The Westland Lysander - The IAF's first monoplane bomber

No.1 Squadron "The Tigers" - (Aug 41 - June 42) 10 Months 

1Sqn-1941-01.jpg (94091 bytes)
On 13th October 1941, at 0900 Hrs, Sir George Cunningham, Governor of the North West Frontier Province, presented the official "Tiger" crest of No.1 Squadron as approved by the Chester Herald in August 41.  Here, the Squadron members pose for a group photo in front of a Lysander.

Sitting L to R: U/I , Flt Lt Niranjan Prasad (B Flt Cdr) , U/I, Sqn Ldr K K Majumdar (CO), Sir George Cunningham (Governor NWFP), U/I, U/I, Flt Lt Prithipal Singh (A Flt Cdr), U/I.  Standing L to R : U/I ,U/I , Plt Offr YV Malse, U/I ,U/I ,U/I ,U/I ,Plt Offr Sk Ibrahim, U/I , U/I ,U/I ,U/I .

The first Indian Squadron earmarked for conversion to the Lysander was No.1 Squadron. At that time the Indian Air Force consisted of only two Squadrons, No.2 having been raised a few months before.

In early August of 1941, No.1 Squadron was based at Kohat when orders came in for sending pilots to pick up the aircraft. On 8th August 1941, The Commanding Officer, Sqn Ldr Majumdar, along with seven other officers ‘A’ Flight proceeded to Aircraft Depot India for conversion training. ‘B’ Flight under Flt Lt Niranjan Prasad remained at Kohat on watch and war duties. Five officers from the neighboring No.28 Squadron also proceeded to Karachi to collect the aircraft.

Details on conversion training at the Aircraft Depot are not available but the pilots probably finished this by the end of the month. The new aircraft were collected on 1 Sept 1941 and the move from Karachi to Peshawar began on the same day. The pilots were led by Sqn Ldr Majumdar (CO). The formation had their first stop at Padidan, followed by Multan as the second stage of the flight. At Multan, Lysander P9180 swung on landing and had damage to the wingtips and tail. Not an auspicious start on the first day of operations!

The aircraft was repaired by the Technical Officer, WO Harjinder Singh and the aircraft was flown out to Peshawar the next day. The CO and the Engineer Officer had a tacit understanding not to report any accidents as long as the aircraft could be repaired within 24 hours. The ground crew under Harjinder spared no corners to get the aircraft back into flying conditions. Thus No.1 successfully hid the details of the accident. Meanwhile, their RAF ‘sister’ Squadron, No.28 was not so lucky. They reportedly could not land at Multan due to flooding and all the aircraft force landed at a small landing ground at Dera Ghazi Khan, about 60 miles from Multan. Fuel had to be ferried by land and by boat to refuel these aircraft and dispatch them to Kohat.

Towards the end of September ‘B’ Flight handed over duties to No.2 Squadron and started their conversion to Lysanders in October. The Harts and Audaxes disposed off would go to the newly raised No.3 Squadron as well as to No.2 Squadron. By end of October, No.1 was completely equipped with the Lysander.

Serviceability of No.1 Squadron’s Lysanders was high compared to No.28 RAF Squadron. Part of it is attributable to the tail wheel failures of the Lysanders. The tail wheel was prone to burst on landing and at that time the relatively few spares were making it to the squadrons up the supply chain. WO Harjinder Singh managed to design a wooden replacement for the tail wheel, that was made of layered wood, rubber sandwiched between metal discs with a metal tyre around it. The tail wheel was then internally sprung with rubber bands around the hub and the first aircraft equipped with the replacement was test flown on 9th October 1941 by Majumdar himself.

The Squadron was presented with their official "Tigers" Crest on 13th Oct 1941, by the Governor of NWFP, Sir George Cunningham.  On 7th November , 1941, another official ceremony was organised where this time, the Governor of Bombay, Sir Roger Lumley officially handed over thirteen Lysanders to No.1 Squadron. The aircraft were paid for with donations from the Bombay War Gifts fund.

Peshawar, 7 Nov 1941, Sir Roger Lumley, Governor of Bombay inspects No.1 Squadron during the official presentation of the Lysanders.  The person to the right of him in the photo is believed to be Sqn Ldr Majumdar. -
- Ground crew of No.1 Squadron with one of the Lizzies. WO Harjinder Singh can be seen standing in the center (wearing tie).

