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WORLD WAR TWO 

IAF Pilots in the RAF

Few people realise that a number of Indian pilots took part in operations from England. At the height of the Battle of Britain, 24 Indian pilots were sent to the UK to under go conversion training and participate in Ops. Even though they could take part only after the Battle of Britain, many of them distinguished themselves flying operations with the various commands.

These twenty four hailed from the 4th Pilots Course - who had received their commissions on 8th August 1940. Less than a week later, on 14th August, it was reported that the first batch of Indian pilots who had finished their training at ITW Lahore will be sent to the UK for operational training. At that time there were 13 direct entry Indian officers in the RAF in the UK.

The 24 Officers arrived by ship in England on 8th October 1940. On arrival, they were given a welcome message addressed individually to them by the Air Minister, Sir Archibald Sinclair.

The 24 were initially sent for basic flying training and later on to SFTS followed by OTUs. They subsequently spread out among the Squadrons in Fighter, Coastal and bomber Command. Eight of them were killed in training and operations.

A very poignant story as noted by Mukund Murty is that of Anandaraj Samuel Gnanamuthu, KIA 11/ 7/ 41 and his kid brother Bhaskar Daniel Gnanamuthu, KIA 7/ 11/ 41. The weird juxtaposition of the dates of deaths of these brothers may be noted.   Anandaraj was in 32 Sqn RAF. Both the brothers were killed during their service in the UK. Their parents were in the Niligiris at that time , their father was an IMS Captain

The remaining sixteen officers came back and bought with them the experiences of flying in the European theatre. Another pilot was lost in operations against the Japanese, leaving fifteen survivors of the pioneer 24.

THE PILOTS:
(Names in bold indicate deceased - and link to CWGC Certificates)

Name Serv Rnk
Gurbachan Singh P/O
Ali Raza Khan Pasha - P/O
Kali Prasad Choudhary - P/O
Anandraj   Gnanamuthu - P/O
Chander Prakash Khosla - P/O
Rustom Nariman Dastur - P/O
Cherala Raghava Rao - P/O
Hukum Chand Mehta - P/O
Bhasker Gnanamuthu - P/O
Manmohan Singh - F/O
Erlic Wilmot Pinto 1593 AVM
Ranjan Dutt 1594 AVM
Shiv Dev Singh 1595 AM
H S Chopra 1596 F/O
O P Sanghi 1597 P/O
Hari Chand Dewan 1598 AM
Edwin Nazirullah 1599 W/C
K J Bhore 1600 P/O
Satya Pal Shahi 1601 AVM
M M Latif 1602 F/O
M M Ghosh 1603 P/O
Mahendra Singh Pujji 1604 S/L
Trilochan Singh F/O
Khanna F/O

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Twenty Four - Pilots from No.4 Pilots Course who went to UK

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- new.gif (147 bytes)8th October 1940: Arrival in England - (Left) E W Pinto (1st), H C Mehta (3rd) and M S Pujji (5th) standout along the line on disembarkation .

 

new.gif (147 bytes)8th October 1940:  A policeman shakes hands with a group of Indian pilots, MS Pujji is 2nd from Right. The Sikh shaking hands could be 'Chacha' Manmohan Singh -
The twenty four Indian pilots from the 4th Pilots Course who were sent to the UK for Conversion training.

Last Row from left : Shiv Dev Singh (2nd) Gurbachan Singh (3rd) Bhaskar Gnanamuthu (7th) MS Pujji (10th)   Anand Gnanamuthu (13th)
Second Row (from Left): Manmohan Singh (6th) Ranjan Dutt (7th)   Erlic Pinto (8th) HC Mehta (11th)

new.gif (147 bytes)Bhaskar Daniel Gnanamuthu , who was killed on 7th November 1941 -
- new.gif (147 bytes)22 November 1940 - Time for Tea?

Standing : Shiv Dev  Singh (?) (Left) and Bhaskar Daniel Gnanamuthu..
Sitting: Ranjan Dutt , Erlic Pinto, Trilochan Singh (?)

new.gif (147 bytes)22 November 1940 - Nineteen of the twenty four indian pupils can be seen here studying maps by a Tigermoth. -
Ranjan Dutt leads a group of RAF Indian pilots consisting of Trilochan Singh, H S Chopra, S P Shahi and O P Sanghi with the University Air Corps at Prestwick, UK. 

Dutt distinguished himself in the 1947 War earning a Vir Chakra before retiring from the IAF as Air Vice Marshal. He was also with HAL as the Chairman.

new.gif (147 bytes)Mahendra Singh Pujji helps one of his colleagues dress up for flight sorties -
- new.gif (147 bytes)Trilochan Singh, Gurbachan Singh and another unidentified pilot studying a map prior to a sortie.
new.gif (147 bytes)"An Indian Pilot in the RAF undergoing training" - This image , possibly Trilochan Singh - taken about the same time as the above pictures appeared in "The War Illustrated" magazine's 6 Dec 1940 issue. -
This image is not enlargeable new.gif (147 bytes)22 November 1940 - Ranjan Dutt and two other pilots check out a map during the photo shoot.
Fg Offr Mahendra Singh Pujji DFC in the cockpit of his Hawker Hurricane named 'Amrit' after his fiancee. [Sqn Ldr MS Pujji Collection]
- new.gif (147 bytes)Hukam Chand Mehta, seen here went to No.43 Squadron RAF. Mehta died when his Hurricane IIB (Z3150)  flew into the ground at Kiedler in Northumberland,  during a formation practice on 3 November 1941. 
Personnel of 205 RAF Squadron flying the Catalina at Seletar in January 1942. Standing in the middle of last row is  Manmohan Singh, who died in the Japanese raid on Broome, Australia on 3rd March. He was the last of the 24 to die in service during WW2.  .
- Flying Officer Shiv Dev Singh from Punjab seen here in North Africa. This photo was used for the cover of this book.


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