The Field Marshals of Indian Army

The Field Marshals of Indian Army

Field marshal is a five–star general officer rank and the highest attainable rank in the Indian Army. Field marshal is ranked immediately above general, but not exercised in the regular army structure. It is a largely ceremonial or wartime rank. Field marshal is equivalent to an admiral of the fleet in the Indian Navy or a marshal of the air force in the Indian Air Force. In the navy, admiral of the fleet has never been awarded, but from the air force, Arjan Singh was promoted to the marshal of the air force.

To date, only two Indian Army officers have been conferred the rank. It was first conferred to Sam Manekshaw in 1973, in recognition of his service and leadership in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War.
The second individual to be conferred the rank was Kodandera M. Cariappa, the first Indian to serve as the commander–in–chief of the Indian Army

A field marshal's insignia consists of the national emblem over a crossed baton and saber in a lotus blossom wreath. On appointment, field marshals are awarded a gold-tipped baton which they may carry on formal occasions. The star insignia, which comprises five golden stars over a red strip, is used on car pennants, rank flags and as gorget patches.


The first ever Field marshal Sam Manekshaw was a distinguished military man. The very name is enough to inspire respect and patriotism in the souls of Indians even today. 

Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw (3rd April 1914-27 June 2008) popularly known as Sam Bahadur was one of the greatest military commanders of India. Manekshaw joined the first intake of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in 1932. He was commissioned into the 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots, and later posted to the 4th Battalion, 12th Frontier Force Regiment. Since his name was a mouthful for most of the officers of the Scottish Regiment, they abridged it to “Mr Mackintosh”. Manekshaw served the Army for over Four decades and five wars- World war-II, Indo-Pak war of 1947, Sino-Indian war of 1962, Indo-Pak war of 1965 and Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.

 In World War II, he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry. Following the partition of India in 1947, he was reassigned to the 16th Punjab Regiment. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier while serving at the Military Operations Directorate. He became commander of 167th Infantry Brigade in 1952 and served in this position until 1954 when he took over as the Director of Military Training at Army HQ. Having already commanded troops at division, corps and regional levels, Manekshaw became the eighth chief of the army staff in 1969. Under his command, Indian forces conducted victorious campaigns against Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, which led to the creation of Bangladesh in December 1971. One of the most celebrated generals of the Indian Army, Maneksha was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1968 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1972 and became the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of Field marshal in 1st January 1973. 
He who neither drinks, nor smokes, nor dances, he who preaches & even occasionally practice piety, temperance and celibacy, is generally a saint, or a mahatma or more likely a humbug but he certainly won't make a leader or for that matter a good soldier
                                                                                                                             - Sam Bahadur


KM Cariappa is a man known for many firsts but he is best remembered as the legend who made the Indian Army truly Indian. Field Marshal Kodandera "Kipper" Madappa Cariappa, (28 January 1899 – 15 May 1993) was the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army. He led Indian forces on the Western Front during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. He is one of only two Indian Army officers to hold the five-star rank of field marshal; the other being Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the Indian Army in January 15, 1949.  He was also awarded the ‘Order of the Chief Commander of the Legion of Merit’ by US President, Harry Truman.

His distinguished military career spanned almost three decades. Cariappa joined the British Indian Army shortly after the end of World War I and was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant into the 2/88 Carnatic Infantry. He was transferred between multiple regiments early in his career before settling on 1/7 Rajputs, which became his permanent regiment.

In 1933, Cariappa got through the Quetta Staff College’s entrance examination. He was the first Indian military officer to attend the course. In 1942, he was given the command of an army unit, the first India officer to have British officers serving under him. Four years later, in 1946, Cariappa was promoted to Brigadier of the Frontier Brigade Group.  He fought in World War- II and Indo-Pak war of 1947.

Even after his retirement from the Army in 1953, Cariappa was not finished yet and served as the High Commissioner to Australia and New Zealand till 1956. He died in Bengaluru in 1993 at the age of 94. Recently Army Cheif General Bipin Chandra Rawat announced to recommend his name for "Bharat Ratna", which will make him the independent India’s first army chief to be honored with the country’s highest civilian award.

Honor The Fallen. Remember their sacrifice. Celebrate the gift of freedom, paid with the blood of heroes. Blessing to those who served. 

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