Thilina Guluwita (1990-2003)
The following is reproduced from a very passionately written detailed account of the Herman Loos championship win by the Kingswood Cadets in 2003. Our initial thought was to summarize this long article, but we felt that it would only take away the precision and discipline in detail the writer banks on. The original article, with many memorable photographs can be found at TD Guluwita Hermann Loos article .
Kingswood’s records in All-Island Boys’ Cadet competition also known as the “Herman-Loos” trophy were unbreakable; since they won the inaugural championship in 1917 and then went on to score a triple championship for the years 1919,1920 and 1921. But ever since, Kingswood cadets were unable to recreate the history of the 1917 – 1921 era for nearly a century even though they got selected for the championship tournament several times getting through the battalion championship.”Herman-Loos” trophy competition as I’ve known was a competition between 26 NCC (National Cadet Corps) battalions in the country each represented by two Boys’ cadet platoons which makes it a competition between 52 schools altogether. Now it has expanded to Navy, Air force and Police counterparts since about a decade ago.
Year 2001 was a milestone in Kingswood Cadet history marking it’s centenary year since they started a cadet platoon in the College back in 1901. Kingswood had the celebrations for its 100 years of cadetting with the blessings of a Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Asanka Darshana Bandara Dambakotuwa promoting himself to the highest NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) rank in the cadet corps (Who eventually won the Best Student prize in the year 2001 Annual Prize Giving).
Soon after the centenary celebrations in year 2002 Kingswood won the battalion championship advancing to the Herman-Loos championship under the leadership of Sergeant S. N. Rathnayake (Salinda Nuwan) and the guidance of Captain Sanath Weerasekara having great preparations throughout the year.
The platoon comprised of several promising cadets including Senior Corporal Janaka Attanayake, Nafsat Mulafar, Lance Corporal D.S.P. Gamage (late). However, Kingswood had to to be consent with the 6th place. The irony of this competition is any place other than the first place (even 2nd) was considered as last. And the champion platoon also addressed as the “President’s Platoon” (ජනාධිපති ශිෂ්යභට ඛණ්ඩය) will be considered as a platoon of 25 Sergeants among the cadetting community.
Having lost the morale in year 2002, the newly promoted leader of the 2003 platoon, Sergeant Janaka Bandara Attanayake once again lead the platoon to 1st place in the 2NCC battalion competition putting St. Anthony’s College in 2nd place; both platoons advancing to the Herman-Loos championship competition in February/March 2003. Sergeant Salinda Rathnayake was promoted to the rank of Command Sergeant Major (CSM); the 2nd highest NCO rank in cadet corps.
This is where I come in to the picture. I used to advise and shout at both Salinda and Janaka during our O/L classes as the class monitor for missing classes due to continuous practicing. On the verge of our A/L examinations, on fine sunny day in March 2003, I met CSM Ratnayake (Salinda) and Sgt Attanayake (Janaka) in the famous private tuition class “Sudharamaramaya” and asked me whether I would like to be a part of the “Herman-Loos” cadet platoon mainly focusing on the “Director’s Test” which comprises mostly of academic and General Knowledge related parts of the competition. Since I was going to be free after the examinations in April, I gave a green light opening the possibilities of being part of one of the senior cadet platoon which was a complete new experience for me.
After going through one of the crucial 3 weeks of A/L stressful examinations, I was asked to come for practices starting from May 2003. Then came the toughest period of my lifetime with 5-6 hours of drill, PT practices under the scorching sun, early morning running from Kingswood College to Katukele and back shouting “One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven… All good soldiers Go to heaven” without breaking ranks, passing all the girls schools around 7.00am, spending nights revising what we learnt, testing each other’s memory and educating them about the latest news and world events to ensure all the 25 members of the platoon are up to date.
August 9th marked the day for releasing our A/L results which secured a University Entry for me but still had two more months of hard work left for the competition. There were times I had 2nd thoughts about committing to this massive task and even had several discussions with my classmate Sergeant Attanayake who always encouraged and supported me in these difficult times. Capt. Sanath Weerasekara couldn’t spend a lot of time with the platoon over these 5 months due to his commitment as the commander of Youth Corps in Rantembe. But he was able to join our crucial activities like firing practices, 3 day camping at Pallakele Rifle Corps grounds and final drill practice sessions at Gannoruwa Army Engineering Regiment grounds. And for the 1st time in my life, I was playing the lead role (or any role for that matter) in the cadet drama which was also a part of the competition as a Judge who was supposed to give a verdict on a conflict between a human (ඥානරත්න) and wild animals lead by the Tusker (හඳපානාගල සද්දන්ත).
We left the school for the ultimate competition on the dawn of 6th October 2003. We reached the Rantembe Training Center grounds around 8am. We walked over the threshold of the camp entrance putting our right foot as a symbol of good luck. We registered the platoon and got number 21 as the draw number which also happened to be my rank number out of the 25 members of the platoon. We were given a billet on the far right side of the camp and started cleaning and painting it for the inspections starting the very next day. I was able to have the very first experience performing Mess Duty where 2-3 cadets had to arrange the meal tables for the entire platoon.
7th October 2003
I remained in the billet to perform billet inspection duty on the very first day of the competition when the rest was taking part in the Drill competition which turned out to be of better performance than last year.
8th October 2003
Firing competitions were held in the morning and 17 Cadets including Sgt. Attanayake, Cpl Gamage and myself were able to score 5/5 perfect scores. In total Kingswood scored 101/125 being the best platoon in the firing competition.
