on 3 April 1914 into the Manekshaw family at Amritsar Sam
Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, India's first Field Marshal,
has 3 brothers and 2 sisters. Captain Hormusji who saw service
with the Royal British Army as a "Medical Officer"
in the Middle Eastern region of Messopotamia during the "First
World War," had come to Amritsar from Bombay where his
medical ractice did not flourish too well! At Amritsar, Dr.
Hormusji started a medical practice and a chemist shop/pharmacy,
where his prescriptions were formulated, so that his patients
could have easier access to medication especially when pre
formulated patented drug formulations were few and far between!
With all their children born in Amritsar, Fali, the eldest,
had his schooling in Bombay while the other boys Jan, Sam
and Jemi went to school at "Sherwood College" at
Nainital. The two sisters went to school at Murree now in
Pakistan. All the Manekshaw children imbibed a very strong
sense of honour and integrity from their father, Sam inherited
his mother's sense of the ridiculous.
Although he had promised, Dr Manekshaw felt that this son,
Sam, who had passed the Senior Cambridge examination with
distinction from "Sherwood" in Nainital at the age
of 15 years, was not yet ready to be on his own in England
for further studies. He was therefore admitted to the Hindu
Sabha College, Amritsar. In 1931, when the practice of training
Indian Officers at "The Royal Military Academy"
at Sandhurst in England came to an end and India had its'
own Military Academy set up in Dehra Dun, Sam was amongst
the first batch of Indians to qualify in the examination to
gain admission and enrol into the "Indian Military Academy"
at Dehra Dun. He joined the Academy on 30th September, 1932.
Being a good tennis player, he was appointed the Captain of
the "Academy Tennis Team" and was awarded the "Tennis
Blue" on 12th October 1933. During his time in the Academy,
Sam was frequently in trouble with the rules and laws of the
On passing out from the Academy he was commissioned into
the Indian Army as a Second Lieutenant in "The Frontier
Force Regiment" on 4th February 1934. The "First
Course" with which Sam passed out, gave three chiefs
to three Armies! They were, General Sam Manekshaw-Indian Army,
General Mohammed Musa-Pakistan Army and General Smith Dun-
Burmese Army. On completion of his attachment, as was customary
then, with a British Infantry Battalion, the 2nd Battalion
the Royal Scots, he joined the 4th Battalion, 12 Frontier
Force Regiment, also known as the 54th Sikhs. After partition
of India, this Regiment opted to join the Pakistan Army.
It was in 1937, that he met his future wife, Silloo Bode
at a social gathering in Lahore where she was visiting her
sister and brother-in-law, a Colonel in the Army Medical Corps.
It was "Love at first sight" and they were married
on 22nd April 1939. Silloo had her education at Bombay from
where she graduated from "Elphinstone College" and
later from the "JJ School of Arts" there. An insatiable
reader and a talented painter, she had a multi faceted personality
with a great grooming and equally great talent. A very intelligent
and a well informed person, her greatest quality was her incisive
mind and a very earthly approach to problems. A gracious mother
and an affectionate wife, she always gave the right advice
to her husband and family without hesitation. She was the
anchor that kept the family's feet firmly on the ground. She
always had time for her husband's staff officers, knew their
wives and families and their problems. The only time she was
ever seen to exercise 'rank' was when she was collecting for
a charity or getting something done for someone who otherwise,
would have had to wait or do without.
gave birth to her first daughter Sherry on 11 January 1940,
while the second girl whom they called Maya was born on 24
September 1945. Sherry joined the "Travel Trade"
beginning with Air India and working with Mercury Travels
for a long time, in fact she retired from there! She married
Dinky Batliwala who was working with "Swiss Air".
The Batliwalas who now live in Chennai, have one daughter
named Brandy who lives abroad. Maya the younger one became
a stewardess with the then "British Overseas Airways
Corporation" (BOAC) now called British Airways. It was
while flying for them that she met her husband Dhun Daruwala
who was an Engineer with "Air India." The Daruwalas
have two sons Rahul Sam and Jehan Sam. Maya did her degree
in Law from London University and went on to become a Barrister
from "Lincolns". She is currently heading an NGO
for Human Rights in Delhi.
In the Second Great War, he saw service with his unit on
the Burma front as a part of the famous 17 Infantry Division.
On 22nd February 1942, Sam was wounded while gallantly leading
his company to capture a vital enemy position, when he took
the impact of a burst fired from a Japanese machine gun in
his stomach and body. He was taken to the "Regimental
Aid Post" from where the regimental medical Officer,
Captain GM Diwan, evacuated him to the Hospital at Pegu. Here
the surgeon who examined him asked him what had happened?
Sam told him, "I was kicked by a bloody mule!" Hearing
this response, the surgeon laughed and said "Given your
sense of humour, it will be worth saving you!" After
being operated upon, he was evacuated to Rangoon, from where
he sailed for India in one of the last ships to leave that
port before it fell to the Japanese. For this act of gallantry
he was awarded the "Military Cross."
