The Sri Lanka Rifle Corps (SLRC), origins of which date back to the colonial era when British planters in the central highlands of then Ceylon formed the Ceylon Rifle Corps in 1887 as a volunteer (reserve) regiment, turned a new lease of life on Saturday (30) when its Kandy Headquarters for the first time of its history received a Commander of the Army as a Chief Guest.
It was indeed a memorable moment of pride and glory as the one and only regiment of the Army that recruits its personnel from the hills of Sri Lanka when the SLRC troops accorded a Guard Turnout plus a Guard of Honour to the visiting Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya and saluted him upon arrival there in conformity with military traditions and formalities.
During Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya’s visit to this volunteer regiment headquarters of historic importance which has received accolades from General Kitchener, Chief of Staff Lord Roberts in South Africa during the second Boer War, the visiting Commander, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya after a careful review of the Headquarters premises, requested the Colonel Commandant SLRC to explore possibilities of constructing a playground, meant exclusively for Army Rugby players since the premises offers an ideal venue.
His inspection of the entire SLRC Headquarters premises also suggested the construction of separate holiday bungalows for both officers and Other Ranks, along the edge of the Mahaweli river, the perimeter boundary of the Headquarters since the panoramic view would inspire holiday makers much.
Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya who has also been keen on encouraging cultivations in all Army formations across the island during his discussions with the Regimental Headquarters authorities on Saturday (30), highlighted the need for SLRC troops to undertake a vegetable-growing project along the riverside boundaries of the premises, to be in consistent with the ‘Api Wawamu-Rata Nagamu’ concept of the government.
Impressed with the scenic beauty of its surroundings and colonial buildings, still well maintained by the Army, the Commander recalled the yesteryear memories of those British and local planters who formed this volunteer regiment, called the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps in 1887 which was attached to the Ceylon Defence Force at that stage.
He also shared memories with the SLRC Commandant, recalling the contributions made by notable SLRC Commanders, like late General Ranjan Wijeratne and a few others towards SLRC standards.
In 1984, it transpired, two battalions of the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps were created and subsequently deployed both in the central highlands. Afterwards, Lieutenant Colonel (Later General) Ranjan Wijeratne was made the first battalion commanding officer who later became the state Minister of Defence and Plantations in the then governments in the 1980s.
The visit on Saturday (30) marked a landmark in SLRC history since it was the first time an incumbent Commander of the Army ever, visited the SLRC Regimental Headquarters in Kandy.
Brigadier K. Gunawardena, General Officer Commanding 11 Division, Colonel Rohan Wettasinghe, Colonel Commandant, SLRC and several senior officers were in attendance during the Commander’s tour in the premises.