Around the same time November, A couple of Lysanders of 1 Squadron accompanied 28 RAF Squadron to Quetta to carry out some demonstrations for the participants of Staff College Quetta. In the middle of November, a ‘War Week’ was held in Calcutta. No.1 Squadron flew its Lysanders to Calcutta to take part as guests of No. 3 Coastal Defence Flight. Enroute, the Squadron personnel actually salvaged an additional Lysander (N1212) which was designated Cat F by No.28 Squadron. The additional aircraft was flown by Flt Lt Rupchand, the Squadron Adjutant.

On 8th December, war was declared with Japan and the Squadron was ordered to the Burma front on 14th December. The Squadron returned to Peshawar two days later.  As there was a shortage of air gunners, volunteers were called from among the fitters, riggers and other ground crew members. The airmen volunteered almost to a man. They were trained on a fast track basis in less than a fortnight.

The Squadron suffered its first casualty on the Lysander on 20th December 1941, when Pilot Officer Paljor Namgyal , who at that time was the crown prince of the Kingdom of Sikkim, undershot trying to land at Peshawar. The aicraft R1989 hit a bund and overturned - killing the pilot and seriously wounding the observer.

From the middle of January, as arrangements were made to move the ground personnel to the front in Burma, the pilots of No.1 Squadron kept themselves busy by flying practice sorties in the Lysanders. Duties included Air to Air gunnery sorties for both the pilot and the air gunner. The aircraft offered several improvements over the Harts and Audaxes – both in terms of handling as well as armament. Then Plt Offr Moolgavkar, who converted to the Lysanders with No.20 Squadron RAF, mentions:

The Lysander was designed to land on unprepared airfields. It had softer tyres. Large tyres. Strong under-carriage. Solid construction. Two browning guns, Stub wings. It can carry 4 20lb bombs or single bombs. Small guns in the back. A reflector gunsight for the first time. Earlier in the Audax and Hart, it was a ring and bead site. You can’t move your head from side to side when you lined up the ring, the bead and the target. The Reflector sight on the other hand projected at Infinity. So you could concentrate on the target.

It does appear that most of the Lysanders with No.1 Squadron were equipped with the ring and bead sight rather than the reflector, and most of the photographs testify to this.

A small mishap occurred on January 16th, when Plt Offr Satyanarayana overshot the runway while coming to the land at Peshawar and swung into soft ground on the left. Ratnagar was coming in just behind Satyanarayana and he steered his Lysander P1675 to the right to avoid Satyanarayana's aircraft, and bogged down in soft ground himself, with light undercarriage damage. The last aircraft of the formation, flown by Ananthanaryan, also suffered an accident. Then crew chief, Warrant Officer Harjinder Singh, in his biography, writes how Majumdar grimaced at the news of three aircraft accidents in quick succession. However due to the undaunted efforts of the ground crew at Peshawar, all the three aircraft were salvaged and repaired in time for the pending move to Burma five days later.

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Lysander N1255 in No.1 Squadron codes NB-F.  Ratnagar flew this aircraft on February 20, 1942 from satellite airfield 'Z'  to Johnny Haig.

Photo Courtesy: RAF Kai Tak Records via Warpaint Books

When the time came for the squadron to move to Burma on 21st January, the movement was done lock stock and barrel. Pilots packed their civilian cloths, blazers, tennis rackets everything and went to the front. The air party started their move to Burma on 27th January, the ground party having left earlier by rail and ship. The seven long hops amounted to nearly 17 hours of flying - during which the Lysanders of No 1 Squadron traversed the entire sub-continent, flying 1700 miles from Peshawar in the North-West, all the way to Toungoo in Burma, arriving on 1st February. The aircraft flew along Peshawar - Lahore - Gaya - Calcutta - Chittagong - Akyab and Toungoo. The ground party consisting of the airmen and technicians had already moved to Toungoo.

