Sri Lanka Light Infantry

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(Redirected from Ceylon Light Infantry)
Sri Lanka Light Infantry
SLLI Crest.gif
Cap badge of the Sri Lanka Light Infantry
Active1 April 1881 – Present
CountrySri Lanka
BranchSri Lanka Army
TypeLight Infantry
RoleInfantry/Light Role
Size15 regular battalions,
8 volunteer battalions,1 RFT battalion
Regimental HeadquartersPanagoda Cantonment, Panagoda.
Motto(s)"Ich Dien" German – (I serve).
ColorsRed and Blue
March"I am Ninety Five"
Anniversaries1 April
EngagementsSecond Boer War
World War I
World War II
1971 Insurrection
Insurrection 1987-89
Sri Lankan Civil War
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
Decorations4 Parama Weera Vibhushanaya
Colonel of
the Regiment
Maj Gen HMJK Gunaratne WWV RWP RSP ndc psc
Gen. Sir John Kotelawala, KBE, CH
"LIGHT INFANTRY" shoulder tab

The Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) is the oldest regiment in the Sri Lanka Army and the oldest infantry regiment in the army. It is made up of ten regular battalions and five volunteer battalions, and is headquartered at the Panagoda Cantonment, Panagoda. Over the years it has become the most distinguished and dependable regiment in the army.[citation needed]


The regiment's origins can be traced back to the formation of the Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers (CLIV) force which was formed on 1 April 1881 by a proclamation issued by the Governor of Ceylon as a reserve unit in Ceylon. The first commanding officer of the force was Lieutenant Colonel John Scott Armitage and the Colonel of the Regiment was Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales. The regiment's current Regimental March I am Ninety Five and the Regimental Bugle Call were adopted soon after this. In the same year, the Prince of Wales accepted the Honorary Colonelcy of the Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers, and the unit adopted his crest and motto as its badge. In 1892, a mounted infantry company was formed and later it became a regiment of its own by the name of the Ceylon Mounted Rifles.[citation needed]

The Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteer force troops were sent to South Africa in 1900, where they took part in the Second Boer War. As a result of their service, the force was awarded a Banner from the Duke of York. In 1902, King Edward VII became the Colonel-in-Chief.[citation needed]

In 1910, after the formation of the Ceylon Defence Force, the CLIV became a part of it and was renamed the Ceylon Light Infantry. With the outbreak of World War II, CLI was mobilized and consisted of two battalions and was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel John Kotelawala. The CLI soon expanded and was deployed for home defense and overseas in the Seychelles and the Cocos Islands. The third battalion was raised in 1941, a fourth battalion in late 1942, and a fifth battalion in April 1943. One battalion each was deployed at Colombo, Kandy and Trincomalee, with the fourth battalion under training and one battalion reserved for special duties. Soon after the war a regular element of the regiment was formed to take up garrison duties in Ceylon. This unit was named the Mobilised Detachment of Ceylon Light Infantry (Mob. Det., CLI).[1]

First Prime Minister of Independent Sri Lanka Hon. D.S.Senanayaka visiting the 1st battalion of the CLI at the Echelon Square and watching volunteers being trained to handle light machine guns.

Ceylon gained its independence from Britain in 1948 and after the Army Act of 1949 was passed the CLI became the Ceylon Infantry Regiment and came under the newly formed Ceylon Army. In 1950, the regiment was reorganized, with two battalions being formed: the 1st Battalion, The Ceylon Light Infantry, became a regular unit and the Volunteer Battalion was re-designated as the 2nd (Volunteer) Battalion, Ceylon Light Infantry.[citation needed]

The regiment was deployed for counter insurgency operations during the 1971 Insurrection and in 1972, when Sri Lanka became a republic, the regiment changed its name to Sri Lanka Light Infantry. Since the early 1980s units of the regiment have been deployed to the northern parts of the island. After being deployed, a patrol from the 1st Battalion's 'C' Company – designated Four Four Bravo – was ambushed, marking the beginning of the Sri Lanka civil war. Since then the SLLI has been deployed on combat operations throughout the island and has expanded a total of 15 battalions.[citation needed]

