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Dear Members of the Corps of Signals fratenity,
With grief we are posting details of our colleagues who leave for their heavenly abode. We request members to forward their "shradhanjali". Kindly share with us the photographs, fond memories and association.
We await tributes from associates/ course mates for publication.
Blog Team

RMS Tributes
  • Amar Jawan: Roll of Honour of the Indian Armed Forces
  • The Kargil Memorial
  • Monday, June 30, 2008

    Play it again Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

    It was the magical summer of 1985. The narrow gauge, rack and pinion toy train shuddered to a halt at Wellington Railway Station, having brought us 6500 feet up into the Blue Mountains from dusty and hot Mettupalaiyam, where we had boarded the train. My wife and I disembarked, dusting the crumbs of an excellent continental lunch provided by the Defence Services Staff College for student officers. We understood why the Nilgiris appeared blue in colour – the tiered, lush hills were simply covered end to end with blue gum trees.
    The name Wellington made an immediate connect in my mind. “Old ‘Iron Duke’ Wellington had killed Tipu Sultan in 1799 and later won Waterloo for England from Napoleon in 1815”, I remarked to my wife, as we departed from the station named in his honour and began the climb up the mist laden, winding road to the College. “There’s Sam Bahadur, now resident at Coonoor, who won the 1971 war for us. They should rename the station for him”, I grumbled unreasonably. “He, like Wellington is also a Field Marshal; like him, was wounded in battle”. My wife glanced at me with some asperity. “Don’t be parochial. You can’t change the tide of history,” she said. Chastened, I realized she was right.
    Indeed you cannot turn the tide of history. Wellington should remain honoured in the Nilgiris. Similarly, great people will continue to come and go through Indian history, but there’ll be no one else ever to lay claim, other than the exceptional Sam - Indira combine; to creating a brave new nation, capturing 93,000 prisoners of war, returning them back with honour all within the span of a year or so of executing one of the world’s least studied and least applauded strategic level politico - military feats of all time.
    Today, as news of the passing away of this great man trickles in, my thoughts wander in time and space on aspects of the Sam we knew, first hand and by reportage…
    I recall, how, in the weekend before the Staff Course began in 1985, we undertook a pilgrimage to “Stavka”, the hill side bungalow he had outside Upper Coonoor . There was no dearth of locals on the road who helped us navigate to his home. Parking some distance away, we walked up to the white painted, Spanish looking villa and were inquiring from the Gurkha sentry about his whereabouts, when, suddenly, we were face to face with the great man in his shirt sleeves. He was working on his roses when he saw us, he said, and came down his steeply climbing driveway to meet us. He spoke in comfortable Punjabi and faultless English with my wife and I, advised me to have “serious fun” on the year long Staff College course. He was chivalrous to a fault with his uninvited guests, putting us to ease with his disarming smile and charming us with his wit and repartee.
    Kukkie recalled to the Field Marshal how, while still a fresher at school in Sanawar, she had been in the company of his daughter, Maja.. Both girls had lost contact with their peer groups while hiking to catch the school party train from Kalka. Maja, being the senior, had graciously taken Kukkie under her charge and the girls found their way to Kalka chatting about school and about their Dads. Indulgent to a fault, Sam’s philosophy was to spoil his girls, yet never let them get spoilt, is how Maja affectionately recalled him as a Father as the girls feasted on tuck bought by Maja. On Sam’s demise, this is how she recalled her Fathers qualities to the media.
    That year at Coonoor gave us a rare insight into what made him so special. On the odd occasion when he came to the Staff College for a social function, he was the cynosure of all eyes. Dapper, alert, witty, observant, gallant and blessed with a rare brand of humour which was devoid of rancour or bitterness, he held centre stage with grace and √©lan. On the one occasion when he spoke to the students and faculty on professional issues, he made light of his personal contribution and, instead, spoke of the need to think ‘purple’ – the colour arrived at by mixing Olive Green, Blue and Light Blue together. These are the colours of the uniforms of the Army, Navy and Air Force. It was a significant message for waging successful war, a formula tried and tested by him in 1971.
    I recall seeing him in our forward concentration area in the J&K sector in October 1971. He was moving all along the Western front, pepping up troops before the oncoming war. He was stressed and obviously tired from constant travel and the huge responsibility of waging successful war at his terms. I remember though, there was nothing unclear in the message he gave to all of us. “Remember,” he exhorted, “when you enter Pakistan , put your hands in your pockets. I will not countenance any misbehaviour, moral or material on your part. Simply do your duty and let me look after the rest”. He exited, waving his trademark swagger stick, leaving us with pulsating hearts and clear direction.
    Sam retired in 1973, becoming a Field Marshal before he did so. Life moved on. Post command of a tank regiment, I found myself back in the Staff College in 1993, this time as an Instructor. There were rather more opportunities now, to interact with the Field Marshal than as a student 10 years earlier. There was time too, to see how extraordinarily he had won a place in the hearts and minds of the people of Coonoor. Shopkeepers would feel honoured if the Field Marshal bought any thing from their shops – and he often did, pottering all over Coonoor in his little car. Never once did they offer a bill to him. In any case he did not carry money on his person. Yet, never once was there any question of delayed payment, as the Field Marshals Gurkha major domo in charge of his household unfailingly settled his dues, sent by him the very next day with more the required money. I am sure, in saying his final farewell to him, the common man in Coonoor must have cried the most.
    The last I was involved with Sam’s work was when posted in 2001 as a Brigadier, to his old Directorate in Army Headquarters, the elite Military Operations Directorate. Whenever there was a lull in activity, I would steal a moment or two to look up his work on file. His clarity of thought was an education.
    A ‘soldiers general’, a regular guy, is how posterity will see Sam. Yet, his obituaries, the extensive media coverage on his death have brought out the distaff side too. There was the problem with small minds in 1962, when he was made the target of a witch hunt in the form of a military inquiry. Then there were claims from some amongst the military fraternity, post the stunning collapse of East Pakistan, that he had not fully thought through the East Pakistan operations to their logical conclusion – the capture of Dhaka . The war fighting on the Western front in 1971 resulted in a military stalemate because it was unimaginatively conducted, some others would say. Some detractors would make an issue out of his flamboyant life style. Some one else, this time from a neighbouring country, questioned his professional integrity without providing substance or logic.
    It is good to remember, though, that the final test of how good a soldier is rests with the men he commanded. For them, Sam Bahadur had no peer. He was in a class by himself. He was correct in his military conduct, he was forthright, he communicated marvelously, he planned meticulously, could get a inter Services team to bond, to work, he had the courage of his convictions, could say “No” to the highest in the land. He brought glamour, dignity and self respect back into the Army after the 1962 debacle and honour to it after the 1971 war.
    In sum, he was a truly inspirational leader of the kind militaries the world over crave for. He was in the class of Wellington , the Iron Duke, “Hurrying Heinz”, Gen Heinz Guderian, the brilliant German tank general who helped plan and then run over France and Belgium in a lightning campaign in May 1940, Gen “Timmy” Thimayya, who was brilliant till he fell out with his political masters. The list could go on and on…
    It is good to remember too, that, be that as it might, the exceptional, planned collapse of East Pakistan against time and against formidable obstacles, the creation of a new nation after a brief war, the public display of chivalry towards 93000 legitimate prisoners and their speedy return after strict application of the Geneva Conventions is a feat of arms that must challenge military analysts the world over for study, analysis and future application if needed. Some would believe that the Air Land battle concept whose application won America and its allies the Gulf War was born out of the East Pakistan template as planned and executed by Manekshaw. Close analysis may prove the truth of this belief.
    At a time that the Armed Forces suffer from poor morale, a feeling of not getting their due in cash or in kind, at a time when the revision of the 6th Pay Commission proceedings sits uneasily in the minds of the soldier of the Army, Navy and Air Force who has given his life on trust to the nation, it is good to remember an icon like the late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.
    Humphrey Bogart, the suave, dapper, iconic actor in the 1942 World War 2 romantic classic, “ Casablanca ”, is wrongly credited with the memorable dialogue, “Play it again, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By’.” It doesn’t really matter; whether spoken by Bogart or not, the words retain their magic till today…
    As a community of soldiers of all hues and colours, serving and retired, we can and must beseech the spirit of Sam Bahadur with the hope, the request: Play it again, Sam. As time goes by, spread your magic, your charisma, all over again. Let today’s soldier rededicate himself to serve his country with pride, honour, selflessness.. Let his country also recognize his worth and treat him with the honour, respect and financial stability he richly deserves. Play it again, Sam!

