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Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw – The First Field Marshal of India


Sam Manekshaw was a famous soldier and army officer. He was the First Field Marshal of India and had also served as the Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army. His career lasted more than 40 years and had been in five wars.

He received the Military Cross award for his bravery in the Second World War. He played a massive role in securing India’s victory in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. He had also earned the Padma Vibhushan and Padma Bhushan awards for his service to the country.

He was an absolutely brave leader and will continue to be looked on as such.

Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw - First Field Marshal of India
Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw

Quick Facts about Sam Manekshaw

    • Full Name: Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw
    • Also Known As: Sam Bahadur, Sam Manekshaw
    • Famous As: The First Field Marshal Of India
    • Born On: 3 April 1914
    • Died On: 27 June 2008
    • Birthplace: Amritsar, Punjab, British India (now, India)
    • Education: Sherwood College, Nainital; Hindu College, Amritsar; Indian Military Academy
    • Parents: Hormusji Manekshaw (Father), Heerabai Manekshaw (Mother)
    • Profession: Indian Soldier and Army Officer
    • Religion: Parsi
    • Spouse: Siloo Bode
    • Children: Sherry Batliwala and Maja Daruwala
    • Awards: Padma Vibhushan (1972), Padma Bhushan (1968)

Early Life

Sam Manekshaw was born to a Parsi family in Amritsar, Punjab, British India (now, India) to Hormusji and Heerabai Manekshaw. In 1903, the Manekshaw’s were travelling by train to Lahore from Mumbai. They had reached Amritsar when Heerabai realized that she couldn’t travel any further as she was pregnant at the time. As a result, they decided to get settled in Amritsar.

Sam Manekshaw - Early Life
Sam Manekshaw as young

Family of the Brave Army Man

Sam’s father, Hormusji, was a doctor by profession and had a clinic and pharmacy in Amritsar. However, Hormusji Manekshaw had also served in the British Indian Army as captain during the First World War. Now you know where the seeds were born.

Sam Manekshaw had five siblings, out of which his younger brother, Jami, became a doctor. Jami served in the Royal Indian Air Force as a medical officer.

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Educational Background

Coming to his education, he studied in Punjab during the early years, following which he studied at Sherwood College, Nainital. Upon completion, he then attended the Hindu Sabha College (now, the Hindu College, Amritsar). He graduated in 1932 with the third division in science. He then joined the Indian Military Academy after clearing the relevant exam in which he came sixth.

Marriage and Family Life

Sam Manekshaw married Siloo Bode on 22 April 1939 in Bombay. They had two daughters, Sherry and Maya (later, Maja). The two remained married until Siloo died in 2001.

Military Career and Lesser Known Facts about Sam Manekshaw
Sam Manekshaw – The First Field Marshal of India

The Military Career

Sam Manekshaw’s career began when he joined the 2nd Battalion, Royal Scots, and was initially stationed at Lahore. He was then posted at the 4th Battalion, 12th Frontier Force Regiment in Burma. Sam was a multilingual as he knew Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, English, and Gujarati.

He then competed in the Second World War. He led his company against the Imperial Japanese Army successfully even though half of the soldiers were injured or dead.

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Cheating Death on Multiple Occasions

Once, Sam was heavily wounded in the stomach by light machine gunfire. Seven bullets were removed from his lungs, liver, and kidneys. For his bravery, he was awarded a Military Cross. Upon surrender, he was given the responsibility to supervise the disarmament of over 60,000 Japanese prisoners of war. He was so good in this role that there were no cases of indiscipline or escape attempts.

The Journey Continues…

By 1947, he had become a Grade 1 General Staff Officer. In the same year, the Pakistani forces infiltrated Kashmir and also had captured Domel and Muzaffarabad. Upon being requested for help, India came forward.

On 25th October 1947, he went to Srinagar along with V. P. Menon who was the then secretary of the States Department. He then did an aerial survey of the situation in Kashmir and suggested immediate deployments of troops.

He became a substantive colonel on 4th February 1952 and exactly five years later, he became Brigadier. On 2nd November 1962, he became Lieutenant-General and GOC of IV Corps at Tezpur. He improved the morale of the soldiers and re-organized the troops in the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA). He also took actions to deal with the deficiency of equipment, accommodation, and clothing.

