Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa

Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa, was born on 28 January 1899 in Madikeri,Kodagu. He was affectionately called Kipper. He was fiercely patriotic and was known for his iron discipline, integrity and forthright views. He was the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army  who led Indian forces on the Western Front during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. He is one of the Indian Army officers to hold the five-star rank of field marshal. His distinguished military career spanned almost three decades. He joined the British Indian Army shortly after the end of World War I, and was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant. He was the first Indian military officer to attend the Staff College, Quetta, the first Indian to command a battalion, and was also one of the first two Indians selected to undergo training at the Imperial Defence College, Camberley, UK.



Kodandera  Madappa




Kodendera (Maneyapanda) Muthamma(Pearl)


Kodendera  Nanda Cariappa



  • Aiyanna
  • Nanjappa
  • Bopaiah
  • Poovamma
  • Bollamma

Family Tree


He did his schooling at the Centre School in Madikeri and joined the Presidency College in Madras, in 1917. During college, he learned that Indians were being recruited into the Army, and that they were to be trained in India. As he wished to serve as a soldier he applied for the training. Cariappa was one of 42 who were finally granted admission into the Daly Cadet College, Indore. He scored well in all the aspects of his training and graduated seventh in his class.


  • The British Government had opened a Temporary School for Indian Cadets (TSIC), Of the 50 vacancies, only one was allotted to Coorg. Out of seventy candidates Cariappa was one of the successful candidates,and on 1 June 1918, joined the TSIC, which was also called the Daly Cadet College, at Indore.
  • He was placed seventh in overall order of merit and completed his training for six months and passed out in the year 1919 and was granted temporary commission. A permanent commission was granted on 9 September 1922, with effect from 17 July 1920. This was done to make Cariappa’s rank junior to those British officers who passed out from Sandhurst on 16 July 1920.
  • He was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion of the 88th Carnatic Infantry at Bombay as a temporary second lieutenant.
  • He was promoted to temporary lieutenant on 1 December 1920 and was transferred to the 2/125 Napier Rifles which moved to Mesopotamia in May 1920.
  • He was promoted to lieutenant on 17 July 1921. On his return to India, Cariappa was posted to the 37th (Prince of Wales’s Own) Dogras in June 1922.
  • In June 1923, Cariappa was transferred to the 1/7 Rajputs, which became his permanent regimental home.
  • In 1925, Cariappa went on a world tour to Europe as well as the United States, Japan, and China. He met a large number of soldiers and civilians in various nations. The tour proved to be educational for him. He was given his nickname “Kipper” by a British officer’s wife, who found his name difficult to pronounce, while he was serving in Fatehgarh
  • In 1927, Cariappa was promoted to Captain but the appointment was not officially gazetted until 1931.
  • in 1931Cariappa was appointed as the deputy assistant quarter master general (DAQMG) at HQ Peshawar District .
  • The experience he had gained at headquarters, his coaching at Royal United Services Institute in 1932, and the courses he attended at Small Arms School (SAS) and the Royal School of Artillery (RSA) helped him to get through the Quetta Staff College’s entrance examination.
  •  He was the first Indian military officer to attend the course and was not given his staff appointment until two years later.
  • In March 1936 he rendered regimental service with his parent unit on the North-West Frontier.
  • He was appointed as staff captain of the Deccan Area.
  • In 1938, Cariappa was promoted to major and was appointed the deputy assistant adjutant and quarter master general (DAA & QMG).


