28th January is the birth anniversary of Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa – the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army.
He was appointed as the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army on 15 January 1949.
As a token of gratitude for the exemplary service rendered by him to the nation, the Government of India conferred the rank of Field Marshal on Cariappa in his 87th year, on 14 January 1986. He is among only two Indian Army officers to hold the highest rank of Field Marshal (the other being Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw).
His association with the Indian Army is spread over an unbroken period of more than 29 years, during which he had wide experience of staff and command work. After his retirement from Indian Army in 1953, he served as the High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand till 1956.
Cariappa took active part in the reorganization of armed forces in many foreign countries. He was a much traveled man and visited parts of China, Japan, United States, Great Britain, Canada and most of the European countries. He was conferred with ‘Order of the Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit‘ by US President, Harry S. Truman.
Interesting incident – Field Marshal Cariappa
During the 1965 war, his son K C Cariappa, an Indian Air Force pilot who went on to become Air Marshall, was shot down over Pakistan by Army officer Major Zaidi. He was captured and imprisoned as a POW by him. On realizing the identity of the wounded soldier at Dargil, Radio Pakistan immediately announced the safe capture of Flt. Lt K.C.Cariappa. Gen Ayub Khan, himself contacted Field Marshal Cariappa, who was living a retired life at Mercara, his hometown, with information about his son’s safety. When Gen. Khan offered to release his son immediately, Field Marshal is reported to have scoffed at the idea and told him to give his son no better treatment than any other POW. “He is my son no longer.” the old Soldier is reported to have thundered. “He is the child of this country, a soldier fighting for his motherland like a true patriot. My many thanks for your kind gesture, but I request you to release all or release none. Give him no special treatment,” the Field Marshal is reported to have said.
The 115th birth anniversary of Field Marshal K M Cariappa, will be observed at the Bangalore Kodava Samaj on Tuesday. Major general Dr K M Bheemaiah will be the chief guest.
Some quotes by Field Marshal K.M Cariappa:
An insight that placed him above many in this field:
In modern warfare, a large army is not sufficient, it needs industrial potential behind it. If the army is the first line of defence, the industry is the second.
Soldiers know the facility of wars to solve the internal problems. We ought to be ashamed that today they had more peace in war than peace in peace.
Army is there to serve the Government of the day, and we should make sure that it does not get mixed up with party politics. A soldier is above politics and should not believe in caste or creed
And he lived what he always said:
I am an Indian and to the last breath would remain an Indian. To me there is only two Stans – Hindustan and Foujistan.