Denzil Kobbekaduwa

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Denzil Lakshman Kobbekaduwa
Denzil Kobbekaduwa.jpg
Lieutenant General Denzil Kobbekaduwa
Born (1940-07-27)27 July 1940
Kandy
Died 8 August 1992(1992-08-08) (aged 52) 
Allegiance Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
Service/branch Sri Lanka Army
Years of service 1960-1992
Rank Lieutenant General
Unit Sri Lanka Armoured Corps
Commands held Overall Operations Commander, Northern Sector,
GOC 2 Division
Battles/wars 1971 Insurrection, Sri Lankan Civil War
Awards Rana Wickrama Padakkama,
Rana Sura Padakkama,
Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya,
Uttama Seva Padakkama

Lieutenant General Denzil Lakshman Kobbekaduwa RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, rcds, psc, SLAC (In Sinhalese: ලුතිනන් ජෙනරාල් ඩෙන්සිල් ලක්ෂ්මණ් කොබ්බෑකඩුව) (July 27, 1940 – August 8, 1992) was a General in the Sri Lankan Army who fought in the Sri Lankan Civil War. He died in 1992 when his vehicle hit a land-mine, along with 9 other military officers.

Early life[edit]

Born in Kandy, the second child and eldest of three sons, Kobbekaduwa was educated at Trinity College Kandy. He played rugby football for Sri Lanka, and coached, refereed and administered the game on a national level. He was also a board member of the Duncan White Sports Foundation.

Military career[edit]

Kobbekaduwa joined the army in May 1960 and received his training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, England. After returning to Sri Lanka, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Reconnaissance Regiment of the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps. Kobbekaduwa was promoted swiftly. In 1977 and 1965 he was sent on compulsory leave following an attempted coup d'état but returned to active service in 1970. Kobbekaduwa was a graduate of Royal College of Defence Studies and the British Army Staff College at Camberley. He was promoted to Major General in 1990 and was posthumously promoted to Lieutenant General in 1992.

Military operations[edit]

Operation Liberation[edit]

"Operation Liberation" also known as the "Vadamarachchi Operation" was an offensive of the Sri Lankan military in May and June 1987 aiming to take the territory of Vadamarachchi in the Jaffna peninsula from LTTE (Tamil Tiger) control. This offensive was the first military engagement on Sri Lankan soil since British colonial rule.

Brigadier Denzil Kobbekaduwa and Colonel Vijaya Wimalaratne led the operation. Major Gotabaya Rajapaksa, later Secretary of Defence in President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government was also active in this engagement.

The offensive started on May 26, 1987 with around 8,000 troops from Gemunu Watch and the Gajaba Regiment, supported by the Sri Lanka Air Force. LTTE forces destroyed the bridge at Thondaimanaru to slow army progress towards Valvettithurai, the town of LTTE leader Prabhakaran's birth. On May 28 army troops captured Udupiddy, Valvettithurai and Nelliady. By the end of the first week of June, the army had gained control over the entire zone and captured a large cache of arms left by the LTTE.

President J.R Jayewardene and Minister of National Security Lalith Athulathmudali had political responsibility for the operation and terminated it following Operation Poomalai, the Indian air force's show of strength, in which it dropped supplies over Jaffna for the besieged Tamil Tigers on 4 June 1987, leading to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.

Operation Balavegaya[edit]

(L-R) Brig. Vijaya Wimalaratne, Commander of the army Lt.Gen. Cecil Widyarethne, Commander of the Navy Vice Admiral Clancy Fernando and Maj.Gen. Kobbekaduwa during the "Balavegaya 2".
Main article: Operation Balavegaya

Lt. General Kobbekaduwa commanded the Sri Lankan military forces that broke the siege of Elephant Pass in 1991, after the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) under Prabhakaran attacked the Sri Lankan army camp at Elephant Pass (also known as Alimankada). The LTTE attack in July 1991 was named "Operation Charles Anthony" in memory of Charles Lucas Anthony a senior LTTE commander killed in 1983.

Prabhakaran visited the LTTE forward areas prior to launching the attack. Civilians were co-opted to man supply lines and hospitals and provide other services with all available transport being requisitioned and hundreds of coffins being stockpiled in readiness for the operation. The attack was launched with about 3,000 people from the North and East of Sri Lanka rising to about 6,000. The LTTE leader directed the attack from his hideout in Chavakachcheri.

The battle plans for Operation Balavegaya were drawn up at Joint Operations headquarters in Colombo. 8,000 troops were deployed for the rescue mission to relieve the besieged camp and regain territory captured by the LTTE. This was an amphibious operation using landing craft and helicopters to transport the soldiers.

During the operation the intensity of LTTE resistance led some battalion commanders to consider aborting the operation temporarily, however Kobbekaduwa and Brigadier Vijaya Wimalaratne decided it should proceed. The task-force established a beachhead at Veralakuruna (Vettilaikkerni).[1]

In the Adampan (Attampana) operation the Sri Lankan armed forces waged a two prong attack: one around the south-eastern entrance of Madhu Adampan base while the main attack took place in the north west. The army managed to disrupt LTTE supply lines in the area where the Mannar coast was linked to the Wanni jungle base.

Death[edit]

Lieutenant General Denzil Kobbekaduwa Memorial

On August 8, 1992 Maj. General Kobbekaduwa, General Officer Commanding Northern Sector, Brigadier (posthumously Major General) Vijaya Wimalaratne, Jaffna Brigade Commander 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. Seven others were killed in the explosion, including Lt. Colonels G.H. Ariyaratne, A. Palipahana, H.R. Stephen, all three battalion commanders, Lieutenant Commander Asanga Lankathilaka, Lieutenant Commander C.B Wijepura [2] and Major N.S. De Alwis, General Kobbekaduwa's ADC.[3]

They were returning to a helicopter pick-up point after reconnoitering an area whilst planning an offensive code-named "Operation Final Countdown" when the Land Rover jeep in which the three officers were traveling hit a land-mine.

An explosion was heard by Major Rupasinghe and Major Induruwa who were 400 yards away from the incident. They found that all except two severely wounded persons had died instantaneously.

Lali Kobbekaduwa, wife of one of the deceased officers, called for an international commission into the incident.[4] This was not granted, but the Sri Lankan Government set up their own commission to investigate.

A Presidential Commission carried out by the Sri Lankan Government concluded that the President Ranasinghe Premadasa as well as members of the Sri Lankan Army such as Major W A N M Weerasinghe were "directly responsible" for his death.[5]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]