By Major General Arjun Muthanna (Retd)
The British had a system of awards for different ranks. There were awards and medals, for the military and for the civilians. The Victoria Cross (VC), the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories, was introduced in 1856 and all personnel, irrespective of rank, were eligible.
Other awards were based on different ranks. The other military awards/medals included the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) (General Kodandera Thimayya was a recipient while commanding his battalion in combat in Burma sector in World War II.
This was followed in importance by the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) (Field Marshal Kodandera Cariappa was a recipient for his service as a staff officer in a combat HQ in Burma Sector during World War II).
Next was Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) (Lt Gen Apparanda Iyappa was a recipient for his courage and steadfastness through his captivity with Japanese Forces during World War II).
In 1914 the British Government instituted the Military Cross (MC) which was to be awarded for an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land, to Captains or officers of lower rank up to warrant officers. The equivalent for Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and soldiers was the Military Medal (MM).
Two Officers from Kodagu, both medical doctors, serving in the British Indian Army, were decorated with the Military Cross, for their gallantry in operations, one in the First World War and one in the Second World War.
Lieutenant-Colonel Codanda Madiah Ganapathy, MC, Indian Medical Service, was commissioned in Indian Medical Service and joined the British Indian Army as a Temporary Lieutenant on 14 December 1914. He was awarded the Military Cross (MC) while serving as Regimental Medical Officer of (RMO) of 101st Grenadiers (now 2 Guards) during World War I. On the 20th September 1918, during operations against Turkish forces in Palestine, North-East of Selfit, he showed great gallantry in attending to the wounded under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire throughout the day, showing a complete disregard of personal danger. To his untiring efforts many men owed their lives. He rose to the rank of Lt Col and was Director of Public Health, Madras. In 1941 he was appointed Companion of Indian Empire (CIE) .
Brigadier Kitianda Ganapathy (in picture below), MC, Indian Army Medical Corps, is the son of Calappa and Thangavva (Thamane Codanda, sister of Dr Codanda Medappa) was born in Madikeri. After completing his schooling from Central High School, Madikeri he studied medicine at Madras. Ganapathy joined Army Medical Corps and participated in World War II. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery while Regimental Medical Officer (RMO) of 2/3 Gorkha Rifles during operations in Italy.
His citation for Military Cross reads “Throughout the operations in Italy over the past year this officer has displayed a devotion to duty of the highest order. His gallantry, courage and initiative were quite outstanding and his own personal example was invariably an inspiration to all who worked with him, and without a doubt his untiring efforts saved many lives. On 15 Jan 1945 on the river SENIO while RMO of 2/3 Gurkha Rifles (Under 10 Indian Infantry Brigade/10 Indian Division/13 Corps) his RAP (Regimental Aid Post) was established in PIDEURA Sector, Italy. Two men were so badly wounded in a forward coy (company) area that they could not be evacuated. Capt Ganapathy immediately went forward through very heavy shell and mortar fire and due to his efforts alone these men were able to be taken back.”
Ganapathy continued serving in the Indian Army after independence and rose to the rank of Brigadier. His wife, Dr Meena Thangamma (Thamane Kodendera) whom he met while doing their MBBS in Chennai was Chief Medical Officer of Consolidated Coffee, Pollibetta, in Kodagu.