Kodandera Madappa Cariappa

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Field Marshal
Kodandera Madappa Cariappa
ಫೀಲ್ಡ್ ಮಾರ್ಷಲ್ ಕೊಡಂದೆರ ಮಾದಪ್ಪ ಕಾರಿಯಪ್ಪ
Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa
First Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army
Commander-in-Chief, Indian Army
In office
16 January 1949 – 14 January 1953
Preceded by General Sir Francis Robert Roy Bucher
Succeeded by General Maharaj Shri Rajendrasinhji Jadeja
4th High Commissioner of India to Australia and New Zealand
In office
President Rajendra Prasad
Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru
Vice President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
Preceded by M.S. Duleepsinghji
Succeeded by K.R. P. Singh
Personal details
Born (1899-01-28)28 January 1899[1][2]
Sanivarsanthe, Coorg Province, British India
Died 15 May 1993(1993-05-15) (aged 94)
Bangalore, Karnataka
Awards Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.png Order of the British Empire
US Legion of Merit Chief Commander ribbon.png Legion of Merit
Military service
Nickname(s) Kipper
Allegiance  British India
Service/branch  British Indian Army
 Indian Army
Years of service 1919–1953, 1986-1993[3]
Rank Field Marshal of the Indian Army.svg Field Marshal
Unit 20pxRajput Regiment
Commands Commander-in-Chief, Indian Army
IA Western Command.jpgWestern Army (then called 'Delhi and East Punjab Command')
IA Eastern Command.jpgEastern Army
20px17 Rajput (then called '7th Rajput Machine Gun Battalion')
Battles/wars World War II
Indo-Pakistani War of 1947

Field Marshal Kodandera "Kipper" Madappa Cariappa OBE (28 January 1899 – 15 May 1993) was the First Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army and led the Indian forces on the Western Front during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1947.

He is one of the two Indian Army officers to hold the highest rank of Field Marshal (the other being Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw). His distinguished military career spanned almost three decades, at the highest point of which, he was appointed as the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Military in 1949.

Early life and education

Cariappa was born at Shanivarsante in Kodagu (Coorg) in the erstwhile State of Coorg, which was at that time a self-governing princely state of India, which is currently in Karnataka.

Cariappa was known as "Chimma" to his relatives. He had his formal education in the Central High School at Madikeri, after which he pursued his college education at Presidency College, Chennai. Here he grew up equally attached to books and plays under the guidance of renowned academicians. He was an active sportsman, who played games such as hockey and tennis with vigour and brilliance. In addition to this, he loved music - and had a fondness for a sleight of hand tricks, too.

Military career

After World War I concluded in 1918, Indian politicians at that time raised a demand to grant Indians the King's Commission. After strict screening, Cariappa was selected for the first batch that underwent rigorous pre-commission training. In 1919, he joined the first batch of KCIOs (King's Commissioned Indian Officers) at The Daly College at Indore and was commissioned into the Carnatic Infantry at Bombay as a Temporary Second Lieutenant. He was promoted to Temporary Lieutenant in 1921 (retroactive to 1920).[4] In 1922, he received his permanent commission as a Second Lieutenant(retroactive to 1919).[5] Muhammad Ayub Khan, who graduated with him, is sometimes confused with the future ruler who ruled from 1958-69 but was really a minor officer from Scinde Horse.[5] Cariappa was promoted to Lieutenant in 1923.[6]

In 1927, Cariappa was promoted to Captain,[7] but the appointment was not officially gazetted until 1931.[8] He saw active service with the 37 (Prince of Wales) Dogra in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and was later posted to the 2nd Queen Victoria's Own Rajput Light Infantry, which became his permanent regimental home. He was the first Indian officer to undergo the course at Staff College, Quetta in 1933. He was promoted to Major in 1938.[9] The following year, he was appointed a Staff Captain.[10]

