Born On: April 3, 1914
Born In: Amritsar, Punjab
Died On: June 27, 2008
Career: Indian Army
It was during the World War II that a young captain in the 4/12 Frontier Force regiment, Indian Army, was leading his battalion as a Company Commander against the invading Japanese. A raging battle on the Sittang Bridge near Sittang River in Myanmar kept both the sides on their toes. The young company commander, even though severely injured with multiple wounds in the stomach caused by light machine gun's bullets, was staring straight into the face of the enemy, stern; managing his troops effectively and fought until the battle was won. When the Indian Forces arrived at the scene and saw the severely wounded company commander, Major General D.T Cowan quickly took off his own Military Cross and pinned it to this commander while he was still alive, saying "A dead person cannot be given a Military Cross". This young commander was Sam Manekshaw aka Sam Bahadur (Sam the Brave). He was immediately taken to the hospital. With 9 bullets in his lungs, liver, and kidney; he was almost declared dead when brought to the hospital but lived to be India's first Field Marshal till the age of 94. Such was Sam's zeal to serve that it took him out of the face of death and stood him menacingly straight against all enemies. During the 40 years of his military career, he saw four wars, held various positions in army and otherwise and received many honors but never let pride make its way into the proceedings and dealt everything with absolute honesty, fairness, and justice.
Sam Manekshaw was born on 3rd April, 1914 in Amritsar, Punjab, to Parsi parents who moved from the small town of Valsad, Gujarat. Her mother's name was Heerabai and his father, Hormusji Manekshaw, was a doctor by profession and had served with the royal British army in Mesopotamia region (now Iraq) during the World War I. After completing his schooling in Amritsar and in Sherwood College in Nainital, he wanted to go to England to study medicine but was denied the permission by his father on account of Sam being too young to manage on his own. It was an act of rebellion that made Sam apply to the newly established Indian Military Academy in Dehradun and was among the 40 cadets to be selected in the first ever batch. This was in the year 1932. Two years later, in 1934, Sam passed out from IMA and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, first to the Royal Scots and later to the Frontier Force Regiment under the British Indian Army. What started as an act of rebellion was soon to turn into many acts of valor that would consume the life out of nation's enemies.
Immediately after passing out of IMA in 1934, Sam Manekshaw was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the British Indian Army. This marked the beginning of his selfless service towards his country. He was first attached to the 2nd Bn The Royal Scots and later to the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment. It was under this regiment that he was made the company commander of the battalion that fought the famous battle against the Japanese in Myanmar and won. It was this very battle that earned Manekshaw a Military Cross, a recognition that's granted in acknowledgment of "an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during the active operations against the enemy on land to all members, of any rank in the armed forces". After partition, the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment became a part of the Pakistan army so Manekshaw was transferred to 8th Gurkha Rifles.
The temperament and perspicacity with which Manekshaw handled the planning and administrative issues that had crept up after the country's partition, was remarkable. Shortly after when Pakistan invaded Kashmir; he was made the colonel in charge. The success of the operations of 1947-48 is largely attributed to him for he showed exceptional strategic and battle skills during the military operations. Later in 1962, when India had suffered a defeat in NEFA at the hands of the Chinese, Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru asked Manekshaw to command the retreating Indian forces. The soldiers too, showed immense faith in their commander and successfully checked further intrusion by the Chinese. In the Indo-Pak war of 1965, Manekshaw was made the Company Commander of the eastern command and successfully led India to victory. He, then, went on to become the 8th Chief of Army Staff, succeeding General Kumaramangalam, on June 7, 1969.
The second Indo-Pak war of 1971 again saw the strategic brilliance of Sam into action as he was right in the middle of it all. It is said that there was a difference of opinion between the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Manekshaw as to what should be the timing of the military action and that the latter offered to resign from the post if his plans were not accepted. Indira Gandhi accepted his plans and the result was evident in 93, 000 Pakistani soldiers that were made to surrender in a short span of just 14 days. India had won the war, making it one of the fastest military victories in the history of Indian Military. After four decades of selfless riveted service to the Indian Military and the country itself, Sam Manekshaw retired on 15th June 1973, but not before he was made the first ever Field Marshal.
High Commands & Honors
Upon earning Military Cross and regaining health after the 1942's battle against the Japanese in Myanmar, where he got severely wounded; Sam went for a course at the Staff College in Quetta, where he also served as the instructor till he was called to join his 12 Frontier Force Rifles. Towards the end of World War II, he was also made the Staff Officer to General Daisy in Indo-China and helped rehabilitate 10000 Prisoner of Wars; after which he went to a 6 months long lecturing tour to Australia, in 1946. During the 1947-48 operations in Jammu & Kashmir, he was made the Commandant of the Infantry School and was also made the Colonel of the 8 Gurkha Rifles (his new regimental home) and 61 cavalry. He was honored with a Padma Bhushan in 1968 after handling successfully handling the insurgent situation in Nagaland. In 1972, he was awarded with a Padma Vibhushan for his immaculate strategic skills and contribution towards successfully winning the 1971's Indo-Pak war. And finally on 1st January 1973, Manekshaw was awarded the prestigious rank of Field Marshal. Following his retirement from the service, he successfully served as a Board of Director and Chairman for various companies.
During his later part of his life, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw settled down with his wife in Coonoor, Tamil Nadu. At the age of 94, he died of complications from pneumonia at the Military Hospital in Wellington, Tamil Nadu. He is survived by his two daughters, Sherry and Maya, and three grandchildren.
1914: Sam Manekshaw was born.
1932: Became one of the 40 cadets to be selected in the first ever batch of Indian Military Academy (IMA).
1934: Passed out of IMA and was made Second Lieutenant in the British Indian Army.
1935: Became Lieutenant.
1939: Got married to Silloo Bode.
1940: Became Captain.
1942: Received Military Cross for his Gallantry.
1943: Became Major.
1945: Became Lieutenant-Colonel.
1946: Became Colonel.
1947: Became Brigadier. Was also the Colonel-in-Charge of the operations when Pakistan invaded Kashmir.
1950: Became Brigadier in the Indian Army.
1957: Became Major General.
1963: Became Lieutenant General.
1965: Became Commander of the Eastern Command during the Indo-Pak war.
1968: Received Padma Bhushan Award.
1969: Became General.
1971: Steered India to victory during the second Indo-Pak war.
1972: Received Padma Vibhushan award.
1973: Became Field Marshal.
2008: Died at the age of 94.