Blood Is Their Medal The Men Of The Parama Weera Vibushanaya
By David Blacker
The eyes stared expressionlessly back at me from the fifteen small pictures, some clear, and some blurred; reflections that only hinted at the men behind those eyes. But sharp or soft, they all looked so innocuous, so devoid of any indication of what they had once seen. So to look into those fifteen pairs of eyes, to read their names on the Wall that held thousands of similar names, was to gain no hint of the impossible acts of bravery that their owners had committed. Acts that would now see them join the eight who had gone before. Twenty-three names for twenty-three men. Twenty-three individual acts of supreme courage, selected out of twenty-eight years of war. The faces were tucked away in the second page of the Sunday Times, and I stared back at them for awhile before reading the short paragraph beneath each. The words were trite, clichéd, dry; unable to capture the struggle of courage over fear that must have dominated each man’s last moments; the pain, the heat. And of course, that ultimate singularity, as they stepped forward and died. Alone. That solitude was also what singled them out, along with their courage, for none of them had done what they did as part of a whole, or at the order of someone else. They had each decided alone to do what they did, each for his own reasons.
At this year’s commemoration of the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the government decided to award the Parama Weera Vibushanaya, Sri Lanka’s highest award for bravery (equivalent to the British Victoria Cross and the American Medal of Honour) to fifteen members of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces for courage displayed in combat and, almost without exception, conducted in the last two years of the war. Fifteen may not seem like a huge number, but to give you an idea of its significance, consider that since the PWV was established in 1981, it had been awarded only eight times in the twenty-one years that preceded the Cease-Fire Agreement between the GoSL and the Tigers. Therefore, for it to be awarded over a dozen times in two years is an indication of the intensity of the fighting after the CFA collapsed, and the sacrifices needed to destroy the Tigers; particularly in the last year of combat.
The Presidential Proclamation of 1981 that brought the PWV into effect states that the medal is to be awarded for individual acts of gallantry and conspicuous bravery of the most exceptional order in the face of the enemy, performed voluntarily whilst on active service and with no regard to the risks to his own life and security with the objective of safeguarding thereby, the lives of his comrades or facilitating the operational aim of his force.
The twenty-three recipients of the PWV are all men and, with few exceptions, young. These are not generals or admirals. They didn’t command thousands of subordinates, or carry out great acts of strategy that would be recorded in military textbooks. Usually, they were in charge of less than a dozen men. Sometimes, not even that; being the youngest and most junior soldiers in their units. Only eleven of them, less than half their number, were officers. Twenty of them were soldiers. Two were sailors. And one an airman. Twenty-one were Sinhalese, one a Moor, and one a Tamil. And all of them are dead. In the eighteen years since the PWV was first awarded in 1991, not a single one of its recipients has ever lived to feel that medal’s weight on his chest or test the military code that requires even the Chief of the Defense Staff to salute, without regard to rank, the wearer of that 32-mm wide crimson ribbon. Some died leading attacks that would drive the enemy back to ultimate defeat; but many died in desperate rearguard actions to ensure that their comrades and friends retreated to safety; and at least one to save the life of a politician. As many of them died to save someone as those who died whilst killing the enemy.
Although the PWV was instituted in 1981, it wasn’t awarded for a full decade. Then in June 1991, a dramatic battle at the gates to the Jaffna Peninsula captured the imagination of the country’s population. Elephant Pass. Arguably, no other battle in the Eelam Wars would ever attain the legendary status of that engagement, for it contained all the elements necessary to elevate a mere battle into a legend worthy not just of the history books but the story books as well – a memorable name, a brave and outnumbered group of warriors surrounded by a cruel enemy, ultimate victory against all odds and, finally, and perhaps most importantly, a tragic hero.
The road and rail routes onto the Jaffna Peninsula cross from the mainland via a causeway close to the small town of Elephant Pass, and by June 1991, a year after the outbreak of the Second Eelam War, it was held by a single infantry battalion — the 6th Sinha Rifles – some supporting arms, and a small Commando detachment; totally surrounded by enemy territory and dependent on resupply by helicopter from the airbase at Palaly. In early June, the 6th Sinha’s commanding officer was away on leave; the unit left in the hands of his second-in-command, Major (later Major General) Sanath Karunaratne. Strategically valuable for its control of the Jaffna Peninsula and its neighbouring lagoon, Elephant Pass was an important target for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and its leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, had vowed to capture it in “the mother of all battles”. As fighting raged across the Northern and Eastern Provinces, 5,000 Tigers launched a massive attack on the 800-man garrison at Elephant Pass, bringing in heavy ZSU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannon that prevented air resupply. For the next three days, the 6th Sinha stood at their guns as the Tigers sent in human wave attacks again and again, trying to use their superior numbers to overrun the riflemen, failing each time, but causing heavy casualties among the defenders.
