Legends are born just once. I write this article in remembrance of the greatest warrior of modern history on his 55th death anniversary, General Kodandera Subbaiah Thimmaiah will be remembered forever.
General lived his life with a lot of passion, his commitment to his country and his army men was commendable. He was promoted to the rank of Major-General on September 1947 just when India gained independence, Post the assignation of Mahatma Gandhi, General Thimmaiah was the second most powerful man in India, first of course was Jawaharlal Nehru.
It was a time of turmoil in Pakistan and India, people could still not digest the fact that India was already divided into two nations, while Pakistan army stepped in, to take control over rioting Pakistan after the death of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Back home in India the situation was no different. The country was going through extreme mutinying against the division and policy of the political leaders. India, today would have become another Military ruled nation had the General ordered his army to take over the country to bring situation under control and let me tell you no one would have dared to question him for his actions as he was heavily backed by Indian armed forces. However General was a man of vision and he firmly believed in a democratic India hence he ordered the army to bring situation into control, gain the confidence of citizens and install the faith in democratic India.
Thimmaiah was a soldiers General, People of India need to thank General Thimmaiah for a democratic India, Its very unfortunate that the history text books in India education system only projects certain politicians responsible for the world’s largest democracy, But I would want to give the credit to Indian armed forces and General Thimmaiah for gifting us a democratic India. In 1957, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited the office of General Thimmaiah, the Chief of Army Staff. Nehru saw a steel cabinet behind his desk, and asked the General what it contained. The General replied that the top drawer contained the nation’s defense plans and documents pertaining to weaponries owned by Indian defense forces. The second one has documents concerned with the security and integrity of the nation and he stopped. Nehru asked, How about the Third one General ? to which General replied The third one has secret copy of plans for a military coup against you and few other politicians and smiled to ease out the tension he created in Nehru’s mind, after few seconds of silence Nehru responded with a smile but there was reflection of nervousness in his laughter. Nehru clearly knew General was capable of over throwing political parties out of power over night due to his reputation and his influence on eastern countries. General was a known name in many countries by then.
General Thimmaiah a 20 year brave man from the land of warriors was commissioned into army in 1926 as Second Lieutenant of the highland light infantry later promoted to Lieutenant of 19th Hyderabad Regiment. He mastered his soldiering skills battling the disobedient Pathan tribals near Pakistan occupied Kashmir post which he was posted to his battalion in Singapore by the British army. He was also promoted to the rank of Brigadier in the field on 25 March 1945 after his outstanding success at the battle in Burma during the Second World War when they defeated the Japanese Army.
He was the only Indian to have commanded a brigade in the Second World War. General represented the Indian Army at the surrender ceremony at Singapore in 1945, when Count Hisaichi Terauchi, the Supreme Commander of the Japanese Army in South East Asia, surrendered to Mountbatten. Thimmaiah was one of the most celebrated soldier by United Nations. General was appointed as Chairman of NNRC (Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission) and was deployed in Korea he also commanded the Indian brigade of the occupation force in Japan. By now the country knew the capability and gallantry of the General.
The first Kargil War in 1948 showed General Thimmaiah was one of the finest strategist Indian army ever had, After the Pakistani forces captured the Leh Ladak highway entering the Indian territory blocking all access for Indian army Major General Kodandera Subbaiah Thimmaiah spearheaded one of the greatest victories for the Indian Army. After a record-breaking landing at an airfield along with Air Cadre Meher Singh general ordered for deployment of Stuart light tanks at Zojila Pass at twelve thousand feet above sea level which gained Indian army an upper hand in the war, Generals love towards tanks was immense, He believed a well operated Tank can win any war at any terrain. Stuart light tanks deployment in first Kargil war was a huge risk since they were never used by Indian army before but General knew his weapons much better than anyone else. After the tanks were deployed on first November 1948 the assault began and on 24th November Kargil was re-occupied by Indian forces. In the year 1957 he took over as the Chief of the Indian Army.
Commissioning Krishna Menon , a leftist by thought as Indian Defense Minister by Jawaharlal Nehru didn’t go well with the commanding offers of Indian army since Krishna was already involved in a Jeep buying scam for Indian army. Krishna and General’s relation was a bitter one since Defense minister’s actions had already costed Indian army dearly with deaths of many soldiers at India-China border. General Thimmaiah offered to resign from defense forces following Menons actions and interference into the defense matters, However Nehru convinced Thimmaiah to withdraw his resignation but General resigned on 7 May 1961, after completing 35 years of distinguished military service. It’s unfortunate that China attacked India just 15 months after Generals retirement and India lost the war.
General proved “Once a solider always a solider” post his retirement from Indian army United Nations sought his services yet once again where he was appointed as the Commander of UN Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in July 1964. He passed away during his tenure at UNFICYP on a unfortunate day of 17th December 1965. There are a lot of speculation pertaining to his death , people close to him claimed it could not be a natural death since his body had turned blue however government of India didn’t bother to investigate this matter and to this date it’s not really clear how the greatest General of Indian army passed away.
The Republic of Cyprus, also honored him by issuing a commemorative stamp in his memory in 1966. General Thimmaiah was one of the Greatest Solider and a finest strategist this country will ever see. It’s also very disheartening to see that a man of his caliber not celebrated as a greatest warrior in his own country while Singapore, Japan and united nation organization consider him as a greatest warrior of all time. May his legacy be remembered forever and may he inspire the youths of this nation to protect and uphold the integrity of national pride.
Mac Thimmaiah **