S H F J Manekshaw
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
(pictured wearing general's insignia ca. 1970)
3 April 1914|
Amritsar, Punjab, British India
|Died||27 June 2008
Wellington, Tamil Nadu
|Years of service||1934–2008[a]|
Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, MC (3 April 1914 – 27 June 2008), popularly known as Sam Bahadur ("Sam the Brave"), was an Indian military leader. He was the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the five-star rank of field marshal.
Though Manekshaw initially thought of pursuing a career as a medical doctor, he later joined the first intake of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) when it was established in 1932. Right from his days at IMA, he proved to be witty and humorous in nature. He was first attached to the 2nd Battalion of Royal Scots, and then later posted to the 4th Battalion of 12th Frontier Force Regiment, commonly known as the 54th Sikhs. Following partition, he later reassigned to the 16th Punjab Regiment, before being posted to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Gorkha Rifles, which he was detailed to command. His distinguished military career spanned four decades and five wars, beginning with service in the British Indian Army in World War II. During action in World War II, he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.
Manekshaw rose to become the 8th Chief of Army 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. Later, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan and the Padma Bhushan for his services to the Indian nation.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Military career
- 3 Honours and post-retirement
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Death
- 6 Awards and decorations
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life and education
Manekshaw was born on 3 April 1914 in Amritsar, Punjab to Parsi parents, Hormusji Manekshaw, a doctor, and his wife Hilla, who moved to Punjab from the city of Valsad on the coastal Gujarat. Sam's father served in the British Indian Army as a Captain in the medical services and also participated in World War I. Hormusji and Hilla had six children of which Sam was the fifth one. Fali, Cilla, Jan and Sehroo preceded Sam and Sam was followed Jemi, who later joined the air force as a doctor and was the first Indian to be awarded the air surgeon's wings from Pensacola, United States. After completing his schooling in Punjab and Sherwood College, Nainital, and achieving a distinction in the School Certificate of the Cambridge Board at the age of 15, he asked his father to send him to London to become a gynaecologist. But his father refused to send him to London stating that he was not old enough.
In the meantime, the Indian Military College Committee which was set up in 1931 and chaired by Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwode recommended the establishment of a military training academy in India to train the Indians for commission into the army. A three-year course was proposed with an entry age of 18 to 20 years, who would be selected on the basis of an examination conducted by the Public Service Commission. After the approval of the committee's recommendation, a formal notification for entrance examination to enroll in the Indian Military Academy (IMA) was issued in the early months of 1932 and the exam to be conducted in the months of June or July.
In an act of rebellion against his father's refusal, Manekshaw took the examination for enrollment into the academy and was one of the fifteen cadets to be selected through open competition.[b] He stood sixth in the order of merit.
Just before taking over as the Chief of the Army Staff, at a function on 5 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.
Training at the Indian Military Academy
Although the academy was formally inaugurated on 10 December 1932 by Sir Philip Chetwode, formal military training for the cadets commenced from 1 October 1932. After being selected into the first batch of the academy – called the "The Pioneers", which produced three future chiefs – Manekshaw, Smith Dun and Muhammad Musa – Manekshaw proved to be witty during his stay at the academy and had many firsts to his credit. He was the first Gentlemen Cadet (GC) to ask for a weekend leave, the first GC to be awarded an extra drill, the first of the alumni to join the Gorkha Regiment and later the first to serve as the Chief of the Army Staff of India and attain the rank of field marshal. During his days at the academy, Manekshaw wrote an article titled as "A Letter from 'Maneksam'", which was published in the academy's journal of June 1933.
Of the 40 cadets inducted, only 22 were able to complete the course and were commissioned as second lieutenants on 1 February 1935 with their anté-date seniority fixed as 4 February 1934. Under Officer Smith Dun, who later became the chief of the Burmese Army, received the sword of honour and the gold medal was presented to Sergeant N.S. Bhagat.
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 8th chief of the army staff, led the Indian Army successfully in a war with Pakistan and became India's first field marshal after independence.
On commissioning, as per the practices of that time, Manekshaw was first attached to the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Scots, a British battalion, and was later posted to the 4th Battalion, 12th Frontier Force Regiment, commonly known as the 54th Sikhs. Manekshaw was later reassigned to the 16th Punjab Regiment, before being posted to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Gorkha Rifles, which he was detailed to command.
World War II
During World War II, the then-Captain Manekshaw saw action in Burma in the 1942 campaign on the Sittang River with the 4th Battalion, 12 Frontier Force Regiment, 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. Observing the battle, Major General David Cowan, the then commander of the 17th Infantry Division, 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." 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).
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 mule". Over Manekshaw's protests to treat the other patients, the regimental medical officer, Captain G M Diwan, attended to him.
Having recovered from his wounds, Manekshaw attended the 8th Staff Course at Command and 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 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.
