Army Chiefs

General Gopal Gurunath Bewoor, PVSM.


General Gopal Gurunath Bewoor assumed charge of the Indian Army, as the 9th Chief of Army Staff, on 15 January 1973. Born at Seoni, Madhya Pradesh on 11 August 1917, he is an alumnus of the Royal Indian Military College (RIMC) in Dehra Dun and was commissioned into the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehra Dun in July 1937. Whilst at the IMA, he was awarded the Gold Medal for being best all-round cadet and the coveted Sword of Honour. He was commissioned into the 2nd Green Howards Regiment on 15 July 1937 during operations in Waziristan (present-day Pakistan). He later joined the 5th Baluch Regiment and spent his World War II days in Burma, fighting the Japenese. He served with the 5th Baluch till July 1945. He attended Staff College, Quetta in 1945 and subsequently served as the Under-Secretary (Military) of the Viceroy's Co-ordination Council in 1946. He was the only Indian officer to be given this coveted appointment.

He was the Secretary of the Army Partition Committee in 1947, which determined the allotment of weapons, equipment and regiments that were to remain in India or to be allotted to Pakistan. Since his parent regiment - the Baluch - went to Pakistan, he was transferred to the Dogra Regiment and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in December 1947. Earlier, he took over command of 2 Dogra in October 1947. With a view to imparting basic military training to school and college students, he was appointed as the Director of the NCC (National Cadet Corps) in April 1948 as a Colonel.

On promotion to the rank of Brigadier in July 1951, he was initially appointed as Commander 'Chand Sector' and later as Commanding Officer of the 80th Infantry Brigade in Jammu & Kashmir. In August 1953 he served as the Director, Personnel Services at Army HQ. He was appointed as the first Chief of Staff at the Western Command HQ in Shimla in February 1959 and had the unique distinction of becoming the youngest Major General of the Indian Army at the age of 42 years and six months. He assumed the appointment of the Colonel of the 11 Gorkha Rifles on 25 May 1960. He was then appointed as the GOC of the 27th Infantry Division in February 1961 at Jalandhar. Later he moved this division to Kalimpong (West Bengal) in the wake of Chinese aggression during the 1962 Indo-China War. In June 1963, he was appointed as the Director of Military Training at Army HQ and remained there till November 1964.

He was promoted as General Officer Commanding 33 Corps at Siliguri in November 1964. He moved to Army HQ in May 1967, as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff (DCAS) and held that appointment till June 1969. As DCAS, he was awarded Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM) for his meritorious services. In July 1969, he assumed the appointment of General Officer Commanding–in–Chief, Southern Command. During the 1971 Indo-Pak War, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan - India's third highest civilian honour - for conducting successful operations in the Rajasthan Sector. He took over as Army Chief on 15 January 1973 and held that appointment for two years and four months till his retirement on 31 May 1975. He served as the Honorary Colonel of the Dogra Regiment up to 11 August 1979. After retirement, he served as the Indian Ambassador to Denmark, from February 1976 to March 1978. He served as a member of the Senate of the University of Pune, for two years from August 1979 onwards. He was also on the Board of Directors of Kirloskar Oil Engines & Vickers Sperry of Pune. Besides, he was often invited to give talks on leadership and military matters by various educational societies. He passed away on 24 October 1989.

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