Achievers' Index

Field Marshall S.H.F.J. Manekshaw

Recipient of the Old Sherwoodians' Millennium Award for Outstanding Achievement conferred during the Reunion on 14.10.2000.

Field Marshall SHFJ (Sam) Manekshaw, (MC) Military Cross, (OBE) Order of the British Empire, Order of Merit (US)Field Marshall S.H.F.J. Manekshaw, M.C. affectionately known as 'Sam' was commissioned from the first course to pass out of the Indian Military college (now known as the Indian Military Academy), Dehradun, in 1934 . He was commissioned in the 9th Frontier Force Rifles. During the Second World War, he saw service with his battalion in Burma and was severely injured in action. He was awarded the Military Cross for his devotion to duty and outstanding bravery. In 1947, after independence and the Partition of India, Sam Manekshaw was transferred to the 8th Gorkha Rifles. During his illustrious career, he has held a number of important staff appointments. He was the Commandant of the Infantry School, Mhow, and Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. He was selected to command the Eastern Command as it had a challenging task to fulfill as a result of the Chinese aggression. He was appointed the Chief of the Army Staff in 1968. As chief, he was the architect of the 1971 Indo - Pak war in which he led the Indian Army to its success.


Your Grace, the Metropolitan of India, My Lord Bishop of Lucknow, Mr. Principal, ladies and young gentlemen of Sherwood: 

Yesterday evening when my A.D.C. told me that I would have to speak here, I was horrified. I thought the Principal had asked me to come and join the celebrations; I did not realize he wanted me to sing for my supper! Believe me, as I stand here, I am terrified. Those near me can almost hear my knees knocking and my teeth chattering. For eight years in Sherwood, I was at the receiving end.

It is customary on these occasions for the guest speaker to give a learned discourse or advice to young gentlemen. It is not my fault that, although I received my early education in Sherwood, I am not learned. Sir, I am fit neither to give you a learned discourse nor advice, I really want to tell you what Sherwood has done for me. 

Sherwood has taken me to my present position. First and foremost, I learned to live alone and independently. I learned to fight - from the time I got up in the morning till the time I went to bed. When I went down to wash I could not find my towel, and while I was looking for my towel somebody pinched my soap. This, my young gentlemen, happened for eight years. I am rather disappointed as I look at you carefully (I shall put on my glasses) to see so few scared faces. In my time, the guest speaker saw nothing but black eyes. I fought, and it stood me in good stead during the war in Burma, where we came up against the Japanese. 

What else did I learn from Sherwood? During the war in Burma I went without food for many days. I was hungry. I withstood this and said to myself, "After all I went through 8 years of hunger in Sherwood". I was hungry in the morning; I was hungry in the afternoon, hungry when I went to bed at night. Does a similar situation prevail now? I learnt in school to hate my enemies. How? ....Thanks to St. Joseph 's next door and when we played them on the Flats. From the corner of my eye I see His Grace, the metropolitan, and the Bishop frowning. "You should love your neighbour", is what they say. So we should, though I can almost hear the boys say, "except St. Joseph's."

Sir, it is a great privilege and a great honour to be able to come back to Sherwood after thirty years, to come back as a chief guest, to come back to address you boys who will grow up to be fine gentlemen. I thank you very much for having given me this privilege. I am sorry I cannot tell you anything about Mr. Binns, I have heard a great deal about him, but he was here after my time. May I hope that some day, some of you, will join the armed forces to rise to high positions.

Gleanings from 'The Sherwoodian Times' 

It is with a great sense of satisfaction that we note that the first Field-Marshal in the Indian army was Sam Manekshaw, a tremendous honour for the school indeed.

Not much can be gleaned about this future leader of men from old Sherwoodian magazine. We know that he had two brothers, Jehangir and Jemi, who also studied in Sherwood. They came to us from Mussoorie. 

He seemed to be more literary than sporting and we give here a delightful poem which gives early warning of that famous humour that is so characteristic of him (and which sometimes got him into trouble!). 

He and his two brothers seemed to have a penchant for Maths. This talent is referred to in the poem 'The Naughty Ninth'
" Now Manekshaw S. we are to add 
  Who, no doubt, is a jolly lad, 
  He's keen on Mathematics, too, 
  Our Trig. sums for us he does do."

Jemi in Sherwood 'Seniors' 
 "J. Manek's working hard, too:
  To church he never comes.
  'Tis thought he doth stay behind
  To work out Algy sums."

We follow the fortunes of Sam's meteoric rise from this first report. "We are constantly hearing of the success of many Old Boys of whom we would especially mention Sam Manekshaw who passed out with the first batch from Indian Military Academy in March.

Later we read of him cutting his teeth on his first job : 
"Congratulations to S.H.F.J. Manekshaw on passing out among the first batch of cadets from the I.M.A, Dehradun. He has been temporarily attached to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Scouts, at Lahore before eventually joining a unit in the Indian Army."

In 1946, there is a passing reference to his having been wounded in the war (IInd World War). In addition, he also picked up an M.C. for gallantry and leadership on the Burma front. He became the centre of news in the December 1962 magazine which reads like a fanfare of trumpets, "We congratulate Maj. Gen. S. Manekshaw (1923-1930) on his promotion to the rank of Lt. General. He has been in charge of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, for the last three years. He has a distinguished fighting record and is reputed to be an authority on modern strategy and tactical planning.

He won the M.C. on the Burma Front during World War II. He was the Director of Military operations at Army Headquarters during the Kashmir fighting 1947-1948.

Later he served as Director of Military Training at Army Headquarters. In 1985 he was appointed Commandment of the Military School at Mhow. General Manekshaw was commissioned in 1934. 

Lt-General Manekshaw M.C. (1923 - 1930) who is at present commanding a corps in the Eastern Sector is being appointed G.O.C in Central Western Command.

Students of the college who were here at the time of the Centenary Celebrations (1969) can count themselves fortunate in having General Manekshaw as Chief Guest. His speech, short and witty, captured the collective hearts of the school because he touched lightly on those ingredients that are an intrinsic part of college life. We give it below, leaving it to serve as a conclusion to the brief story of a man whom Sherwood is very proud to own as one of her sons ! 

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