Header

Sri Lanka Armoured Corps

Whither the Fates Call

HISTORY OF THE 1st RECONNAISSANCE REGIMENT SRI LANKA ARMOURED CORPS

Army Headquarters sanctioned the raising of 1st Reconnaissance Regiment on 10th October 1955 under the able leadership of Major D S Attygalle MVO. Initially the regiment comprised of only a squadron. Officers and men were selected from other regiments of the army to fill the vacancies. Lieutenant S C Ranatunga and Lieutenant S D N Hapugalle with 28 other ranks joined the squadron and squadron began to function from 15th December 1955. The recruits who received training from Army Recruit Training Depot Diyatalawa were posted to the squadron to fill the vacancies. The squadron was initially deployed in Echelon Square, Colombo Fort.

1st Reconnaissance Regiment was initially equipped with 4 x Mark I Scout Cars which were imported from the UK. The vehicle numbers were AY 4265, AY 4266,AY 4267 and AY 4268. Apart from these vehicles the Regiment received a consignment of Motor Cycle side cars mounted with LMGs. By February 1956 another 8 x Mark II Scout Cars were inducted and the number of vehicles at its disposal then were 12 x Scout Cars and 20 x Motor Cycles with side cars.

In early 1956 the Squadron moved from Echelon Square to Ridiyagama for training purposes. The unstinted effort put in by all Officers and Other Ranks to carry out the training and uplift the potential strength of the Squadron was rewarded with high standards achieved at the end. The effort was mainly focused on trade training and related subjects. Emphasis was also made to improve the discipline and soldierly appearance of the Officers and Other Ranks. The standard achieved and maintained at that time continued to this date, which has earned the respect of other regiments. These standards have become the norms and traditions of the Corps. The Squadron gradually expanded and by the end of 1956, the strength was 9 x Officers and 160 Other Ranks. In 1957, the regiment moved out of Ridiyagama and established its headquarters at Rock House Camp, Colombo 15. Immediately after moving in, the regiment moved to the East on essential duties to help the government distribute flood relief for flood victims.

In 1959, troop of the squadron was divided between A and B Squadrons and this initiated the silent transformation of 1st Reconnaissance Regiment from a Squadron to a Regiment. 1959 saw the induction of 12' x Daimler Armoured Cars to the Regiment. The numbers were AY 4271 and 4282. During this period the regiment received a consignment of Willys Jeeps (4 x Cylinder Willys Hurricane engines),which could transport infantry to given locations. During the same period the regiment was deployed in the East on Internal Security duties and operations. Thetroops returned to the Rock House only at the end of 1958. By 10th September 1959,the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment was restructured as a unit.

In 1960’s the regiment was more involved in Internal Security duties and supporting the civil administration as and when required. Training and building up the regiment nevertheless continued.

The ‘Father of the Regiment’, Colonel D S Attygalle MVO bid farewell to the Corps with the blessings from the regiment on 24th March 1964 to assume dutiesas the Chief of Staff at Army Headquarters. Heavy deployment in maintenance of essential services in the Port and guarding of VPs and VIPs were constant during this period.

During the period from 1964 to 1970 the regiment was mainly involved in Internal Security duties and maintenance of essential services .The most significant event that took place during this period was the appointment of Major General D S Attygalle MVO as the Commander of the Army. Over and above this, the regiment maintained a very high standard in sports by winning the Rugby Football, Hockey, Basketball and Cricket Inter Regiment championships. It excelled in Firing too and achieved best results.

1971 was a crucial year for the whole country with the JVP launching an Insurrection to destabilise the country. The Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel ES C Ranatunga was appointed the Coordinating Officer for Colombo and Kegalle Districts.

The regiment was redeployed in Kurunegala and Anuradhapura by May 1971. Though the period of stay in Kurunegala was short, since the Northern Command was located in Anuradhapura, the troops continued to be deployed in Anuradhapura. With the Northern Command having a permanent camp in Anuradhapura, the regiment too got a second home apart from Rock House camp.

The experience received by fighting and over coming the challenges faced during the 1971 Insurrection was an eye opener to the regiment. Hence the regiment was strengthened to face further contingencies and future requirements. Thus following squadrons were formed. The C Squadron was formed in November1971 and the Delta Squadron was formed in 1974. During this period the Regiment received Ferret Scout Cars Mark II, Saladin Armoured Cars and BTR 152 Armoured Personnel Carriers.

