Click here to return to Veteran Blog

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
  • Saturday, July 26, 2008

    Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw: Remembered by a Signal Officer

    I had some personal experiences with Field Marshal Manekshaw. At the meeting held on 18th June, I felt it was all too personal and may not be in good taste to make a personal relationship , public. My feelings were so great that ultimately , thought of good behaviour succumbed to sentiments.

    I had the good fortune of meeting the Field Marshal , for the first time , in 1949 . He was then a Colonel . I was then a major in the Area HQ in Bombay. He was on a visit to Bombay and I had to receive him at the air port and escort him to the suite allotted to him in the mess. It was a long drive to Colaba. Those days , even Lt Cols were few, what to talk about a full colonel and that too one from Army HQ. I did not know how to start . He started off by saying, during office hours I am Col Manekshaw. Outside office hours, I am Sam. What about you he asked. I said I am Major Krishnamoorthy of Signals– still slightly nervous. I suppose your friends must be calling you krish. I said coyly, yes sir. Throughout the journey, which I think lasted almost an hour, he kept on talking to me with Krish, almost in every other sentence. May be he was trying to get my embarrassment out of me.

    Years passed by. We were now in 1955– six years later. He had become a Brigadier by then and was commanding a Brigade in Ferozepore . I was still a major in the then E P area in Jullunder, sweating for my next rank. As ill luck would have it, I was asked by the G 1 of the Area to go on a recce and find suitable areas for an exercise, for the Ferozpur brigade. Courtesy demanded that I report to the BM and if he permitted, to drop in to pay my respects to the Bde Commander. Least did I realize that he was the same Manekshaw I had met in 1949. Come in krish , was the greeting I heard. A short meeting and 6 years ago. He is able to connect me with my pet name. I was overwhelmed – to be honest shocked. He said, I am glad that you have been selected to set a paper for my promotion examination. Do you remember that when you were doing your staff college in Wellington in1952-53, you asked your DS, Lt Col Jagjit Singh, for certain clarifications. You actually asked for the DS solution. I assure you I wont do that to you. We both laughed, had a quick cup of tea and parted .

    Another 13 years passed. It was 1968. The Field Marshal, then a General was the Army chief. I had taken slightly premature retirement in the rank of Col. I won the allotment of an Indian Oil Petroleum Dealership, against another 299 applicants pitted against me, in an open competition. The system of routing allotment of dealership, through resettlement was not in vogue then. I wanted to be different. I thought why not I ask the Army chief to inaugurate the Petrol pump, as this was the first allotment for an ex-serviceman. Friends thought I wasfoolish. However, no one had the courage to openly discourage me. I called up the Chief's office and said that I wanted to speak to the Chief. The ADC, who took the details, asked me to wait. A few minutes later, I heard I happy voice. Is that you Krish, my old examiner. When would you like to come over. I got an appointment, to the disappointment of the ADC. I placed my request. First he was reluctant. However, I knew the language he liked. So I said Sir, this is the first time a retired officer has got a pump against odds. I want to dedicate this to my service brethren, who in due course of time will retire and may choose to take to this trade . I would like to make this a training centre for such aspirants and I want this to be started by you. Done was the reply. DONE. He did inaugurate it and I remained the darling of Indian oil for two decades.

    Many years later, the bee of going through the ballot box bit me. I wrote to him, requesting him to give me his blessings and become the Patron–in -chief. Pat came the reply My blessings for the Commandant of The IOC training centre is there but one suggestion - make sure that there is a two bed cell in Tihar jail. As soon as the Madam Prime Minister hears about this, that is where both of us would be.

    That is the GREAT MANEKSHAW I KNEW, I LOVED AND I HAVE LOST at the cruel hand of destiny. Now that the formation of a political Party is being thought of, I wish we could posthumously adopt him not as the patron-in chief but as the Patron Angel. If we have his blessings from heaven, no power on earth or even Heaven can stand between us and success.

    Col MS Krishnamoorthy (Retd)

    Monday, July 14, 2008

    Sam Bahadur remembered by a Signal Officer

    My dear Chander,
    I have appended below, just a few personal memories on my brief, but most significant (to me), contact with the late Field Marshal Sam “Bahadur” Manekshaw when he was Chief of Army Staff at Army HQ New Delhi.

