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03 Apr, 1914
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| Died: || |
27 Jun, 2008
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| Profession: || |
Field Marshall of the Indian Army
| Institution study: || |
Sherwood College, Nainital
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----------------------------------------------------------- Photos of Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw (Sam Bahadur)
Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw was the first officer to get to the highest rank of Field Marshall of the Indian Army. In the history of Indian military forces, he was only followed by Field Marshall Cariappa to the same rank. With a glorious military service spanning four decades and five wars, the name of Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw will be written in golden letters in the sepia pages of military history.
Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw was born as Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw on April 3, 1914 in Amritsar, Punjab. His parents were of the Parsi faith who had immigrated to Punjab from Gujarat. Sam Manekshaw had schooling in Amritsar and higher education at the renowned Sherwood College at Nainital, Uttar Pradesh. On October 1, 1932, young Sam joined the first batch (comprising of 40 cadets) at the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun.
After passing out from the IMA in 1934, Manekshaw was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Indian Army. As part of his assignments, he was attached to the Royal Scouts and 12 Frontier Force Rifles. In June 1969, Sam Manekshaw succeeded General Kumaramangalam as Chief of the Army Staff. He led India to victory in the Indo-Pak war in 1971. For his selfless service to the motherland, Sam Manekshaw was bestowed with the honorary rank of Field Marshall in 1973.
On the personal front, Sam Manekshaw met his wife to be Silloo Bode at a get-together in 1937 at Lahore. Cupid stuck his arrows and both tied the knot on April 22, 1939. An alumna of Elphinstone College and JJ School of Arts at Bombay, Silloo was an intelligent and multifaceted young woman. Out of this perfect union were born two beautiful daughters Sherry and Maya.
Sherry worked with Air India and Mercury Travels from where she retired. She now lives in Chennai with her husband and daughter.
Maya went on to become a barrister from London University. She also worked for British Airways for some time and is now based in Delhi with her husband and two sons. She heads an NGO working for human rights.
After retiring from the Indian Army in 1973, Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw served as a director of a number of enterprises. In June 2008, Manekshaw was diagnosed with acute broncho-pneumonia which became the reason behind this noble soul passing away from amongst us on June 27, 2008.
_________________________________________How he and his men won those wars
Milestones: (Clockwise from top left): The badge of Field Marshal being pinned on to Sam Manekshaw by President V.V. Giri in January 1973; the Field Marshal with his men; with Chief of the Army Staff V.P.Malik (left) and the Chief of the Air Staff S.K.Sareen, after paying homage at Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate on December 16, 1997, the day of Vijay Divas that marks India’s victory in the 1971 war; with K.M. Cariappa to whom President Zail Singh presented the baton of Field Marshal in April 1986, watched by Vice-President R.Venkataraman and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi; with Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President V.V.Giri in January 1973; on a visit to the USSR in September 1970.
NEW DELHI: ‘Sam’ Maneskhaw backed his men through and through. And, his self-belief rubbed on to his men.
He would back officers even if some of them developed a fondness for the bottle that made them anathema in the eyes of some of his more punctilious colleagues. ‘Sam’ felt that the indiscretions of youth could be overlooked if the officer was courageous and a brilliant tactician, one whom soldiers would follow unquestioningly.
Thus, when the 1971 war came about, the General had around him officers who were not afraid to speak out their mind but when ordered to do so, would fulfil their missions with the dedication of evangelists. Like Major General Ian Cordozo who cut off his leg without anaesthesia after gangrene had set in during the battle at Sylhet in Bangladesh. Manekshaw conveyed to his Eastern Command chief Lt. Gen. J.F.R. Jacob, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s wish to move quickly into East Pakistan in 1971. On being asked by General Jacob to wait till the end of monsoons, ‘Sam’ accepted his commander’s advice and did not budge when requested by the political leadership to launch operations immediately.
Asked by Indira Gandhi whether “he was ready [for the war],” Sam replied, “Sweety, I am always ready.” But he stood solidly by the assessment of his field commanders, who felt that a military campaign which began in summer would not be concluded successfully because of the monsoon. This lead to the famous four words from Jagjivan Ram, then Defence Minister: Sam, ab maan bhi jao (Sam, please do agree).
Manekshaw was proved right. By the time war was declared, the army had over eight lakh men, about 300 fighter planes, 1,500 tanks and 3,000 artillery pieces. The Pakistan Army had less than half that number of men, fighter jets, tanks and artillery pieces.
‘Sam’ had mentored many of the officers serving under him. Pakistani military historian Shuja Nawaz recalls that the war gaming models by an Indian officer about Pakistan’s likely offensive in Jammu during the 1965 war were so accurate. It was as if he had read the Pakistan commander’s mind. The Indian army officer later revealed that he had developed these ideas while serving under a certain Brigadier Manekshaw in an infantry school.
