JAI HIND. In this blog I shall talk about a very prominent personality of the Indian Armed Forces- First Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.

First Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw was the first officer in the Indian Army to be promoted to the rank of Field Marshal. Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw  widely known as Sam Manekshaw and Sam Bahadur (“Sam the Brave”), was the Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971,


Manekshaw joined the first intake of the Indian Military AcademyDehradun in 1932. He was commissioned into the 4th Battalion, 12th Frontier Force Regiment. In World War II, he was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry. Following the partition of India in 1947, he was reassigned to the 8th Gorkha Rifles. Manekshaw was seconded to a planning role during the 1947 Indo-Pakistani War and the Hyderabad crisis, and as a result, he never commanded an infantry battalion. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier while serving at the Military Operations Directorate. He became commander of 167 Infantry Brigade in 1952 and served in this position until 1954 when he took over as the Director of Military Training at Army Headquarters.


Manekshaw was selected as part of the first batch of cadets. Called “The Pioneers”, his class also produced Smith Dun and Muhammad Musa Khan, future commanders-in-chief of Burma and Pakistan, respectively. Although the academy was inaugurated by Chetwode on 10 December 1932, the cadets’ military training commenced on 1 October 1932. Manekshaw proved to be witty during his stay at IMA and went on to achieve a number of firsts: the first graduate to join one of the Gorkha regiments; first to serve as the Chief of the Army Staff of India; and first to attain the rank of field marshal. Of the 40 cadets inducted, only 22 completed the course, and they were commissioned as second lieutenants on 1 February 1935 with antedated seniority from 4 February 1934.


Gen. P. P. Kumaramangalam, retired as chief of army staff (COAS) in June 1969. Though Manekshaw was the most senior army commander, Defence Minister Sardar Swaran Singh favoured Lt. Gen. Harbaksh Singh, who had played a key role as the GOC-in-C of Western Command during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965. Despite this, Manekshaw was appointed as the eighth chief of the army staff on 8 June 1969. During his tenure, he developed the Indian Army into an efficient instrument of war, and was instrumental in stopping a plan to reserve positions in the army for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Though he was Parsi, a minority group in India, Manekshaw felt that the practice would compromise the ethos of the army and believed that all must be given an equal chance.


After the war, Gandhi decided to promote Manekshaw to the rank of field marshal and appoint him as the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS). However, after several objections from the commanders of the navy and the air force, the appointment was dropped. It was felt that, because Manekshaw was from the army, the comparatively smaller forces of the navy and air force would be neglected. Moreover, bureaucrats felt that it might challenge their influence over defence issues. Though Manekshaw was to retire in June 1972, his term was extended by a period of six months, and “in recognition of outstanding services to the Armed Forces and the nation,” he was promoted to the rank of field marshal on 1 January 1973. The first Indian Army officer to be so promoted, he was formally conferred with the rank in a ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 3 January.


For his service to the Indian nation, the President of India awarded Manekshaw a Padma Vibhushan in 1972. Manekshaw retired from active service on 15 January 1973 after a career of nearly four decades; he settled with his wife, Silloo, in Coonoor, the civilian town next to Wellington Cantonment where he had served as commandant of the Defence Services Staff College earlier in his career. Popular with Gurkha soldiers, Nepal fêted Manekshaw as an honorary general of the Nepalese Army in 1972. In 1977, he was awarded the Order of Tri Shakti Patta First Class, an order of knighthood of the Kingdom of Nepal by the KingBirendra


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