Major General Vijaya Wimalaratne
|Service/branch||Sri Lanka Army|
|Commands held||Jaffna Brigade Commander|
|Battles/wars||Sri Lankan Civil War|
|Awards||Rana Wickrama Padakkama, Rana Sura Padakkama, Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya, Uttama Seva Padakkama|
He was educated at Royal College, Colombo and joined the Sri Lanka Army as an Officer Cadet in August 1962. He commenced his career as an Officer in the Army on 1 August 1963 on completion of training at the Indian Military Academy, there he was appointed Battalion Cadet Adjutant in his final term .
He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Gemunu Watch, leaving soon after for a jungle warfare course in Malaysia and on his return was assigned with the task of conducting the jungle warfare phase for Officer Cadets. His competency and application of the subject to the local scenario made the training very interesting. He used to trek the jungles of Buttala, Wellawaya and Ampara in search of training areas and described the bush jungle as ‘Podi Singho Marang’. Sometimes he was called ‘Kala Kumaraya’ since the jungle appeared to be his home! He also introduced training on Fighting in Built up Areas and anti-terrorist operations to the Army. Gen. Wimalaratne was also a graduate of the British Army Staff College at Camberley.
During his colourful career he had the distinction of raising the formidable Gajaba Regiment. He nurtured, trained and guided the Officers and the Men and made the battalion an effective fighting unit. The nucleus he created in the battalion became a catalyst and the performance of the Gajaba Battalion later is ample testimony of his leadership and vision. During ‘Op Liberation’ in 1987 he commanded 3 Brigade in the first ever two Brigade operation launched in the history of the Sri Lanka Army. He was holding the appointment of Deputy Security Forces Comd Jaffna. Meticulous planning of operations and attention to detail were his strong points and he taught and guided his staff to achieve the same standards. He played a major role in the rescue of the troops in the Jaffna Fort in 1990 and in the 'Operation Balavegaya' in 1991.
He was bold and daring and whenever an incident occurred in Jaffna he used to get some troops from his battalion and proceed to the area to assess the situation. On one occasion, some claymores had been exploded on the Idaikkadu road in Jaffna and with some casualties who needed to be evacuated fast. It was getting dark. Wijaya the Brigade Commander was asked to help.
He asked the air force who for some reason or another were unable to help especially as the light was fast fading. Wijaya ordered a Buffel armoured personnel carrier to go. The driver had been injured and there was no volunteer to drive. Wijaya whose light vehicle driving is questionable took over the 15 ton vehicle and guided by red lights to the rear from the Gemunu Watch position, drove in pitch dark, picked up the injured men, gave some words of encouragement to the Battalion commander and drove back virtually through no man's land.
The staff work of Maj Gen Wimalaratne was meticulous. His method of maintaining records and data with accuracy are still being followed. His influence over the staff officers enabled them to learn and progress. He was a hard taskmaster and set high but achievable standards. With his personal guidance and personal touch he was able to obtain the best from his staff.
His final appointment was Commander Security Forces Jaffna. His vision and dedication were a sources of inspiration to others. Planning and execution of operations was his forte and he led upfront. His presence in the front and his leadership were motivating factors which led to his success in operations. He had a firm belief that proper logistical planning is essential for successful operations. Therefore he always ensured that logistic plans were make in detail and that resources were in place prior to launching of operations.
On 8 August 1992 as Jaffna Brigade Commander, Brigadier Vijaya Wimalaratne was accompanied Major General (posthumously Lieutenant General) Denzil Kobbekaduwa, General Officer Commanding Northern Sector and Commodore (posthumously Rear Admiral) Mohan Jayamaha, Commander Northern Naval Area were killed when the Land Rover they were traveling in was destroyed by a land mine blast. Brigadier Wimalaratne was killed instantly he was posthumously promoted to the rank of Major General. Seven others were killed in the including Lt. Colonels G.H. Ariyaratne, A. Palipahana, H.R. Stephen, all three battalion commanders and Major N.S. De Alwis, General Kobbekaduwa's ADC. They were planning an offensive code named "Operation Final Countdown" to liberate the northern peninsula from the LTTE, which was to be launched shortly. The final decision was delayed until they could reconnoiter in a particular area to finalise troop movements, which required a visit to Araly point the next day. As they were returning to be taken back to the base by helicopter, the incident occurred. It has been claimed that it was an assignation which had be carried out by the LTTE by Jane's Information Group.
Major General Vijaya Wimalaratne was married to Manel Wimalaratne and they had a 2 sons and daughter. He had 9 brothers in his family.
Being a well disciplined and dedicated Officer and Gentleman he expected the same from those serving under him. He was firm, friendly and fair. Those under him responded positively and gave him their wholehearted support since then were inspired by his leadership and had confidence that he had the staying power and courage to ensure that any assignment given to him would be successfully completed. He always made it a point to recognize good performance and place on record by way of commendations for future reference.
Being deployed in operational areas for a long duration he had to sacrifice time with his family. His wife Manel therefore had to bring up the children. Her devotion and support enabled him to carry on with the campaign to eradicate terrorism and bring about peace to Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan Army remembers Maj Gen Vijaya Wimalaratne today as one of its greatest warriors and respected Officers who laid down his life whilst fighting in a campaign to safeguard his country, Sri Lanka and its people.
- Great Generals remembered with respect, gratitude and affection, Ministry of Defence
- Eelam War II - "Operation Balavegaya", LankaLibrary Forum
- Lieutenant General Denzil Lakshman Kobbekaduwa, LankaLibrary Forum
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