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Sri Lanka Armoured Corps

Whither the Fates Call

HISTORY OF THE 4th ARMOURED REGIMENT SRI LANKA ARMOURED CORPS

The cherished dream of Sri Lankan cavalrymen to roll tanks on Sri Lankan battle fields came true withthe raising of 4 Armoured Regiment as the first the ever Tank Regiment. The Regiment on our soil. The Regiment was formally raised on 24 September 1991 at Rock House camp. Lt Col C S N B Muddannayake RWP psc chosen to be was hand picked to be the first Commanding Officer. The Regiment moved to Trincomalee on 10 October 1991 and occupied a part of the Clappenburg - Air Force Hangar Complex used by the Food Department as warehouses at China Bay.

Czechoslovakian origin T 55 A Medium Battle Tanks that the Regiment was to be equipped with, arrived on board Norwegian vessel PAUWGRACHT at the Prima Jetty Trincomalee on 11 October 1991. The ship carried 25 x T 55 A tanks, 02 x Armoured Recovery Vehicles and 24 x Containers of spares.

The first Contingent of rst Officers and men were posted to the Regiment from 1st and 3rd Recce Regiments respectively. By the end of October 1991 there were 14 Officers and 211 Other Ranks in the Regiment. A training team of 5 Officers, a civilian and a British national came from the Czech Republic. on 22 October 1991. They checked and handed over the equipments the same day, and commenced the first training course on 01 November 1991.

HISTORY

In late December 1991 the first tank troop was sea lifted to Palaly by LCM with Capt DT Gamage, the troop leader. Loading was done from the pier constructed at Clappenburgh after detail sea and land reconnaissance. This pier later became the permanent loading point for tanks. A notable development in the Regiment was the formation of the Light Aid Detachment with SLEME personnel with Capt W G C Gunarathne as the Officer Commanding.

A team of 15 x Army Officers and civilians from Czechlovakia arrived in late January 1992 to conduct a three months Advanced Tank Training Course. The course was conducted at Clappenburg with live firing at Villankulama. Simultaneously a group of 4 Officer and 40 other ranks left to Pakistan in early February 1992 for tank training. After training, the following officers held appointments in the Regiment:

a. Maj M P Peiris - OC A Squadron.
b. Maj B A Perera - OC B Squadron.
c. Capt A Ratnayake OC C Squadron.
d. CaptU A A Wimalaweera OC HQ Squadron.

A noteworthy event in April 1992 was a visit by the First Lady Madam Hema Premadasa to the Regiment on Sinhala New Year day. Service Commanders accompanied her.

A new dimension in the use of MBTs was unvlild when a T 55A MBT fired off a 70-ton barge for trial purposes on 05 May 1992 at Clappenburg. Targets were placed at Elephant Island 3500 m away were engaged successfully. Tankers elsewhere in the world would be amazed at the way tanks are employed in Sri Lanka. By this time, the entire Regiment was deployed in Jaffna Peninsula. Home base at Clappenburg was manned by Headquarter Squadron with Second in Command in location. Construction of Buildings and other infrastructure at Clappenburg continued under the supervision of 2IC Maj R M Jayasinghe. The base was gradually transformed into a beautiful military camp.

On 24 September 1992 the Regiment celebrated its first Anniversary at Clappenburg. A customary parade including a mini drive – past by 02 x MBTs (The only number available at Clappenburg), and an all Ranks lunch was held. The day’s events included the opening of renovated Officers Mess by the Regimental Commander Brig R De S Daluwatte. As the only tank Regiment in Sri Lanka, the Regiment had to participate in almost all operations, conducted during 1993. Tankers were on tracks throughout the year.

Due to scarcity of troops, ranks belonging to C Squadron were absorbed to A & B Squadrons, in February 1995. The Regiment continued training during lull periods in battle. Noteworthy accomplishment of the Regiment during Operation RIVIRESA and liberation of Jaffna Peninsula in 1995 was the resounding success achieved due to the shear firepower of the “Tankers”

In 1996, for better administration, Regimental Headquarters was moved from Trincomalee to Palaly. During the year the Regiment was committed on lot of operations. It the beginning of 1997, Tactical Headquarters with all three Sabre Squadrons were deployed at Elephant Pass with Regimental Headquarters in located Trincomalee. Due to operational requirements, C Squadron was deployed in Wanni region and from the beginning of 1998, Tactical Headquarter, A Squadron and C Squadron were all deployed in Wanni area. In September B Squadron was sea lifted from Jaffna to Trincomalee and was brought to Periyakulam for operational deployment. On 24 September the 7th Anniversary of the Regiment was celebrated at Periyakulam with officers and men from all three Sabre Squadrons after a long period of scattered deployment.