    Maj Gen Raj Mehta (Retd)

    Saturday, June 28, 2008

    Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

    My homage.
    I had the privilege of being on staff course at Wellington (1961-62) where he was the Commandant. His dynamic personality and sense of humour really touched us all.
    What touched me in particular was his POSITIVE attitude. He corrected one young officer who said, "I don't think.................," General Manekshaw snapped at once, "It is negative thought. Now turn it around to say. "I think.............."

    His other pet phrase at that time was, "Gentlemen, be mentally and physically robust."

    Those two sentences of his have remained guidelines in my own life until now.
    I pray for peace of his departed soul in heaven.

    Rajinder Singh
    Wellingborough, UK

    Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw was a Great Soldier and a Great Human Being. His legacy will live for ever to inspire the Defence Forces.
    We pray to God Almighty to bless the departed soul with eternal peace.

    Air Commodore (Retd) T Pannu & family

    Old soldiers never die, they just fade away. How true.
    Here was an officer who was a role model for most of us.
    His tribe no longer exists in present day defence services.
    My humble tributes to this great officer and gentleman.

    Suman Chandra

    For more read: End of an era

    Saturday, June 21, 2008

    Col NV Chalapathy

    Dear Friends,

    I wish to inform that Col NV Chalapathy (Retd)of Corps of Signals, expired on 18 Jun 2008 around 1900 hrs in a Bangalore hospital. He was cremated in Mysore on 19 Jun 08. He is survived by his wife Mrs Uma, and sons Ashwin and Maj Rohit Chalapathy, Signals, presently BM Inf Bde in J&K. He was a good friend and a great soul. We are saddened by the loss and convey our heartfelt sorrow and condolences to the grieving family members and dear ones.

    Lt Col RP Shankar (Retd)

    I am sad to inform you about the demise of one of our Veteran Signalers, Col NV Chalapathy. He left for his heavenly abode at around 1900 hrs on on 18 Jun 08. He was under treatment in Bangalore Hospital.
    We pray for to All Mighty to give peace to the departed soul and strength to all the near ones and dear ones to bear this irreparable loss.

    Brig CS Kamboj, VSM (Retd)
    Report My Signal Forum