Army Chiefs

General Maharaj Kumar Shri Rajendrasinhji DSO


C-in-C, 14 Jan 1953 - 31 March 1955
COAS, 01 April 1955 - 14 May 1955
Armoured Corps, 2 Lancers

General Maharaj Kumar Shri Rajendrasinhji (also known as Maharaj Shri Ranjitsinhji and Rajendrasinhji Jadeja) assumed charge of the Indian Army, as the 2nd Chief of Army Staff, on 14 January 1953. Born on 15 June 1899, he attended Rajkumar College at Rajkot in Gujarat and then joined the Royal Military Academy (RMA) at Sandhurst on 10 September 1919. Commissioned into the Indian Army in 1921, he joined the 2nd Royal Lancers in 1922 as a Second Lieutenant. He held various ranks and offices in the British Indian Army and served with distinction during the Second World War. He was also deputed to serve as Military Attaché in Washington D.C. in 1945-46. He took over as the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army on 14 January 1953, a post he held until 31 March 1955. Since the President of India was appointed as the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Armed Forces, his designation was changed to the Chief of Army Staff on 01 April 1955.

In 1941 he went to North Africa, to serve as a squadron commander in his regiment. Early in that year the 3rd Indian Motor Brigade, of which the 2nd Royal Lancers was a part, was surrounded at Mechili by vastly superior German and Italian forces. As a last desperate measure the encircled regiments decided to force their way through the enemy and into the desert. The then-Major Maharaj Rajendrasinhji, with two squadrons of his regiment, were acting as rearguard and had to wait for their divisional headquarters to move out. Most of his regiment was overwhelmed by a German tank attack, although his own squadron was not seriously involved. It was then that he charged with his men straight into the enemy, crashing through their battery of guns. After shaking off pursuit, they hid themselves in the hills for the rest of the day. Moving out once more at night they eventually reached the place of safety, but not before having a couple of skirmishes with the enemy. His squadron fought the actions successfully and brought back 60 prisoners. For his courageous leadership and determined action he was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order), the first Indian to be honoured with such an award in World War II.

The Independence of India in 1947 caused an upheaval in both the security situation and the dynamics of the Indian Army. The partition of India meant the division of the Indian Army, which was concurrently called upon to deal with several critical security situations arising from the partition of the country and the integration of the princely states. Also during this period, British officers who held most of the senior ranks in the Indian Army were gradually disengaged, being replaced with Indian officers. During this critical period, Rajendrasinhji was called upon to shoulder many onerous responsibilities and received rapid promotion in rank commensurately. He was made Brigadier in 1946, Major General in 1947 and Lieutenant General in 1948. He served successively as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Delhi and East Punjab (1947-48), GOC Eastern Command (1948) and GOC Southern Command (1948-53). Operation Polo, which resulted in the integration of Hyderabad State with India, was executed during his term in office as GOC Southern Command.

Addressing a passing-out parade at the National Defence Academy in Dehra Dun on 09 June 1953, General Maharaj Rajendrasinhji advised the newly-commissioned Army officers to remember that loyalty, duty, discipline, physical & mental fitness and a thorough knowledge of their military profession were the most important attributes expected of an officer and their achievements will require really hard work through their Army career. He also said, "To-day you are on the threshold of your careers as officers of the Indian Army. Tomorrow you will become members of a brotherhood that has a code of honour and sense of duty unequalled in any other profession in the world. See to it that your responsibilities and obligations to this brotherhood do not find you lacking in spirit or energy. Your loyalty to your country and the Army must be the dominating factor. Keep abreast of your profession, and ensure that you keep pace with new weapons and their effects in applied military science. The men who respect your professional knowledge, and have confidence in your leadership will follow you anywhere. You must be the leader of your men and cannot afford to lag behind being out of condition. Go out shooting, trekking, mountaineering, go in for games that develop sound judgment, decision-making and team work, because these are the qualities that will make your career a success."

General Rajendrasinhji served in the Indian Army with distinction for 34 years till his retirement on 14 May 1955. Married to Maya Kunwarba in 1928, he had three children. He passed away on 01 January 1964.

General Rajendrasinhji's Medals & Decorations

  • First Indian commissioned officer to be awarded the DSO during World War II
  • India General Service Medal (1941)
  • Africa & Burma stars
  • Defence & War medals (1945)
  • Officer of the Legion of Merit of the USA (1948)
  • Indian Independence Medal (1947)
  • George V Silver Jubilee Medal (1935)
  • George VI Coronation Medal (1937)


alt  Raj Kumar Shri Rajendrasinhji, as a young Major in the 2nd Royal Lancers 

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