January 6, 1882|
Meirāni, Governorate of Livonia (present-day Indrāni parish, Lubāna municipality, Latvia)
|Died||March 6, 1919
Airīte, Saldus District (present-day Zirņi parish, Saldus municipality, Latvia)
|Years of service||18 January 1903 – 6 March 1919|
|Commands held||1st Latvian Independent Battalion|
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.
After 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 fought with the German VI Reserve Corps to repel 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, the Order of Lāčplēsis — first, second and third class.
- 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.
- See for instance: Tēvijas Sargs, a journal of MoD; Latvian cinematography site; Svabe, Arveds (1949). The Story of Latvia - A Historical Survey (PDF). p. 39.
- Unāms, Žanis (1975) . Es Viņu Pazīstu - LATVIEŠŪ BIOGRAFISKĀ VĀRDNĪCA (I Know Them - LATVIAN BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY) (2nd ed.). Raven Printing. p. 240.