Participating early the 1999, Tactical Headquarters was deployed in Periyakulam with A and C Squadrons. B Squadron was redeployed in Elephant Pass. In March, C Squadron was moved to Palampiddy. Later it was redeployed at Madhu. A Squadron was also brought to Madhu in June for operational duties. It was a time the regiment needed a lot of spare parts to keep the fleet of 25 tanks operational. All tanks of A Squadron were off road due to shortage of major assemblies. Tank Troops were employed to protect the A 9 Main Supply Route from Tandikulam to Omantai.

By 01 January 2000, the Headquarter was shifted to Tandikulam with A Squadron. C Squadron was deployed in Mannar and Vavuniya. B Squadron remained in Elephant Pass. During this period the Commanding Officer planned a Squadron changeover. A Squadron was redeployed at Elephant pass to relieve B Squadron which has been deployed in the Jaffna peninsula from the beginning. The LTTE delayed the action by attacking the defences of Elephant pass on 25 March. By this time, the unit had only 24 Tanks and was waiting to receive another fleet of tanks and a load of much needed spares. On 04 of July the Commanding Officer visited the Czech Republic to inspect the tanks, which were prepared for dispatch to Sri Lanka. The Millennium Officers Mess get – together was held at Clappenburg with all past Commanding Officer including the “Father of the Regiment”, Brigadier C S N B Mudannayake RWP USP psc, and all serving Officers.

The year 2001 marked a new era in the history of 4 Armoured Regiment. The Regiment with a mere fleet of 25 tanks and operating without vital spare parts, received a consignment of spare parts and a fleet of 36 new T 55 AM 2 MBTs. These MBTs were equipped with modernized Fire Control Systems. The first fleet of 11 x Tanks arrived at the Colombo harbour on 06 January 2001. With arrival of new MBTs, D Squadron of 4 Armoured Regiment was raised on 01 February 2001 at Kankesanthurai.

The second consignment of 25, T 55 AM II MBTs arrived at Colombo harbour on 15 April 2001 and the Regiment become a fully – fledged Armoured Regiment with four Sabre Squadrons each with four troops. By end of August all MBTs of B Squadron, deployed in Vavuniya, were handed over to 3 SLAC. Withthis change D Squadron was designated B Squadron and three Squadrons were deployed in Jaffna peninsula with Tactical Headquarters.

Withthe declaration of a Unilateral Cease – Fire by the LTTE in 2002, all guns fell silent. The government too declared a Cease Fire and the Commanding Officer directed all squadrons to commence training. Subsequently all squadrons commenced troop and squadron training in their respective locations.

On completion of the training the Commanding Officer directed a squadron changeover. A squadron deployed in Eluthumaduwal and Kilaly sector was re - deployed at Kankesanthurai. B Squadron was re - deployed in Eluthumaduwal – Kachchai sector. Presently, all Squadrons are re-deployed on defensive operations.

OPERATIONAL COMMITMENTS

The first squadron ever to see action was B Squadron. It participated in a 7 day Operation code named SATHBALA in Mullaitivu - Alampil area in 1992. On successful completion of the operation, the Task Force Commander, in his report stated. Success of Operation SATHBALA was mainly attributed to the sheer firepower of the T 55 tanks. Although it was a combined arms effort the tanks used for the first time proved their mettle”. The next Squadron to see battle was C Squadron in Palaly on a limited Operation code-named CHATHURANGA. The first serious RPG casualties were suffered when two tanks were hit in the heavily built up areas of Tellippalai. They were repaired by the LAD and were back in action shortly. In late May 1992 the entire Regiment moved to Jaffna peninsula for Operation BALAWEGAYA II. The operation went on for over ten days with tanks providing the decisive edge to capture all objectives as planned. In mid August the Regiment participated in another Brigade Group operation code named “Operation BHOOMIKAMPA”. In two days of fighting 4 x Infantry Battalions supported by A and B Squadrons swept through Illavali and captured Mathagal including a Sea Tiger base at Mathagalthurai.

In February 1993, A & B Squadrons along with 3rd Battalion the Gajaba Regiment took part in Operation RANAHANDA. On 10 April A & B Squadrons took part in operation SULISULANG. Operation SULISULANG II was launched subsequently. On 27 April 1993, A & B Squadrons took part in Operation RANABIMA while C squadron took part in Operation SARPA DASHTA on the same day. Operation YALDEVI was lunched. 1992. A & C Squadrons moved to Elephant Pass before the launching of operation. 11 November 1993 was a fateful day for 4 Armoured Regiment. Terrorists launched a massive attack on Pooneryn Army base and captured 02 x MBTs deployed to support the infantry. Air Force planes managed to destroy one of the tanks with air strikes.

On 02 August 1994 LTTE launched an attack on the Palaly Air Base. Tanks of A Squadron reinforced the airport and successfully repulsed the attack. Through out the year the regiment took part in many limited operations that were aimed at expanding the Palaly defences. Operations code-named KICK OFF, SHAKE UP, SAFE PASSAGE, THUNDER STRIKE and LEAP FORWARD were some of them.