Contributions and Achievements of the First Field Marshal of India
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

Terrific Contributions by the Field Marshal

Sam became the Chief of Army Staff on 8th June 1969, and his performance was great in this role as well. He was able to improve the condition of the Indian Army, and he played a huge role in ensuring that positions weren’t reserved for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Before the Indo-Pakistan war began in 1971, the then Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi asked for his advice. Sam said that he could guarantee a victory if he were allowed to handle the conflict on his terms to which she agreed. He was true to this promise, and India won the war.

On 1st January 1973, he became a Field Marshal because of his exceptional contributions to the armed forces and the country.

Achievements of Sam Manekshaw

Here are some of the achievements of Sam Manekshaw:

    • He received the Padma Vibhushan in 1972.
    • He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1968.
    • He was awarded the Order of Tri Shakti Patta First Class in 1977.
    • In 1972, he was made an Honorary General of the Nepalese Army.

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Lesser Known Facts about Sam Manekshaw

Here are some of the lesser-known facts about Sam Manekshaw:

    • He initially wanted to follow his father’s footsteps and become a doctor.
    • Once while fighting during the Second World War, he got heavily wounded, and the surgeon removed seven bullets from his body. Upon being asked what had happened to him, he said that a mule kicked him.
    • While one might naturally expect Sam to be a serious man, he was, on the contrary, an incredibly witty person.
    • He would be very compassionate towards POWs and would talk with them over Tea. He also arranged parcels from their family along with Quran copies.
    • Director Meghna Gulzaar will make a movie by the name of Sam. Talented actor Vicky Kaushal will portray the lead role.
    • He was fond of drinking at occasional times. 
    • There is a statue in the honour of Sam Maneskahw in Wellington where he died.
    • Sam Maneskshaw owned a Red-coloured James Motorcycle which was always fancied by the then Pakistan future president, Yahya Khan. Yahya even promised to pay Rs. 1000 from Pakistan, but that never happened. After winning the 1971 war with Pakistan, Sam took a jibe at Yahya Khan and humiliated him.
Later Years Death and Legacy of Sam Maneskshaw
Later years of the First Field Marshal of India

Later Years, Death and Legacy

Sam Manekshaw retired from service on 15 January 1973 but continued to work outside of the Army. He served as an independent director and on the board of several companies.

He died on 27 June 2008 because of complications from pneumonia at the Military Hospital in Wellington, Tamil Nadu. He was buried in the Parsi cemetery in Ooty, Tamil Nadu next to his wife’s grave.

On 16 December 2008, a postage stamp was released in his honour. Despite being such a legendary figure, he remains a controversial one too. He once told a reporter that if he had been asked to join the Pakistan Army in 1947, Pakistan would have won the 1971 war.

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Famous Quotes by Sam Manekshaw
Famous Quotes by Sam Manekshaw

Famous Quotes by Sam Manekshaw

“The status of the field marshal of the country or the equivalent has to be unique for the nation.”

“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.”

“There will be no withdrawal without written orders and these orders shall never be issued.”

“Give me a man or a woman with common sense and who is not an idiot and I assure you can make a leader out of him or her.”

“What is the next thing you need for leadership? It is the ability to make up your mind to make a decision and accept full responsibility for that decision.”

“Professional knowledge and professional competence are the main attributes of leadership. Unless you know, and the men you command know that you know your job, you will never be a leader.”

“Professional knowledge has to be acquired the hard way. It is continuous study and you never acquire it in today’s fast-moving technological world that you are living in. You have to keep up with your profession whatever you are in.”

“He who neither drinks, nor smokes, nor dances, he who preaches & even occasionally practice piety, temperance and celibacy, is generally a saint, or a mahatma or more likely a humbug but he certainly won’t make a leader or for that matter a good soldier.”

“I wonder whether those of our political masters who have been put in charge of the defence of the country can distinguish a mortar from a motor; a gun from a howitzer; a guerrilla from a gorilla, although a great many resemble the latter.”

“One thing remains the same. That is, your task and your duty. You are required to ensure the security of this country against any aggressor. What does that mean for you? It means that you should have to fight, and fight to win. There is no room for the loser. If you lose, don’t come back.”

“A ‘yes man’ is a dangerous man. He is a menace. He will go very far. He can become a minister, a secretary or a Field Marshal but he can never become a leader nor, ever be respected. He will be used by his superiors, disliked by his colleagues and despised by his subordinates. So discard the ‘yes man’.”



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Hetal Kabra

Staying positive is what makes you feel good. When such positiveness can be enthralled via Writings, you can inspire many people. I believe in spreading happiness and positivity and this is why through this platform I am able to share my thoughts and views to the readers.

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