Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lt Gen J F R Jacob’s Gentleman Cadet days at OTS Mhow.

Lt Gen J F R Jacob’s Gentleman Cadet days at OTS Mhow.

 Lt Gen AAK Niazi of Pakistan signing the instrument of surrender. Next to him is Lt Gen J S Aurora the GOC-in-C of India's Eastern Command. Lt Gen JFR Jacob (then a Major General and Chief of Staff of the Eastern Command) is standing behind Lt Gen Niazi. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 India License
Author Indian Navy


Army Day celebrations on 15 Jan were tinged with  sadness this year as  the nation had  lost the highly respected and loved Lt Gen JFR Jacob (Retd) on Jan 13. Jacob  was  one of the architects of the resounding victory over Pakistan  in the Eastern sector which led to the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. 
Jacob Farj Rafael Jacob was born in Calcutta in 1923 in a Baghdadi Jewish family. After completing his schooling he decided to join the British Indian Army as he was traumatised by the cruel treatment meted out to Jews in Europe by Hitler and the Nazis.

Not many know that Jacob joined  Officers’ Training School (OTS) Mhow for his cadet  training and he was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery though he wanted to join the infantry. OTS Mhow was one of many  training schools set up in India during World War II for churning out officers for the war machine. One of Jacob’s  batchmates at OTS Mhow was T N Raina who later became the Chief of Army Staff.  In his memoirs An Odyssey in War and Peace (Roli Books, 2011, Rs 350) Jacob briefly describes his short stay at Mhow. He praises the terrain around Mhow for being appropriate for military training. He mentions that though the training schedule was tough and demanding the gentlemen cadets were treated as officers in their off hours and were provided comfortable accommodation and even personal servants – a luxury for cadets!

Jacob’s description of how he ended up in the artillery is hilarious. He had done well during cadet training and was confident of being commissioned in the infantry – his first choice. But he was called to the company office and told that he had volunteered for the artillery.  He then proceeded to Deolali, against his wishes, for his pre-commission training for the artillery. He describes the quality of cadet life in Deolali to be much inferior to that in Mhow. Four cadets had to share a tent and they had no electricity. Even off hours were devoted to training activities. Of the  28 cadets in his course only 21 could complete the course. They were commissioned as Second Lieutenants without any fanfare or a  passing out parade on 7 June, 1942.  Thus began a glorious career which culminated in his retiring as GOC-in-C Eastern Command in 1978.

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Links
The Wikipedia page on General Jacob. Click here
An Israeli journalist pays tribute to General Jacob. Click hereRediff dot com's chat with General Jacob in 2006. Click here
Who was Lt Gen JFR Jacob (India Today) Click here.

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