Toungoo Operations

On their very first night in Toungoo, the Japanese air force raided the airfield, but none of No 1 Squadron's aircraft were lost due to the good dispersal of aircraft. Two days later, on February 3rd, Sqn Ldr Majumdar in a Lysander equipped with a pair of 250lb bombs, carried out a daring daylight attack on a Japanese airfield at Mae-Haungsang. This airfield was believed to be the base from which the Japanese aircraft had attacked Toungoo. He was escorted by two Buffalos of No.67 Squadron. Flying low and unobtrusively, he attained the target and dropped his load of 500 lbs. of bombs on the airfield's only hangar which contained an aircraft. Bombing was accurate. Direct hits were scored and the hangar was smashed. The gunner, Sgt Rustomjee, used his guns to strafe targets on the ground, as did the escorting Buffalos of No.67 Squadron.

AIRCREW OF NO.1 SQUADRON (FIRST TOUR OF BURMA)
The Officers Air Gunners, W/Ops
S/L KK Majumdar (CO)
F/L Prithipal Singh (OC 'A' Flight)
F/L Niranjan Prasad (OC 'B' Flight)
F/L Lala Rupchand (Adj)
F/L Haider Raza
F/O Henry Runganadhan
F/O Rajender Singh
P/O YV Malse
P/O HS Ratnagar
P/O HS Moolgavkar
P/O Satyanarayana
P/O Ananthanaryana
P/O JK Deuskar (KIA)
P/O PS Gill
P/O Sk Ibrahim
P/O BK Nanda (Equipment)
WO Harjinder Singh
Sgt Kartar Singh
Sgt Cabinetmaker
Sgt B H Ghyara
Sgt Kameshwar Dhora
Sgt Rustomjee
Sgt Ashraf
Sgt Ghulam Ali
Sgt Zia
Sgt Mukerji
Sgt Dildar Khan
Sgt Sud

Not to be left behind, the entire squadron wanted to take part in the action. So a larger raid on Mae-Haungsang airfield was mounted on 4th February, led by Sqn Ldr Majumdar. Nine Lysanders from No.1 Squadron took part in this attack. For the first time two Lysanders from No.28 Squadron RAF also flew as part of the formation – making a total of 11 aircraft. The Lysanders were again escorted by two Buffalos from No.67 Squadron. 

One of the pilots in the formation was Plt Offr YV Malse,  flying Lysander P9120 on this mission, with Sergeant Ghulam Ali as his gunner. He was just behind Jumbo Majumdar during the attack, as he narrates:

"The first operation was on the 4th of February, we carried out a raid on Mae-Haungsang. The whole squadron used to go on operations and that time, if I remember right, Majumdar was leading the formation and it (Mae-Haungsang) was attacked by six of our aircraft. I was one of them.

We had no time to look around (at any anti aircraft fire from the ground), Firstly, we were carrying bombs, 250 lbs on each (stub) wing. I was No 2 and (S/L) Majumdar was No 1. When Majumdar (went into a) dive, I dived, released bomb, pulled back and out to He-Ho, I did not even look down. But I could see the burst (from Majumdar's bomb).

I was told that there was firing, personally I don't know if I was too excited. There must have been some firing, but I didn't notice it in the excitement."

The whole sortie to Mae-Haungsang and back lasted two hours and forty five minutes. Several hangars were claimed destroyed in the raid. The damage from the previous day's raid by Majumdar was also noticed during the attack.

On 5th February, the Squadron then moved to Mingaladon airfield near Rangoon. The next raid carried out by the Squadron was on 6th February . Five aircraft of the squadron, along with another from No.28 RAF, attacked Moulmein waterfront. Very little activity was observed in the area and the aircraft ended up bombing the Railway station and strafing the small barges found in the water way. As Malse remembers “That bit was washed out

On 7th February, the Squadron split up into two flights. Sqn Ldr Majumdar led one Flight with Flt Lt Prithipal Singh to He Ho airfield in the north, and later to Lashio airfield. The second Flight under Flt Lt Niranjan Prasad remained went to Mingladon. A lone aircraft under Flt Lt Raza went to Toungoo to carry out Army Co-operation sorties from there. The flight under Sqn Ldr Majumdar would operate in support of the Chinese army.