    I got to know The Chief General Sam Manekshaw on a personal basis during my last year at Sigs-9, Army HQ, just prior to leaving for England, in 1971. He had a complex audio system– speech and music– installed in his bedroom suite at his official residence in New Delhi. However, something went wrong with it– an intermittent fault– and no one was keen to try and fix it, lest they mess things up and incur his wrath!

    I had just completed the Technical Staff College Course– my boss, the Signal Officer in Chief, volunteered my services. It was well known that I couldn’t resist a challenge like this, being an avid radio ham!! When I turned up at the august residence and was taken to the Chief’s quarters, I was stunned with the amount of foreign made electronic gear he had around the place. The problem was simple though– a crackle which appeared intermittently while he was listening to his favourite music – an obvious case of a faulty connector. However, when I tried to get at the wiring and connectors, he wouldn’t let me get anywhere near for fear of my messing it up! So, I went back to my boss and asked for a colleague, Major Nandrajog– an equally brash electronics fanatic– to accompany me on my next visit to the Chief’s quarters! The plan was that one of us would distract him while the other would get at the connectors– but no dice. He wouldn’t have it! So we asked him for all the technical literature he had and we spread it out all over the floor of his large bedroom suite. We then began crawling about, following the circuit diagrams and speculating where the problem could be – ignoring him completely. He was very surprised– and impressed– that we could follow the circuit diagrams!! He then relented and gave us a free hand! We soon located the offending connector, but since an original replacement was not available, I had to make one up with stuff I bought from a shop in Old Delhi. This sorted out the problem– and we went on and checked the entire system up– this pleased him no end!!

    “However, about the same time, I had decided to apply for premature retirement– through the proper channels– to be able to join my wife, Helen, and the girls, who were already in England, by this time. I didn’t mention this to the Chief! One day, out of the blue, his ADC appeared at my Mess in a staff car, saying the Chief had summoned me to his quarters– apparently my application must have reached his desk!! After giving me a right old rollicking about it all, he wanted to know who would look after his precious equipment if I wasn’t there to do so any more! I convinced him that the colleague I had brought along with me initially, Major Nandrajog, was fully capable of handling the situation. This mollified him a bit. A few days later I was once again summoned to appear before him– but this time he presented me with an ornamental Khukri in a silver encrusted scabbard and a bottle of whiskey– and wished me well! A few days later, I was in England, when all hell broke loose on the Eastern front– the birth pangs of a new nation– Bangladesh!!

    “And now the Grand Old Man is no more! I have often wished I had had the opportunity to serve directly under him in an official capacity– but then, perhaps, this informal contact that I did have, was for the best!!”

    Maj OA Pereira (Retd)
    United Kingdom

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

    It is something perhaps strange for a naval officer to write an ode for a Field Marshal. But then FM Sam Manekshaw was such a humane person to anyone who wore a uniform and of course the perfect gentleman that it becomes incumbent to do so.

    It was the summer of 1971. A young naval Lieutenant was driving down KG Avenue New Delhi on his Vespa. He was feeling very proud as he had just collected his Parchment Commission and was carrying it back to his cabin. Suddenly a Staff car displaying four stars overtook him and stopped ahead of him. Out came the ADC to the naval officer to say that the General wanted to speak to him. Wondering what he had done the young naval officer approached the car, it was not every day that the Army Chief stopped his vehicle on the road to summon a naval officer. General SH Manekshaw brusquely bottled me for not paying the due respect to my Commission. Saying that he handed my Parchment back with the words look after it son and drove away.

    I wondered how many Chiefs would observe something falling of a scooter, stop the vehicle, pick it up, seeing that it was a Parchment summon the young officer and return it. But then every Chief was not Sam Bahudar.

    Good bye and adieu
    Barin Ghose (Indian Navy)

    The Soldiers General

    Sam Bahadur is dead, the Manekshaw mystique is immortal. As long as the Indian Army retains its traditions and ethos, memories of its first Field Marshal will serve to inspire, remain a matter of honour and pride. For even while his critics – greatness always attracts them – might question his strategic capabilities they would have no hesitation in attesting to a unique hallmark: he was an unrivalled leader of men. The soldier's general, he went on to become the outstanding personality of his time. Even if he had not led India to the most decisive military victory in its history, Sam would have left an indelible impression on everyone who interacted with him. To few others would the term "living legend" have been so perfectly applicable.