Upon the Partition of India in 1947, his parent unit – the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment – became part of the Pakistan Army (re-designated as the 6 Frontier Force Regiment in 1956), and so Manekshaw was reassigned to the 16th Punjab Regiment, before 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. The appointment of Director of Military Operations was upgraded first to major general and later to lieutenant general and is now termed Director General Military Operations (DGMO).
While handling the issues relating to Partition in 1947, Manekshaw demonstrated his sound planning and administrative skills, and later was able put his battle skills to use during operations in Jammu & Kashmir in 1947–48. 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 the 61st Cavalry. Manekshaw then commanded a division in Jammu and Kashmir. A stint at the Defence Services Staff College followed where he served as the commandant. It was here that his outspoken frankness got him into trouble with the then Defence Minister, V. K. Krishna Menon. A court of inquiry was ordered against him. The court, presided over by the then-Western Army Commander, Lieutenant General Daulet Singh, exonerated Manekshaw. Before a formal 'no case' could be announced, war with China broke out. Manekshaw was then promoted to lieutenant general and moved to Tezpur to take over IV Corps as its GOC.
A year later, Manekshaw was promoted to the position of army commander and took over Western Command. In 1964, he moved from Shimla to Calcutta as the GOC-in-C of the Eastern Army. 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.
Chief of the Army Staff
Then Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General P P Kumaramangalam was due to retire in June 1969. Though Manekshaw was the senior-most commander in army, then Defence Minister Sardar Swaran Singh was in favour of Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh, who had played a key role as the GOC-in-C of Western Command during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Putting the rumours of Harbaksh Singh taking charge as the COAS to an end, Manekshaw was appointed as the 8th Chief of the Army Staff on 8 June 1969. As the Chief of the Army Staff, he developed the Indian Army into an efficient instrument of war. During his tenure as COAS, he was instrumental in stopping the implementation of reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in the army.
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
Towards the end of April 1971, Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, during a cabinet meeting, asked Manekshaw if he was prepared to go to war with Pakistan. In response, Manekshaw told her 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. 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.
Under Manekshaw's direction, the army launched several preparatory operations in East Pakistan including training and equipping the Mukti Bahini (a local group of freedom fighters), and about three brigades from the regular Bangladesh troops were trained. As an additional measure, 75,000 guerrillas were trained and equipped with arms and ammunition. These forces were used to harass the Pakistani army stationed in East Pakistan sporadically in the lead up to the war.
The war started on 3 December 1971, when Pakistani aircraft bombed Indian Air Force bases in the western sector. Manekshaw instructed Lt Gen J F R Jacob, Chief of Staff Eastern Command, to inform the Indian prime minister that orders were being issued for the movement of troops from Eastern Command. The following day, the navy and the air force also initiated full-scale operations on both eastern and western fronts.
The veto used by the Russians against the United States' proposal to implement a cease-fire in the United Nations proved decisive in securing India's victory. Manekshaw addressed the Pakistani troops three times via radio messages on the subject of surrender, assuring them that they would receive honourable treatment from the Indian troops. The messages were broadcast on the 9th, 11th and 15 December. The last two messages were delivered as replies to the messages from Maj Gen Rao Farman Ali and Lt Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi. These messages from the Pakistani commanders to their troops were to have a devastating effect on their side, subsequently leading to their defeat.
Though on 11 December, Ali messaged the United Nations requesting for a cease-fire, it was not authorized by the President Yahya Khan and the fighting continued. Following several discussions and consultations, and subsequent attacks by the Indian forces, Yahya decided to stop the war in order to save the lives of the Pakistani soldiers. The actual decision to surrender was taken by Niazi on 15 December and was conveyed to Manekshaw through the United States Consul General in Dhaka (then Dacca) via Washington. But Manekshaw replied that he would stop the war only if the Pakistani troops surrendered to their Indian counterparts by 9:00 a.m. on 16 December. Later the deadline was extended to 3:00 p.m. of the same day on Niazi's request. The Instrument of Surrender was formally signed on 16 December 1971.
When the prime minister asked Manekshaw to go to Dhaka and accept the surrender of Pakistani forces, he declined, saying that the honour should go to the Indian Army Commander in the East, Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora. Concerned about maintaining discipline in the aftermath of the conflict, Manekshaw issued strict instructions forbidding loot and rape. He stressed the need to respect and stay away from women wherever he went. As a result, according to Singh, cases of loot and rape were negligible. In addressing his troops on the matter, Manekshaw was quoted as saying:
When you see a Begum, keep your hands in your pockets, and think of Sam.— General Sam Manekshaw, COAS, 
The war, lasting under a fortnight, saw more than 90,000 Pakistani soldiers personnel taken as prisoners of war, and it ended with the unconditional surrender of Pakistan's eastern half, resulting in the birth of Bangladesh as a new nation. After the war, Manekshaw was known for his compassion towards the Prisoners of War (POWs). Singh recounts that in some cases he addressed POWs personally, talking to them privately with just his ADC in his company while they shared a cup of tea. He ensured that POWs were well treated by the Indian Army, making provisions for them to be supplied with the copies of Quran, and allowing them to celebrate festivals, and to receive letters and parcels from their loved ones.