By the 13th, the Tigers had overrun the Rest House Camp – a strongpoint in the sector protecting the southern side of the causeway, and the riflemen had been forced to retreat to the second line of defence centered on the Saltern Siding strongpoint. At dusk, the Tigers tried a new tactic, sending an armoured fighting vehicle – a converted Caterpillar bulldozer – north up the main highway towards the Saltern Siding. Heavy weapons mounted on the AFV hammered the defenders and Tiger infantry moved up in its path. Flattening a bunker, the AFV broke through the perimeter. The fate of the southern perimeter hung in the balance. Another bunker further down the line was manned by Lance Corporal Gamini Kularatne and Rifleman Roel, and as they watched the AFV break through the defences, Kularatne slung his assault rifle and picked up a grenade in each hand. Ordering Roel to provide covering fire, the shy, rail-thin 26-year-old from the Kandyan farming village of Hasalaka, made for the AFV, running through the heavy crossfire between the next line of defences and the attacking Tigers. Hit several times, Kularatne kept going until he reached the rear of the AFV and scaled its ladder. Hauling himself onto the AFV, Kularatne used his grenades to kill the four-man crew, falling to the ground with the explosions. The Sinha riflemen then counterattacked and secured the perimeter. Gamini Kularatne was found on the road by his comrades, dead of the gunshot and shrapnel injuries he had received. Although it would take a further eighteen days of fighting before the 6th Sinha would be reinforced after an amphibious landing 12km away, the moment of supreme danger had passed. Major Sanath Karunaratne, the acting-CO of the 6th Sinha recommended Kularatne be awarded the PWV, and four months later the award was approved. The Parama Weera Vibushanaya had its first recipient.
Over the next two years of ferocious fighting, no single act of courage was considered great enough to be awarded the PWV. Not until Poppy Day, 1993, and the Battle of Pooneryn. The 3rd Battalion of the Gajaba Regiment had been sent to Pooneryn primarily to help protect the nearby naval base at Nagathevanthurai which dominated the western part of the Jaffna Lagoon. SL Navy boats from this base were able to prevent the free movement of Tiger craft using the lagoon to resupply their troops on the peninsula, and particularly around the city of Jaffna itself. Like Elephant Pass, it was a thorn in the side of the Tigers and needed to be destroyed. Unlike at Elephant Pass, however, the Tiger attack was successful.
2nd Lieutenant K. W. T. Nissanka was a platoon commander in the 3rd Gajabas when the Tigers sprang a massive land and seaborne assault on the Nagathevanthurai naval base and the SL Army positions close to Pooneryn late on November 10th, the eve of Poppy Day. Along with the main assaults, Tiger commandos who had earlier infiltrated the perimeter overran the strong-points within the base as well as many of the bunkers housing the heavy support weapons. Taken by surprise, the Gajaba defenses collapsed under the intense attack. With Tiger troops inside the perimeter lines, an organised resistance was impossible, and the defenders grouped together in small squads and sections and fought back as best they could, hoping to survive. Lieutenant Nissanka’s platoon, deployed as part of the battalion perimeter, was just outside Pooneryn, and facing the town, when around 01:30 hours on November 11th, a Tiger assault hit them. Nissanka’s platoon fought back with small arms and RPG fire, holding the Tigers off; however, they regrouped and mounted a second assault which, along with another assault by Tigers already inside the defense lines, began to take its toll on the platoon. As the situation worsened, the young lieutenant braved enemy fire to move from bunker to bunker, encouraging his men, and with his lines being overrun and more Tigers pouring into the attack, he radioed his battalion HQ for reinforcements. However, there were no reinforcements available as the whole perimeter was under attack, including the battalion HQ. The fighting continued through the dark hours, and as dawn approached, Nissanka’s continued disregard for his own safety resulted in a bullet in his thigh. Badly wounded and in great pain, Nissanka still stayed in command of his platoon, though the majority of his men were now killed or injured, and those unhurt were unable to evacuate the wounded under the intense Tiger fire. Finally, with yet another Tiger assault forming, Nissanka knew that his platoon’s position was hopeless. He then ordered his few remaining uninjured men to try and withdraw the wounded to a safer position, while he held off the Tigers. Nissanka then pulled the pins of two grenades, and with one in each fist, rushed the approaching Tigers. Hit several more times, Nissanka still managed to reach the Tigers and detonate the grenades, killing and wounding a number of them instantly, and dying in the attempt. The disruption he caused the assault enabled some of his men to withdraw from their position.
