Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw popularly known as Sam Bahadur was one of the greatest military commanders India had. He was the Indian Army’s strength, their biggest motivator, and the only person who dared to deny Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s orders. So, here are some interesting facts about this real-life hero.
1. Despite being fondly called ‘Sam Bahadur’ he never served with Gorkha units
Commissioned in a Frontier Force Regiment battalion with predominantly Sikh soldiers, he rose to the rank of Company Commander and was wounded in the Burma campaign during World War II. Post-Partition, his original regiment went to Pakistan, and Sam briefly served with the 16th Punjab Regiment. Later, as a Lieutenant Colonel, he took command of the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Gorkha Rifles.
2. Sam got in trouble for moving soldiers to Delhi after Nehru’s demise
Manekshaw found himself in a controversial situation. Before Nehru’s death, anticipating potential unrest in the national capital, the then Army Chief had ordered Sam to move troops to Delhi. Though Sam objected in writing, he complied with the instructions. After Nehru’s death, the new government questioned the troop movement, laying blame on Sam. His subsequent posting as GOC-in-C Eastern Command was perceived as a consequence of this misunderstanding.
3. Manekshaw faced various unfounded charges initiated against him
Serving as the Commandant of Defence Services Staff College in Wellington with the rank of Major General, the inquiry was believed to be influenced by Defence Minister VK Krishna Menon and certain politically aligned Generals. Presided over by Lt Gen Daulet Singh, the then GOC-in-C Western Command, the inquiry had many Army officers testifying both in favor and against Sam. Cleared of all charges, Sam exhibited no vendetta against those who had spoken against him. Notably, he later succeeded Lt Gen Daulet Singh as GOC-in-C Western Command in December 1963.
4. Sam Bahadur never planned revenge on people who plotted against him
There was an officer who testified against Sam during the Court of Inquiry, falsely accusing him while he served as the Commandant of Defence Services Staff College in Wellington. Growing weary of the ongoing talk, Sam decided to address the issue. He gathered everyone and spoke highly of the officer’s professional abilities, acknowledging that the individual was exceptionally skilled. However, he emphasized that the officer lacked character, a trait beyond anyone’s control. This incident revealed Sam’s straightforward nature.
5. Manekshaw spoke fluent Punjabi
Sam affectionately known as ‘Sam Bahadur,’ had a natural fluency in Punjabi, owing to his Parsi roots and upbringing in Amritsar. His early years in the city and service in an Infantry battalion alongside Sikh troops further enhanced his command of Punjabi. During field encounters, he would often engage in conversations with Sikh soldiers in their native language. Fellow soldiers from his old Frontier Force battalion sought his assistance, and Sam, always obliging, readily offered his help.
6. Sam arranged a Quran for a Pakistani prisoner of war
Following the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Manekshaw actively monitored the treatment of around 90,000 Pakistan Army prisoners of war (PoWs) in their camps. During visits, he inspected the conditions and even dispensed with armed protection. At a Military Hospital in Delhi Cantonment, he encountered a Pakistan Army Colonel undergoing treatment who requested a copy of the Quran. Sam promptly arranged for a Quran from a local Rajputana Rifles battalion with Muslim troops, providing it to the Pakistani officer within the same evening.
Manekshaw’s legacy serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring military leaders, reminding them of the values and qualities that define true leadership. The Sam Bahadur movie will have its digital premiere on ZEE5 Global on January 26, 2024. (Available in selected countries)To watch Sam Bahadur online, you can sign up on ZEE5 Global and stream the movie on the platform.