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1971 war veteran Manekshaw remembered for his valour on 102nd anniversary

New Delhi : Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday paid homage to Field Marshal and the eighth Chief of Army Staff Sam Manekshaw on his 102nd birth anniversary.

The MoD Spokesperson’s official twitter handle informed Parrikar as describing the former military chief as ‘one of the country’s greatest military leaders’.

“RM @manoharparrikar remembers Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw on his 102nd birth anniversary. One of our greatest military leaders,” it said.

Manekshaw had an illustrious armed forces career, and was especially know for his leadership during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Popularly known as ‘Sam Bahadur’, his distinguished military career spanned four decades and five wars.

He was born on April 3, 1914 to Parsi parents in Amritsar, Punjab. He completed his schooling in Punjab and from Sherwood College in Nainital, before achieving the distinction in the School Certificate Examination of the Cambridge Board at the age of 15.

After finishing school, Manekshaw successfully cleared the entrance examination for enrolment into the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, and became a part of the first intake of 40 cadets on October 1, 1932.

He graduated from IMA on February 4, 1934, and was commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the British Indian Army.

During World War 2, Captain Manekshaw was part of the 1942 campaign on the Sittaung River with the 4/12 Frontier Force Regiment and was decorated Military Cross.

Post-independence, he played a key role during operations in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947-48.

After commandeering an infantry brigade, he was posted to the Infantry School at Mhow as the school’s commandant, and also became Colonel of the Eighth Gorkha Rifles.

On June 7, 1969, Manekshaw became the eighth Chief of Army Staff, succeeding General P.P. Kumaramangalam.

Towards the end of April 1971, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked Manekshaw if he was ready to go to a war with Pakistan. He then said: he could guarantee a victory if she would allow him to prepare for the conflict on his terms and set a date for it.

When the Indian Army finally went to war in December that year, it proved victorious against the Pakistan Army.

The war, lasting under a fortnight, saw more than 90,000 Pakistani soldiers taken as prisoners of war, and it ended with unconditional surrender of Pakistan’s eastern half, resulting in the birth of Bangladesh.

For his distinguish service to the nation, the President of India awarded Manekshaw a Padma Vibhushan in 1972. He was also conferred with the rank of Field Marshal on January 1, 1973.

Manekshaw died at the Military Hospital at Wellington, Tamil Nadu, on June 27, 2008 at the age of 94. (ANI)