  • K.M. Cariappa was in active service with the 37 (Prince of Wales) Dogra in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and then posted to the 2nd Rajput Light Infantry (Queen Victoria’s Own).
  • He went on to become the first Indian officer to undergo the course at Staff College, Quetta in 1933.
  • In 1946, he got promoted as the Brigadier of the Frontier Brigade Group.
  • After World War II began, Cariappa was posted as Brigade Major to the 20th Indian Brigade stationed in Derajat.
  • he was appointed as the DAQMG of 10th Indian Division which was stationed in Iraq.
  • He earned a Mention in Despatches as DAA and quartermaster general of General (later Field Marshal) William Slim’s 10th Division.
  • He served in Iraq, Iran and Syria in 1941–1942 and then in Burma in 1943–1944.
  • Back in India in March 1942, he was posted as second-in-command of the newly raised 7th Rajput Machine Gun Battalion at Fatehgarh.
  •  On 15 April 1942, he was promoted to acting lieutenant colonel and was appointed commanding officer of the same battalion, receiving an advancement to temporary lieutenant-colonel on 15 July. With this appointment he became the first Indian to command a battalion] in the Indian Army.
  •  He was successful in stabilising the newly raised battalion in terms of administration, training, and the handling of arms.
  • The unit was rechristened as the 52nd Rajput and put under 43rd Indian Armoured Division.The unit observed two transformations and two moves. First, the battalion’s machine guns were replaced with tanks in order to convert it into an armoured regiment. But soon the battalion was reverted to infantry and re-designated as 17/7 Rajputst It was moved to Secunderabad. This move led to unrest among the unit’s troops which was successfully handled by Cariappa.[
  • On 1 April 1943, he was appointed as the assistant quarter master general (AQMG) in the headquarters of Eastern Command.
  • In August 1943, when the South East Asia Command was formed, and the Fourteenth Army was placed under it, Cariappa volunteered for active service in the war.
  • He was again posted as AQMG of the 26th Indian Division stationed at Buthidaung in Burma. The division played an important role in pushing the Japanese back from Arakan. For his services in the operation,
  • Cariappa was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in June 1945.
  • On 1 November 1944, Cariappa was promoted to the acting rank of Brigadier, but was not given the command of a brigade as expected.
  • He became a member of the Reorganisation Committee chaired by Lieutenant General Sir Henry Willcox. Though Cariappa was not happy with the appointment initially, and protested to the Military Secretary, the experience proved to helpful when he took over as the C-in-C four years later. The committee closely worked with the General HQ and Viceroy’s Secretariat.
  • In November 1945, Cariappa was made the commander of the Bannu Frontier Brigade in Waziristan. It was during this time that Colonel Ayub Khan – later Field Marshal and President of Pakistan(1962–1969) – served under him.
  • When Head of the Interim Government, Jawaharlal Nehru, visited Bannu he found it extremely peaceful and settled, compared to Razmak where another brigade was stationed. Nehru was impressed by Cariappa’s way of dealing with the tribes.
  • In 1947, Cariappa was the first of two Indians selected to undergo training at the Imperial Defence College, at Camberly, in the UK, to attend the higher command courses.
  • Post-Independence, being promoted to the rank of Major General, Cariappa was appointed as deputy chief of the general staff.
  •  In November 1947, on being promoted to the rank of lieutenant general, he was appointed as the Eastern Army commander.
  • In January 1948, owing to the worsening situation in Kashmir, Cariappa was called back to the capital and appointed as the GOC-in-C Delhi and East Punjab Command.
  • He launched three subsequent attacks—Operations Kipper, Easy and Bison—to capture the Naushera, Jhangar, Poonch, Zoji La, Dras, and Kargil areas. Plans were laid to drive out the Pakistani forces from Kashmir completely, but they were stopped by the intervention of the United States.
  • On 6 July 1948, the Army HQ issued strict instructions against conducting any major operations without its permission. Cariappa protested against this, stating that this policy would threaten Leh, Kargil, and ultimately the Kashmir Valley, which would put the country’s security at stake. Though Cariappa asked for two brigades to continue offensive strikes, he was provided only one and permitted to advance to Kargil. He disobeyed orders and launched strikes in the Ladakh area allowing India to assert control over the region.
  • Cariappa continued several operations and offensive strikes against the Pakistanis which involved high risk..
  • He was appointed to the supreme post of commander-in-chief. 5 January 1949, was marked as official Army Day and celebrated annually.
  • As the chief of the Army, he was instrumental in the formation of the Territorial Army in 1949.
  • Cariappa served as Commander-in-Chief for four years, retiring on 14 January 1953. His greatest achievement was keeping the Indian Army apolitical, and establishing healthy traditions.
  • Cariappa was offered the job of Indian High Commissioner in Australia, by the Prime Minister, Pandit Nehru. After some deliberation, he accepted, and sailed for Sydney in July 1953
  • Cariappa returned to India in 1956, and retired to his house, Roshanara, in Mercara, in Coorg. But he continued to take a keen interest in all matters concerning the Army. When the Chinese attacked India in 1962, he went to the local recruiting office, and offered to enlist, as a soldier.
  • In 1965, after the cease fire, he expressed a desire to visit the troops, on the front.
  •  In 1964, he founded the Indian Ex Servicemens League (IESL), by amalgamating the Federation and the Association, which were rival organisations. He was also responsible for creation of the Directorate of Resettlement.
  • Cariappa also had made a brief foray into politics, in early 1971. Convinced that the country could not be governed by the present system of elections, he recommended that the general elections scheduled in 1971 be cancelled, and President’s rule be imposed for a few years, keeping the Constitution in suspended animation.
  • In 1986, the Government appointed him as Field Marshal. On 28 April 1986, at a Special Investiture Ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhawan, he was presented the Field Marshal’s baton by President Zail Singh.


  • Second Lieutenant (Temporary) in1919
  • Lieutenant (Temporary) in 1920
  • Lieutenant in 1921, July
  • Captain in 1927, July
  • Major in 1928, July
  • Lieutenant colonel (Temporary) in1942
  • Brigadier (Temporary) in 1944, November
  • Lieutenant colonel in 1946, July
  • Brigadier in 1946
  • Major General in 1947
  • Lieutenant General in 1948
  • General (C-in-C Indian Army) in 1949
  • Field Marshal in 1986


  • General Service medal in 1947 –Burma Star
  • Indian Independence Medal –War medal 1939 -45
  • India Service Medal
  • Legion of Merit-Chief Commandor-1939-45

After 1991 Cariappa’s health deteriorated and he died on 15 May 1994 in his sleep, peacefully. He had the strongest character and sense of values and qualities. A strict disciplinarian he was always just and fair. He was a patriot and kept the interest of his country always uppermost.