Defence Reporter

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Remembering Sam Manekshaw, The First Field Marshal Of India

New Delhi, April 3, 2016: Sam Manekshaw’s name arises every time we talk about the 1971 war.Fondly known as ‘Sam Bahadur’ or ‘Sam the brave’, he served our country for four magnificent decades.

Updated:Tuesday, April 5, 2016, 22:57

Remembering Sam Manekshaw, The First Field Marshal Of IndiaSam Manekshaw’s name arises every time we talk about the 1971 war. He was the man who made our victory against Pakistan possible that year. Fondly known as ‘Sam Bahadur’ or ‘Sam the brave’, he served our country for four magnificent decades.

Sam was born on April 3, 1914 in Amritsar to Parsi parents, Hormusji Manekshaw and Heerabai. His full name was Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw. It is believed that one of his aunts had named him Cyrus, but changed it to Sam later. He did his schooling from Sherwood College in Nainital alongside his siblings, Jan and Jemi.

As an Indian army officer, Sam Manekshaw was the first one in the Indian Army rise to the rank of Field Marshal. He began his career during the World War in the British Army, fought five wars, and became the 8th chief of Army staff in 1969. Manekshaw led the Indian Army in the Indo-Pak war of 1971, which was his first as Army Chief. In fact, the military victory in East Pakistan and the birth of Bangladesh is considered as Sam Manekshaw`s success as much as then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi`s. It was then, when Sam became the talk of the town.
During the partition in 1947, Sam Manekshaw was involved in offering administrative solutions, and decision making. On top of that, he proved himself as a warrior during Jammu and Kashmir operation in 1947 and 1948.

President of India V V Giri had conferred Padma Vibhushan to Chief of Army Staff General S H F J Manekshaw at a special investiture ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on January 28, 1972.

After entering the World War II, Manekshaw led the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment as captain in Myanmar in 1942. There he witnessed live action by the side of Sittang River and was acknowledged for showing exceptional courage and bravery in the battlefield. Interestingly, as Sam was wounded, Major General David Tennent Cowan, took off his Military Cross ribbon and pinned it on Sam`s chest saying ‘A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross.’

He commanded the ‘A’ Company of his battalion in response to the Japanese Army, and was was able to achieve his objective despite facing close to 50% casualties. The battalion conquered the Pagoda Hill, the key site located on the left side of the river.

Sam has received distinction in the Cambridge Board’s School Certificate examination after which he wanted to go to London to study medicine. His father refused to send him as he was too young. But as destiny had it, Sam cleared the Indian Military Academy’s entrance examination and secured a seat in the first batch of 40 selected cadets on October 1, 1932 in Dehradun.

As they say, legends never die, they stay with us to inspire us forever. India will never forget you Field Marshal.

Defence Reporter

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