Cariappa served in Iraq, Syria and Iran from 1941–1942 and then in Burma in 1943-1944. He spent many of his soldiering years in Waziristan. He earned his 'Mentioned in Despatches' as DAA and QMG of General (later Field Marshal) Slim's 10th Division. He was the first Indian Officer to be given command of a unit in 1942.[clarification needed] By 1944, Cariappa was a Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel. After command he volunteered to serve in 26 Division engaged in clearing the Japanese from Burma, where he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Cariappa was promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant-colonel on 17 July 1946.[11] The same year, he was promoted to Brigadier of the Frontier Brigade Group. It was during this time that Colonel Ayub Khan - later Field Marshal and President of Pakistan, 1962-1969 - served under him. In 1947, Cariappa was the first Indian who was selected to undergo a training course at Imperial Defence College, Camberly, UK on the higher directions of war. During the traumatic period of partition, he handled the division of the Indian Army and sharing of its assets between Pakistan and India, in a most amicable, just and orderly manner. He was then the Indian officer in charge of overseeing the transition.

Post-Independence, Cariappa was appointed as the Deputy Chief of the General Staff with the rank of Major General. On promotion to Lieutenant General he became the Eastern Army Commander. On outbreak of war with Pakistan in 1947, he was moved as General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command and directed operations for the recapture of Zojila, Drass and Kargil and re-established a linkup with Leh. In all this, he showed tremendous energy in moving troops, against considerable odds. This ensured his elevation to the supreme post of Commander-in-Chief. He had two officers senior to him — both King's Commissioned Officers (from Sandhurst) of the 1918 batch, KS Mahadeo Singh and MS Himmat Singh. KS Mahadeo Singh did not have enough combat experience and was superseded by Cariappa during the Second World War and finally retired in 1948; he is better remembered now as first Indian commandant of IMA, Dehradun. MS Himmat Singh remained as a prisoner of war in Japan for 4 years (1939–43), which made him lose war experience. When he returned, he remained with PSY war/ propaganda section at army HQ and later took charge of the integration of princely state forces into the Indian Army after the states' accessions. In 1950, Himmat Singh headed a committee on the northern frontiers.[12]

On 15 January 1949, Gen. Cariappa was appointed as the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, succeeding Lieutenant General Sir Roy Bucher, who had been in the post only a year. He was displaced owing to differences with the Indian government over the invasion of Hyderabad and the operations in Kashmir. Gen. Cariappa was then instrumental in turning an imperial army into a national army.

Higher Commands and Offices

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. 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.


During the 1965 and 1971 wars, he visited the front lines to talk to the troops and keep their morale up.

Apart from being a military man, Cariappa had insight about the status of the country. He is quoted as saying, "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." Cariappa had even said that "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." Such insight has placed him above many in this field. "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," was another insight of this soldier.

He lived and remained, as he said, "an Indian and to the last breath would remain an Indian. To me there is only two Stans - Hindustan (India) and Foujistan (the Army)."

During the 1965 war, his son K C Cariappa, an Indian Air Force pilot, 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.


Cariappa settled down amidst greenery and nature, in his house 'Roshanara' at Madikeri in Kodagu, after his retirement from public service. He loved the environment and the flora and fauna around him. He spent a lot of his leisure time educating people about cleanliness, pollution control and other essential issues.

On 15 May 1993, Field Marshal Cariappa died in Bangalore, aged 94.

Rank Promotions

Service British Indian Army Indian Army
Rank UK Army OF1a-2.png UK Army OF1b-2.png UK Army OF1a-2.png UK Army OF1b-2.png UK Army OF2-2.png UK Army OF3-2.png UK Army OF4-2.png UK Army OF6-2.png UK Army OF4-2.png UK Army OF6-2.png UK Army OF7-2.png UK Army OF8-2.png UK Army OF9-2.png General of the Indian Army.svg Field Marshal of the Indian Army.svg
Temporary Second
Temporary Lieutenant Second Lieutenant (retroactive seniority
from 1919)[5]
Lieutenant[6] Captain[7] Major[9] Temporary Lieutenant-Colonel Temporary Brigadier Lieutenant-Colonel[11] Brigadier Major
General[13] General
Indian Army
Field Marshal
Year 1919 1921 1922 1923 1927 1938 1942 1944 1946 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1986

Awards and Decorations

General Service Medal 1947
Indian Independence Medal
Order of the British Empire
1939–1945 Star
Burma Star
War Medal 1939–1945
India Service Medal
Legion of Merit
(Degree of Chief Commander)

See also

Further reading

The following are the titles of a few of the books written in English. There are books written in Kannada and Hindi languages also.

