Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw MC, fondly known as Sam Bahadur (“Sam the Brave”), was a distinguished military leader who left an indelible mark on the history of the Indian Army. Born on April 3, 1914, Manekshaw’s legacy is defined by his remarkable service, strategic acumen, and unwavering courage. He held the prestigious position of Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army during the crucial Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and achieved the unique distinction of being the first Indian Army officer to attain the rank of field marshal.
Manekshaw’s military journey commenced in 1932 when he joined the inaugural class of the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun. He was commissioned into the 4th Battalion of the 12th Frontier Force Regiment. During World War II, his valor and bravery were recognized with the Military Cross, a testament to his gallantry in the face of adversity. Following the partition of India in 1947, he was reassigned to the 8th Gorkha Rifles. Although he did not command an infantry battalion due to his involvement in planning roles during significant events like the 1947 Indo-Pakistani War and the Hyderabad crisis, his expertise and leadership were widely acknowledged.
Manekshaw’s career trajectory saw him rise through the ranks, displaying exceptional skill and dedication. He served as the commander of the 167 Infantry Brigade from 1952 to 1954 and later assumed the role of Director of Military Training at Army Headquarters. His pursuit of excellence led him to the Imperial Defence College, where he completed the higher command course, further honing his strategic insight. Subsequently, he was appointed as the General Officer Commanding of the 26th Infantry Division and later served as the Commandant of the Defence Services Staff College.
In 1963, Manekshaw’s exceptional leadership qualities propelled him to the position of army commander. He took charge of Western Command before transferring to the Eastern Command in 1964. With a wealth of experience commanding troops at various levels, he assumed the pivotal role of the Chief of the Army Staff in 1969. Under his astute command, the Indian forces executed successful campaigns against Pakistan in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, a conflict that ultimately led to the birth of Bangladesh in December 1971. Manekshaw’s strategic brilliance and unwavering determination were instrumental in India’s victory, cementing his reputation as a legendary military strategist.
Beyond his military accomplishments, Field Marshal Manekshaw was revered for his integrity, wit, and charisma. He possessed a rare ability to inspire and motivate his troops, earning their respect and admiration. His leadership during times of crisis and his role in shaping the destiny of nations earned him accolades and admiration both within and outside the military circles.
In conclusion, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s illustrious career stands as a beacon of inspiration for generations to come. His contributions to the Indian Army, particularly during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, showcased his exceptional leadership and strategic brilliance. His legacy lives on, reminding the world of the enduring impact of a true hero and a visionary leader.