The Gemunu Watch

Tarry Not Forward

The 2nd. Volunteer Battalion of the Gemunu Watch


2 [V] GW originated in Galle. The Unit is located within the historic and picturesque Galle Fort. For centuries throughout the recorded history of Sri Lanka, Galle has figured prominently. With the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505, followed by the Dutch and British, the influence of these foreign powers manifested itself quite significantly on Sri Lankan society. Each of these maritime powers occupied the Country for approximately a century and a half, in time.

The military of the Portuguese and Dutch were structured to cater to their strategic interests. The Galle Fort is an imposing monument that dominates this southern capital City. The Fort was initially built by the Portuguese and converted by the Dutch into a magnificent and secure enclave of maritime administration.

In 1883, history records that a Volunteer Force detachment of the British Royal Infantry Company was deployed in Galle. Ten years later in 1893, a similar Infantry Detachment was raised in Matara. These Detachments had seen action in World War 1 & II as part of the Royal Infantry Regiment. The 13th. Company of the Lanka Infantry Regiment had been deployed in Galle under the command of Capt. P.E.D. de Silva. Subsequently under the command of Lieut. Colonel. McCleod, the 15th. Company was established in Galle. These Detachments from Galle and Matara later combined to form “B” Company of the 2nd. Ceylon Light Infantry Regiment.

In 1950, Lieut Colonel. C. A. Dharmapala was appointed the Commanding Officer of the Ruhuna Regiment which was deployed in Galle and Matara. In 1956, the Ruhuna Regiment was disbanded because the Unit did not find favour politically with the incumbent Government. The Officers  were de –commissioned and the Other Ranks were absorbed into “B” Company of  the 2nd. Ceylon Light Infantry Regiment. During the communal riots of 1958 that affected the entire Country these soldiers were deployed under command of Officers of other Units in Colombo as and when required. Subsequently they were moved to Kandy under command of 2 [V] SR for duties in the Plantation Sector

In 1959, troops of the disbanded Ruhunu Reagiment were absorbed into “C” Company of 2 [V] SR. On 23rd. November 1959, “C” Company of 2[V] SR was re-named as the Volunteer Gemunu Regiment and deployed in Galle under the command of Capt. D.S. Amarasooriya who was appointed as the Acting Commanding Officer. He had a staff of two Second Lieutenants and an Adjutant to assist him at its inception. This was the beginning of the Unit. It had a Detachment in Matara  that comprised of 05 Officers and 110 Other Ranks. At this juncture, the Volunteer Gemunu Regiment did not have a Regular counterpart and continued to wear the uniform and insignia of         2 [V] SR. However, after 1 GW was formed on 7th. December 1962 the Gemunu Regiment was re-named the 2nd. Volunteer Battalion of the Gemunu Watch on 1st October 1964.

By 1st. October 1964, the Unit comprised of 12 Officers and 624 Other Ranks and was commanded by Lieut. Colonel. D.S. Amarasooriya. The new Unit was initially deployed on Anti-Illicit Immigration and Anti-Smuggling duties in the North. They also indulged in Shramadana activities in Nindana and Batapola. The action resulted in a saving of  a considerable amount of money for the Government Agent of the Galle District allocated for the clearing of Irrigation channels and the construction of reservoir dams. In March 1971, 01 Officer and 40 Other Ranks were deployed on security duties in Boossa as there was a build up of JVP activity in the Galle area.

During the JVP Insurrection which commenced on 5th. April 1971 the Unit was deployed to suppress the insurgency, initially, in the Galle District and subsequently in the North Central Province. They succeeded in suppressing insurgent activities and destroyed JVP hideouts in Rajanganaya, Otthappuwa and Wilpattu. Until the Civil Administration that was disrupted was restored to normality, the Unit was engaged in maintaining the flow of Essential Services to the Polity. Sergeant. Piyasena B.M. was the 1st. soldier of the Unit to be killed-in-action in Elpitiya on 8th. April 1971 and Lance Corporal Weeraperma was KIA in Anuradhapura one month later on 8th. May 1971.

In recognition of the Unit’s outstanding, loyal and distinguished service to the Nation since its inception, the President’s Colour and Regimental Colours were awarded to 2 [V] GW by His Excellency the President Hon. J.R.Jayawardena on 15th. August 1980 at the Galle Esplanade in the presence of a large and distinguished gathering.

In 1987, two Companies were deployed for combat operations in the North. With great pride we record that when Militants attacked a route clearing patrol in Kivulkade on  24th. November 1990 troops of 2[V] GW counter attacked and killed 48 terrorists and captured arms, ammunition and military equipment that included a GPMG. This was the first instance in the history of combat in the Army that a heavy calibre machine gun was captured.

From December 1991 to May 1992,  2 [V] GW was deployed in the Trincomalee District under Eastern Command and participated in combat operations conducted against the Tamil Militants in  Kumburuppiddi, Thiriyaya and Namalwatte. “Alpha” and “Wenge” bases of the LTTE and their training camps were destroyed inflicting a devastating blow to the Terrorist campaign against the State.

In 1999, the LTTE tried to break through the southern FDL’s of the Vettilaikerni – EPS sector in the Jaffna Peninsula. They were beaten back several times and a number of militants were killed / captured and a large quantity of weapons and ammunition had been recovered including a GPS [Global Positioning System] , once again for the first time by the SL Army.

From 7th. November 2008 to 10th. December 2008 the Unit was deployed on operational commitments under 212 Brigade in the Prappakadanthan sector of Mannar.

The  Unit was directly involved in combat operations since 1st. March 2009 until the end of the Humanitarian Operations under command of 591, 592, 593, and 594 Brigades of 59 Division, which ultimately resulted in the complete annihilation of the LTTE and their dream of a separate State of Elam.

Since 24th. September 2011 to date the Unit has been deployed under 121 Brigade in the Galle Fort area.

Former Commanding Officers:

Srl No Rank Name From To
1 Lt Col DS   Amarasooriya  23.11.1959 24.10.1971
2 Lt Col PB   Molligoda 25.10.1971 31.10.1976
3 Lt Col LDR   Sugathadasa  01.11.1976 31.07.1981
4 Lt Col VS   Kudaligama 01.08.1981 15.01.1985
5 Lt Col YCP   Karunarathne  16.08.1985 01.01.1988
6 Lt Col HKE   De Silva 02.01.1988 12.07.1990
7 Lt Col S   Handapangoda  25.07.1990 25.01.1995
8 Lt Col PMM   Sooriyabandara 26.01.1995 22.01.1996
9 Lt Col DVW   Harischandra  23.01.1996 04.04.1997
10 Maj  HGW   Padmasiri 05.04.1997 10.06.1998
11 Maj  NL   Wijendra 11.06.1998 26.08.2002
13 Maj  KC   Dharmasena RSP 27.08.2002 12.06.2003
14 Maj  HMS   Priyantha 13.06.2003 03.01.2006
15 Maj  MAA   Wickramasinghe 04.01.2006 10.06.2007
16 Maj  AK   Wehella 11.06.2007 11.05.2008
17 Maj  LD   Annakkage 12.05.2008 23.10.2012
18 Maj  WMGJ Wanigasekara 23.10.2012 Todate