Apparanda Chengappa Aiyappa (MBE)
One of the senior Army officers from Kodagu, Lieutenant General Apparanda Chengappa Aiyappa was born on 2 September 1913. Apart from being a World War II hero and the first Indian Signal Officer in Chief, General Aiyappa was also the first chief of Bharat Electronics Limited.
He completed his schooling from Bishop Cotton Boys’ School, Bangalore and then went on to study at Stanford School, Lincolnshire in England. After college, he joined the Indian Military Academy on 7 July 1935 and was commissioned into the British Indian Army.
- On 12 August 1935 he was attached to the 1st Battalion of 7th Rajput Regiment and the Indian Signal Corps.
- He was promoted as Lieutenant, Indian Land Forces, on 2 December 1936.
- He was appointed to the Indian Army 0n 23 November 1937.
- In early 1939 he was permanently appointed to the Indian Signal Corps.
- As a Captain, he saw action in 1941, in the Malayan Campaign against the Japanese in World War II, as Commander of a Signals Company under the 6th Indian Infantry Brigade.
- He was held as a Prisoner of War and mistreated. He was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 1946.
- After independence, he was promoted to Colonel and became Commander of the Signals Regiment under the 4th Infantry Division stationed in the forward areas of Punjab.
- He became the Director of Signals and Signal Officer-in-Chief in 1954 as a Major General. He was the first Indian Signal Officer in Chief.
- He became the Master General of Ordnance at the rank of Lt. General and was also the first Indian to be Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Signals.
- The government of India appointed General Aiyappa as the first chairman of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) where he served for 18 years until 1972. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) was set up at Bangalore, India, by the Government of India under the Ministry of Defence in 1954 to meet the specialised electronic needs of the Indian Defence Services. BEL is among an elite group of public sector undertakings which have been conferred the Navratna status by the Government of India.
- He lived upto the age of 104 years.
- A park near BEL circle in Bangalore is named after him (General Aiyappa Park).
- He was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 1946.
- He has a park near BEL circle in Bangalore, named after him (General Aiyappa Park).