The hero of the 1971 India-Pakistan war over Bangladesh, 89-year old Lt. General (retd.) J.F.R. Jacob's recalls that he joined the Army to fight the Nazis.
Lt. General Jacob is the scion of an old Baghdadi Jewish family that immigrated to India some 200 years ago in order to escape persecution in their native lands.
Despite the opposition of his father, in 1941, he enlisted in the British Army in order to fight the Nazis, whom he had heard were committing atrocities against the Jews.
"No I would not have taken a career other than the army. After the 1945 war, I went for a review and was offered a career in the Indian Civil Service. I refused to join the ICS and became an Indian commissioned officer," General Jacob told ANI.
"I joined the Army to fight Nazism. I saw atrocities and requested to be sent to the Middle East. I just wanted to fight and there was no other reason for joining the forces," he added.
However, for the majority of his time, General Jacob found himself fighting the Japanese in Burma, Sumatra, and other parts of south Asia.
Deciding that he liked the military life, he continued to serve, and after India gained independence in 1947, he joined the new national army, rising to the rank of Lieutenant General. While he has no regrets about his decision to serve in the Army for 37 years, he had to remain a bachelor as marriage proposals slipped, as he had to serve in operational areas.
The highlight of his career was undoubtedly the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war.
Lt. General Jacob was the Chief of Staff, Eastern Command, during the 1971 war and took many operational decisions at his own risk, despite differences with seniors. He was the mastermind of implementing the surrender programme by the Pakistan Army led by Lt. General A.A. K. Niazi, who headed the Eastern Command of the Pakistan Army. (ANI)