JFR Jacob

Bangladesh War Hero, General J.F.R Jacob

The story of J. F. R. Jacob

Lieutenant General J.F.R. Jacob was a pre-eminent Indian Army Officer from 7thJune, 1942 to 31st July, 1978. In the war of 1971, Bangladesh Liberation War, his role was very significant in making Bangladesh. Just after this war, he became Major General in which he served Chief of staff eastern command.

During this period which is 36 years long, he had fought two wars- World War II and Indo-Pakistani War in 1965. However, after these efficacious years, he also assisted as the Governor of one Indian State and one UT- Punjab and Goa.

Personal details
Born Jack Farj Rafael Jacob
2 May 1921
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
(Now, Kolkata, West Bengal, India)
Died 13 January 2016 (aged 94)
New Delhi, India
Political party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
Occupation Indian Army officer
Profession Army officer
Awards  Param VishishtSeva MedalCommendation of MeritFriends of Liberation War Honour
Military career
Allegiance  British India
Service/branch  British Indian Army
 Indian Army
Years of service 7 June 1942 – 31 July 1978
Rank  Lieutenant General
Service number IC-470[2]
Commands held  Eastern Army 12 Infantry Division
Battles/wars World War II Tunisia CampaignBurma Campaign Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 Indo-Pakistan War of 1971

Early life of JFR Jacob

Jack Farj Rafael Jacob is a well-known personality for participation in various movements. Jacob was born in Calcutta; it is called Kolkata now. His family is Baghdadi Jews from Israel, but came in India in the mid of 18th century. His father’s name is Elias Emanuel, who was a very famous businessman. When his father got sick, he was sent to Victoria School in Darjeeling.

It is a boarding college in Kurseongurban. However, from that time, he only comes home on Holidays. When he was in school, he was very much motivated by the intelligence of the Holocaust of European Jews during World War II. Because of which, he enlisted his name in the British Indian Army in 1942 by the name Jack Frederick Ralph Jacob.

Role in World War II

When he joined the Army, he was just 18 years old. At that age, he fought against the Nazis. However, this move was strongly objected by his father, but later he accepted his son’s decision. J.R.F Jacob had graduated from Officer Training School Mhow in 1942.

After that, he fought World War II from various regions like North America, Burma, Sumatra, etc. Moreover, when the war was over, he had gone to do graduation and specialized training from England and USA in artillery and missiles.

Military Career

In the year 1942, he has done his graduation from Officer’s Training School in Mhow. Right after that, he received a designation of Lieutenant on 7th June.

That time he was posted in Northern Iraq to seize the oil field of Kirkuk. With this success, on 7th December, he got the designation of war-substantive Lieutenant.

General Jacob has served the Indian Army for 36 years. After that, Jacob was posted to the artillery brigade in the year 1943; and just after that, he was moved to Tunisia region to strengthen the British Army against Field Marshall named Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

After the successful win, the brigade had arrived after the Axis Surrender.

When the war started till its end, Jacob Unit had fought against Burma region with the Empire of Japan.

When he won this war, he was assigned to Sumatra. After all these successful years, he was granted a permanent commission as Lieutenant on 27th October, 1945.  After completing artillery training from England and the USA, he joined the Indian Army.

In the year 1964, he was given command of artillery brigade on the rank of Brigadier.

J.F.R Jacob
J.F.R. Jacob

Moreover, he had commanded the infantry division by which he became 12th Infantry division only in Rajasthan. After that, on 17th January, 1966, he got the designation of Brigadier and got an infantry brigade on 30th September.

The superior officer of Jacob liked the way he worked; that is why on 2nd October, 1967, he got the rank of Major General and got the command of an infantry division. Furthermore, again in the year 1968, he got the substantive position. After all the above successful stories, he became the chief of staff of Eastern command in the year 1969 by the hands of Sam Manekshaw.

Dates of rank

Rank   Component Date of rank
Second Lieutenant   British Indian Army 7 June 1942 (emergency)
7 December 1943 (substantive)
Lieutenant   British Indian Army 7 December 1942 (war-substantive)
27 October 1945 (substantive; regular commission)
Captain   British Indian Army 2 February 1945 (acting)
2 May 1945 (temporary)
20 July 1946 (war-substantive)
Major   British Indian Army 20 April 1946 (acting)
20 July 1946 (temporary)
Lieutenant   Indian Army 15 August 1947
Captain   Indian Army 1948
Captain   Indian Army 26 January 1950 (recommissioning and change in insignia)
Major   Indian Army 7 June 1955
Lieutenant-Colonel   Indian Army 7 June 1958
Colonel   Indian Army 23 December 1964
Brigadier   Indian Army 20 May 1964 (acting)
17 January 1966 (substantive)
Major General   Indian Army 2 October 1967 (acting)
10 June 1968 (substantive)
Lieutenant-General   Indian Army 17 June 1972 (acting)
5 August 1973 (substantive)

Role in the Bangladesh War

During his stint, while serving as the chief of staff of Eastern command, Jacob gained significant prominence. In the year 1971, he defeated the Pakistan Army in the eastern region. Everyone highly recommended his role in this war because of which he got commendation of merit. In the year 1971, the Pakistan army has started operation searchlight to fight against the Bengal Nationalist movement.