Operations from Mingaladon

The flight in Rangoon was very active in bombing missions. On 10th February four aircraft of No.1 Squadron, along with two from No.28 bombed Cheingram in Indo-China. The aircraft dropped 250lb bombs and then machine gunned the Streets. Two Japanese fighters were spotted by one of the pilots over the town but the fighters made off without challenging them. The Lysanders were in the air for over three hours during the raid and this was well beyond the safe limits of their endurance.

The next day, 11th February, Flt Lt Niranjan Prasad sent off on a dusk reconnaissance mission over Moulmein and Martaban along with Sgt Moyner of No.28 Squadron. Niranjan lost his way during his return in the diminishing light. Over Mingaladon airfield, he was shot at by own AA guns and the aircraft caught fire. Both the pilot and the gunner baled out. This was a first from a Lysander in the Indian sub-continent. Niranjan Prasad sprained his ankle on landing and was detained by a hostile Burmese peasant. Fortunately for him, the Burmese farmer’s daughter helped Niranjan Prasad to escape and he made his way back to the airfield. The RAF air gunner,  Sgt Moyner,  too made his way back to base safely.

Flt Lt Niranjan "Joe" Prasad - seconded from the Army to the IAF in 1940, commanded  'B' Flight based at Mingaladon. Flt-Lt-Niranjan-Prasad_Small.jpg (10869 bytes)

Niranjan recovered from his injuries to lead another sortie five days later. On the 16th of February, Flt Lt Niranjan Prasad led a ten aircraft raid on Moulmein docks. No.28 Squadron RAF provided five of the aircraft and the crews to fly them.

Another raid was launched on the 17th near Martaban by Niranjan Prasad. This raid encountered heavy anti aircraft fire – as Plt Offr (Later Air Chief Marshal) Moolgavkar remembers the raid:

I remember the raid on Martaban very much. It was a SNAFU - you know the Americans say it Situation Normal All Fouled Up. Niranjan Prasad was the Fit commander and we were stationed at Mingladon. Niranjan was all Army bluster and bravado. He called all of us for a briefing, designated a target and gave us all the talk you know 'Press on Regardless' 'we are going across the line' etc. Of Course we are the airforce we have to go across the line!

The briefing was done. We are supposed to fly at 6500 feet altitude. Now how they arrived at it, I do not know, but it has a significance, which I will come to later. So all of us took off. There must have been six or seven of us. All flying in the V Formation-just like the geese - the birds. The order of the formation , again we followed the same seniority thing. Niranjan leading the formation, followed by the next senior most, and then the others etc etc.

Anyway as we approached the targets, I was trailing in the back. I suddenly felt a whoomph and felt the aircraft was thrown up by something. Apparently the Japs had anti-aircraft guns which were effective at 6500 feet altitude. And we were flying at exactly the same height!. They bracketed their fire, so some shells were overshooting some were exploding in front of us. Black puffs. I felt my Lysander judder, the stick wobbling to the fire..

We were still short of the targets. Maybe four to five kilometers. The Japs had put up guns expecting us. Anyway in the AA barrage, I see Niranjan flick his Lysander in a roll, UPSIDE DOWN and dive away. Literally upside down that too carrying those bombs - reckless I tell you, the roll could have snapped off the stub wings as well as the undercarriage. A Lysander is not supposed to be rolled.

We had airgunners in the back but they were not of much use. Luckily we never encountered any fighters. Anyway as soon as Niranjan rolled and dived, the rest of the formation broke off in all directions. I do not know where they dropped the bombs, but they made their way back in ones and twos.

I myself put the Lysander in a dive , I did not roll it as Prasad, no point in doing so. And as I started to pull up, I let go of my bombs hoping the momentum will carry them to wards the target. Wishful thinking. I then turned back and flew back to the base.

Plt Offr HS Ratnagar , flying one of the aircraft in that raid remembers encountering accurate ground fire from the Japanese. A couple of bullets / shrapnel hit his Lysander, but neither he nor his gunner - Sgt Ashraf – were hit. This did earn a "very effective fire" remark on the AA in his logbook!

