Gemunu Watch (GW), one of the prestigious and veteran regiments in the Army, having produced a number of valiant War Heroes to serve the nation, once again received honours on Wednesday (15) with re-awarding of new Colours to all units by none other than the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, HE the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Chief Guest on the occasion.
Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Secretary Defence & Urban Development was among one of the firsts to arrive at the GW Regimental Centre at Kuruwita for the ceremony as a special invitee, to be received by Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya. President's Secretary Mr Lalith Weeratunga graced the event as a special invitee.
GW troops awaiting the day’s Chief Guest after uncasing of old Colours marched to the venue after the parade was taken for command by the parade commander.
Soon after the President Rajapaksa arrived at the venue, he was invited to review the parade by the parade commander after presenting arms to the Chief Guest in accordance with military traditions and honours. Prior to the commencement of the Colours rewarding ceremony, the Chief Guest formally handed over the statement that attributes to the award of new Colours to all the GW units. A few minutes later, upon completion of the presentation of new Colours to GW unit representatives, a colourful march past saluted the President Rajapaksa.
President Rajapaksa adding a few words to the occasion underlined the importance of sustaining the dedication of all War Heroes towards development and protection of the country in the future too. Since terrorism has been wiped out, the country’s forward-march cannot be halted and you are now expected to work harder with commitment and discipline.
‘In the most recent India’s conference one of our political leaders was prevented from continuing his speech because the organizers do not want to have an Eelam in their own country, India. They have no respect for the country and go on criticizing it overseas. One must understand these underpinnings. We should not do what those Eelam lobbyists were expected of us’, he added.
Referring to how the government was treating the War Heroes, President Rajapaksa said that all War Heroes have been provided with opportunities for professional training and knowledge. GW troops, he said would take pride in these re-awarded Colours and protect those responsibilities for ever and march forward in order to bring prosperity to the country of their birth.
With presentation arms to the Chief Guest, the day’s ceremony came to a close.
Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya welcomed the Chief Guest on arrival at the Regimental Headquarters.
Major General S. Udumalagala, Colonel of the Regiment, received the Commander of the Army at the entrance to the GW Headquarters. Brigadier J.C.P Pakshaweera was the parade commander in the ceremony.
The GW with its 9 regular units and 4 volunteer units was named after one of the most respected kings, Dutu Gemunu and was formed in 1962 with amalgamation of troops from then Ceylon Light Infantry and Ceylon Sinha Regiment.
Notably GW troops played a pivotal role in the fight against terrorism including the Vadamarachchi Operation (1987), the Operation Balawegaya to break the siege of Elephant Pass, prevention of attack on Welioya settlement, the Operation Riviresa, the Operation Sathjaya, the Operation Jayasikuru, and many other Operations in the East and Wanni regions during 2007-2008 as the Humanitarian Operations took a final decisive turn.
Award of Colours in the Army has remained a symbol of prestige and admiration. In short, Colours have become the symbol of the spirit of a Battalion for they are the battle honours and badges, granted to the Battalion in commemoration of the gallant deeds, performed by its members from the time it was raised. This appreciation of Colours with heroic deeds has caused them to be regarded with veneration. Origin of the tradition of carrying Colours goes back to the days of early man who fixed his family badge to the pole and held it aloft in battle for the dual purpose of indicating his position and acting as a rallying point, should the occasion arise.
When Armies were beginning to adopt, a system of regimentation began in the 17th century. Each company wad allotted a Colour, a custom which persisted for about 100 years. After British Infantry battalions were allowed two Colours in 1951, the present day tradition began. Also in Sri Lanka, the use of Colour flags during battles runs back to the times of kings.
After independence, introduction of President’s Colours and Battalion Colours took place in 1980. With that GW entered history as the second Infantry Regiment with Colours.
Wednesday’s laying up of Colours and re-awarding of Colours coincides with the tradition of changing them after 25 years of use. Though this occasion was organized in 2005, ground situations at that point of time did not permit to carry on with the programme. With the 50th anniversary of GW, Wednesday’s (15) arrangement was made.