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 Post subject: 55 Division Battling forward, Digging in, digging deep
 Post Posted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:20 pm 
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55 Division Battling forward, Digging in, digging deep
LTTE built earth bund North of Palamathalan seized
Capt. Asanga Abrew to be bestowed with the Veera Vickrama Vibushana Award

Lt. Chandrajith, with four others, moved up stealthily in search of possible targets in the Tiger defense. They were spotted by Tiger snipers and fired upon. Lt. Chandrajith and a soldier died in the enemy fire. The other two in the team were injured. The task of recovering the bodies of the dead and rescuing the injured, fell upon the commanding officer (CO) of Bravo Company of 7 VR, Lt. Tharanga Thusara. The time was around 2.30 pm. Lt. Tharanga succeeded in moving the injured and the dead into a ditch. during the heavy fire, Lt. Tharanga’s radio man was killed and Lt. Tharanga himself trapped in the ditch with the dead and the wounded and his surviving two soldiers, he was on the radio asking for help.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

55 Division troops under the command of Brigadier Prasanna Silva have breached LTTE defences and gained control over an LTTE built earth bund constructed North of Palamathalan, Saturday (March 28).

Unable to face the military onslaught tigers have fled putting-up less resistance security sources said adding that at least 8 terrorists were killed and 17 others wounded in yesterday's fighting. During subsequent search operations conducted, troops have found 2 LTTE bodies along with 2 T-56 assault riffles, the sources further said.

55 Division which started out from Muhumalai has advanced 65 km so far. The 55-3 Brigade under Col. Mahinda Weerasuriya and 55-2 under Col. Kapila Udalupola, are the main infantry Brigades under 55 Division.

55 Division proceeded from the south of Putumathalan, breached two forward defence lines (FDL) in Pattikarai area 2 weeks ago. The 1st Light Infantry regiment (CLI) under Lt. Col. Chandana Ranweera of 55-3 Brigade commanded by Col. Mahinda Weerasuriya, achieved this objective.

By March 16, after two days of intense fighting, the soldiers who pulled down the enemy FDL, which was 80ft in length and 5ft in height, advanced to a distance of about 350 metres. Intercepted LTTE communications confirmed that 15 LTTE cadres, including its leader in charge of mortar attacks, ‘Lt.Col.’ Ramesh, were killed and 27 others injured in the battle.

A Sea Tiger leader, ‘Lt. Col.’ Sathya, and 15 other cadres were killed and 24 injured in an attack launched by 55 Division on the previous day (March 15.) In this operation, 1 CLI, with the help of the Air Force, destroyed six bunkers in the LTTE FDL.

1-CLI was to break into the Defence Line, while 7 Vijeyaba Regiment under Lt. Col. Deepal Pusella, provided protection from the direction of the lagoon and 4 Gemunu Watch (GW) from the direction of the beach. Alfa and Delta Companies of 1CLI were entrusted with the task of overruning the Defence Line. Bravo and Chalie Companies were ordered to carry out trenching from the direction of the lagoon and the beach, and open a path.

By Thursday morning, the First Infantry troops, as pre-planned, overran the LTTE’s second defence line in a tactical maneuver. Intense fighting that erupted at about 10.30 a.m., continued till 6 p.m., with the security forces finally capturing the entire area. The tanks of the Mechanised Infantry under Maj. Udaya Herath provided support fire. It was a hard battle in view of the advantage the LTTE held here, in being able to attack the forces from three directions: the sea, the lagoon and land.

Four LTTE cadres, including woman Sea Tiger leader ‘Lt. Col.’ Sindu, were bagged by the Army snipers in this operation, bringing the total number of Tiger cadres killed by Army snipers during the previous 48 hours to 12. Military Intelligence believes that LTTE’s ‘Lt. Col.’ Arunan Master, identified by his call sign Charlie Alpha, who commanded enemy cadres in the area, was also either killed or injured in the attack.

Capt. Lakshman Balasooriya of the Mechanized infantry stationed at Chundikulam, said that the China made tankers which could run over 45 km an hour, were used to break 15-feet tall sand bunds of the Tigers as the infantry troops encountered difficulty to fight in the open terrain and break through the bunds. They destroyed many such obstacles to reach Chalai.

Major Sumal Hemaratne, who led the capturing of Chalai South upto Puthumathalan North and again repulsed a suicide attack to re-capture the stretch said that Tigers used their naval and ground cadres in the attack lasting from mid-night to dawn.

“There were over 13 combined counter attacks but the troops were able to destroy 10 boats and found over 50 dead bodies”, he said adding that the significant factor was that the ground troops were able to repulse the Sea Tiger attacks without Naval support.

Dismantling the enemy’s next earth barrier, constructed North of Palamathalan, fell on Lt. Col. Deepal Pusella of 55-3 Brigade, with 7 Vijayaba Regiment (VR) commanded by him. This earth wall was built to cover the 500 metre-broad strip and it was as high as 10 feet.

The forces, in small groups, carried out reconnaissance on the wall last week. The forward observation officer for artillery Lt. Chandrajith, with four others, moved up stealthily in search of possible targets in the Tiger defense. Crawling in open areas for about 250 metres, they were spotted by Tiger snipers and fired upon, along with the sniper fire, the LTTE also directed mortar fire at them. Lt. Chandrajith and a soldier died in the enemy fire. The other two in the team were injured. The task of recovering the bodies of the dead and rescuing the injured, without allowing them to fall into enemy hands, fell upon the commanding officer (CO) of Bravo Company of 7 VR, Lt. Tharanga Thusara. The time was around 2.30 pm.

Lt. Tharanga, with four others, left on their mission, but, since it was open terrain, and all Tiger guns were turned in that direction, they too, were fired upon before long. Capt. Indika Prasanna, seeing what was happening, provided covering fire. In the meantime, Lt. Tharanga succeeded in moving the injured and the dead into a ditch created by an air strike. To extricate themselves from this safe ditch became even more difficult, as the Tigers directed heavy fire at them, during which, Lt. Tharanga’s radio man was killed and Lt. Tharanga himself became dehydrated. Trapped in the ditch with the dead and the wounded and his surviving two soldiers, he was on the radio asking for help.

The CO organised to send in Capt. Prassanna’s platoon. While this was taking place, Capt. Asanga Abrew from Delta Company, who was in charge of defending one side of the FDL, volunteered to lead the recovery mission. Since these officers and men had been together from Muhumalai, they had become a well knit Unit, looking out for each other. They all wanted to be on this rescue mission. The CO while planning to send Capt. Prasanna’s platoon, Capt. Abrew, with two others, jumped into action from another side.

The time was around 4.30pm. Under enemy fire, Capt. Abrew and others managed to get to their colleagues and, while trying to rescue them, Capt. Abrew and a soldier were killed. While they were hit by enemy snipers, more colleagues wanted to rush in due to their brotherly feeling for each other. At this moment, the Tigers were targetting the Army personnel holed up in the ditch with machine gun fire and also foot operated 38 mm cannons. The Army snipers too, by this time, had bagged 11 Tigers. The Army had suffered seven dead and 12 wounded.

Brig. de Silva recommended Capt. Asanga Abrew be bestowed with the Veera Vickrama Vibushana Award, for volunteering to go and rescue his comrades and dying in battle. In that battle, the Tigers too, suffered heavy losess, and in 12 days lost 65 men.
In this battle, soldiers of 7 VR, R.P. Premasiri, S.R. Pathirana, B.G.A. Lakshitha and M. Kulasinghe made the supreme sacrifice.


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