However, unlike with Lance Corporal Kularatne’s sacrifice at Elephant Pass, Nissanka’s couldn’t save his battalion from the ferocious onslaught. Pooneryn and Nagathevanthurai fell with heavy casualties amongst both the Gajabas and the SL Navy troops. Colonel Daulagala, commander of the 3rd Gajabas, recommended Nissanka for the PWV, and it was approved in 1996.
But before Lieutenant Nissanka’s PWV was approved, one was awarded to another young lieutenant, for an act of courage that preceded even Gamini Kularatne’s, making this new recipient technically the first of the PWV heroes, even though the recommendation wasn’t approved until four years after the man’s death. This recipient was 2nd Lieutenant Saliya Aldeniya – a part-time officer in the 3rd (Volunteer) Sinha Rifles. Lieutenant Aldeniya had barely completed a year as a commissioned officer when the Tigers broke the ceasefire agreed with President Ranasinghe Premadasa and launched attacks all across the Northern and Eastern Provinces in the middle of 1990, announcing the outbreak of the Second Eelam War.
Based in Nuwara Eliya in the Central Highlands, Colonel Abey Weerakoon’s 3rd Sinha was ordered to the Northern Province as war broke out. A rifle company was sent to defend Mankulam in late May and a platoon of two officers and fifty-eight men of that company were detached to secure the nearby Rupavahini television relay station at Kokavil. Lieutenant Aldeniya was this platoon’s second-in-command, deemed too junior for the responsibility of command. On June 5th, Mankulam was attacked by the Tigers, but they were repulsed with heavy casualties, and by the 16th a temporary ceasefire was negotiated. By then, however, both Mankulam and Kokavil were surrounded by the Tigers. In spite of the danger of an imminent attack, the commander of the Kokavil detachment and fifteen men went on leave, leaving the 26-year-old Lieutenant Aldeniya in command of forty-three men. Shortly afterwards, the Tigers attacked and attempted to overrun the detachment.
Surrounded and outnumbered five to one, Aldeniya and his detachment held off the Tigers for fourteen days, and were running short of ammunition, medical supplies, food, and water. They had also taken a number of casualties. Reinforcements sent from Vavuniya to relieve Aldeniya’s detachment, couldn’t fight their way past the Tigers who held all the roads. By June 10th, the soldiers were down to 300 rounds of ammunition, and had only fifteen uninjured men. Resupply helicopters couldn’t get through the Tiger fire. In radio contact with his battalion commander, Aldeniya was ordered on June 11th to abandon the relay station and withdraw, but he was reluctant to leave behind his more seriously wounded men, who could not be moved. Ordering those who could walk to withdraw, Aldeniya elected to remain with the wounded. His last words to his CO, Colonel Weerakoon, before radio contact was lost at 23:45 hours were, “Don’t worry sir, I will fight till I die.” The Tigers then detonated an adjacent fuel dump and overran Aldeniya’s perimeter. He was 26 years old and married, and is listed as missing, believed killed. He was awarded the PWV four years later.