In August 1973, the then Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel S C Ranatunga was appointed as the Commander, Northern Command and Major M D Fernando who was over looking duties as the Commanding Officer, was appointed the Commanding Officer of the Regiment.

The regiment was given the task of providing security to all captured / arrested insurgents with the commencement of legal proceedings of the Criminal Justice Commission (Insurgents) in 1973. A mobile troop was used for this purpose. Apart from the security provided for the insurgents, a squadron was located at Queen's Club Colombo in 1974 to face any eventuality. This squadron was relocated at Brodie House until the Criminal Justice Commission completed its proceedings inuly 1976.

The Regimental Farm, which was located at Kalattewa in Anuradhapura, was maintained by the soldiers. The drought that prevailed from 1973 to 1976 did test the grit of these soldiers but they managed to overcome all difficulties. The Headquarter Squadron received a building for setting up an Other Ranks Mess during the period of 1973 to 1976. The Regiment extended further with the construction of its own Officers’ Mess and Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess at Rock House Camp, Colombo.

The regiment continuously exhibited its inherent strength in sports by winning the Inter Regiment Soccer Championship in all the categories in 1975. The Regiment left for Kandy in 1976 to participate in the Republic Day Parade, which was organised in Kandy.

The commitments at the Non Aligned Movement Summit conference held at BMICH in August 1976 too was a significant exposure to all. The Regiment was called upon to present Guards of Honour for all Head of States and also to provide official Drivers and Liaison Officers.  With the deterioration of peaceand stability in the country the regiment had to deploy in the Jaffna Peninsula.Thus 3 x squadrons were deployed in the North. The regiment received and operated 33 x Scout Cars and 12 x Saladin Armoured Cars to boost the capabilities of the Corps.

In 1980 the Regiment continued to be deployed in the Northduring this period. The Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel C H Fernando was appointed as the Commander, Northern Command in January 1982. During the command period of LieutenantColonel L D C E Waidyaratne the regiment was extensively deployed for the Referendum during October to December 1982. In June 1983 command of the regiment was changed and Lieutenant Colonel D L Kobbekaduwe took over duties as the Commanding Officer of the regiment. The deteriorating security situation in thecountry made the regiment to deploy in the Colombo city and other populated areas. However with the security situation worsening the regiment was once again deployed in the North. The Army Headquarters understanding the importance of deploying armour in selected locations, deployed troops in Vavuniya, Mankulam and jaffna.

In 1980 the Regiment continued to be deployed in the Northduring this period. The Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel C H Fernando was appointed as the Commander, Northern Command in January 1982. During the command period of LieutenantColonel L D C E Waidyaratne the regiment was extensively deployed for the Referendum during October to December 1982. In June 1983 command of the regiment was changed and Lieutenant Colonel D L Kobbekaduwe took over duties as the Commanding Officer of the regiment. The deteriorating security situation in thecountry made the regiment to deploy in the Colombo city and other populated areas. However with the security situation worsening the regiment was once again deployed in the North. The Army Headquarters understanding the importance of deploying armour in selected locations, deployed troops in Vavuniya, Mankulam and jaffna.

The regiment received a consignment of Saracen Armoured Personnel Carriers and Stalwart Amphibious Load Carrying vehicles. With the induction of these vehicles, the troop composition was strengthened to 1 x Officer and 24 x Other Ranks. The firepower of the troop too increased with the added 2 x .30 Browning weaponry. The Stalwart HMLC (High Mobility Load Carrier) with its carrying capabilities improved the logistic capabilities of the regiment. These vehicles were also used as ammo carrying vehicles.

During the period of Lieutenant Colonel T Paranagarna, the regiment effectively participated in all the counter insurgency operations conducted within the respective areas of deployment. The most significant event during this period was Operation Liberation in Vadamarachchi launched in May 1987. The regiment had A Squadron deployed in the Jaffna Peninsula while D Squadron was deployed in Kilinochchi. Two squadrons continued to be deployed in the North and East. With the increase in violence due the to prevailing political situation, remaining two squadrons were also deployed in Colombo and Gampaha to stabilise the situation.

With the expansion of the Army, another regiment namely 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment was raised in November 1988. The main contributor in terms of human resources was 1st Reconnaissance Regiment. The JVP insurgency during 1987 - 89 period was another major factor for the regiment to be deployed in affected areas. The Commanding Offcer P A Karunatilleke was appointed as the Coordinating Officer for Kegalle. In 1990 the Regiment Headquarters moved to Kalattewa, Anuradhapura.

