Kodendera Subbayya Thimmayya was a highly distinguished soldier who served as the Chief of Army Staff and as the Head of the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission after the Korean War. He passed away while serving as Head of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.
His Early Career
Kodendera Subbayya Thimmayya was born in Madikere in Kodagu on March 30, 1906. After graduating from the Indian Military Academy and further training at the Sandhurst Academy, he was initially with the Highland Light Infantry, and later he was posted to the Hyderabad Regiment. He joined as a Second Lieutenant and was promoted to the post of Lieutenant in 1928. He became a Captain in 1935, one month after his marriage.
His Military Career in Pre-Independence India
During the Second World War, he was appointed as the Commanding Officer of the 8/19 Hyderabad Regiment in Burma. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier, and in recognition of his outstanding service, he was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) and also earned a Mention-in-Dispatches.
Recognizing his military and leadership skills, the Commander in Chief of the Indian Army Sir Claude Auchinleck selected him to lead a unit of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan. When the Japanese surrendered in Singapore and then Philippines, he represented India. In Philippines, he was awarded the ‘Keys to Manila’.
His Career in Independent India
During the partition, he served as a member of the Commission that decided on the distribution of the existing weapons between the Indian and Pakistan Armies. He was then promoted to the position of Major General and put in charge of the 4th Infantry Division. He was an active officer during the war with Pakistan in 1948 and then, in Jammu and Kashmir, he commanded the 19th Infantry Division.
Thimmayya was chosen to lead the United Nations Neutral Nation Repatriation Commission in Korea, after the Korean War. He completed this difficult task with distinction. Thimmayya also served as the Commandant of the Indian Military Academy.
On the 7th of May, 1957, General Kodendera Thimmayya Subbayya became the Chief of Army Staff, in charge of the whole of the Indian Army. After a dispute with Defense Minister V.K. Krishna Menon over his plans for the preparation of the army for the confrontation with the Chinese, Thimmayya sent in his resignation. But Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru persuaded him to withdraw his resignation. He retired as the Army Chief in 1961.
After retirement, he was once again sought out by the United Nations to lead the Peace Keeping Forces in Cyprus, in 1964. While serving in this capacity, he passed away in Cyprus on December 18, 1965. In honor of his memory, a road in Pune and one in Bangalore were renamed as Gen Thimmayya Road. The Republic of Cyprus also honored his memory by bringing out a commemorative stamp in 1966.