By late November 1995, Operation Riviresa (Sun Ray), the Sri Lankan military offensive to capture the city of Jaffna was at a very crucial stage, with the SL Army’s 53rd Division under Brigadier (later Major General) Janaka Perera on the outskirts of the city, three of its brigades – 531 Airmobile, 532 Infantry, and 534 Independent – pushing inwards, and the Tigers fighting desperately to keep them out. Being a coastal city on the edge of a peninsula surrounded by a maze of small islands, the Battle for Jaffna was also an amphibious one. In addition to the fighting for the city itself, SL Navy small boat units were tangling with Sea Tiger flotillas that were attempting to resupply and reinforce the Tigers in the city. SL Army infantry and Tiger units were also stationed on many of the small islands in an attempt to dominate the waters that the boats were using. One of these units was the 10th Gajabas, holding the island of Mandativu, just off Jaffna, to dominate both the Jaffna-Kayts causeway and the sea approaches to the city. Between the 10th Gajaba’s position and the city lay the tiny islet of Chiruthivu, manned by a small Tiger unit that was positioned to fire on the Gajabas and provide cover for Tiger boats resupplying Jaffna. The boats were operating by night, and as many as three-hundred sorties were run under cover of darkness, reinforcing and resupplying the Tigers in Jaffna. For the boat traffic to be stopped, Chiruthivu had to be taken and held.
Lieutenant Colonel N. A. J. C. Dias, commander of the 10th Gajabas, decided to send two sections to take Chiruthivu. Staff Sergeant Pasan Gunasekara, a veteran platoon sergeant with ten years of fighting under his belt, volunteered to lead the team. It was just three weeks after his 31st birthday. In the early hours of the 29th, Gunasekara and his sixteen men set off from Mandativu on small improvised rafts to cross the narrow channel to Chiruthivu. Landing at 02:00, they drove off the Tigers and secured the islet. Gunasekara then set up a fire base and engaged the Tiger boats with rifle, machine-gun, and RPG fire. For almost forty-eight hours, Gunasekara and his men exchanged heavy fire with the Sea Tiger boats and successfully stopped the seaborne resupply of Jaffna. His detachment was finally relieved at 21:00 on November 30th, but by then Pasan Gunasekara had died of wounds sustained in the firefight with the boats. On December 1st, the city fell to the 53rd Division. Gunasekara’s CO recommended him for the PWV, and it was awarded in 1998.
With the capture of Jaffna and the securing of the peninsula by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, the Tigers had lost their capital city, the symbolic heart of their struggle for Tamil independence. Forced to retreat into the Wanni jungles, the Tigers reverted once more to guerrilla warfare for the next half-year, rearming and retraining in preparation for a new offensive. They continued to operate at sea as well as from bases on the mainland, often attacking SL Navy convoys resupplying the Jaffna Peninsula. On March 30th 1996, the Sea Tigers attacked a south-bound SL Navy transport carrying troops home on leave, escorted by Dvora fast attack craft (FACS) of the 4th Fast Attack Flotilla. The Dvoras had fought off several nighttime attacks, trading casualties with the Sea Tigers, and had taken some damage to their own craft. One of these was P458, commanded by Lieutenant Jude Wijethunge, with a twelve-man crew. P458 had damage to its engines and was under tow.
When daylight arrived, the Sea Tigers tried a new tactic; they sent in two suicide boats escorted by Muraj gunboats, in two flanking attacks. As the northernmost attack came in, Lieutenant Wijethunge ordered his tow line dropped and turned into the Sea Tiger attack. Commanding his Dvora from its open bridge rather than the closed bridge radar station used for longer range engagements, Wijethunge intercepted the flanking maneuver and tried to destroy the suicide boat. Alone, and almost without engine power, several of its crew killed and badly wounded, P458 continued to fight, engaging the Muraj gunboats until it was rammed by the suicide boat and sunk. Only two of Jude Wijethunge’s crewmen survived to be picked up by the other Dvoras, and the skipper of P458 was not among them. He was the first sailor to receive the PWV.
As part of this guerrilla warfare, the Tigers launched a multitude of terrorist attacks across the country, including assassinations and a train bombing close to Colombo. One attempted assassination was of a cabinet minister, Nimal Siripala de Silva, the Minister of Housing and Public Utilities who, in his capacity as the chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Northern Rehabilitation, was visiting Jaffna in early July 1996.