The Regiment was deployed to counter the threat posed by the LTTE with the commencement of Eelam War 2 in June 1990. The Squadron deployment was ‘A’ Squadron in Palaly, ‘B’ Squadron in Vavuniya and ’C’ Squadron in Trincomalee. In February 1991 the Regimental Headquarters was shifted back to Rock House Camp. 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment, which was located at Rock House camp at that time returned to Kalattewa. The ‘A’ Squadron, which was located at Palaly, too returned and commenced squadron training.

The attack on Elephant Pass camp by the LTTE in 1991 was a crucial battle,which tested the will of every soldier and the spirit of the Armoured Corps. The LTTE continuously attacked the camp for nearly two months, which led the army to launch an operation to overcome the siege. The Operation code named Operation Balavegaya was the biggest and the longest operation conducted at that time. Major General D L Kobbekaduwa commanded the operation and elements of 1st and 3rd Reconnaissance Regiments effectively participated to make the operation a success. For the first time armour was used in strength to destroy the enemy.

In 1991, the regiment received another 6 x Saladin Armoured Cars and 6 x Saracen Armoured Personnel Carriers to strengthen its fleet. In 1992 Tactical Headquarters of the regiment was moved to Punani Army camp in the East. The whole regiment was deployed in the North and East. The Regiment participated in all Operations conducted during this period.

The regiment received a consignment of Saracen Armoured Personnel Carriers and Stalwart Amphibious Load Carrying vehicles. With the induction of these vehicles, the troop composition was strengthened to 1 x Officer and 24 x Other Ranks. The firepower of the troop too increased with the added 2 x .30 Browning weaponry. The Stalwart HMLC (High Mobility Load Carrier) with its carrying capabilities improved the logistic capabilities of the regiment. These vehicles were also used as ammo carrying vehicles.

During the period of Lieutenant Colonel T Paranagarna, the regiment effectively participated in all the counter insurgency operations conducted within the respective areas of deployment. The most significant event during this period was Operation Liberation in Vadamarachchi launched in May 1987. The regiment had A Squadron deployed in the Jaffna Peninsula while D Squadron was deployed in Kilinochchi. Two squadrons continued to be deployed in the North and East. With the increase in violence due the to prevailing political situation, remaining two squadrons were also deployed in Colombo and Gampaha to stabilise the situation.

With the expansion of the Army, another regiment namely 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment was raised in November 1988. The main contributor in terms of human resources was 1st Reconnaissance Regiment. The JVP insurgency during 1987 - 89 period was another major factor for the regiment to be deployed in affected areas. The Commanding Offcer P A Karunatilleke was appointed as the Coordinating Officer for Kegalle. In 1990 the Regiment Headquarters moved to Kalattewa, Anuradhapura.

The Regiment was deployed to counter the threat posed by the LTTE with the commencement of Eelam War 2 in June 1990. The Squadron deployment was ‘A’ Squadron in Palaly, ‘B’ Squadron in Vavuniya and ’C’ Squadron in Trincomalee. In February 1991 the Regimental Headquarters was shifted back to Rock House Camp. 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment, which was located at Rock House camp at that time returned to Kalattewa. The ‘A’ Squadron, which was located at Palaly, too returned and commenced squadron training.

The attack on Elephant Pass camp by the LTTE in 1991 was a crucial battle,which tested the will of every soldier and the spirit of the Armoured Corps. The LTTE continuously attacked the camp for nearly two months, which led the army to launch an operation to overcome the siege. The Operation code named Operation Balavegaya was the biggest and the longest operation conducted at that time. Major General D L Kobbekaduwa commanded the operation and elements of 1st and 3rd Reconnaissance Regiments effectively participated to make the operation a success. For the first time armour was used in strength to destroy the enemy.

In 1991, the regiment received another 6 x Saladin Armoured Cars and 6 x Saracen Armoured Personnel Carriers to strengthen its fleet. In 1992 Tactical Headquarters of the regiment was moved to Punani Army camp in the East. The whole regiment was deployed in the North and East. The Regiment participated in all Operations conducted during this period.

In  1994 the Tactical Headquarters moved back to Colombo. In 1995 squadrons,which were deployed in the North and East, were redeployed in different locations in the same theatre to cater for operational requirements. Apart from operational commitments, the troops were deployed at the Ministry of Defence and Army Headquarters on VP and VIP security duties. The regiment participated at the Tattoo held on 15th January 1997 at Army Headquarters.

