Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw Biography

Sam Manekshaw

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw Biography
Sam Manekshaw Biography

Born: 3 April 1914

Death: 27 June 2008

For his work: Former Indian Army Chief, first Indian Army officer to get the rank of Field Marshal

Sam Hormusji Framji Jamsetji Manekshaw was the former Chief of Army Staff of India. He was the first officer in the Indian Army to receive the rank of Field Marshal. In 1971, there was an India-Pakistan war under his leadership.

Sam Manekshaw

His illustrious military career began with the British Indian Army and lasted 4 decades during which there were also five wars. In 1969, he became the eighth Army Chief of the Indian Army and under his leadership, India won the 1971 India-Pakistan War, which resulted in the birth of a new nation Bangladesh. During his illustrious career, he received many honors and in 1972, the Government of India honored him with the Padma Vibhushan.

Early Life

Sam Manekshaw was born on 3 April 1914 in a Parsi family in Amritsar, Punjab. His father’s name was Hormusji Manekshaw and his mother’s name was Hirabai. His father was a doctor and settled in Punjab from Valsad city of Gujarat. He studied at Sherwood College in Punjab and Nainital and completed his Distinction in the Cambridge Board School Certificate Examination.

Sam Manekshaw family photo

At the age of 15, he requested his father to send him to London, where he wanted to become a gynecologist, but the father refused, saying that he is still young and waiting for some more time to go to London. After this, Manekshaw decided to sit in the entrance examination of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) based in Dehradun and became successful. After this, he was elected to the Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun on 1 October 1932 and passed from there on 4 February 1934 and became a second lieutenant in the British Indian Army (Indian Army after Independence).

Military Career

Starting from the time of the British Indian Army, his illustrious military career lasted nearly 4 decades, during which he saw 3 wars with Pakistan and one war with China. During his career, he held many important positions and was eventually appointed the eighth Army Chief of the Indian Army in 1969. During this time he led the Indian Army in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and was made the first Field Marshal of India.

Sam Manekshaw Military career

Sam Manekshaw was commissioned into the Second Battalion, then The Royal Scots (a British battalion), and then to the Fourth Battalion and then to the 12th Frontier Force Regiment (54th Sikh), when commissioned into the army.

Second World War

During the Second World War, Sam Manekshaw, along with the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment, took the front in Burma and introduced valor after which he was awarded for his bravery. More than 50 percent of his company’s soldiers were killed, but Manekshaw bravely fought the Japanese and succeeded in his mission.

Sam Manekshaw

While capturing ‘Pagoda Hill’, an important place, he was badly wounded in the foggy shelling of the enemy, and death looked certain but he was taken from the war zone to Rangoon where he was treated by the doctors after which he started recovering.

From 1942 to the independence and partition of the country, he was given many important tasks. After partition in 1947, his parent unit (12th Frontier Force Regiment) became part of the Pakistani Army, after which he was appointed to the 16th Punjab Regiment. Subsequently, he was appointed to the 3rd Battalion and 5th Gorkha Rifles.

After Independence

Working on issues related to partition, Manekshaw showed his leadership acumen and played an important role in planning and governance management. During the Jammu and Kashmir campaign of 1947–48, he also showed war proficiency. Following the leadership of an Infantry Brigade, he was made the Commandant of the Infantry School at Mhow and also became the Colonel of the 8th Gorkha Rifles and 61st Cavalry.

Sam Manekshaw
Sam Manekshaw

After this, he was made the commandant of a division in Jammu and Kashmir after which he became the commandant of the Defense Services Staff College. Meanwhile, the then defense minister V.K. He had differences with Krishna Menon after which a ‘Court of Inquiry was ordered against him in which he was found guilty. Amidst all these controversies, China invaded India, and Manekshaw was promoted to lieutenant general and sent to Tezpur to take command of the Army’s Fourth Corps.

In 1963, he was promoted to the rank of Army Commander and was given the responsibility of Western Command. In 1964, he was sent from Shimla to Kolkata as G-O-C-in-C of the Eastern Army. During this, he successfully wiped out terrorist activities from Nagaland, due to which he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1968.

Army Chief and Indo-Pakistan War of 1971

In June 1969, he was appointed the Chief of the Indian Army. As the army chief, Manekshaw further sharpened the military’s firepower and dealt with combat situations. His military leadership test soon followed when India decided to support Bangladesh’s ‘Mukti Bahini’ against West Pakistan.

Sam Manekshaw with Indira Gandhi
Sam Manekshaw with Indira Gandhi

When the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked Manekshaw in April 1971 if he was ready for war, he refused and told him that he would decide when the army would go to war. This happened and in December 1971, India invaded Pakistan and in just 15 days the Pakistani army surrendered and 90000 Pakistani soldiers were taken captive.

Honor and Retired Life

As a result of his illustrious national service, the Government of India honored Manekshaw with the Padma Vibhushan in 1972, and on 1 January 1973 he was given the post of ‘Field Marshal’. He was the first Indian military officer to receive the post of ‘Field Marshal’. He was followed by General KM in 1986. Cariappa was also given the post of ‘Field Marshal’.

On 15 January 1973 Manekshaw retired and settled in Coonoor with his wife. The Government of Nepal gave him the post of Honorary General in the Nepalese Army in 1972.

After he retired from the army, Manekshaw was an independent director on the board of several companies and also chairman of some companies.


Manekshaw died on 27 June 2008 at the Army Hospital in Wellington (Tamil Nadu) due to pneumonia. He was 94 years old at the time of his death.

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