the distinction of having her own dynamic son, Sarath Fonseka, being promoted as the country’s first Field Marshal
As we witnessed the parade I learnt another significant feature of the Sinha Regiment. They march 140 paces per minute (others march 120 paces). The soldier’s rifle is carried parallel to the ground, and the command “attention” is never used on parade.
On ceremonial parades, the march is done at an amazing 180 paces per minute, this shows the regiment’s stamina and teamwork! The parade was really brilliant with short commands and excellent marching. President Maithripala Sirisena awarded the Presidential Truncheon and Regimental Truncheon, which was received by two officers in the presence of Army Commander Lt.General Chrishanta de Silva.
After the parade, I met Mrs.Indrani Aladeniya, the mother of the late Capt. Saliya Aladeniya. She is a lady of few words, probably overwhelmed by so much emotion, thinking about her son.
There are many such mothers who live boldly after the death of their children. This is a time for us to reflect on the years gone by, and strive to live in harmony, always embracing our identity as Sri Lankans.
This is the best way we too can honour the sacrifice of those who laid down their lives for our freedom. After tea, we visited the mascot of the regiment the Lion named “Cougar”. The men and women of the Sinha Regiment are a remarkable force within the Army.