Filmmaker Meghna Gulzar released the first look of Vicky Kaushal as Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw from her upcoming movie Sam. After donning the uniform in Raazi and Uri: The Surgical Strike, Vicky Kaushal has once again taken up the role of an army officer. I am not sure whether film will cover every aspect of Manekshaw or not but I will make sure you after reading this whole article about Sam Manekshaw life
- Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw was born on April 3, 1914, to Parsi parents in Amritsar, Punjab. The fifth of six children . Interestingly, Sam was initially given the name Cyrus, before it was changed by a concerned aunt. She had heard of a Parsi named Cyrus being sentenced to jail and did not want her nephew to have a name that could prove to be unlucky so he suggested other names.
- Sam completed his education from Nainital’s Sherwood College with distinction. A good student, he wanted to go to London to pursue medicine like his gynaecologist father. But Hormusji refused, saying that Sam was too young to stay abroad on his own.
- His father initially resisted his plans for joining the army, but he rebelled and gave the entrance examination for enrollment into the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun and was among the first batch of IMA, Dehradun which consist of 40 cadets got commissioned to British Indian Army (1st Oct 1932 to 4th Feb 1934). The batch now known as “The Pioneers” included Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, General Muhammad Musa and Lieutenant General Smith Dun, who became the Army Chiefs of India, Pakistan, and Burma, respectively.
- In 1942, Manekshaw served as the Captain of the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment in Burma during World War II against the Japanese Army
- Manekshaw fought five wars in his career span including World War II, the India-Pakistan war of partition 1947, the Sino-Indian War (1962), and Indo Pakistan War of 1965 and Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.
- He led to his team’s victory despite losing 50 per cent of his soldiers. He also suffered a major injury by a light machine gun fire but kept on encouraging his soldiers to fight, which ultimately led to clinching the Sittang bridge.
- On hearing of his bravery, Major General David Cowan, who was the Commander-in-Chief of the 17th Infantry Division, saluted his bravery and determination. He pinned his own Military Cross ribbon on his chest saying, “A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross”
- On May 24, 1953, Manekshaw was appointed the Colonel of the Regiment 8 Gorkha Rifles and 61 Cavalry and continued to be the Honorary Colonel of the units till his death
- On June 8 in 1969, Manekshaw was appointed the Chief of the Indian Army staff
- When Sam Manekshaw was asked what would have happened if he had opted for Pakistan during partition, to which he replied, “then Pakistan would have won all wars.”
- Sam Manekshaw’s famous quotes is: “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gorkha”.
- Awarded Padma Vibhushan in 1972 the nation’s second highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan in 1968, Military Cross in 1942 and rose to the rank of Field Marshal on 1 January 1973. He was the first ever soldier of Indian Army to rose to the rank of Field Marshal.
- Former civil servant P.R. Chari notes, At a girls NCC cadet event, Manekshaw was the chief guest and kissed one of the prize winners on the stage, resulting in a big furore. To handle it, an enquiry was ordered. However, it was carried out at such a pace, writes Chari, that the issue receded from public memory.
- Sam Manekshaw guaranteed Indira Gandhi’s victory in the 1971 War if she allowed him to handle the conflict on his own terms, and set a date for it; Indira agreed. He prepared the Army for war from April to December 1971. On the eve of the war, Indira Gandhi again asked General Maneksaw if he was ready for the war. He replied: ‘I am always ready Sweetie’. He said this because of his Parsi connection (Indira’s husband Feroze Gandhi was Parsi).
- When he was asked to go to Dhaka to accept the surrender of the Pakistani forces, Manekshaw declined the honour, saying that it belonged to the eastern army commander, Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora. This gesture illustrates why he was respected by all who served under or came into contact with him.
Annually, on 16 December, “Vijay Diwas” is celebrated in memory of the victory achieved under Manekshaw’s leadership in 1971. On 16 December 2008, a postage stamp depicting Manekshaw in his field marshal’s uniform was released by then President Pratibha Patil. A story few people know is that, at the time of the Partition, Manekshaw and Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan (the third President of Pakistan) used to work together on the staff of Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck. Their job was to help out with the additional administrative duties that Partition brought along with it.
After Partition, when the two military officers parted ways, Yahya offered to buy Manekshaw’s red James motorcycle. He promised to send over a princely sum of Rs 1000 from Pakistan. Manekshaw agreed and Yahya took the bike with him.
However, as it turns out, Yahya never got around to sending the payment. After India’s victory in the 1971 and the Instrument of Surrender being signed on December 16, Manekshaw was heard saying,
Quotes Yahya never paid me the Rs. 1000 for my motorbike, but now he has paid with half his country.”
- He died of complications from pneumonia at the Military Hospital in Wellington, Tamil Nadu, on 0030 hours, 27 June 2008 at the age of 94. The Prime Minister, President or other leaders from the political class did not turn up at his funeral, nor was a national day of mourning declared.
- In 2014, a statue of Sam Manekshaw was erected in Wellington, the place where he died, in his honour
Reportedly, his last words were “I’m okay!”
We salute the bravery of the army man and the sacrifices he made to make our motherland proud.