On July 6th, Minister de Silva was having a busy morning in the Tamil capital; arriving at 09:00, he had conducted a discussion on the reconstruction of the City of Jaffna, damaged the previous year in the fighting to capture it from the Tigers, and had then helped hand out free books to students at a convent. He then headed to Stanley Road to officially open the new Building Materials Corporation outlet. After the ceremony, Minister de Silva left the building and walked to the Mitsubishi Pajero SUV that was to transport him to the Jaffna Kachcheri for talks with military and civil officers involved in rehabilitation work. With the minister was Brigadier Ananda Hamangoda, commander of the 512 Brigade that held Jaffna, Ranjit Godamudune, the chairman of Lanka Cement, and a police bodyguard, PC Banda. Brigadier Hamangoda was going to personally drive Minister de Silva to his next appointment, escorted by armed troops of the 51st Division’s Quick Reaction Team (QRT) mounted in Land Rovers and on motorcycles. A large crowd had gathered to watch the proceedings.
On one QRT bike was Lance Corporal W. I. M. Seneviratne of the 7th Light Infantry. A 28-year-old veteran, thrice wounded in combat, he had been seconded from his battalion to the division QRT after the capture of Jaffna. A son of Kurunegala paddy farmers, Seneviratne had almost ten years in the SL Army and had fought in two wars. On the pillion of his bike was Private Pushpakumara and they were stationed twenty metres behind the minister’s SUV, engine ticking over, ready to escort the convoy. Minister de Silva started to get into the front passenger seat of the SUV at 12:45, to take his place next to Brig. Hamangoda in the driving seat. At that moment, Lance Corporal Seneviratne noticed a young woman move out of the crowd and start to walk quickly towards the minister’s vehicle. She seemed to be pregnant, and was carrying two bags in her hands. Immediately deciding that she could be a suicide bomber, Seneviratne snapped a warning to Pushpakumara and gunned the big XT250 forward towards the woman. Cutting diagonally across the road, Seneviratne braked to a halt in front of the woman, placing his motorcycle between her and the SUV. A second later, the woman detonated the explosives strapped to her body, killing herself, Seneviratne, and Pushpakumara instantly, and sending the charred bodies of the two QRT riders and their mangled bike sprawling across Stanley Road. Being in the passenger seat on the left side of the Pajero, Minister de Silva was only slightly wounded in the face and forehead; but the others in the SUV, Brigadier Hamangoda, Ranjit Godamudune, and PC Banda were all killed. Along with them died 20 others, 11 of them civilians, and 59 more were wounded. Lance Corporal Seneviratne’s selfless act of literally shielding the minister with his own body and preventing the suicide bomber getting any closer undoubtedly contributed to Minister de Silva’s survival. He was recommended for the PWV by his CO, Lieutenant Colonel K. A. D. A. Karunasekara, and it was awarded two years later, in October 1998.
After almost eight months of preparations, the Tiger offensive finally came in July 1996, with a massive assault on the 215 Brigade HQ at Mullaitivu on the northeastern coast. In addition to the brigade staff and support arms, the base was held by two battalions of infantry – the 6th Vijayabahu Infantry and the 9th Sinha Rifles – a total strength of just over 1,400 men. The Tiger forces numbered approximately 4,000. And, just like at Kokavil and Elephant Pass, the base’s senior officers were not present. The brigade commander, Colonel (later Major General) Lawrence Fernando, and his second-in-command, Lieutenant Colonel Gunaratne were both in Colombo on leave. The base had no road link to any other garrisons in the area, and could only be resupplied by air or sea. In the early hours of 18th July, the Tigers launched Operation Oyatha Alaikal (Unceasing Waves) and, in eight hours of ferocious fighting overran the 6th Vijayabahu and 9th Sinha defence lines and destroyed most of the strong-points in the base complex. They then concentrated on assaulting the artillery positions and armouries within the base. The decimated SL Army infantry retreated into small enclaves and attempted to hold out until reinforcements arrived. Most of the Army resistance was centered around what was left of the Vijayabahu battalion HQ. It was now full daylight, and the Tiger unit commanders were ordered to regroup and wait for nightfall before renewing the assault.