9th October 2003
The most important day of the competition. The day of the Director’s test. 6 teams were deployed in to the grounds each having 4 members to be sent to take part in 6 different question panels. Since we couldn’t get up until Capt. Weerasekara banged the front doors shouting at everyone after 1 hour we were supposed to get up, breakfast was cancelled including the morning tea. Lunch was only provided after all the tests were over by 3.30pm where we were lying under trees singing few songs which only the four of us could hear.
10th October 2003
P.T. competition was held which required the entire platoon had to perform 6 exercises in synchronism. I shot myself up once when all the others were in squatting position losing few marks for the team. In the evening we staged our drama which eventually placed us 2nd behind St. Anthony’s College.
11th October 2003
It was the day for the Confidence Course (or commonly known as the Assault Course) which tested the fitness and endurance levels of the platoon members. We started off crouching and sprinting under a bunker for 10-15 meters, ran for like 100m and climbed a ladder to walk on a wire tighten between two trees about 5m higher from the ground level and get down, then run further to climb a 5m high steel structure and get down from the other side, run for about 300 meters through few obstacles then going through a monkey ladder where we have to hang by our hands to reach the end, then jump off a wall with the help of Sgt. Attanayake who was pushing us over the obstacle staying at the bottom. Then there was some further sprinting and we had to jump over a pit with the help of a hanging rope (Tarzan Rope) and reach our finishing line sprinting through the parade ground.
I was running at 9th place when I jumped over the pit hanging on to that rope but the image of the parade ground pumped a lot of adrenaline in to my blood and in a few seconds time, I started running like Usain Bolt in 100m sprint to pass Cpl. Hasitha Thalawatura and Cpl. Niranjaya Chandrasena to the finish line who were still in the middle of the ground when I dropped spread eagle with the 5 others who already finished it. Everyone finished within the given time frame and when we were marching back to the billet all alone through the graveled path and suddenly out of nowhere came a few hundreds of bright yellow butterflies who flew across our ranks, someone shouted “those are the 1917 platoon members who sensed our victory this time”. Like he said on the very same day during the first parade practice session in the Rantembe NCC Parade grounds around 1830hrs it was announced that Kingswood College has won the “Herman-Loos” championship for year 2003. Bandaranaike College, Gampaha came in at 2nd place with Royal College, Colombo in 3rd place. We have won the 1st place in Director’s Test, 2nd place in the drama competition and the best-marksman award by Cdt. SP Gunathilake. It was one of the happiest days of my life having won the Championship for our school after a very long period of 82 years since 1921. It was the first ever day I cried in happiness and everyone was hugging and crying on each others shoulders expressing their gratitude and unity as a platoon.
The next few days went on with less stress and pressure where the passing out parade preparations were taken place and on the 15th of October 2003, the ceremonial passing out parade of the “Herman-Loos & De Soyza (Girls’ competition)” took place. We were stationed at the edge of the ground before the parade and we were greeted by our CSM Salinda Rathnayake and some senior cadets, Senior Prefect Viduranga Nathawitharana, who traveled all the way from Kandy to witness this historic moment. When the 2NCC Adjutant Capt. M.L.G. Pinto shouted “ජනාධිපති ඛණ්ඩය…වමින් පෙළ…. ගමනේ… යා….!!!” I had goosebumps and hair was rising in the back of my neck with all the excitement and victorious thoughts.
Dr. Karunasena Kodithuwakku (Minister of Education) was the Chief guest of the ceremony and the “Herman-Loos” trophy was handed over to Capt. Sanath Weerasekara and Sgt. Attanayake after decorating our uniforms with the Silver Championship medal on our chests and commemorating the Kingswood Cadets Platoon as the “President’s Cadet Platoon”. The competition was concluded with the passing out of Cadets in the midst of the traditional “Auld Lang Syne” tune. This victory enabled me to receive school colors which filled a void in my extra-curricular activities.
These five months have taught me very good lessons about stamina, team work, endurance and discipline which helped me in lot of difficult situations in the next few years in the University, Industry and the future ahead. I can never forget the Cadet life even though it was only 5 months for me and 2003 Herman-Loos camp was my first and last of such adventures.
With the strength, support and encouragement of the “2003 President Platoon” Kingswood went on to win the championship in years 2005, 2006 and 2011 being the most recent.
2003 President’s Cadet Platoon Members
Captain Sanath Weerasekara – Platoon Officer
- Sgt. Attanayake AMJB – Platoon Leader
- Cpl. Gamage DSP
- Cpl. Thalawathura HD
- Cpl Chandrasena NK
- L.Cpl Amarathunga ME
- L.Cpl Chandrasena WADS
- Cdt. Mahakumarage G
- Cdt. Warakaulla MP
- Cdt. Mulafar MZ
- Cdt. Nugaliyadda JB
- Cdt. Jayawardane JR
- Cdt. Wasantha Bandara
- Cdt. Attanayake B
- Cdt. Pilapitiya DH
- Cdt. Ruwan AGA
- Cdt. Gunawardane I
- Cdt. Rathnayake DB
- Cdt. Gunathilake SP
- Cdt. Herath CJ
- Cdt. Fahad M
- Cdt. Guluwita TD
- Cdt. Hettiarachchi CSJK
- Cdt. Bandara N
- Cdt. Amarakoon R
- Cdt. Supun Nilanga
Special thanks to Gihan Mahakumarage (Platoon Sgt. of 2006 President’s Platoon) for filling in me with the names I missed.
Cdt. Guluwita TD (President’s Cadet Platoon 2003)
B8197 – NCC Sri Lanka