On January 15, 1949, Field Marshal Kodandera M Cariappa made history, taking over the reigns of the Indian Army from General Sir Francis Butcher. In doing, he became the new nation's first Indian commander in chief - an occasion that is celebrated till date as Army Day.
What happened on January 15, 1949?
Cariappa had been a decorated soldier, being a part of both World War II and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. He was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in June 1945, after his division played a significant role in pushing the Japanese back from Arakan. Around the same time, he became the first Indian officer to fully attain the rank of Brigadier. After India became independent, he was appointed as the deputy Chief of the General Staff, and then as a General Officer Commanding-in-Chief.
In 1949, with Bucher's tenure drawing to a close, Cariappa, S. M. Shrinagesh and Nathu Singh were considered as suitable replacements. While Defence Minister Baldev Singh had not been in favour of Cariappa, the other two removed themselves from contention, and eventually, on January 15, KM Cariappa took over the reigns. Shrinagesh would eventually succeed him to the post in 1955.
Since 1949, January 15 has been observed as Army Day every year. The day is marke with parades, the awarding of gallantry medals and with the the leaders of the armed forces paying tribute.
Photos shared by news agency ANI on Friday morning showed CDS General Bipin Rawat, Army Chief General MM Naravane, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, and Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh pay tributes at National War Memorial. Another set of visuals showed Army Chief MM Naravane inspecting the parade at Cariappa Ground.