Former Indian Army chief Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, who scripted India’s 1971 military victory over Pakistan that led to the creation of Bangladesh, died at the military hospital in Wellington in Tamil Nadu early Friday after developing acute bronchopneumonia. He was 94.
From India Today:
In 1942 at the height of the World War II a fierce battle was raging in Myanmar, then Burma, at the Sittang Bridge. A company of the Indian Army was engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the invading Japanese forces for the capture of a position, which was critical for the control of the bridge. The young company commander was exhorting his troops when his stomach was riddled by a machine gun burst. Afraid that his company would be left leaderless if he were evacuated, he continued fighting till he collapsed.
His company won the day and the general commanding the Indian forces arrived at the scene to congratulate the soldiers. On seeing the critically wounded commander, he announced the immediate award of the Military Cross — the young officer was not expected to survive much longer and the Military Cross is not awarded posthumously. Thus began a historic military career that spanned the Indo-Pak wars and the Sino-Indian conflict, the wounded captain surviving to become India’s first field marshal.
A speech by Sam Manekshaw at his old school Sherwood College in 1969:
Your Grace, the Metropolitan of India, My Lord Bishop of Lucknow, Mr. Principal, ladies and young gentlemen of Sherwood:
Yesterday evening when my A.D.C. told me that I would have to speak here, I was horrified. I thought the Principal had asked me to come and join the celebrations; I did not realize he wanted me to sing for my supper! Believe me, as I stand here, I am terrified. Those near me can almost hear my knees knocking and my teeth chattering. For eight years in Sherwood, I was at the receiving end.
It is customary on these occasions for the guest speaker to give a learned discourse or advice to young gentlemen. It is not my fault that, although I received my early education in Sherwood, I am not learned. Sir, I am fit neither to give you a learned discourse nor advice, I really want to tell you what Sherwood has done for me.
Dawn Magazine, Karachi, carried this piece by Commodore (retired) Najeeb Anjum in December, 2007:
It is a reminder of the failure of leadership at the time as exemplified by Yahya Khan and his coterie in their handling of the worst crisis the country ever faced.
The Indo-Pak war of 1971 culminated in the creation of Bangladesh. Ironically, General Yahha Khan, Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army (re-designated as COAS in 1972) and President of Pakistan at the time of independence was a staff officer at Military Operations Directorate as a major and General SAM Manekshaw, the COAS of the Indian Army was posted as GSO-I as a Lt-Col. It was ordained that these two erstwhile compatriots would fight a full scale war against each other on 1971. Manekshaw showed uncommon ability to motivate his forces, coupling it with a mature war strategy and the war ended with Pakistan’s unconditional surrender.