The sterling display by the army in 1971 under Manekshaw could not have happened without a combination of factors. Having noted Foreign Minister Swaran Singh’s advice to not venture into the war without an influential international friend, Indira Gandhi signed the 20-year friendship treaty with the Soviet Union which instantly increased the availability of weapons. Foreign journalists expelled from East Pakistan were smuggled back by India to write on the Mukti Bahini’s successes and the Pakistan Army’s excesses. This put Pakistan on the backfoot as far as the liberal international opinion was concerned.
The 1971 war saw several instances of jointsmanship among the armed forces. Naval jets accompanied IAF fighters to pound Chittagong. The navy made innovative use of high-speed short distance missile boats by towing them towards the Pakistan coast at night and launching a lightning attack on ships in the Karachi port from the southern side even as IAF fighters appeared from the eastern side. Indeed this thread of all the three forces chipping in their might made the 1971 war a delight to execute for its Generals, Admirals and Air Marshals.
While Manekshaw was adamant about delaying the military campaign till the monsoon had receded, he was flexible on many occasions. A firm believer in the Clausewetzian theory of that war is continuation of politics by other means, Manekshaw accepted the creation of a joint military command in which the head of the Mukti Bahini (a retired colonel) was given the title of a general and made the East Pakistan’s counterpart of Eastern Command chief Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh. This was essentially a political arrangement and Manekshaw saw sense in accepting this gesture aimed at respecting Bangladesh’s status as an independent nation and its sensibilities. And as result, the Indian Army’s Eastern Command received a steady flow of priceless intelligence about the Pakistan Army.
And then there was Manekshaw’s attitude of not pulling rank if the advice was sensible. The Eastern Command wanted Dhaka as the final objective but the East Pakistan capital was missing from Manekshaw’s battle plans. An intense debate ensued at Fort William in Calcutta, the army’s Eastern Command headquarters, and battle plans were modified to include the capture of Dhaka as a key objective of the attack on East Pakistan. No debate of this kind was conducted at the Pakistan Army’s central headquarters in Rawalpindi, rues Shuja Nawaz. All these combined to give a decisive victory for the Indian armed forces and helped create a nation that gave the lie to the two-nation theory.
Farewell Sam Bahadur28 Jun 2008, 0455 hrs IST, Rajat Pandit,TNN
Sam Bahadur is no more. Independent India's greatest military icon and the first-ever Field Marshal, Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, has finally hung his boots for the very last time after 94 years.
Regarded as the prime architect of India's greatest military victory, the liberation of Bangladesh, Manekshaw was known for both his strategic brilliance and leadership as well as biting candour and piercing humour.
''While Jaggi (Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, Eastern Army commander during the 1971 war) did all the work, I got the baton (of Field Marshal),'' Manekshaw remembered later, with a twinkle in his eyes.
But if Jaggi was the executor with his ''dash for Dhaka'' strategy, Sam was the intellectual fountainhead of the military campaign which swiftly reduced Pakistani forces to abject helplessness in just 13 days in December 1971, before the UN or American forces could intervene.
With millions of refugees pouring into India from the then East Pakistan, Indira Gandhi wanted the Army to immediately cross the border on the eastern front. Manekshaw, however, stood his ground that neither the government nor the Army was prepared for all-out war at that moment. After giving his free and frank opinion, he then offered to resign ''on grounds of health, mental or physical''.
But, when the war did come later that year, a crushing defeat was handed over to Pakistani forces. The swift and well-executed operation led to the famous surrender by 93,000 Pakistani troops led by General A A K 'Tiger' Niazi in Dhaka on December 16, 1971.
A grateful nation honoured him first with a Padma Vibhusan in 1972 and then finally with the five-star rank of a Field Marshal on January 1, 1973, merely 15 days before he finally retired after four decades of uniformed service. If that was the pinnacle of Manekshaw's military glory, the foundations were laid quite early in life.
He won a Military Cross on the battlefront during the World War II. At that point in time, Manekshaw was not expected to live another day since he had been grievously wounded, with his stomach being peppered by a machine gun burst fired by a Japanese soldier in Burma. But survive he did, only to garner greater glory and become the country's first Field Marshal in 1973. Since then, only two other military chiefs - the late K M Cariappa (Army) and Arjan Singh (IAF) - have been so honoured.
Manekshaw never shied away from confronting even top politicians if he felt they were in the wrong. In 1961, for instance, he took on the then all-powerful defence minister V K Krishna Menon, as a result of which he was sidelined in the Army.
