Saluting “Sam Bhadaur”on His Tenth Death Anniversary
Uttarakhand has a very special connection with Field Marshal SHFJ Manekshaw as it was in this hill region that this great soldier was a student –first at Sherwood College, Nainital and later a cadet at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) , Dehradun.
June 27 is Manekshaw’s tenth death anniversary. He was a man who remained a fighter till the very end. It is reported that even his last words were “I am okay”. He was “Sam Bahadur” who would never give up. Not even in the face of death. It was just not in him to accept defeat.
“Sam” was part of the IMA’s very first course known as “The Pioneers.” He spent a decade of his life, growing up into a fine young man, in Nainital and Dehradun. He was the son of a Parsi doctor, who chose not to send his son to Britain to be educated.
Tales of Sam Bahadur’s bravery, flamboyance and ready wit always do the rounds at the IMA .The Academy has named one of its battalions after Manekshaw and the Gentlemen Cadets who are part of this battalion take great pride in the fact. Memories of Sam Manekshaw can never fade as they are passed on from one generation to the next and his persona has acquired a legendary quality which ensures that stories related to his valour and his unique style of humour will always remain popular and well-loved, like he himself was. An inspiration to millions of soldiers of our army.The title “Sam “Bahadur” or Sam the Brave, was given to him by the Indian army’s Gurkhas.
The first of his five wars was for the British in Burma, where he was seriously wounded. Assuming he would die, an English general pinned his own Military Cross on Captain Manekshaw’s chest, since the medal could not be awarded posthumously.
In a speech he delivered at Sherwood College as the chief guest in 1969, Manekshaw admitted that Sherwood had played a great role in shaping his personality. “Sherwood has taken me to my present position. First and foremost, I learned to live alone and independently. I learned to fight – from the time I got up in the morning till the time I went to bed,” he told the students at the function in his typically humorous manner. “I fought, and it stood me in good stead during the war in Burma, where we came up against the Japanese. I learnt in school to hate my enemies. How? Thanks to St. Joseph’s next door and when we played them on the Flats.”
Sam joined the IMA on October 1, 1932.The first course had on its rolls Sam Manekshaw, Smith Dun and Mohd Musa among the forty GCs. All three of them later became the chiefs of the armies of their respective countries; namely India, Burma and Pakistan.
He passed out of the IMA in 1934 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Indian Army. He held several regimental assignments and was first attached to the Royal Scots and later to the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment which was later known as 8th Gorkha Rifles.
He earned the name “Sam Bahadur” from soldiers of the 8th Gorkha Rifles. Manekshaw, who was also the chief guest at the diamond jubilee celebration of IMA in 1992, presented the academy with a replica of his gold baton on this historic occasion. This has now become one of the most significant items in the famous Chetwode Museum, symbolic of the great contribution of the Academy to the glory of the Indian Army.
Sam Bahadur served the country gloriously through five wars and over forty years, including the Second World War. His long military career is studded with achievements, including the successful campaign of the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh.
For his selfless service to the nation, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1972. He became the 8th chief of staff of the Indian Army in 1969 and the President conferred upon him the rank of Field Marshal, a prestigious honorary rank(for life) , on January 1, 1973. Manekshaw retired on January 15, 1973 and settled down in Coonoor in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu.
Manekshaw died of complications from pneumonia at the Military Hospital in Wellington,Tamil Nadu on June 27 2008 at the age of 94. He was laid to rest in the Parsi Zoroastrian Cemetery in Udhagamandalam in Tamil Nadu, with military honours, adjacent to his wife’s grave.
Source:- The Pioneer