On 17 October 1995 security forces launched Operation RIVIRESA which was the largest operation in recent times. A and B Squadrons were on the offence and C Squadron was in reserve. The operation lasted for 45 continuous days with intense fighting. On 5 December the enemy stronghold in Jaffna was recaptured by the army and tankers received a considerable credit for the accomplishment.

In 1996, A and B Squadrons participated in Operations RIVIRESA II & III. In the middle of the year, Squadrons were re equipped with additional 15 x tanks, that arrived in Sri Lanka. C Squadron participated in operations in Wanni sector during 1996.

On 10 May 1997 Army launched Operation JAYASIKURUI. C Squadron joined the operation from the beginning. A month later Tactical Headquarter with A Squadron joined. Withthe operation taking a new dimension, with heavy enemy resistance, the advance of two sabre squadrons of the regiment gave the required punch for the infantry to fight their way forward. On 06 October, the LTTE launched a fierce counter attack on the defences of Karappukutti. Security forces withdrew unable to hold the enemy attack. Further advance of the enemy was halted by C Squadron. An operation to capture Mankulam town complex was launched on 05 October. Subsequently, the Security Forces supported by tanks captured the town.

In 1998, LTTE launched another major attack on the defences of Kilinochchi. B Squadron was engaged in intense battle and it continued for three days. In March, A and C squadrons were moved to Madhu in order to launch Operation RANAGOSA V. The operation was launched on 25 June. The ever-reliable T 55 MBTs rolled on to the objective, unleashing heavy fire on the enemy. The operation was a sheer success. In October, LTTE launched another wave of attacks on the Northern Defences of Wanni sector. They initially attacked the Oddusudan defence line and forced the Army to withdraw to Omanthai. The Security Forces successfully repulsed the attack with B Squadron engaging in fierce battles.

On 29 March 1999, LTTE cadres infiltrated the defences and held on to a stretch of the road running from Jaffna to Elephant Pass. Attempts made to recapture the area was unsuccessful. On 03 April, B Squadron launched a fierce assault on the enemy held area and recaptured the ground. Due to the Elephant Pass setback of 12 April 2000, sabre squadrons were redeployed in Killaly. In 2001, A Squadron was engaged in Operation KINIHIRA IX at Eluthumaduwal. The Operation was launched 16 January. On 25 April, Army launched another operation code named AGNIKEELA. This was the last offensive operation which the regiment participated beside many defensive tasks carried out subsequently. A and C Squadrons participated in the operation.

By 2005, the regiment was deployed in full strength under SF (J). While the RHQ and the HQ Squadron was at Clappenburg, Trincomalee, the Tactical Headquarters, along withthe Commanding Officer was deployed at Eluthumadduwal and all the three saber squadrons were operationally deployed. The squadrons, namely were deployed covering then defacto National Defence, Nagar Kovil, Muhamalai and Kilali.

On 11 August 2006, Terrorist launched a full scale attack on to Muhamalai defences and to Ariyalai. A and B Squadrons formed the main thrust of the operation launched on 25 August 2006 to take on enemy along Muhamalai defences. The regiment lost 6 x MBTs in heavy battles on 09 September 2006.

In 2007, the regiment did not participate in a major operation. Insteaed, going in accordance to the overall battle plan, Squadrons engaged in consolidation and attrition operations in Nagar Kovil, Muhamalai and Kilali defences.

By 2008, the A Squadron was deployed to cover Muhamalai and Kilali defences, while the B and C Squadrons were deployed to conduct operations in Ariyalai and Nagar Kovil sectors. 26 April 2008, the A Squadron created history by launching the first ever offenceve operation grouped with Mechanized Infantry Brigade all along Muhamalai and Kilali Defences.

Desicive offencive operations to capture Muhamalai – Kilali LTTE defnce lines were launched on 15 November 2008. A Squadron, having I Troop of B Squadron under command launched these operations along with, 55 and 53 Divisions. Tactical Headquarters along withthe Commanding Officer cammanded and coordinated the Armour/Mechanized Infantry troops troughout the battle. After a few days of heavy confrontrations, the LTTE first line of defence was captured. The B Squadron was redeployed from Ariyalai to Kilali defences by 20 December 2008 and was placed under command to 53 Division. On 06 January 2009, a full scale operation was launched from Muhamalai – Kilali Defences having A Squadron under 55 Division and B Squadron under 53 Division. C Squadron was poised to launch from Nagar Kovil defences and was conducting limited operations to shape the battlefield.