The detachment at Mingaladon carried out other attacks – bombing Daukyat Vlllage on the 18th. This turned out to be one of the last missions of this force. They had received their orders to move back to India. The ground parties of the Squadron started moving back on the 20th. They embarked for Rangoon Harbour at sea and arrived at Akyab by 23rd, from where they caught the train to India. Even while they were at Sea, the last three Lysanders from the Mingaladon detachment were flown by back by Flt Lt Niranjan Prasad, Plt Offr Ibrahim and Plt Offr Ratnagar. They reached Calcutta on the 22nd, from where they made their way to Secunderabad to set up the Advance HQ of the Squadron in early March.

The Lashio detachment

The detachment of No.1 Squadron that went to Lashio under Sqn Ldr Majumdar and Flt Lt Prithipal Singh was heavily involved in flying support missions in support of the Chinese Army in Northern Burma. Early on into their move to Toungoo, Plt Offr Malse’s Lysander P9120 was destroyed in one of the air raids on Magwe.

Sqn-Ldr-Jumbo-Majumdar_Small.jpg (12471 bytes) The Commanding Officer, Sqn Ldr KK "Jumbo" Majumdar led half of the squadron up north to Lashio along with Flt Lt Prithipal Singh.
Certainly a rare photograph of No.1 Squadron 'in the field'  - The 'A' Flight commander - Flt Lt Prithipal Singh is seen here in a Lysander adorned with a 'Tiger head' emblem and the inscription 'Konkan' on the aircraft. -

The work of the detachment increased as the tide of the battle began to flow against the allies. Numerous bombing raids were flown over the Japanese airbases at Cheingrai and Chiengmai in Siam. One raid on Chiengrai was memorable – as Flt Sgt Bejon Ghyara, an Air Gunner with the squadron remembers. “In our second raid, we bombed Cheingrai hill. In Cheingrai hill, there was elephant transport being used by the enemy in a heavy forest area. All we did was drop 250lbers among the elephants and they played havoc. They (elephants) did the rest.!”

The first fatality of the operations for No.1 Squadron happened on 14th February, when Plt Offr Jatain Deuskar and his gunner Sgt Kameshwara Dhora were killed while trying to force land about 60 miles from Lashio. After extending their loiter time over an enemy target, Deuskar ran out of fuel while making for Lashio. Instead of baling out, he tried a force landing in a field, possibly in the hope of saving the aircraft. But the aircraft flipped over and both the crew members were killed. A ground party from Lashio later went to collect their bodies and cremated them on the field.

Feb 42, Toungoo - A previously unpublished photograph of Plt Offr Jatain Deuskar in flying boots and personal firearm - ready for a flight. Deuskar and his gunner Dhora were the only casualties of the Squadron during the first tour of Burma. -

About the same time as the Rangoon detachment commenced movement to India, the main detachment at Lashio too got its marching orders. On 23rd February, the first ground party was sent back to India under Plt Offr Malse. They made their way upto Magwe and were airlifted to Akyab after a few days. Preparations were made by the rest of the Squadron at Lashio to move to India as well. Initially there as some talk of the Squadron moving to China against orders, but better sense prevailed and the idea was dropped.

The lone ranger from Toungoo

In the middle of all this, the lone war waged by the single aircraft based at Toungoo is worthy of mention .  Flt Lt Haider Raza with Sgt Dildar Khan as his gunner, helped by Sgt Cabinetmaker as the fitter manned this detachment.  Raza was sent to Toungoo in the second week of February to carry out reconnaissance sorties from there. The Lysander was entirely maintained by Raza, his gunner Dildar Khan and Sgt Cabinetmaker. Toungoo was frequently raided by Japanese aircraft and was completely devoid of any fighter protection. Only the effective dispersal of the Lysander saved it from destruction.

Raza regularly carried out reconnaissance sorties over the Siam border and all approaches from the Sittang river. On one occasion, he was able to locate a concentration of Japanese troops that were previously unknown – his suspicions were aroused by the presence of some elephants near a trail. The reporting of this Japanese force proved to be of great value to the Army.

Raza became isolated around this time as all communications were cut from the rest of the Squadron at Lashio. The Japanese army was closing in on Toungoo and the airfield and artillery fire could be heard in a distance. On 27th February, Japanese bombers made an attack on Toungoo. On their way back, the escorting Japanese aircraft strafed the airfield. The airfield’s AA fire’s effectiveness was low and at one point, Sgt Dildar Khan climbed into the gunners position of the lone Lysander and fired at the attacking Japanese aircraft with his rear guns. One of the fighters was damaged as the Japanese fighters withdrew. The Lysander escaped major damage.

