A truly Exemplary Officer and Gentleman | Daily News
Major General Y. Balaretnarajah VSV, USP, ndc (Retd.)

A truly Exemplary Officer and Gentleman

A smart young schoolboy with his early education at both Jaffna College Vaddukoddai, and St. John’s Jaffna, decided to embark on a career with the Army in 1959 at age twenty.

Yogendra Balaretnarajah, by then had a earned himself the nickname “Gulliver” from his schoolmates for his awesome stature, and was soon on his way to England to join a two year residential training programme for officer cadets at the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, that produced some truly outstanding men for the Army.

“Gulliver” was no exception, as he graduated at the top of the batch of intake 28. Upon return from Sandhurst he was posted to the Sri Lanka Armoured Corp as troop leader, and subsequently Squadron Commander with the rank of Major.

As Lt. Colonel, he was Deputy Commandant of the Army Training Centre in Diyatalawa, and watched with pride as some of the young cadets moved to Command the Army.

After heading the Logistics Command as Director Logistics when elevated to Colonel, on his next promotion as Brigadier he raised and commanded the Armoured Brigade, 24 and 21 Brigades, before being appointed Commander of the Security Forces - Jaffna in 1989.

He was promoted to the rank of Major General at age 50 and appointed as General Officer Commanding the Army’s 1 Division and was the Regimental Commander of the Sri Lanka Armoured Corp as well. Thereafter he was appointed to follow the Senior Officers’ Defense Course, a one year programme at the prestigious National Defence College in New Delhi, India and on his return was appointed Commandant of Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Forces. Thereafter he was appointed as the Army’s Chief of Staff prior to his retirement in 1992. He was awarded the VSV (Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya) for unstinted and exemplary service as well.

His family life was hugely rewarding with a devoted wife in my sister Sarojini, (predeceased him in 2014) who was also an outstanding mother to their three gifted children, Anusha, Arjuna and Brahman, all of whom gave him a great deal of happiness at home.

The extended family will remain proud of the Major General, who not only loved and respected the Army, but also upheld the values of the Institution that he served with impeccable integrity and commitment at all times.

A truly Exemplary Officer and Gentleman, is now at Peaceful Rest.

- S. Skandakumar

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