Because of this operation, around 10,000 refugees entered India, which had created considerable tension between India and Pakistan. To handle this, Jacob was assigned as the chief of staff to draw the contingency plans. So, after consulting his superior officers, Jacob made a plan to engage Pakistan in this war of movement.

This plan was first offered to the Eastern Command, that involved an intrusion in East Pakistan with the capture of the two provinces Chittagong and Khulna by superior Officer Manekshaw. On the other hand, various senior Indian Army officers were very reluctant to implement a violent invasion due to doubts of early ceasefire demands by the UN and a danger modeled by China.

On the other hand, others believed that they are not able to navigate marshy terrain of east Pakistan just because of three full rivers. To this statement, Jacob disagreed as he aimed to capture whole East Pakistan. Now he thought to capture Dhaka, the geopolitical center of that region, to win the war.

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He then selectively bypassed the Pakistani forces, their communication center, and various other controlled capabilities. He thought that this plan will be executed in between three weeks, but he had executed within a fortnight. Jacob well understood that the war of protracted would not be in India’s favor; that’s why he had taken permission to reach Niazi so that he can quickly seek his surrender.

He then flew to Dhaka and got Niazi under his control. This war was the significant victory of India in which around 90,000 Pakistani Soldiers surrendered. In an interview, he stated that he had gone to Dhaka without any arms with only one staff officer just carrying a draft of the surrender document.

He handed over that draft to Pakistani Army Commander Lt General A.A.K. Niazi, which is called unconditional surrender. After that, Jacob delivered 30 minutes to Niazi to decide. He then accepted the conditions. In a study by Pakistan National Defense College, they stated that this whole scenario’s credit goes to General Jacob.

Later military career and retirement

After this, Jacob was promoted to corps commander on 17th June, 1972. Again on 5th August, 1973, he got the designation of substantive Lieutenant general. Finally, before his retirement, he was promoted to GOC-in-C eastern command from 1974 to 1978.

After retirement life

Just after the retirement on 31st, July 1978, he entered in the business sector. But in the late 1990s, he entered into political line and became the member of Bharatiya Janata Party where he served as a Security Advisory. After that in the year 1998, he became the Governor of Goa and then the Governor of Punjab from 1999 to 2003.

General JFR Jacob
General JFR Jacob celebrating Chanuka in his home
9th Governor of Goa
19 April 1998 – 26 November 1999
Appointed by President of India (then, K. R. Narayanan)
President K. R. Narayanan (1999–2002)
A. P. J. Abdul Kalam (2002–2003)
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane (1998)
LuizinhoFaleiro (1998–1999)
Francisco Sardinha (1999)
Preceded by T. R. Satish Chandran
Succeeded by Mohammed Fazal
29th Governor of Punjab
27 November 1999 – 8 May 2003
Appointed by President of India (then, K. R. Narayanan)
President K. R. Narayanan
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal
Preceded by B. K. N. Chhibber
Succeeded by O. P. Verma

After becoming the Governors of one state and UT, he had penned down his experience in the Army. Its name is Surrender at Dacca: Birth of a nation and another book called An Odyssey in War and Peace: An Autobiography Lt Gen J.F.R. Jacob.

Later life

Jacob is from Israel by birth, but served in India because his ancestors migrated to India in the 18th century. That’s why even now, Israel community called him as Jewish war hero. However, he was the only person in the dying Jewish community in India itself as the population is very less, which is just around 5000. General Jacob loves to read. He was a writer and also a good orator.

Through his speech, he easily attracted anyone. After his death, his home in national Capital called New Delhi became the pilgrimage site for Jewish Community from all over the nation.

Ammunition Hill Wall of Honor

J. F. R. Jacob was one of the leading and most protruding members of the Indian Army and the minor Jewish community. After serving in Army for 36 years, he became the Governor of Punjab province and Union Territory Goa.

On the other hand, he fought for the nation, which is an inspiration for the youth. This honor called the Wall of Honor at the Ammunition Hill was offered to those individuals who laid their life with great bravery and courage in favor of their nation.


On 13th January 2016, he died due to Pneumonia in New Delhi at Army Research and Referral Hospital. He was laid to rest at Jewish Cemetery at Humayun Tomb. Many political leaders attended his funeral. Overall, you can say that this man has shown real courage in various wars on fight against Pakistan, and the truth is he is a real hero.

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