30th January 2017 19:51:29 Hours
The ceremonial award of the first-ever President’s Truncheon and the Regimental Truncheon to one of the most respected infantry units, Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (SLSR), an event unheard and unprecedented in the annals of the Sri Lanka Army, but identical in many ways to that of the presentation of President’s Colours to regiments, took place at Ambepussa SLSR Regimental Headquarters on Monday (30), amid a huge gathering of distinguished invitees, headed by HE the President Maithripala Sirisena, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
This novel and the history-making presentation of the President’s Truncheon, equivalent to that of an honorary ‘Colour’ and a unique emblem upon which soldiers swear allegiance to the Regiment and the State, further recognizes and would serve a fitting tribute to SLSR soldiers’ unparalleled achievements, exemplary valour, gallantry, dedication and commitment to the cause, and more distinctively, its War Heroes’ unmatched supreme sacrifices in the battlefields.
HE the President at the invitation of the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva and Major General Boniface Perera, Colonel of the Regiment, SLSR, added dignity and enhanced recognition to this historic milestone of the SLSR in the company of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who has by now prided by being Sri Lanka’s first ever Field Marshal, produced by the SLSR.
The magnificent ceremony got to a start with the arrival of the day’s Chief Guest, HE the President who was warmly received by the Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva and Major General Boniface Perera, Colonel of the Regiment, SLSR at the entrance to the main venue for the event. A drive-past Guard Turnout saluted the Chief Guest soon after his entry to the Regimental Headquarters premises in accordance with military formalities.
Next, was the peak of the ceremony where HE the President read out the official proclamation and reasons attributable for award of the Truncheon to the SLSR. HE the President in his special proclamation to the occasion reminded the gathering of numerous and invaluable sacrifices of Sinha Regiment troops for defence of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. Having received it, Major General Boniface Perera, Colonel of the Regiment, SLSR in response publicly pledged his allegiance to the Truncheon and its associated respect, formalities and recognition at all times.
Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, Hon Ruwan Wijewardene, State Minister of Defence, Eng. Karunasena Hettiarachchi, Secretary Defence, Lieutenant General Crishanthe De Silva, Commander of the Army and distinguished invitees eagerly watched the proceedings since no other precedent did exist in the Army’s history.
The day’s Chief Guest minutes after his speech was cordially invited to formally inaugurate the world-renowned state-of-the-art Eco-Friendly Library, built by SLSR soldiers in the premises which won the Silver Medal in the recent 4th Holcim International Eco-Friendly Building Competition that got underway in Switzerland. The entire construction, conceptualized by the Colonel of the Regiment SLSR was brought to an impressive fruition with the architectural design, prepared by Mr. Milinda Pathiraja of Robust Architecture Workers’ Company without causing any environmental damage to the natural landscape. Out of a total of 6000 entries, representing 155 countries competed for supremacy in the Swiss competition, in which Colombia and Sri Lanka bagged Gold and Silver Medals respectively.
President Sirisena after its ceremonial opening had a close look inside the glass-covered library, erected with simple iron railings, wood and other light accessories, but now fully equipped with thousands of volumes where any Army officer or a soldier has easy access for reference and reading. Impressed with its architectural design, the Chief Guest made several inquisitive queries and concerns about its design during his stay inside.
This unique seat of learning, designed to be the Army’s future educational hub by the year 2020, would impart knowledge to Army personnel on issues of global warming, environment, eco- friendly techniques, solar energy, etc, according to the SLSR Regimental Headquarters.
The day’s dignified ceremony drew to a close with the recital of the national anthem. Retired senior officers, spouses, Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Senior officers and a large gathering of invitees attended the day’s event.
The SLSR, having seen its birth as a Rifle Regiment on 1 October 1956 at Diyatalawa Imperial Camp, to be identical with the ‘Green Jacket’ regiment of the Queen’s British Army, has not been considered for award of Colours, to be in line with age-old inherent British military traditions which do not advocate awarding of Colours to ‘Rifle Regiments’, more popularly, identified as ‘Green Jacket’ regiments.
Even as of today, the two Rifle Regiments in the British Army, The Rifles and the Royal Gurkha Rifles carry their battle honours on their drums while the Royal Green Jackets also had theirs inscribed on their cap badge. However, this tradition is maintained by The Rifles, who wear the Maltese Cross badge of the Royal Green Jackets, inscribed with the regimental honours as the belt badge. In place of a Regimental Colour, the Gurkhas carry the Queen's Truncheon.
The Truncheon, which is about 6 feet high and made of bronze and silver, is carried for ceremonies on parade by the Truncheon Jemadar, whose post was added to the Establishment for the specific Purpose, escorted by two Sergeants and two Corporals.