The operation was a grand success and troops started their march towards Elephant Pass on 07 January 2009 and reached Palai and were able to capture Sorampattu to Elephant Pass by 09 January. Capt R M N Randunuge, Squadron 2iC of A squadron paid the suprime sacrifice on 09 January 2009, in Palai area during this operation. C Squadron was launched from Nagar Kovil on 10 January via Vettilaikerni towards Challai.

Subsequant to Muhamalai operations, the regiment was split to support defferent operational fronts. Tactical Headquarters and the A Squadron was redeployed with 53 Division along Oddusudan Puthukudiyiruppu axis. B Squadron was placed under command to 59 Division towards Mulaithivu and the C Squadron remained with 55 Division and was conducting operations towards Puthumathalan along Nagar Kovil – VTK – Challai axis.

By the end of the Humanitarian Operation in May 2009, A, B and C Squadrons had reached their designated objectives along with 53, 59 and 55 Divisions respectively. The Command element of the regiment withthe Tactical Headquartres was coordinating Armour / Mechanized Infantry troops in 53 Division sector directly and was controlling nad coordinating B and C quadron matters indirectly throgout Wanni operations. It was historical that evan on the final day of the battle on 19 May 2009, A Squadron, in the Puthukudiyiruppu front was engaged in operations along with 4 VIR troops, as a part of TF 8 / 53 Divition who recovered the LTTE leader’s body at Nanthi Kadal Lagoon.

COMMANDING OFFICERS

Name From To
Lieutenant Colonel C S N B Mudannayake RWP psc 24.09.1991 27.06.1993
Colonel C S N B Mudannayake RWP psc 27.06.1993 01.12.1993
Lieutenant Colonel R M Jayasinghe psc 01.12.1993 11.02.1994
Lieutenant Colonel G A Chandrasiri psc 11.02.1994 06.09.1995
Major B A Perera RSP 06.09.1995 06.09.1997
Lieutenant Colonel B A Perera RSP 06.09.1997 04.10.1997
Major S D T Liyanage RWP psc 04.10.1997 17.08.2000
Major D T Gamage psc 17.08.2000 20.01.2004
Major R G U Rajapakse RSP psc 20.01.2004 20.04.2006
Major P A R Samarakoon RWP RSP 20.04.2006 25.07.2007
Major A M L De Zoysa 25.07.2007 26.02.2009
Major J B Weragama psc 2009.02.26 2009.08.03
Lieutenant Colonel J B Weragama psc 2009.08.03 2011.04.04
Lieutenant Colonel N D K B Niyangoda RSP PSC 2011.04.04 2012.03.12
Lieutenant Colonel K M P S B Kulathunga RSP psc 2012.03.12 2013.02.28
Lieutenant Colonel M W S Marapana RSP 2013.02.28 2014.09.03
Lieutenant Colonel D K R N Silva psc 2015.02.11 2016.01.01
Lieutenant Colonel B A D R A C Wijeyesekara RSP USACGSC 2016.02.17 2018.02.19
Lieutenant Colonel W M I U B Weerasekera USP psc 2018.02.19 2019.10.13
Lieutenant Colonel D A I J Dalugama USP psc 2019.11.11 Up to Date

SECOND IN COMMAND

Name From To
Major R M Jayasinghapsc 1991.09.24 1993.12.01
Major B A Perera RSP 1994.01.08 1995.07.27
Major U A A Wimalaweera USP 1995.07.27 1997.01.01
Major I P Ranasingha 1997.01.01 1998.02.04
Major P A R Samarakoon RWP 1998.02.04 2001.01.03
Major E M L U K Ekanayaka 2001.01.03 2002.07.08
Major M A Isadeen RSP 2002.07.08 2003.01.21
Major H M S J K Hennayaka RSP 2003.01.21 2004.07.27
Major P A R Samarakoon RWP RSP 2004.07.27 2006.04.20
Major D B S N Bothota psc 2006.04.20 2007.04.29
Major D K Nissankapsc 2007.04.29 2007.06.30
Major S D Jayakodi RWP RSP 2007.08.01 2009.03.06
Major M W S Marapana RSP 2009.03.06 2009.08.27
Major A B J C Baduge 2009.08.27 2010.01.11
Major L K J Fernandoo RSP 2010.01.11 2010.06.01
Major A B J C Baduge 2010.06.01 2012.01.01
Major T S R Perera 2012.01.01 2013.07.10
Major K K R Maxiwel 2013.07.10 2013.11.23
Major D K S M Kariyawasam 2015.01.29 2016.07.10
Major S S B Amunugama RSP 2016.08.03 2016.10.02
Major R S P K Silva RSP 2017.10.02 2018.12.26
Major M L N U Liyanage RSP 2018.12.26 2019.11.27
Major H M U L B Udagedara 2019.11.28 2020.07.25
Major W K S R Wijesiri RSP USP 2020.07.25 2020.10.25
Major L B S U K Liyanagedara psc 2021.01.09 Up to Date