    Legend, however, is no respecter of fact and such was Sam's aura that exaggerated stories about him abound and few challenged their authenticity. He certainly did not, and relished basking in glory. Not for him was a mistaken sense of humility, yet he was devoid of even a trace of arrogance and blessed in abundance with that priceless but rare capacity to laugh at himself. The man who clashed with Krishna Menon, had a lively relationship with Indira Gandhi could also be gentle. He would kneel or bend when talking to a child – to establish eye-contact that endeared.

    For the record, SHFJ Manekshaw was born on 3 April 1914 in Amristar, educated at Sherwood College, Nainital and was among the first batch of Indian Commissioned Officers in 1934. He won a Military Cross in Burma – Maj Gen Cowans taking his own medal from his tunic to decorate the young officer on a hospital bed – organized the airlift to Srinagar in 1947, fought the Chinese, and of course, won the 1971 War. For which he was elevated a Padma Vibhushan and then promoted the Indian Army's first Field Marshal. In between he came close to being sacked by the acerbic Krishna Menon.

    The record, impressive though it is, however is not what Sam Manekshaw was all about. His singular magic is not to be measured by decorations earned, appointments held or other such mundane accomplishments by which lesser mortals are evaluated. He was a man who could be ruthlessly efficient, and critical to that efficiency was getting the right man to do the right job – such as leaving much of the planning for the Bangladesh Operations to Lieutenant General JFR Jacob, then Chief of Staff at Headquarters, Eastern Command.

    Sam was not a Gorkha by birth having been commissioned into the Frontier Force Rifles that went to the Pakistan Army when assets were divided at Independence/Partition. But the men with slouch hats never had a more illustrious "adopted son". He loved them, they loved him. He once declared that a man who said he had never known fear was "either a liar – or a Gorkha". Not surprisingly, at his last public function in the Capital to mark his entering his 90th year he cut his birthday cake with silver khukri!

    While he was ever upright – in every sense of the word – Sam was no puritan. When the Army Commander visited him in hospital in Burma and asked if he wanted anything, he sought "two Scotches before dinner". He once confessed that he and his wife used separate bedrooms since she could not put up with his snoring -- adding that "funny, no other woman has complained." Yet he respected others, and when attending a function in a Delhi school in 1972 he bowed before a lady who had been his teacher at Sherwood.

    A darling of the media he was, and it came so naturally. On the eve of his becoming Army Chief he noted a leading photograph stooping low to "shoot" him at a particular angle. Manekshaw offered to even stand on his head if that would guarantee his picture on the front page. The media, alas, also got him into hot water. An interviewer (after the 1971 war) asked what would have happened had he gone with his regiment to the Pakistan army. "Then Pakistan would have won the war" he chuckled. Cold print did not reflect the warmth of his humour and New Delhi's politician's turned the heat on him.

    A darling of his men too. Story goes that when Naga rebels took a Gorkha captive he rushed to the area, berated his subordinates, insisted on preparations to "take out" the village, only to be unofficially informed that the Gorkha was actually philandering there. The "capture" had been shown to cover up his absence. Messages went out and the soldier returned, to face much flak from his officers. Sam only embraced the guy, and in a whisper queried, "was she worth it, son". Who would not die for that kind of a leader?

    Manekshaw's passing to the battlefield of beyond will, undoubtedly, be mourned across a vast spectrum of humanity, even soldiers of the army he "defeated" would acknowledge how he kept his promise on the treatment of prisoners-of-war. Sam would probably chuckle at all the tributes paid to him, for he could actually be shy on occasions. All he would seek – nay demand – as a mark of respect was that India always honours its soldiers and, in return, the army ever proves itself worthy of that honour.