The regiment won the Inter Regiment Firing Meet at the beginning of the year. The 50th Independence Celebrations took center stage in all the activities. The regiment participated in the 1ndependence Parade held at the Parliament grounds. The corps received another 33 x BTR 80/ 80A Armoured Personal Carriers of Russian origin. Out of this consignment 22 vehicles went to 6th Regiment SLAC while 11 were given to 1st Reconnaissance Regiment. 14th December 1998 was a significant day for the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment as it was awarded the Presidents Standards. Hon Minister for Power and Energy and Deputy Minister for Defence General A V Ratwatte represented Her Excellency the President at this occasion. This event was a significant achievement for the Regiment.

Thereafter, the regiment moved its Tactical Headquarters to Vavuniya and was located at Kanakarayankulam under 56 Division. The regiment took part in the 51st  Independence Day Celebrations in Colombo. The ‘Father of the Regiment’, General D S Attygalle passed away on 15th January 2001 and the regiment participated at the military funeral. The ‘D’ Squadron was -raised once again and located at Valachchenai under 232 Brigade.

The regiment received another consignment of BTR APCS on 24th August 2002. The regiment was fully equipped with BTRs with the new arrivals and these which were transferred from 6th Regiment SLAC.

In 2003 with the somewhat peaceful environment in the country, the regiment was occupied with administration and training. The troop of armour, which was located at Katunayake International Airport, returned to Rock House camp.

The 59 years of yeoman service to the nation rendered by the regiment, by helping the Sri Lanka Army to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity is a proud reminder to all of us in the Regiment and a tribute to" the motto of the regiment “Whither the Fates Call”.

By 2005, due to the ongoing peace process, no military operations were conducted.   However, operationally ready saber squadrons and troops of the regiment was deployed in  areas such as Mannar, Vavunia, Welioya, Trincomalee, Valachchenai, Batticoloa and KKS. Maj R A S A Ranatunga, then Overlooking Commanding Officer, along with the A Squadron, participated for the Eastern Humanitarian Operations, initiated with the operation launched to liberate Mawilaru Sluice Gate. Maj R A S A Ranatunga , Tpr Priyantha SA, paid the supreme sacrifice during this operation in Narakamulla.

COMMANDING OFFICERS

Name From To
Lieutenant Colonel D S Attygalle MVO psc Oct 1955 Mar 1964
Lieutenant Colonel W Rajapaksha MBE Apr 1964 Apr 1965
Major S D N Hapugalle Apr 1965 Dec 1968
Major S C Ranathunga psc Jan 1969 Oct 1969
Lieutenant Colonel S D N Hapugalle Oct 1969 Jun 1970
Lieutenant Colonel W Rajapaksha MBE Jun 1970 Oct 1970
Lieutenant Colonel S C Ranathunga psc Oct 1970 Aug 1973
Lieutenant Colonel M D Fernando psc Aug 1973 Nov 1977
Lieutenant Colonel M H Gunaratne Dec 1977 Feb 1980
Lieutenant Colonel C H Fernando psc Feb 1980 Dec 1981
Major R De S Daluwatte Dec 1981 Jul 1982
Lieutenant Colonel L D C E Waidayaratne psc Jul 1982 Jun 1983
Lieutenant Colonel D L Kobbekaduwa psc Jun 1983 Nov 1985
Lieutenant Colonel T Paranagama Nov 1985 Dec 1985
Colonel T Paranagama Dec 1985 Sep 1987
Lieutenant Colonel P A Karunathileke Sep 1987 Dec 1988
Colonel P A Karunathileke Dec 1988 Dec 1989
Lieutenant Colonel P R Aturaliya psc Dec 1989 Jan 1990
Lieutenant Colonel C S N B Mudannayake psc Jan 1990 Oct 1991
Lieutenant Colonel N R Marambe psc Oct 1991 Dec 1992
Lieutenant Colonel W A Pamunuwa msc psc Dec 1992 May 1994
Lieutenant Colonel J Jayasuriya psc May 1994 Jul 1995
Major U A B Medawela Jul 1995 Jul 1996
Lieutenant Colonel U A B Medawela Jul 1996 Oct 1997
Major U D C P Perera psc Oct 1997 Dec 1998
Major U D C P Perera RSP psc Dec 1998 Feb 2001
Lieutenant Colonel U D C P Perera RSP psc Feb 2001 May 2001
Major I P Ranasinghe RWP RSP psc May 2001 Jun 2003
Major H M R De Silva psc Jun 2003 Jan 2004
Major A S Wijewickrama Jan 2004 May 2005
Lieutenant Colonel A S Wijewickrama May 2005 Jan 2006
Lt Col A L P S Tilekerathna Psc Jan 2006 Aug 2006
Major M K S Silva RWP RSP Aug 2006 Oct 2007
Lieutenant Colonel M K S Silva RWP RSP Oct 2007 Jan 2008
Major D B S N Bothota psc Jan 2008 Feb 2008
Lieutenant Colonel D B S N Bothota psc Feb 2008 Feb 2009
Lieutenant Colonel M A Izadeen RSP Feb 2009 Jul 2011
Lieutenant Colonel W P Kariyawasam Jul 2011 Jan 2013
Lieutenant Colonel P A M Peiris psc Jan 2013 Jan 2014
Lieutenant Colonel L K T Fernando RSP Jan 2014 Aug 2016
Lieutenant Colonel R R M P N B Bambaradeniya RWP RSP USP psc Aug 2016 Oct 2017
Lieutenant Colonel N R L Gunasena psc Oct 2017 Apr 2018
Lieutenant Colonel K M A P Karunarathne USP psc Jan 2018 Oct 2019
Lieutenant Colonel S J Samarasinghe psc Oct 2019 Up to date

