27.06.

2008: The First Indian Field Marshal in History

2008: The First Indian Field Marshal in History
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/A statue of Sam Manekshaw on Menckji Mehta Road in Pune Cantonment, India.

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 27 June 2008
  • Sam Manekshaw was awarded the rank of a field marshal during the era of the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It was the first time in history that this rank was assigned in the Indian Army. It was later awarded to only one other Indian - Kodandera Madappa Cariappa, so the two were the only field marshals in the Indian history so far.

On this day, in 2008, Indian Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, the first man in history who was awarded the rank of Indian field marshal, died.

Sam Manekshaw was born in Amritsar in 1914. He was a Parsi by origin, like Freddie Mercury, Zubin Mehta and Jamsetji Tata (the founder of the powerful industrial group Tata). Basic Parsi religion is Zoroastrianism, originally from Persia (now Iran).

Sam Manekshaw was born in India under British colonial rule. He was educated to become a military officer, and since India at the time of his youth was still under Great Britain, he firstly served in the British Indian Army. As such, he fought in World War II in Burma (the famous Bridge on the River Kwai was near that battlefield).

After India became independent, Sam Manekshaw was a high ranking officer in the famous Gurkha units. In 1957 he received the rank of major-general, and in 1969 he became Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army. He held that post during the war between India and Pakistan in 1971. In this war India took a decisive victory over Pakistan (Indira Gandhi was Indian Prime Minister then).

Sam Manekshaw received the rank of Field Marshal in 1973. It was the first time in history that this rank was assigned in the Indian Army. It was later awarded to only one other Indian – Kodandera Madappa Cariappa, so the two were the only field marshals in the Indian history so far.

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw died in 2008 at the age of 94. The mentioned second field marshal, Kodandera Madappa Cariappa, died 15 years earlier, so that today there is not one living Indian Field Marshal.

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