Sam Manekshaw

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Field Marshal
Sam Manekshaw
Sam Manekshaw.jpg
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
8th Chief of Army Staff
(Pictured wearing General's insignia ca. 1970)
Nickname(s) Sam Bahadur
Born (1914-04-03)3 April 1914
Amritsar, Punjab
Died 27 June 2008(2008-06-27) (aged 94)
Wellington, Tamil Nadu
Buried at Ooty, Tamil Nadu
Allegiance  British India (until 1947)
 India (after 1947)
Service/branch  British Indian Army
 Indian Army
Years of service 1934–2008[1]
Rank Field Marshal of the Indian Army.svg Field Marshal
Commands held Badge of 12th Frontier Force Regiment.jpg 12th Frontier Force Regiment
Rylscots.gif Royal Scots
Badge of 16th Punjab Regiment 1922-56.jpg 16th Punjab Regiment
5 Gorkha Rifles.png 5 Gorkha Rifles
8 Gorkha Rifles.png 8 Gorkha Rifles
Battles/wars World War II
Indo-Pakistan War of 1947
Sino-Indian War
Indo-Pakistan War of 1965
Bangladesh Liberation War 1971
Awards IND Padma Vibhushan BAR.png Padma Vibhushan
IND Padma Bhushan BAR.png Padma Bhushan
Military cross BAR.svg Military Cross
Signature Autograph of Manek Shaw.JPG

Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw MC (3 April 1914 – 27 June 2008), also known as Sam Bahadur ("Sam the Brave"), was an Indian military leader who was the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. His distinguished military career spanned four decades and five wars, beginning with service in the British Indian Army in World War II. Manekshaw rose to become the eighth chief of staff of the Indian Army in 1969 and under his command, Indian forces conducted victorious campaigns against Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 that led to the liberation of Bangladesh in December 1971.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Manekshaw was born in Amritsar to Parsi parents, Hormusji Manekshaw, a doctor, and his wife Heerabai, who moved to Punjab from the small town of Valsad on the Gujarat coast. After completing his schooling in Punjab and Sherwood College (Nainital), and achieving a distinction in the School Certificate examination of the Cambridge Board at the age of 15, he asked his father to let him to become a "soldier". When his father refused to send him until he was older, in an act of rebellion Manekshaw sat the entrance examination for enrolment into the Indian Military Academy (IMA)[4] at Dehradun. He was successful and as a result became part of the first intake of 40 cadets on 1 October 1932. He graduated from the IMA on 4 February 1934 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the British Indian Army (which later became the Indian Army after Independence).[5]

After taking over as chief of army staff (COAS), at a function on 8 June 1969 to mark the centenary of Sherwood College, Manekshaw recalled that his years at the College had prepared him for war as they had taught him to live alone and independently, to fight without relent, tolerate hunger for long periods and to hate his enemy.[citation needed]

Military career[edit]

Manekshaw's military career spanned four decades, from the British era and World War II, to the three wars against Pakistan and China after India's independence in 1947. He held several regimental, staff and command assignments. Manekshaw went on to become the eighth Chief of the Army Staff, led the Indian Army successfully in a war with Pakistan and become India's first Field Marshal.[5][6]

On commissioning, as per the practices of that time Manekshaw was first attached to the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Scots, a British battalion, and then later posted to the 4th Battalion, 12th Frontier Force Regiment.[citation needed]

World War II[edit]

During World War II, Manekshaw saw action in Burma in the 1942 campaign on the Sittang River as a captain with the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment,[7] and had the rare distinction of being honoured for his bravery on the battlefield. During the fighting around Pagoda Hill, a key position on the left of the Sittang bridgehead, he led his company in a counter-attack against the invading Japanese Army and despite suffering 50% casualties the company managed to achieve its objective. After capturing the hill, Manekshaw was hit by a burst of light machine gun fire and was severely wounded in the stomach.[8] Observing the battle, Major General David Cowan spotted Manekshaw holding on to life and, having witnessed his valour in the face of stiff resistance, rushed over to him. Fearing that Manekshaw would die, the general pinned his own Military Cross ribbon to Manekshaw saying, "A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross."[7] The official recommendation for the MC states that the success of the attack "was largely due to the excellent leadership and bearing of Captain Manekshaw". This award was made official with the publication of the notification in a supplement to the London Gazette on 21 April 1942 (dated 23 April 1942).[9] [10]

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Manekshaw was evacuated to Rangoon and on arrival was close to death, having been hit by seven bullets in his lungs, liver and kidneys. It was Sher Singh, his orderly, who evacuated him from the battlefield. When the surgeon asked what had happened to him, he replied that he was "kicked by a donkey". Over Manekshaw's protests to treat the other patients, the medical officer, Captain GM Diwan, attended to him and saved him.[11][12]

