Sam Manekshaw: Remembering the Greatest Soldier India Ever Knew

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New Delhi: Today is the death anniversary of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw popularly known as Sam Bahadur. Manekshaw was an Indian military leader who was the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the five-star rank of field marshal. Sam Manekshaw was arguably the greatest soldier the Indian Army has ever produced.

As the Chief of the Army Staff, Sam’s service to the nation is immense as he united the army, navy and air force into a team, helping India win against Pakistan in 1965 and even more significantly the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war that led to the liberation of Bangladesh.

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Born to Parsi parents, Hormusji Manekshaw and Heerabai, on 3 April 1914 in Amritsar, India’s First Field Marshall, Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, also fondly known as Sam Bahadur Manekshaw rose to be the 8th Chief of Staff of the Indian Army in 1969 and under his leadership, Indian forces liberated Bangladesh in December 1971 in just 13 days.

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Manekshaw’s first major military campaign was in World War II when he served as a captain with the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment in Burma in 1942. In the battle for the Sittang bridge, Sam Bahadur inspired his troops to victory against the Japanese.

During the offensive, in which he led from the front, Sam fell to the ground after being shot at nine times but he kept on encouraging his soldiers to fight, ultimately clinching the crucial Sittang bridge.

When the Divisional Commander, Sir Cowans, heard of Sam’s bravery, the General rushed to the battle site, took off his own Military Cross and pinned it on Sam’s chest anointing him with the gallantry medal which is awarded to the living. He passes away on 27th June 2008.

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