BRAVERY IN   THE EELAM WARS
Posted on May 26th, 2016

KAMALIKA PIERIS

The armed forces could have crushed the LTTE any time in the last 30 years if they had been allowed to do so. They knew they could easily defeat the LTTE in regular combat  and were eager to do so. They had chased the LTTE out of the east within two months, when President Wijetunge ordered them to do so. They fought with great enthusiasm at Vadamarachchi.  ‘I saw the disappointment on their faces, when the Vadamarachchi operation was halted,’ recalled General Ranatunge  ‘Our chaps were in a real mood for victory.’  When LTTE came to Colombo for talks, the army wanted to empty their guns into them, not look after them in hotels.

The forces carried out holding operations of their own, against orders. When they were ordered to leave Weli Oya (1989,) one Gajaba regiment battalion stayed back. In 1990, against Presidential orders, the army launched an offensive in Batticaloa and saved the Gemunu Watch and Light infantry battalions there.  Palaly airfield was quickly taken over when Indian forces left, to prevent LTTE from moving in. Navy destroyed ‘Koimer’ bringing weapons for the LTTE, without orders to do so.

Nothing deterred them. Weapons were taken in a bullock cart for a Special Forces operation in Kandikudichchiaru jungle. Policemen who had managed to escape from the assassination of 600 police, (1990) joined the army at KalawanchikudI and fought.  An army captain commanded his unit with his shoulder in plaster.  A brigadier refused to leave the battlefield to go to Haiti.   When LTTE attacked Weli Oya (1995) volunteer units returned fire, under the direction of Brigadier Janaka Perera    and the LTTE fled. They dropped their weapons and ran for their lives, leaving bodies scattered all over the battlefield.”  LTTE lost almost 300 cadres, army only lost two. Navy and air force had prevented LTTE bringing in reinforcements. At Kokilai, (1984) a small unit of 60, under 2nd lieutenant Shantha Wijesinghe had routed a much larger number of LTTE, who came with superior weapons.

Soldiers fought even when there was no hope of winning, showing great endurance. When LTTE asked Batticaloa units to surrender, (1990) they rejected the offer and fought for 8 days, without food, little water and one set of uniforms. They had no artillery or air support.  In Kiran, troops had lived on liquids, raw papaw and animals that strayed into camp. They survived for 7 nights in trenches, one died, many were injured. LTTE used chlorine gas against them to dislodge them.

Qualifications to join the army were lowered in 2009 and over 80,000, mainly rural youths were recruited.  This intake was ridiculed.   Hastily trained recruits could not match the fighting skills of the ‘well trained and highly motivated LTTE cadres,’ they said. They were wrong.  These recruits responded magnificently. One soldier who had been in the army only 10 months said that he was not afraid to step into enemy territory as they had been well trained and guided. They were highly motivated  and were prepared to sacrifice their lives. They fought on, despite rising casualties and heavy LTTE resistance. One unit had fought from 6 a.m to late evening to destroy bunkers at Akkarayan.   All had wanted to join the attack on Kilinochchi.’  They received a glowing tribute from the army chief when the war ended.

There were many cases of bravery and heroism. When the LTTE attacked the Elephant pass army camp (1999), Corporal Gamini Kularatne, (Hasalaka hero) went forward with a hand grenade and blasted the LTTE truck at the cost of his life. He was awarded the Parama Weera Vibhushana medal, the highest decoration a soldier can earn. There is a monument to him at Elephant Pass. In 2002, Corporal N Tennakoon died leading his men in an attempt to prevent the LTTE entering Jaffna.  He was posthumously honored with Rana Wikrama Padakkama.  Platoon Commander Second Lieutenant K. W. T. Nissanka ran to the enemy with a grenade, at Pooneryn (1993) so that troops could withdraw with their wounded.

There was also loyalty. Soldiers were ever ready to rescue their comrades. When the wounded were to be removed from Elephant Pass in Operation Balavegaya, all 15 men in the unit had insisted on taking part. Elsewhere, a corporal who had volunteered to rescue one of his wounded colleagues had dashed forward, without waiting for covering fire and brought him back, to the admiration of his superior officer.

Medical officers accompanied the army into battle.  Doctor Sanjeewa Munasinghe marched into the Adampan jungles carrying medicines in his backpack.  Later, amputations were done in the field and the wounded, with drips attached were carried by medical assistants who, though short staffed ‘never gave in to tiredness’.  Saline tubes were used as a temporary conduit when blood vessels were injured.   The medical corp came under enemy fire,  one officer and 58 others died.  The corp received 50   gallantry awards.

