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Oskars Kalpaks
6 January 1882 – 6 March 1919
Oskars Kalpaks.jpg
Place of birth Meirānu county, Madona District, Latvia
Place of death "Airītes", Zirņu county, Saldus District, Latvia
Allegiance Imperial Russia

Republic of Latvia

Years of service 18 January 1903 – 6 March 1919
Rank Lieutenant Colonel (podpalkovnik), Imperial Russian Army

Colonel, National Armed Forces of Latvia

Unit 183rd Pultusk Infantry Regiment

1st Latvian Independent Battalion ("Independence battalion")

Commands held 1st Latvian Independent Battalion
Awards Cross of St. George, IV degree

Order of St. Anna, IV degree Lacplesis Military Order, I Class (posthumously)

Oskars Kalpaks (January 6, 1882–March 6, 1919) was the commander of 1st Latvian Independent Battalion, also known as "Kalpaks Battalion".

Kalpaks was born to a farming family. Having decided to become a soldier he completed Irkutsk military school and then commenced service with the 183rd Pultusk Infantry Regiment. He displayed talent as a commander and heroism in battle during the First World War and was awarded the most significant Russian military decorations and made Regiment Commander in 1917.

Afer the proclamation of Latvia's independence on 18 November 1918, Kalpaks enlisted with the Ministry of Defence. He organised the defence of Vidzeme against Bolshevik attacks. On 31 December Kalpaks became Commander-in-Chief of all the armed units at the disposal of the Provisional Government of Latvia.

Under his leadership, Latvia's first armed formations became battle capable. On 28 February 1919, Kalpaks was awarded the rank of Colonel. From January to March 1919 the 1st Latvian Battalion repelled the Bolshevik raids into Kurzeme and this was the start of Latvia's struggle for liberation. On 6 March 1919 near Airītes, Kalpaks was killed in a skirmish with German Freikorps troops.

After his death, Kalpaks was posthumously awarded Latvia's highest military award, 'Order of Lāčplēsis I III Class'.

Although never officially assigned to this rank or position[1], Kalpaks is regarded as the first Commander in Chief of Latvian Armed Forces.[2] [3]


  1. ^ Pursuant to order of Minister of Defense of Latvian Provisional government, on December 31, 1918 Lieutenant Colonel Kalpaks was assigned commander of all Latvian forces subordinated to Headquarters of Baltic Landeswehr.
    Mugurēvičš, Ē. (1989). "Leģenda un vēsturiskā īstenība: Pulkveža Oskara Kalpaka (1882.-1919.) dzīves ceļš un cīņu gaitas.". Dzimtenes Balss Nr.20: 6.  
    Memoirs of Balodis J., Gen.(ret.) (1993). "Atmiņas par Latvijas nacionālās armijas gaitām Brīvības cīņās.". Dievturu Vēstnesis Nr.15: 41.  
  2. ^ see, for instance: Tēvijas Sargs, a journal of MoD; Latvian cinematography site; Svabe, Arveds (1949) (PDF). The Story of Latvia - A Historical Survey. p. 39.  
  3. ^ Unāms, Žanis (1975 (second edition, 1st edition 1939)). Es Viņu Pazīstu - LATVIEŠŪ BIOGRAFISKĀ VĀRDNĪCA (I Know Them - LATVIAN BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY). Raven Printing. p. 240.  

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