India's humiliating military defeat at the hands of China during the 1962 war followed soon after, which finally forced Nehru to ask for Menon's resignation. Eager to make amends, Nehru dispatched Manekshaw to the Eastern Front to take charge of the demoralised Indian troops there. And Manekshaw promptly proved his worth as a true of commander of men there.
''There will be no withdrawal without written orders and these orders shall never be issued,'' was Manekshaw's first message to his soldiers, who all rallied around him with full confidence that he would die with them rather than betray their trust like other leaders, both political and military.
Very few Indian military leaders have captured the popular imagination. Sam was one such rare officer. He always spoke his mind, without fear or favour. After the 1971 war, when Indira Gandhi confronted him with the rumours that he was planning a coup against her, Sam replied: "Don't you think I would not be a worthy replacement for you, madam prime minister. You have a long nose, so have I. I don't poke my nose in other people's affairs."
They simply don't make generals like him any more.
_____________________________________With his charm, Manekshaw won hearts more than wars
The old soldier has faded away. And the battle-hardened eyes of his men glisten like medals. He was always more Sam Bahadur than Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw. He won hearts even more than he won wars. His weapons were a rakish charm as well as valour; the twinkling look as much as the straight baton.
Manekshaw with his wife Silloo (left) and
daughters Sherry and Maja. (TOI Photo)
Death had a tough time capturing him, and it hasn't been for want of determination. The young soldier escaped from its near-certain clutches twice on the battlefield in Burma during World War II.
Indeed, on the first occasion he was felled by a point-blank gun shot in his stomach. Maj Gen D T Cowan spotted him holding on to life, quickly pinned his own Military Cross ribbon on to Manekshaw saying, "A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross."
Over 60 years later in November 2005, his obituary was revised, and ready to roll off the presses as he lay in a coma. He rose again to fight another day. But now the Last Post has been bugled. Of such stuff is legend.
Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, all one man. One man who had handled it all. The raw heat of enemy fire and the white-hot core of the War Room; forging the three services into an integrated, taut, toned fighting machine and managing the bloodied chaos of Partition and then, 24 years later, the waves of East Bengal refugees fleeing the brutality unleashed by their West Pakistani masters; managing the POWs he took in 1971. Yet, though he was honoured with a rank higher than any Indian soldier, he remained forever a jawan.
He was so warmly inspirational, and not only for the beloved Gurkhas of his regiment; in every ceremonial parade, all soldiers march with the jauntiest gait when the band strikes up 'Sam Bahadur', composed for him after the 1971 war.
I will never forget how we sat at the radio that heady Saturday afternoon of the surrender, feeling the goose bumps rise as he called on Tikka Khan's soldiers to lay down arms. The 'butcher of Bangladesh' had himself been decimated by the Indian army.
But it was infamous defeat not victory that provided my first encounter with Manekshaw. In 1962, I accompanied my father to the Control Room of Calcutta's Fort William, and stood awestruck as he bayoneted a map with the positions where the Chinese army had trapped his almost bootless soldiers. Then, three decades later, I summoned the courage actually to spend time with him. I had moved to Bangalore, and he had moved from guns to roses in his retirement cottage near Wellington.
We wound our way up the winding Kotagiri road; all the urchins whom we asked for directions straightened up visibly as they proudly obliged. We found him washing his car. "Come for lunch tomorrow,'' he said without preliminaries. We did, savouring his stories and his wife's casserole which arrived grandly on a dumb waiter up from the kitchen on a lower part of the slope.
He looked out on to the "wild acres bought by Silloo who was abandoned here in Coonoor when Nehru summoned me in 1962. She paid the princely sum of Rs 18,000 for them, and designed this house. See, each window frames a panorama. My wife has hijacked a corner of my garden,'' he added indulgently.
"Why did you call your daughter Sherry?'' we asked. "I did, but I didn't tell her to marry a chap called Batlivala, and name their daughter Brandy!" Still poker-faced, he continued, "My other daughter, Maja, married a Daruwala." He then told us of his late mother's early predicament.
Manekshaw's doctor father had set up practice in Amritsar, and he brought his young Bombay-raised bride here. "As the train steamed in, she wept in sheer panic for, there, bathing under a tap on the station, was this huge man with flowing black beard and hair down to his waist: she had never seen a Sikh before.''
In 2003, I met Sam Manekshaw the last time. I lived in Delhi, and the whole capital it seemed had turned out to greet him on his 90th birthday. The Oberois wheeled in a cake, and Parzor, a UNESCO-funded NGO preserving the Parsi heritage unspooled a documentary on him. Predictably, all speaker paraded the hope of 'hitting your century'.
Death ran him out five years too early. It may have won that battle; but Sam has still decisively won the war.
(The Times Of India, 28:06:2008)