Promotion to field marshal
After the end of the war, Indira Gandhi decided to promote Manekshaw to the rank of field marshal and subsequently appoint him as the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS). However, after several objections from the bureaucracy and the commanders of the navy and the air force, the latter was dropped. Though Manekshaw was to retire in June 1972, his term was extended by a period of six months. On 3 December 1973, Manekshaw was conferred with the rank of field marshal at a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Honours and post-retirement
For his service to the Indian nation, the President of India awarded Manekshaw a Padma Vibhushan in 1972 and conferred upon him the rank of field marshal, a first, on 1 January 1973. He became one of the only two army generals of independent India to be awarded this rank; the other being Kodandera Madappa Cariappa who was awarded the rank in 1986. Manekshaw retired from active service a fortnight later on 15 January 1973 after a career of nearly four decades; he 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 Gurkha soldiers, Nepal fêted Manekshaw as an honorary general of the Nepalese Army in 1972.
In May 2007, Gohar Ayub, the 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.
Following his service in the Indian Army, Manekshaw successfully served as an independent director on the board of several companies, and in a few cases, as the chairman. He was outspoken and hardly politically correct, and when once he was replaced on the board of a 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."
Though Sam Manekshaw was conferred the rank of field-marshal in 1973, it was reported that he was never given the complete allowances that were entitled to a field-marshal. It was not until President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam took the initiative when he met Manekshaw in Wellington, and made sure that the field-marshal was presented with a cheque for Rs 1.3 crores that Manekshaw received his arrears of pay for over 30 years. Even more surprisingly, Manekshaw's funeral was not attended by the top brass of civil, military and political leadership.
On 22 April 1939, Manekshaw was married to Siloo Bode in Bombay. The couple had two daughters, Sherry and Maya (later Maja), born on 11 January 1940 and 24 September 1945 respectively. Sherry was married to Batliwala and they have a daughter named Brandy. Maja was employed by the British Airways as a stewardess. She later married Daruwala, a pilot. The couple have two sons named Raoul Sam and Jehan Sam.
Manekshaw died of complications from pneumonia at the Military Hospital in Wellington, Tamil Nadu, at 0030 hours, on 27 June 2008 at the age of 94. He was laid to rest at the Parsi cemetery in Ootacamund (Ooty), Tamil Nadu, with military honours, adjacent to his wife's grave. He is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren.
Reportedly, his last words were "I'm okay!"
That year on 16 December has been celebrated 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 then President Pratibha Patil. However, neither did the President nor the PM and other leaders from the political class turn up at his funeral, nor was a national day of mourning declared. In 2014, a granite statue was erected in his honor at Wellington, in the Nilgiris district, close to the Manekshaw Bridge on the Ooty-Coonoor road, which had been named after him in 2009.
Awards and decorations
|Padma Vibhushan||Padma Bhushan||Poorvi Star||General Service Medal 1947|||
|Paschimi Star||Raksha Medal||Sangram Medal||Sainya Seva Medal|
|Indian Independence Medal||25th Independence Anniversary Medal||20 Years Long Service Medal||9 Years Long Service Medal|
|Military Cross||Burma Star||War Medal||India Service Medal|
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- Singh 2005, p. 183.
- Singh 2005, p. 184.
- Sharma 2007, p. 59.
- Excerpt from his first personal TV interview, hosted at IBN Live
- Singh 2005, p. 185.
- Singh 2005, p. 186.
- Manekshaw, Sam. "Speech given at World Congress organized by Zoroastrian College". Fravahr.org. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- "Veekay's History Book". Retrieved 23 September 2015.
- Singh 2005, p. 188–189.
- Sood, S.D. (2006). Leadership: Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw. Noida, Delhi: SDS Publishers. ISBN 81-902828-4-0.
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- Obituary—Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
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- Singh 2002, p. 8.
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- Singh 2005, pp. 210–211.
- Singh 2005, p. 214–215.
- Singh 2005, p. 215.
- 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.
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- 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.
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- Sharma 2007, p. 61.
- Singh, Vijay Kumar (2005), Leadership in the Indian Army: Biographies of Twelve Soldiers, SAGE, ISBN 978-0-7619-3322-9
- Singh, Depinder (2002), Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, M.C.: Soldiering with Dignity, Natraj Publishers, ISBN 978-81-85019-02-4
- Sharma, Satinder (2007), Services Chiefs of India, Northern Book Centre, ISBN 978-81-7211-162-5
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|General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Command
P P Kumaramangalam
|General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command
Jagjit Singh Aurora
P P Kumaramangalam
|Chief of Army Staff
Gopal Gurunath Bewoor