  • 'Field Marshal KM Cariappa' by Air Marshal KC Cariappa, published (in 2007, 2008, 2012) by Niyogi Books, New Delhi 110020. ISBN 978-81-89738-26-6.
  • 'Field Marshal Cariappa, the Man who Touched the Sky' by Edel Weis, published (in 2002) by Roopa & Co, New Delhi. ISBN 978-81-7167-944-7.
  • 'Field Marshal K M Cariappa, His Life And Times', by Brig CB Khanduri AVSM (Retd), published (in 1995) by Lancer Publishers & Distributors,New Delhi. ISBN 9781897829752.
  • ' Field Marshal K M Cariappa: A Biographical Sketch' by Brig CB Khanduri AVSM (Retd), Published (in 2000) by Dev Publications, Pvt Ltd, Delhi. ISBN 9788187577027.
  • 'Field Marshal KM Cariappa: Memorial Lectures' published (in 2001) by Lancer Publishers & Distributors, New Delhi. ISBN 9788170621195.
  • 'Field Marshal KM Cariappa - Immortal Lights' by LS Seshagiri Rao, published by Sapna Book House, Bangalore. ISBN 9788128017551.
  • 'Indian Marshals: Sam Manekshaw, Kodandera Madappa Cariappa, Arjan Singh, Field Marshal' published by LLC Books. ISBN 9781158568161.
  • 'General Cariappa' by IM Muthanna, published (in 1964) by Usha Press, Mysore.


  1. 'Field Marshal KM Cariappa' by Air Marshal KC Cariappa (retd), published by Niyogi Books,D-78, Okla Indl Area, Ph 1, New Delhi 110020, 1st published 2007, reprints: 2008, 2012; ISBN 978-81-89738-26-6
  2. 'Field Marshal Cariappa, The Man who Touched the Sky' by Edel Weis, Published by Rupa & Co, New Delhi 110002, Published in 2002, ISBN 81-7167-944-7
  3. Indian military officers of five-star rank hold their rank for life, and are considered to be serving officers until their deaths.
  4. "Viewing Page 5359 of Issue 32380". London-gazette.co.uk. 5 July 1921. Retrieved 26 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Viewing Page 7379 of Issue 32757". London-gazette.co.uk. 20 October 1922. Retrieved 26 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Viewing Page 7663 of Issue 32878". London-gazette.co.uk. 9 November 1923. Retrieved 26 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Viewing Page 5805 of Issue 33310". London-gazette.co.uk. 9 September 1927. Retrieved 26 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Viewing Page 3324 of Issue 33718". London-gazette.co.uk. 22 May 1931. Retrieved 26 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Viewing Page 5189 of Issue 34541". London-gazette.co.uk. 12 August 1938. Retrieved 26 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Viewing Page 6874 of Issue 34708". London-gazette.co.uk. 13 October 1939. Retrieved 26 March 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 11.0 11.1 The London Gazette: no. 37747. p. 4946. 4 October 1946. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  12. Major General D. K. Palit, Memoirs of A. A. Rudra
  13. Note: Upon independence in 1947, India became a Dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations. As a result, the rank insignia of the British Army, incorporating the Tudor Crown, was maintained, as George VI remained Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces. After 26 January 1950, when India became a republic, the President of India became Commander-in-Chief, and the Ashoka Lion replaced the crown.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Lt. Gen. Dudley Russell
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command
Succeeded by
Lt. Gen. S. M. Shrinagesh
Preceded by
Roy Bucher
Commander-in-Chief, Indian Army
Succeeded by
Rajendrasinhji Jadeja
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
M.S. Duleepsinghji
High Commissioner of India to Australia and New Zealand
Succeeded by
K.R. P. Singh