Col Biddanda M Chengappa
Col Biddanda M Chengappa was an Army officer who was born in Palangala, Coorg. He joined the Army in 1941, when he was just 24yrs old. After his retirement he settled in Coorg and was an active member of Rotary club. He spent his last days in Ahmedabad with his eldest Son.
- After joining the armed forces he had a brief training and got his commission as a Second Lieutenant.
- World War II was raging and it had come to India’s doorsteps at the Burma Front. Second Lt Chengappa was amongst an Indian Brigade that was hurriedly deployed to stem the advancing Japanese.
- He along with a dozen other newly commissioned officers and a ship load of soldiers landed in Rangoon the same year.
- He was hardly trained to face the fierce enemy. . Within days of arriving at Rangoon, Second Lt Chengappa and the men were sent to the enemy line. They were ill equipped to face the Japanese. Before his own eyes he saw two other young officers from Coorg fall to enemy bullets.
- After fighting the losing battle for more than a week, a small group of around 20 survivors started retreating. They were in the thick forests in northern part of Burma. Second Lt Chengappa and the others somehow got on to a truck carrying petrol and kerosene. The group started walking through the forest. They were lucky to have a Burmese army officer with them, who was able to guide them through the forest.
- They were in deep jungle by nightfall and reasonably away from the enemy. When all were sleeping under the trees Second Lt Chengappa felt shearing pain in his leg to discover that a snake had bitten him.
- He was given first-aid, but Second Lt Chengappa lost hopes of seeing the night through. He did make it through the night and the following morning the Burmese officer rushed him to the nearest army hospital where he luckily got medical care. He limped along helped by his mates. They managed to camp near villages. After 25 odd days of walking through the jungle, in some places surviving on what they could find in the forest, the weary men reached Kohima.
- At Kohima, the survivors were told they could go home on a month’s leave. Second Lt Chengappa boarded the train at Guwahati, and a week later reached Bombay.
- He soon got promoted, and as a Major served in Gaza during late 1950s as part of UN Peacekeeping Force.
- He retired as a Colonel and settled in Coorg.
- After retirement he was an active member of Rotary Club, he was the first Rotary Governor from Coorg.
- A keen golfer, he was one of the Founding members of Coorg Golf Links at Bittangala, Kodagu
He lived till the age of 102yrs and died on 7 March 2019.