Flt-Lt-Syed-Haider-Raza_Small.jpg (11246 bytes) Flt Lt Haider "Victor" Raza - flew several sorties out of Toungoo entirely on his own. His last sortie of the tour was to fly an RAF pilot to Mingaladon to fly out an abandoned Hurricane back to allied lines.

The next day, Raza decided to carry out a reprisal attack. So on 28th February, he took off for a mission against Mae-Haungsang airfield. Approaching from behind and at low level, the lone Lysander took the Japanese by surprise. Several troops on the ground were strafed by Raza – and bombs were dropped on the wireless station destroying it. Though the Lysander received a bullet hole in the tail plane, Raza made it back to Lashio without further ado.

That night, Raza managed to contact Majumdar by phone to request for an additional fitter and rigger for his aircraft. Only then did it dawn on the CO that Raza had been operating all along from Toungoo. He was under the impression that Raza had flown back along with Niranjan Prasad. Majumdar promptly told Raza to evacuate Toungoo and come down to Lashio.

On 1st March, Raza flew out of Toungoo to join up with the main force at Lashio. While he flew out with his gunner, Dildar Khan, he was not able to accommodate the lone technician, Sgt Cabinetmaker. Cabinetmaker made his own way to Lashio by land, in between acting as a train driver for a train full of refugees.

Rest of the Burma Ops

On 5th March, the pilots flew their Lysanders out of Lashio to Magwe. For five days commencing on 7th March, till upto 11th March, the few remaining pilots flew a continuous patrol over the retreating forces. On 7th March, most of the remaining ground crew made their way from Lashio to Magwe and to Akyab for their journey to India. According to Air Vice Marshal DF Stevenson’s Despatch, No.1 Squadron had carried out a total of 41 Bombing sorties against enemy aerodromes and close support to the army.

One final mission was to be flown by the pilots on 7th March. Two Hurricanes remained at Mingaladon and could not be flown out in time. It was decided to fly in two RAF pilots into the airfield so that they could fly out these aircraft. Two Lysanders, flown by Flt Lt Raza and Fg Offr Rajinder Singh, both volunteers for the task, flew in to Rangoon with one pilot each in the back seat.

After landing, the RAF pilots disembarked to fly out the Hurricanes. With the Lysanders still on the ground, two Japanese reconnaissance aircraft passed over the airfield but failed to notice the activity below. There was also a risk of the Japanese troops arriving at any moment, but the Hurricanes and the Lysanders flew out of the deserted airfield in time and came back safely. This particular flight caught the imagination of the Illustrated Weekly of India who promptly carried a one page story on the feat – complete with an artist’s impression of Raza’s Lysander taking off from the Burmese airfield under fire.

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LAST PLANE FROM RANGOON: The Illustrated weekly of India ran a single page report on the incident - depicting Raza's Lysander taking off from Rangoon.

c March 1942. An Unidentified Air Gunner in the rear seat of a 1 Squadron Lysander trains the twin Browning machine gun mount. -

On 12th March, all the remaining Lysanders, presumed to be around six were handed over to the Burmese Communication Flight. Sqn Ldr Majumdar and the rest of the aircrew were flown back to India in a Flying Fortress on the same day.

Back in Secunderabad

The very same day at Secunderabad, the three aircraft flown by Flt Lt Niranjan Prasad, Plt Offr Ratnagar and Ibrahim, arrived at Begumpet. Advance HQ of No.1 Squadron was set up pending the arrival of the main contingent. Soon the rest of the No.1 Squadron’s force arrived by train and by air. Some of the aircraft left behind by the Squadron with the communication flight were also flown in to Secunderabad to reform the establishment. Secunderabad was already host to another Lysander Squadron of the Indian Air Force, No.2. However No.2 Squadron moved out after a few days as more and more personnel of No.1 started trickling in.

Sqn Ldr Majumdar never got to return to Secunderabad to assume command of the Squadron, he was posted away to Air HQ. Sqn Ldr Subroto Mukerjee returned to command the Squadron for a second time on 13 March 42.