Seaborne reinforcements on the Jaffna Peninsula which were to relieve 215 Brigade weren’t ready to embark, and it took the rest of the day to get them on board a merchant vessel that would transport them to a rendezvous with naval landing craft that would make the final assault on the Mullaitivu coast. A beachhead needed to be established first, however, at the designated landing beach, Alampil, five kilometers south of the besieged 215 Brigade. This objective was assigned to two squadrons of the 1st Special Forces, and the first wave of 137 elite soldiers were helicoptered in, led by their battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Fazly Lafir, a 37-year-old veteran special operations soldier and one of the founding members of the Special Forces. Lafir and the first wave of SF landed under heavy fire on the exposed beach. The pilots of the SLAF’s No. 6 Helicopter Squadron brought their Mi-17 transports suicidally close to the Tiger positions, one landing his SF “stick” practically on top of a Tiger 50-in heavy machine-gun, so close that the Tiger crew couldn’t bring their weapon to bear in time. Led by Fazly Lafir, who was by now in radio contact with 215 Brigade, the SF fought through the rest of the day and, after being reinforced by a second wave of SF at dusk, into the night to secure the beachhead, making repeated assaults on the Tiger positions that surrounded them, and losing thirty-six men killed and sixty wounded. Already shot several times, Lafir continued to lead his men until finally killed by shrapnel early on the 19th. At one point during the night, surrounded by battle and the continuous mortar fire of the Tigers, he was heard to say, “This is the most beautiful night of my life.” Lieutenant Colonel Fazly Lafir is the highest ranking member of the Armed Forces to receive the PWV.
By the next day, the Tigers had reinforced their positions at Alampil, and the helicopters could land no more troops. The Special Forces squadrons then fought on alone for two days to hold the beachhead until the landing craft could get in on the 21st. One Mi-17 was forced down by Tiger fire and SLNS Ranaviru, a Shanghai-class fast gun boat was sunk by a Sea Tiger suicide boat. Delayed by the Tigers at the beachhead, and by planning and logistical issues, the relief column didn’t reach Mullaitivu until July 23rd, by which time the base had fallen. 215 Brigade had been practically wiped out, with over 1,200 men killed, including at least 200 taken prisoner and subsequently murdered, and many killed in the act of surrendering.
After losing large bases like Pooneryn and Mullaitivu in 1995 and 1996, the Government of Sri Lanka needed to re-establish a main supply route from the south to the Jaffna Peninsula. Regular Tiger attacks and periodic bad weather on the sea and air routes had proven them too unreliable to sustain Jaffna. The most practical such supply route was the A9 Highway that connected central Sri Lanka to Jaffna, and in May 1997, the SL Army launched its biggest offensive, a multi-division thrust named Operation Jayasikurui (Victory Assured).
By December that year, the offensive had reached Mankulam, at the cost of heavy casualties. On the 4th, the elite 53rd Division, veterans of the Battle of Jaffna, pushed north of Mankulam in a pincer movement out of which most of the Tiger units quickly withdrew. Before the division could consolidate, however, they were hit by a massive Tiger artillery bombardment that was obviously preparatory fire before a counterattack. The enemy artillery had to be taken out, and the 2nd Commandos were sent in. Leading one squadron-sized group was Captain G. S. Jayanath. The artillery positions that were his objective however proved to be a fake, and when Jayanath’s group assaulted it, the waiting Tigers sprang a massive ambush, pinning the commandos down. Under heavy machine-gun, rocket, and mortar fire, and taking casualties, Jayanath led a team of volunteers forward in an attempt to draw the Tiger fire and allow the remainder of his men to escape. In spite of his efforts, Jayanath’s group had taken too many casualties to break out with their wounded, and the captain ordered them to form a perimeter in the thick jungle while the Tigers kept up a continuous fire on them, periodically assaulting Jayanath’s perimeter in an effort to overrun his lines. In radio contact with his commanding officer, Jayanath said that he believed he could hold his position until reinforcements arrived.
This proved no easy task, however, and the reinforcing troops, fighting their way through to Jayanath were faced with heavy Tiger resistance and began to take too many casualties themselves. Jayanath was told that he couldn’t be reinforced and told to break out with his men and withdraw. Knowing that this would mean abandoning his wounded, Jayanath, like Lieutenant Aldeniya at Kokavil and Lieutenant Nissanka at Pooneryn, refused. His CO heard him say that he wouldn’t leave as long as there was even a single one of his men left alive to take his orders. He also said that he was determined not to surrender, and would hold his position as long as he could. The Tiger assaults were too strong, however, and eventually Jayanath was hit in the head and killed, his group overrun and destroyed almost to a man. For his courage in refusing to abandon his wounded, and for leading by example until he was killed, Captain Jayanath was awarded the PWV, and remains the only commando to have received the medal to date.
To be continued next week