One of India’s most gallant, revered, and decorated military officers, Sam Manekshaw, is recognised in the Indian Army for his outstanding service, which lasted for four decades. Largest rank winner of Govt awards. Sam had an arduous career as an army officer in India. His hard work, intellect, commitment and confidence helped him witness multiple promotions in his work life.
Let us take a glimpse life of Sam Manekshaw, right through his early life, education and career.
1. Popularly known as Sam Bahadur
The actual name is Manekshaw Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji. As he visited a Gorkha unit he was dubbed ‘Sam Bahadur,’ and was referred to by an orderly there as ‘Sam Bahadur.’ Afterwards, he was popularly known by all as Sam Bahadur.
2. Sam Manekshaw Born to a Parsi family
Sam was born to a Parsi family on 3rd April 1914 in Amritsar, Punjab. His father, Hormusji Manekshaw, was a doctor and decided to settle in Amritsar with his wife, while they were on their way to Lahore in 1903.
3. Sam Manekshaw Education
Sam did his Punjab primary schooling and posted that he was going to Sherwood College, Nainital. Subsequently, through Cambridge Board, he pursued his senior Cambridge and passed with distinction. But, when his father declined to send him to London to study, claiming that Sam was too young to live alone abroad, angry appeared for the Indian Military Academy entrance examination and passed it. He was one of 15 cadets chosen via this open competition, in order to rank 6th.
4. Sam ‘s father, Hormusji Manekshaw had also served as an Indian Medical Services captain in the British Indian Army during the First World War.
5. First Batch
In October 1932, Sam became part of the first batch of cadets for an Indian military academy recommended by Field Marshal Sir Philip Chetwood to train Indians for Army officer commissions. This was named the ‘Pioneers’ batch.
6. Sam Manekshaw Marriage
Sam met his wife Siloo Bode in Bombay on 22 April 1939 and the couple had two daughters born in 1940 and 1945, respectively, Sherry and Maya.
7. Wars fought
Sam fought five wars in a career spanning four decades – World War II in 1942, Indo-Pak partition war in 1947, Sino-Indian war in 1962, Indo-Pak war in 1965 and the Bangladesh Liberation war in 1971.
8. Sam Manekshaw Cheated Death
He is known to have also cheated death. There was this one time when he was struck by a burst of light machine gun fire during World War II while fighting around the Pagoda Hill and was seriously wounded in the stomach. He was rescued and taken to an Australian surgeon who operated on him, pulling out from his lungs, liver and kidneys a total of seven bullets. A large part of his intestines had to be removed, too.
9. Sam was known for his wit and sense of humour
The surgeon initially declined to treat Sam during the above-mentioned accident, as his chances of survival were very small. When Sam was asked how he got injured, Sam answered that he was kicked by a mule. His wit amazed the surgeon, and thus decided to operate on him.
10. Powerful Quotes by Sam Manekshaw
He’s been known for throwing some of the best military quotes ever heard. He made such a quote when asked what would have happened if he had voted for Pakistan during partition, he replied saying ‘then Pakistan would have won all the wars.’ Another famous quote he made is ‘When a man says he is not afraid of dying, then he lies or he is a Gorkha.’
11. When Manekshaw humiliated General Yahya Khan
Sam Manekshaw and Yahya Khan, Pakistan’s future president served together in the British Amry during India’s 1947 independence. Manekshaw owned a red James motorcycle that Yahya Khan fancied at that time. Yahya bought Sam’s motorcycle for Rs 1,000 and promised to send Pakistan’s amount. Yet never came the money to Sam. After 24 years in 1971, when India won the war against Pakistan that led to the foundation of Bangladesh under Sam ‘s leadership, Manekshaw was heard saying,
“Yahya never paid me the Rs. 1000 for my motorbike, but now he has paid with half his country.”
12. First Indian Army officer who became Field Marshal
While he was due to retire in June 1972, his term was extended by 6 months to promote him to the rank of a field marshal with a promotion. Therefore he was promoted to a Field Marshal in appreciation of his exemplary services to the Armed Forces and the country and thus became the first-ever Indian Army officer to be promoted to that rank.
13. Sam Manekshaw Got Awards
Sam’s won a total of 3 reputed awards in his outstanding career. The first came during World War II, for which he was awarded a gallantry Military Cross. The second and third are India’s second- and third-highest civilian honours, Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan respectively.
14. Always ready to put his country first
It is believed that right before the 1971 war in Indo-Pak Indira Gandhi asked Sam about the Indian Army’s readiness and training, he answered, “I am always ready sweetie.” Because of his Parsi connection, he had a great friendship with Indira Gandhi, and would always call her a ‘sweetie/sweetheart.’
15. A compassionate man
More than 90,000 Pakistani soldiers have been taken captive by the Indian Army since the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Sam came to be recognised after the war for his sympathy for the POWs and would have private conversations over a cup of tea with them. He also ensured that they were treated well and that their families and a copy of the Quran would arrange for their parcels.
16. When Sam was questioned by Indira Gandhi about rumours of a planned coup by the army chief
Manekshaw replied in his style,
“You mind your own business, I’ll mind mine. You kiss your own sweetheart, I’ll kiss mine. I don’t interfere politically, as long as nobody interferes with me in the Army.”
17. Sam Manekshaw Controversies
Towards the end of his career, he was involved in various controversies and was also branded ‘anti-national’ by some. One of the controversies arose when he objected to the political interference with the army. The other two were almost non-existent and didn’t do much harm to his career.
18. Sam Manekshaw Death
At the age of 94, Sam breathed his last at the Military Hospital in Wellington on 27 June 2008, due to complications from pneumonia. His last words are believed to have been ‘I am Ok’ and that has just proved his positivity, resilience and a strong personality.
19. Movie on Sam Manekshaw
Earlier seen in army uniform in “Uri: The Surgical Strike,” Actor Vicky Kaushal is all set to portray Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in a forthcoming biographical film “Sam” The film will be directed by Meghna Gulzar of Raazi fame.