Having recovered from his wounds, Manekshaw attended the 8th Staff Course at Staff College, Quetta, from 23 August to 22 December 1943. He was then posted as the Brigade Major of the Razmak brigade, serving in that post until 22 October 1944 when he was sent to join the 9th Battalion, 12 Frontier Force Regiment in Burma, as part of General (later Field Marshal) William Slim's 14th Army. Towards the end of World War II, Manekshaw was sent to serve on General Daisy's staff in Indo-China where, after the Japanese surrender, he helped repatriate over 10,000 former prisoners of war (POWs). He then went on a six-month lecture tour to Australia in 1946, and after his return was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, serving as a first grade staff officer in the Military Operations Directorate.[5]

Upon the Partition of India in 1947, his parent unit – 4/12 FFR – became part of the Pakistan Army, and so Manekshaw was reassigned to the 16th Punjab Regiment, before later being posted to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Gorkha Rifles, which he was detailed to command. The tumultuous events of partition required Manekshaw's retention in Army Headquarters as a lieutenant colonel in the Military Operations Directorate, though, and because of this he subsequently missed his chance to command an infantry battalion as he was later promoted to brigadier, becoming the first Indian Director of Military Operations.[5]

Post-independence[edit]

While handling the issues relating to Partition in 1947 Manekshaw demonstrated his acumen for planning and administration, and later was able put his battle skills to use during operations in Jammu & Kashmir in 1947–48.[13] After commanding an infantry brigade, he was posted to the Infantry School at Mhow as the school's commandant and also became the colonel of 8 Gorkha Rifles (which became his new regiment, since his original parent regiment, the 12th Frontier Force Regiment, had become part of the new Pakistan Army at partition) and 61 Cavalry. He commanded a division in Jammu & Kashmir and a corps in the North East, with a tenure as commandant of the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) in between. As GOC-in-C Eastern Command, he successfully responded to an insurgency in Nagaland for which he was later awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1968.[citation needed]

Army Chief: Indo-Pakistani War of 1971[edit]

Manekshaw became the eighth COAS when he succeeded General Kumaramangalam on 7 June 1969. His years of military experience were soon put to the test as India decided to help the Mukti Bahini rebels against West Pakistani forces. This resulted in the break up of Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh.[citation needed]

Towards the end of April 1971, Indira Gandhi, who was Prime Minister of India at that time, asked Manekshaw if he was ready to go to war with Pakistan. Manekshaw refused, saying that his single armoured division and two infantry divisions were deployed elsewhere, that only 13 of his 189 tanks were fit to fight, and that they would be competing for rail carriage with the grain harvest at that point of time. He also pointed out that the Himalayan passes would soon open up, with the forthcoming monsoon in East Pakistan, which would result in heavy flooding.[11] When Indira Gandhi asked the cabinet to leave the room and the chief to stay, he offered to resign. She declined to accept it, but sought his advice. He then said he could guarantee victory if she would allow him to prepare for the conflict on his terms, and set a date for it. These were acceded to by the Prime Minister.[14]

When the Indian Army finally went to war in December that year, under Manekshaw's leadership it proved victorious against the Pakistan Army. The war, lasting under a fortnight, saw more than 45,000 Pakistani soldiers and 45,000 civilian personnel taken as POWs, and it ended with the unconditional surrender of Pakistan's eastern half, resulting in the birth of Bangladesh as a new nation.[citation needed]

Rank Promotions[edit]

Honours and post-retirement[edit]

A statue of Sam Manekshaw in Pune Cantonment

For his distinguished service to the country, the President of India awarded Manekshaw a Padma Vibhushan in 1972 and conferred upon him the rank of field marshal on 1 January 1973. He became one of the only two Indian Army generals to be awarded this prestigious rank; the other being Kodandera Madappa Cariappa. Manekshaw retired from active service a fortnight later on 15 January 1973 after a career of nearly four decades, and settled down with his wife Silloo in Coonoor, the civilian town next to Wellington Military Cantonment where he had served as Commandant of the Defence Services Staff College, at an earlier time in his career. Popular with Gorkha soldiers, Nepal feted Manekshaw as an Honorary General of their army in 1972.[15]

In May 2007, Gohar Ayub, son of Pakistani Field Marshal Ayub Khan, claimed that Manekshaw had sold Indian Army secrets to Pakistan during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 for 20,000 rupees, but his accusations were dismissed by the Indian defence establishment.[16][17]

Following his service in the Indian Army, Manekshaw successfully served as an independent director on the board of several companies, and the chairman as well, of a few of them.[18] He was outspoken and politically incorrect, and when he was replaced on the board of one company by a man named Naik at the behest of the government, Manekshaw quipped, "This is the first time in history when a Naik (corporal) has replaced a Field Marshal."[15]

Death[edit]

Manekshaw died of complications from pneumonia at the Military Hospital in Wellington, Tamil Nadu, on 0030 hours, 27 June 2008 at the age of 94.[19] He was laid to rest at the Parsi cemetery in Ootacamund (Ooty), Tamil Nadu,[20] with military honours, adjacent to his wife's grave. He was survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.[citation needed]

Reportedly, his last words were "I'm okay!"[11]