Juhu-1Sqn-03a.jpg (10631 bytes)
Eight of the Ten Lysanders flown by No.1 Squadron to Bombay's Juhu airfield on 5 April 1942 can be seen in this photograph. The Lysanders exhibit varied markings, with the aircraft closest to the Camera marked with Squadron Letters and with the next aircraft completely lacking any of the letters.

On 5 Apr 42, ten Lysanders of the Squadron were flown to Bombay. The Squadron landed at Juhu and all the pilots and gunners received a grand welcome from the Governor of Bombay, Sir Roger Lumley, who then inspected the aircraft and was introduced to the aircrew by Niranjan Prasad. Members of the squadron also met with the war gifts committee, whose contributions help paid for the Lysanders of the Squadron in the first place. Later on, all the Lysanders flew in formation over Bombay.

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Two photographs show the Governor of Bombay, Sir Roger Lumley inspecting the aircraft and being introduced to the aircrew. In the left photograph, the Governor is introduced to Sgt B H Ghyara.  Flt Lt Niranjan Prasad is escorting the Governor in both the photographs.  In the photograph on the right, the aircraft to the right is sporting a ring and bead gunsight with the foresight mounted just behind the propeller on the cowling. All the aircraft are equipped with the Volkes tropical air filter fitted underneath the engine cowling.

After four days of ‘touring’ Bombay, the Squadron returned to Secunderabad on 9th April. The squadron flew in various exercises over the Deccan plateau during the next few weeks.

-LEFT: Tea Party at the Willingdon Sports Club near Juhu. The Governor of Bombay, Sir Roger Lumley chats with Plt Offr H S Ratnagar, watched by Prithipal Singh in the rear.

BELOW: The pilots, gunners and other airmen from Bombay in a customary group photograph at the Willingdon's Sports Club at Juhu.

Top Row: All unidentified - fifth from left (possibly BH Ghyara)
Middle Row Seated: U/I, U/I, U/I, F/L N Prasad, Sir Roger Lumley, F/L Prithi Pal Singh, U/I,U/I, F/L H Raza
Bottom Row Seated: U/I, U/I ,P/O P S Gill, P/O YV Malse, U/I, U/I, P/O Sk Ibrahim, P/O HS Ratnagar, U/I, U/I, U/I

Juhu-1Sqn-05.jpg (73513 bytes)

On 20th May , the No.1 Squadron moved to Trichinopoly. The Squadron was now earmarked for conversion to the Hawker Hurricane and the first batch of pilots were sent to Risalpur in late June 42. Four of the Lysanders were handed over to No.1 Squadron at Trichinopoly on 16th June 42. Three more aircraft were handed over to No.4 Squadron at Kohat on the 20th, which marked the last day of the aircraft’s service with No.1 Squadron. Hurricane conversion at Risalpur started just five days later.

In the brief ten months of service, No.1 Squadron flew its Lysanders all across the length and breadth of the country, from the NWFP to the Far East airfields in Burma, to the southern most areas of the Peninsula. The Squadron had earned a name for itself in the Burma operations and its record in the fighting helped set the stage for further expansion of the Indian Air Force.


Lysanders Operated by No.1 Squadron

Serial Remarks
L4767 Went to 2 Sqn IAF
L4797 Collected from Drigh Road 3.11.41, To Burma
L6855  
N1212 Ex-28 Sqn, Acquired.  Later went to 20 Sqn RAF, DBR 13.4.43
N1255 Went to 2 Sqn IAF
P1674  
P1675 Went to 4 Sqn IAF w/o 24.3.43
P1694  
P9120 To Burma - Lost in Japanese Raid at Magwe
P9131 Went to 4 Sqn IAF  SOC 1.8.42
P9176 Went to 2 Sqn IAF, ATU SOC 31.7.44
P9178 SOC 31.7.44
P9179 To Burma, To 301MU DBR 6.8.42
P9180 Went to 2 Sqn IAF, 1 ATU , SOC 31.12.43
R1989 Undershot Ldg at Peshawar P/O N Paljor . W/o
R2007 Went to 2 Sqn IAF, to 151 OTU w/o 16.3.43
R2033  
DG447 SOC 27.7.42