The air force simply did not have sufficient planes. Their Sia Marchetti planes, which were not suitable for the war,  flew for almost 75 hours nonstop. They   mounted guns on a Chinese transport aircraft and sent that as well. All the helicopters were sent in to save Silavaturai and Kokkupadayan army bases.  There was always a shortage of pilots and trainee pilots were used for one campaign.     At one stage, there were only 5 jet fighter pilots and they went up 15 to 16 sorties a day. Later, there were 16 pilots for 16 planes and just 20 for the attack helicopter squadron.

Ferdinando has drawn attention to the contribution of Helicopter no 4 unit. This unit had excelled in many tasks, including close air support, air reconnaissance, air assault and helidrops.  The unit had flown continuously from SLAF bases at the risk of their lives    and had carried out casualty evacuation in difficult conditions. In Jaffna fort, the army had rushed the seriously wounded men into the chopper within 45 seconds  but ‘one second on the ground felt like one day’. Flying officer Roshan Mendis was recommended for promotion for leading the air assault on Elephant Pass (1998). Mendis received three gallantry medals.

SLNS ‘Pabbatha’ took ammunition and provisions from Trinco to Kankesanturai in 1990. They         carried over 20 tons of ammunition, some on the open deck.  The KKS unit unloaded it in 45 minutes, in the midst of LTTE gunfire. SLNS ‘Sooraya’ came alongside, its sailors firing at the risk of their lives. ‘Pabbatha’    also fired, one sailor   firing nonstop without his regulation helmet.  Pabbatha crew was awarded the Rana Soora Padakkama.

4 Responses to “BRAVERY IN   THE EELAM WARS”

  1. dingiri bandara Says:

    It appears that Sri Lankans have forgotten the brave and loyal members who made so many sacrifices. It is only because of them that they have the freedom they enjoy today.
    Can we organize a fund for these heroes.. If those of us who are abroad contribute at least $ 10 a month each, we should have enough and I am sure some of grateful patriotic people in Sri Lanka to might want to join.

  2. Sarath W Says:

    A feel sad and angry when I hear what this traitors in the government do to our gallant men and women in our armed forces. These ‘so called’ leaders in this government should be tried for treason and punished for betraying our armed forces just to reward the Tamil diaspora, the Indians and the western governments for their role to defeat president Rajapaksa.

  3. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Eelam wars are good for the catholic-run UNPatriotic party. They will use it to destroy Buddhist population by
    sacrificing more and more our children. That’s why they prolonged the war for 30 years. They gave an
    air of invicibility to the catholic tigers of tamil drealam.

    Now they are doing the background work to start another drealam war by encouraging separatism with the
    Traitors Northern Alliance aka tna giving all the support they need. At the same time UNPatriotic party grooming
    Sri Lanka Multiplying Community in the east to start their separatist campaign. All these things are good
    for them since they can sacrifice more and more Sinhalese youth as canon fodder. We have to thank our
    traitor Sinhalese who support these YAMA PALLAN!

  4. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Ancient tamil kingdoms in Sri Lanka. Proofs are everywhere. We can’t walk 10 feet in the north and the
    east without bumping into these guys’ ancient buildings (virtual). The actually exist in www and books only.

    Everyone know the oldest building in jaffna is the old dutch fort. It is a fact. Dutch brought them from tn to work in tobacco
    plantations. British brought them from tn to work in tea plantations in the up country. The rest are kallathonis
    who swam to safety during the severe famine in tn in the 1960s. Thanks very much for saving their lives?
    No chance of every being grateful! We don’t hesitate for a second to kill you Sinhalese.

    If tamils had kingdoms we should be able to see remains of ancient building like in Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa
    etc. We can’t see an ancient tamil brick anywere in the country. That should be proof enough for this Sinhalese-murdering ungrateful, never happy, never enough traitor lot. Probably their kings used cowboy builders.

    Need more proof. Please use the following link.
    Treacherous cancer took less than 300 years to tamilise all Sinhala villages!
    Their heart and loyalty is in tn. They should leave
    for the hell hole to get their drealam. Is Colombo also included in their drealam or they will happily leave
    Colombo? Traitor chief pigneshwaran, Traitors Northern Alliance aka TNA any comments?

    http://jaffnahistory.com/Northern_Province/Sinhala_Villages_of_Jaffna_1695.html

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