The regiment also took part in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti in 2003.[2][3]

Regimental colours[edit]

The regimental colours were awarded in 1921 and on 22 March 1922 the Ceylon Light Infantry was awarded with the King's and the Regimental Colours. When the regular 1st Battalion was formed in 1949, HM Queen Elizabeth II presented the new colours to the battalion. The Queens and Regimental Colours were presented to the 1st Battalion on 21 April 1954. With the declaration of the Republic of Sri Lanka, the colours were laid to rest within the regimental museum on 29 June 1974.[4] On 10 October 1978, H.E. President J.R. Jayawardena awarded President's and Regimental Colours to both the 1st and 2nd Battalions.[citation needed]

Regimental insignia[edit]

In the early stages of the regiment's history, from March 1881 to 28 November 1881, the volunteer corps used an elephant and a coconut tree as their emblem.[5] With the declaration of the Republic of Sri Lanka the regiment's 1st and 2nd Battalions decided to retain as much of the configuration and pattern of the badge as possible, although a new insignia was introduced consisting of a silver bugle horn bound in brass to represent the regiment's role as a light infantry unit, and three paddy sheaves to signify prosperity. It also retained the motto of the Prince of Wales ICH DIEN, which was adopted as the motto of the regiment in its translated form I SERVE.[5]


Regular battalions[edit]

  • 1st Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 1950)
  • 3rd Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 16 December 1985 at Thissawewa camp Anuradhapura, later re-designated as the 1st Mechanized Infantry Regiment)
  • 4th Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 5 May 1987 at Monkey Bridge camp Trincomalee)
  • 6th Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 8 June 1990 at Panagoda Cantonment)
  • 7th Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 20 November 1992 at Mandative)
  • 8th Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 16 January 1993)
  • 10th Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 23 January 1994 at Mathagal and disbanded 1999. reformed 5 May 2001)
  • 11th Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 25 June 2007)
  • 12th Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 3 December 2007)
  • 15th Sri Lanka Light Infantry
  • 19th Sri Lanka Light Infantry
  • 20th Sri Lanka Light Infantry
  • 23rd Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 23 July 2009)
  • 24th Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 25 September 2009)
  • 25th Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 20 September 2010)
  • 26th Sri Lanka Light Infantry (formed on 20 September 2010)
  • RHQ Battalion Sri Lanka Light Infantry (RFT) (Formed on 23 October 1989 at Panagoda Cantonment)

Volunteer battalions[edit]

  • 2nd (V) Sri Lanka Light Infantry (Formed on 1 April 1881)
  • 5th (V) Sri Lanka Light Infantry (Formed on 15 August 1987 from disbanded 7 (V) SLAC)
  • 9th (V) Sri Lanka Light Infantry (Formed on 1 November 1993 at Milady South)
  • 14th (V) Sri Lanka Light Infantry (Formed on 31 December 1996 at Kayts)
  • 16th (V) Sri Lanka Light Infantry (Formed on 1 December 2007)
  • 17th (V) Sri Lanka Light Infantry (Formed on 30 March 2008)
  • 18th (V) Sri Lanka Light Infantry (Formed on 1 January 2009 at Kelanimulla Camp and disbanded on 29 July 2018)
  • 21st (V) Sri Lanka Light Infantry (Formed on 16 March 2009 and disbanded on 29 July 2018)
  • 22nd (V) Sri Lanka Light Infantry (Formed on 14 January 2009 and disbanded on 30 March 2012)


Recipients of the Parama Weera Vibhushanaya[edit]

Recipients of the Weera Wickrama Vibhushanaya[edit]

Honorary Colonels[edit]

Notable members[edit]

Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by Order of Precedence Succeeded by


  1. ^ "Britain's strategic base in Ceylon World War II". Island. Retrieved 16 May 2020.
  2. ^ Sri Lanka Light Infantry Archived 2006-07-08 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Haiti – MINUSTAH – Facts and Figures, United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
  6. ^ Major General Lakshman 'Lucky' Wijayaratne
  7. ^ COLONEL OF THE REGIMENT Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine

External links and sources[edit]