Once discharged from the hospital and reunited with his family
after a long separation, Sam was detailed to attend the "8th
Staff Course", at the Staff College Quetta (In Pakistan)
from 23 August 1943 to 22 December 1943 in the rank of a temporary
Major. On completion of the Staff College Course, he was posted
as the "Brigade Major", (BM) a critical appointment,
to the "Razmak Brigade" in Waziristan close to the
North Western Frontier Province, now in Pakistan. He remained
in this job from 13 January to 22 October 1944 whereafter
he was posted to 9/12 Frontier Force Rifles (FFR) in Burma
(now known as Myanmar) who were then on the move astride the
Rangoon-Mandalay highway as a part of the victorious 14th
Army under General Slim. During the closing days of the war,
he went as a staff officer to General Daisey to Indo China,
where, after the Japanese surrender, he helped in the rehabilitation
of over 10,000 Japanese prisoners of war. He was then posted
to the Staff College Quetta as General Staff Officer, Grade
-2 (GSO-2). Before he could take up this assignment, he was
selected by Field Marshal Lord Claude Auchinlek, the Commander-in-Chief
of India to go on a lecture tour to Australia for a period
of six months in 1946. The main purpose of this tour was to
bring home to the Australians, Indias' war effort and the
achievement of its' Armed Forces since it was perceived that
this was not too well known in that region!
his return from the Australian lecture tour, he was promoted
to the rank of a local Lieutenant Colonel and while continuing
to be on the panel of Frontier Force Regiment, he was posted
to General Headquarters at New Delhi as General Staff Officer,
Grade-1 (GSO-1), Military Operations-3 (MO-3) till then the
sole preserve of the British Officers. He was the first Indian
posted to the MO Directorate. In December 1946 when the division
of assets and regiments between Pakistan and Indian Armies
crystallized a little, and it became clear that the Frontier
Force Regiment would remain with Pakistan, Sam was empanelled
on the panel of 16th Battalion of The Punjab Regiment, and
posted as GSO-1, MO-1. Here he served from 1st January 1947
to 21 July 1947. On 15th August 1947, when India became independent,
Sam was transferred to the panel of the 5th Royal Gorkha Rifles,
(FF) and was posted to command the 3rd Battalion of the 5th
Gorkha Rifles. However, before he could proceed to take over
this Battalion, Pakistani tribals with the help of Pakistan
Army had attacked parts of Kashmir and managed to reach close
to Srinagar. Considering the operational situation, his posting
to command the Battalion was cancelled and he continued to
serve with the MO Directorate as GSO-1 (ops) at Army HQ. It
was thus that the future and first Field Marshal of the Indian
Army was denied a chance to command a Battalion in the Army!
This has always been disappointing for him.
At the time of these operations, Sam Manekshaw, the first
"Field Marshal" after independence, in the
Indian Army, had a ringside view of events. Then a Lieutenant
Colonel, he accompanied V P Menon on his historic mission
to Kashmir, to get the then ruler of the State of Jammu &
Kashmir, Maharaja Hari Singh to sign the "Instrument
of Accession" and accede to the Indian Union.
Later he was granted the acting rank of a Brigadier and appointed
Director, MO (OPS). Sam continued in this assignment till
10th March 1952. During this trying period, Sam had numerous
opportunities to interact with Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel who
was the Home Minister in the Union Government. The Sardar
was constantly in touch with Sam seeking update on the operations
in Kashmir Hyderabad and so on and in the process both got
to know each other well.
In 1948, Sam and Thimayya, then a Major General, were a part
of the Indian Delegation to the UN, led by Sir BN Rau, as
military advisors. It was here that he first met with Mrs.
Indira Gandhi, who was on board the same ship along with her
father, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India,
sailing to Paris. The two Generals, spent nearly three months
in Paris where the session was held.
In March 1952, Sam was posted to Ferozepur in command of
167 Infantry Brigade. It was his first command assignment
after the war. In 1953, he was appointed Colonel of the 8th
Gorkha Rifles. Having finished with the command of the brigade,
Sam was posted to the Army HQ as "Officiating Director
of Military Training" (DMT) from April 1954 to January
1955. In May 1955, Brigadier Sam Manekshaw was posted as Commandant
to the Infantry School. He was the first Indian to be posted
to that Institution.
In November 1956 Sam left for the UK to attend the course
at the "Imperial Defence College" (IDC) till December
1957. On completion of this course and his return in December
1957, he was posted to command 26 Infantry Division at Jammu.
He took over the Division from Major General PP Kumaramangalam,
DSO., who was posted to the Staff College at Wellington as
Commandant. It was here, at Jammu, that a life long friendship
developed between Sam and Mr DP Dhar, who was then a minister
in the State Cabinet of the State of Jammu & Kashmir.
It was also here that he had a spat with the then Defence
Minister, Mr VK Krishna Menon. After command of the division
Sam was posted to the Staff College at Wellington to replace
General Kumaramangalam, yet another time! While commanding
the Staff College, he was cleared for his next rank. Before
he could be promoted, Krishna Menon and General BM Kaul, a
Kashmiri Officer with his lineage rooted in the Nehru clan,
ordered an inquiry against Sam as the Commandant of the Staff
College. Having been exonerated of all charges, Sam was appointed
to command 4 Corps after General Kaul resigned in the wake
of the Chinese war!
General Manekshaw was appointed GOC-in-C Western Command
with its' Headquarters at Simla after the tragic death of
Gen Daulat Singh in a helicopter crash in Poonch in J&K,
in November 1963. He assumed command of Western Command on
4th December 1963, and moved to replace Gen Kumaramangalam
in Eastern Command in 1964. On 8th June 1969, Sam took over
as the Chief of Army Staff, once again from General Kumaramangalam,
where apart from other contributions his finest hour was the
surrender of the Pakistan Army in Dacca in 1971. In recognition
of his service to the nation, he was created as the first
"Field Marshal" in independent India on 1st January