|Born||6 January 1882|
Meirāni, Governorate of Livonia (present-day Indrāni parish, Lubāna municipality, Latvia)
|Died||6 March 1919 (aged 37)|
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|
|Battles/wars||First World War |
Latvian War of Independence
Oskars Kalpaks (6 January 1882–6 March 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, by mistake, 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.
Kalpaks was honored on Latvian stamps in 1937 and again in 2007.
Notes and references
- 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. Archived from the original on 2007-01-11.
- See for instance: Tēvijas Sargs Archived 2006-09-19 at the Wayback Machine, a journal of MoD; Latvian cinematography site[dead link]; Svabe, Arveds (1949). The Story of Latvia - A Historical Survey (PDF). p. 39. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-09.
- Unāms, Žanis (1975) . Es Viņu Pazīstu - Latviešu Biogrāfiskā Vārdnīca (I Know Them - Latvian Biographical Dictionary) (2nd ed.). Raven Printing. p. 240.
- Scott #199 and #668 - Scott (2008) "Latvia" Scott 2009 Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue Volume 4 (165th edition) Scott Publishing Co., Sidney, Ohio, pages 413, 421. ISBN 978-0-89487-420-8