    Wednesday, July 2, 2008

    Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

    From: Cdr Arun Saigal

    I reproduce below Adm Nanda's sentiments recorded in Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw's condolence book at the Amar Jawan Jyoti India Gate on Tues 01 July 2008:

    I pay my respects and admiration on behalf of the Officers and Men of the Indian Navy that I proudly commanded in 1971. I have many fond personal memories of the times spent together planning the liberation of East Pakistan.
    Dear friend and colleague R.I.P

    Admiral SM Nanda
    CNS 1971

    Letter From Sam to Nanda

    An Ode To Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

    Here lies a soldier, with respect and dignity,
    For whom the, country came first, and then family,
    He fought for his country ,to bring pride and glory.
    Now resting in peace, with honour and solemnity.
    He will live forever, in a soldiers memory
    As they know, he made us feel proud, of our country.
    Fondly, called 'Sam' – a Field Marshal so great!
    By all his colleagues and his course mates.
    He lived by reputation, of being a great soldier.
    Having an instinct, to fight like a tiger
    Admired by all, and feared by his foe,
    A gentleman soldier, who could never say NO!
    He created history, with his actions and deeds,
    By dividing a country, which was a feat!
    Thus, bringing the adversaries, to their knees.
    Such was his awe and inspiration profuse,
    Even, adversaries' admitted, which they cannot not refuse.
    Now at 94, when he is no more,
    His memories shall haunt, and continue to glow.
    He was a soldier, from the core of his heart,
    And, always been cheerful, right from the start!
    His fame and glory was such, even appreciated by the west.
    Yet, in his own country, he was quietly put to rest!
    So, the absence of big wigs from his funeral, gave us a start!!
    Which opened up channels, for many to retort.
    'Sam Bahadur the great', as called by soldiers your mates.
    You shall live forever, in our hearts, which no one can replicate.

    Col JJ Smith (Bihar Regt)

    Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

    Myself and my wife heard the sad news of the demise of our beloved ex chief who lived long years to inpsire all of us. He was a grand new model of insiring leadership.

    While we were in UK years ago during years 1972-1976 on posting at the HCI London, we had the opportunity to meet him and his wife, while he was on visit to UK defence forces on invitiation from British Government. During his short visit I was nominated to look after him and Mrs Maneksha as his staff officer. I had acompanied Mrs Manekshaw on her shopping tour while Field Marshal was busy with his round of visits.

    Both were so kind informal and loving.
    We wish his peace.

    Maj Gen Prabhakar B Deshpande (Retd) and family

    Tuesday, July 1, 2008

    Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw of Wellington

    I remember in Jun 1987 Manekshaw's biography was released. The event took place on the lawns of DSSC. Maj Gen Billimoria was the Commandant. I was posted then at MRC Wellington as GSO1 (Trg). All the Station Officers were present at the DSSC for the event. On the dot at 1630 h the Field Marshal was driven in through the gates of DSSC with a Fanfare by the MRC Band. He arrived in his car bearing Five Stars. He was in full dress whereas we were all in combinations.

    He was as cheerful as ever. The official book release was conducted amidst his non stop chatter and giggles by others on the dais. As he took the mike his LO held out for him a copy which was flagged in many pages. He commended the author and publisher and then held up his copy and said, "Well chaps, this is my biography and you may buy the book if you feel like. I don't get a single paise out of the sale. That doesn't matter. But I want something from the author. My name is misspelt in seven places! I have flagged the pages where I have been referred to by names that are not mine. He must promise me that he will correct them in the next edition......if there is a next edition!"

    Another time, one evening, a few of us had gone to MH Welligton to look up one of our officers who had been admitted there. FM Manekshaw had also come there to see some other patient. As we stood around on the verandah of the ward he walked up to us and said, Hi, Chaps! Do you all know me?" When we said yes he enquired about the officer and said "Eventually we all get well inspite of the doctors. So don't worry".

    And he went on, "Do you know, my father was a doctor. I was delivered by him. Actually I was born 'breach'. That is, I came out with my legs first. I was born a 'blue baby'. I didn't breathe or cry at birth. So my father held me up side down by my feet and gave me a tight slap. That must have stung me and I gave out my first squeal. Later in life whenever I was unbearably naughty my mother always told my father that he ought not to have slapped me then!".

    "And," he went on, "my father wanted me to be a doctor like him. I said I will only be a women's doctor so I can have a good look at you know.....(wink, wink). This angered him so much that he had me put into the Army. When I was shot up in Burma my father asked for me to be sent home for treatment and convalescence. After about three months when I was fit again and he said, "Son if you have one more drink or smoke one more cigarette you will die". I listened to him and nearly died!".
    So saying he lit up a fag and said, "Thanks chaps. I must go now. The sun has gone down and my kancha must be waiting for me with my drink".