That year on 16 December, celebrated each year as "Vijay Diwas" in memory of the victory achieved under Manekshaw's leadership in 1971, a postage stamp depicting Manekshaw in his field marshal's uniform was released by President Pratibha Patil.[21] However, she, the PM or other leaders from the political class did not turn up at his funeral,[22][23] nor was a national day of mourning declared.[24] In 2014, a granite statute was erected in his honor at Wellington, in the Nilgiris district, close to the Manekshaw Bridge on the Ooty-Coonoor road,[20] which had been named after him in 2009.[25]

Famous quotations[edit]

  • On the military knowledge of politicians: "I wonder whether those of our political masters who have been put in charge of the defence of the country can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerrilla from a gorilla, although a great many resemble the latter." [23]

  • On being asked what would have happened had he opted for Pakistan at the time of the Partition in 1947, he quipped, "then I guess Pakistan would have won (the 1971 war)"[26]

  • On being placed in command of the retreating 4 Corps during the Sino-Indian War of 1962: "There will be no withdrawal without written orders and these orders shall never be issued."[27]

  • About the Gurkha: "If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha."[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Indian military officers of five-star rank hold their rank for life, and are considered to be serving officers until their deaths.
  2. ^ Obituary—Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
  3. ^ Vijay, Tarun (30 June 2008). "Saluting Sam Bahadur". Times of India website. Retrieved 8 July 2008. 
  4. ^ Manekshaw, Sam. "Speech given at World Congress organized by Zoroastrian College". Fravahr.org. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Sood, S.D. (2006). Leadership: Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. Noida, Delhi: SDS Publishers. ISBN 81-902828-4-0. 
  6. ^ Singh, Depinder (2002). Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, M.C. – Soldiering with Dignity. Dehradun: Natraj. pp. 237–259. ISBN 81-85019-02-9.  .
  7. ^ a b Compton Mackenzie (1951), Eastern Epic, Chatto & Windus, London, pp. 440–1
  8. ^ Sam Bahadur: A soldier's general, Times of India, 27 June 2008. Retrieved 30 June 2008.
  9. ^ London Gazette, Issue 35532, pg 1797 (date 21 April 1942). Accessed on 3 June 2011.
  10. ^ Recommendations for Honours and Awards (Army)—Image details—Manekshaw, Sam Hormuzji Franji Jamshadji, Documents online, The National Archives (fee required to view pdf of original citation). Retrieved 30 June 2008.
  11. ^ a b c "Obituary: Sam Manekshaw". The Economist (5 July 2008): p. 107. Retrieved 7 July 2008. 
  12. ^ Tarun (2008), p. 2
  13. ^ Jha, Prem Shankar . (2006). "'Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away?". Noida, Delhi: Rediff.com. ISBN 81-902828-4-0. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Manekshaw, SHFJ. (11 Nov 1998). "Lecture at Defence Services Staff College on Leadership and Discipline" (Appendix V) in Singh (2002)Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, M.C. – Soldiering with Dignity.
  15. ^ a b Mehta, Ashok (27 Jan 2003). "Play It Again, Sam : A tribute to the man whose wit was as astounding as his military skill". Outlook. Retrieved 15 Aug 2012. 
  16. ^ PTI (3 June 2005). "1965 war-plan-seller a DGMO: Gohar Khan". The Times of India (website). Bennett, Coleman & Co. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  17. ^ PTI (8 May 2007). "Military livid at Pak slur on Sam Bahadur". The Times of India (website). Bennett, Coleman & Co. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  18. ^ Leadership: Sam Manekshaw, 2006, ISBN 81-902828-4-0, SDS Publishers
  19. ^ Pandya, Haresh (30 June 2008). "Sam H.F.J. Manekshaw Dies at 94; Key to India's Victory in 1971 War". New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2008. "Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, India's best-known soldier and the architect of the country's victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan that gave birth to Bangladesh, died in Wellington, India, on Friday. He was 94. The cause was pneumonia, India's Defence Ministry said in a statement." 
  20. ^ a b Thiagarajan, Shanta (3 April 2014). "Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw statue unveiled on Ooty–Coonoor road". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. 
  21. ^ IANS (18 Dec 2008). "Stamp on Manekshaw released". The Hindu (website). The Hindu group. Retrieved 10 May 2011. 
  22. ^ Pandit, Rajat (28 June 2008). "Lone minister represents govt at Manekshaw's funeral". Times of India. Retrieved 15 Aug 2012. 
  23. ^ a b DNA – India – NRIs irked by poor Manekshaw farewell – Daily News & Analysis
  24. ^ "No national mourning for Manekshaw". The Indian Express. 29 June 2008. Retrieved 15 Aug 2012. 
  25. ^ "Manekshaw Bridge thrown open to traffic". The Hindu. 10 March 2009. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. 
  26. ^ Lakshmi, Iyer (28 June 2008). "A soldier’s general". Mumbai Mirror. Retrieved 13 Oct 2013. 
  27. ^ "Sam Manekshaw, soldier, died on June 27th, aged 94". The Economist. 3 July 2008. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Paramasiva Prabhakar Kumaramangalam
Chief of Army Staff
1969–1973
Succeeded by
Gopal Gurunath Bewoor