SECOND IN COMMAND

Name From To
Captain J W VandenDrieson Jan 1956 Sep 1957
Major W Rajapaksha Sep 1957 Apr 1964
Major S C Ranathunga Apr 1964 Jun 1967
Major A J A Selvadurai Jun 1967 Jan 1969
Major M D Fernando Jan 1969 Aug 1973
Major M H Gunaratne Agu 1973 Jan 1976
Major A J A Selvadurai Jan 1976 Jan 1977
Major L D C E Waidayaratne Jan 1977 Jan 1978
Major K L De S Jayawardena Jan 1978 Nov 1980
Major D L Kobbekaduwa Nov 1980 Apr 1981
Major T Paranagama Apr 1981 Nov 1981
Major R De S Daluwatte Nov 1981 Jan 1982
Major T N De Silva Jan 1982 Jan 1983
Major G D S Basnayake Jan 1983 Dec 1985
Major D Kalupahana Jan 1986 Jan 1987
Major M H C Malwatte Jan 1987 Jan 1988
Major M B J Mahipala Jan 1988 Jul 1988
Major P I Abeywardena Jul 1988 May 1989
Major N R Marambe May 1989 Jul 1989
Major G A Chandrasiri Jul 1989 Feb 1991
Major S C Jinasena Feb 1991 Mar 1992
Major A M Perera Mar 1992 Dec 1992
Major R M J A Rathnayake Dec 1992 May 1994
Major G J Piyathunga May 1994 Jan 1997
Major R G U Rajapakse Jan 1997 Oct 1997
Major S A U Nanayakkara Oct 1997 Jun 1998
Major N I De Silva Jun 1998 Feb 2000
Major J A N Jayasinghe Feb 2000 Sep 2003
Major D K N De Silva RSP Sep 2003 Jan 2005
Major M G T D Rathnasekara Jan 2005 Apr 2006
Major R A S A Ranathunga Apr 2006 Jul 2007
Major S D Meepagala Jul 2007 Mar 2009
Major T C Harasgama RSP Agu 2009 Jun 2010
Major Y H P Rangajeewa Jun 2010 Jan 2012
Major L K T Fernando Jan 2012 Mar 2012
Major G R S Dharmarathne Mar 2012 Aug 2013
Major W A I S MendisRSP Aug 2013 Apr 2014
Major R H A Hennadi psc Apr 2014 Jun 2015
Major M C V Gomaz psc Jun 2015 Aug 2016
Major D A I J Dalugama psc Aug 2016 Jul 2017
Major D M J C B Dissanayake Sep 2017 Apr 2018
Major B A U Wickramanayaka RSP USP psc Aug 2018 Oct 2019
Major W K S R Wijesiri RSP USP Oct 2019 Jan 2020
Major A S B Hapuwinna USP psc Feb 2020 Feb 2021
Major M K L Dissanayake USP Feb 2021 Up to Date