The Royal Indian Air Force in the Second World War

AudaxK3102 SmallThe Internet's best resource on the Indian Air Force in the Second World War. Read about veteran storiess, units, database research tools and the hundreds of photographs and images from that era!

Air Marshal Aspy Engineer's Recollections

In 1992, the then CAS Air Chief Marshal N C Suri requested many of the surviving senior veterans of the Indian Air Force to write down their memoirs or recollections for the purpose of publishing them in a commemorative 50th Anniversary History. Air Marshal Aspy Engineer responded to the personal request of the CAS and penned down his recollections in nine pages of hand written notes. The account was never used in any publication, but thankfully the preserved notes are in the collection of Cyrus Engineer, Aspy's son. Recently Mrs Farida Singh, daughter of Jungoo Engineer procured the papers as well as several  photographs from the collection and very kindly provided them here for our website with the permission of the family

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"Then Whose Battle Was It?" - Sqn Ldr M S Pujji

Squadron Leader Mahender Singh Pujji was in fact one of the first batch of 24 Indian 'A' licence holders to be accepted for service in the Air Force early during the Second World War. He received a Volunteer Reserve commission, trained with the Royal Air Force, and was awarded RAF wings. He flew in a combat role from emblematic RAF stations in the British Isles such as Kenley (one of the three main fighter stations defending London; and the operating base of "Sailor" Malan, Johnny Johnson, and earlier, of Douglas Bader), putting his life on the line to defend the British mainland; and flew in some of the Allies' first offensive operations over Occupied France. He later flew briefly in the North African theatre, as well as extensively in the China / Burma / India theatre (and in the NWFP)

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Lysanders to Hurricanes : Air Commodore H S Ratnagar

When No.1 Squadron, Indian Air Force went into operations in February 1942 against the Japanese in Burma, it carried the hopes and future growth prospects of the Indian Air Force with it. Other than the little that is on the record about Sqn Ldr Majumdar, who was to perish in a crash a few years later, not much is known about the other officers and men who were to be the 'First in the Burma Skies'. We present a series of profiles of the personnel who were on the original team of the Tigers, No 1 Squadron, as they were being built up. The first in series of these articles is a profile of Air Commodore Homi Shapurji Ratnagar, who saw two tours of ops on the Burma Front, and is now (in 2003) 83 years old and settled in Hyderabad.

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A Flying Start - Training To Be A Pilot - Capt M Balan

This series of articles and photo albums chronicles the experiences of Muthukumarasami Balan, who joined the Indian Air Force in 1944 to take part in the Second World War.  After undergoing training at Begumpet, Ambala and Peshawar, he was posted to No.6 Squadron and subsequently No.4 Squadron. It was with No.4 Squadron that he went to Japan as part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force. This was just the beginning of a long career in aviation - that would last over four decades! 

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The Sky is the Limit - Wg Cdr Murkot Ramunny

Murkot Ramunny, had served in the Indian Air Force, flying Hurricanes in Burma during the War. He left the IAF shortly after Independence, to serve the Government in civil capacities. He does not bother to include his old IAF rank on his letterhead, which reads simply, “Murkot Ramunny, IAS (Retd)”. This is understandable, for his military rank is far eclipsed, in protocol terms, by the civil service ranks he rose to later; and to most people, his status as a former senior civil servant is what counts. But to IAF history enthusiasts like us, he will always be Wing Commander Murkot Ramunny.  The article is now updated to reflect a Youtube video - a rare and most certainly the last time he was interviewed on video about his WW2 experiences

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A Tiger pilot remembers - Air Marshal Y V Malse

Air Marshal Yeshwant Malse, who saw two tours of ops on the Burma Front. His story will be told in three parts: the first covers his Second World War experiences, the second will be on his command of No 12 Squadron in the 1950s, and the final part will cover his various assignments as a senior officer. The meeting with Air Marshal Malse and Mrs Malse took place at his residence 'Yerandvana' in Pune. When Gp Capt AG Bewoor, one of our website's ardent supporters , called him up to find out if he would be able to spend time with us for an interview, Air Marshal Malse graciously agreed. As he himself admitted, Air Marshal Malse was never a person with a keenness to keep a historical record , but since he knew we were coming, he made sure that we would have access to his documents and his old log books! We spent about two hours enjoying the hospitality of the Malses and reliving history throughout that time.

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The Fledgling Years - Wg Cdr C H L Digby

Wing Commander Cecil "Digger" Digby, IAF (Retd), a veteran of service from the 1940s to the 1960s, graciously spent a few hours with me recently, on a chilly but crisp autumn day, in a pub named for a British naval hero - not a bad venue, all things considered, at which to sit and talk about service in the Indian Air Force. Some of the snippets in the following account came from Squadron Leader Ian S ("Locky") Loughran, VM (Retd), himself at one time a flight commander within a squadron commanded by Wg Cdr Digby. Captain Loughran had organised this meeting, sat by, and as so often in meetings with veterans, occasionally interposed with some of the detail that Wg Cdr Digby had overlooked, or was too modest to recount until prompted.

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Pilot Officer Hukum Chand Mehta

Pilot Officer Hukum Chand Mehta was one of the twenty four Indians sent to the United Kindom in1940. The Indians arrived on October 8, 1940, at the height of Battle of Britain, but by the time their training was completed, it would be April 1941.   HC Mehta would be one of the six pilots who went to Fighter command. He joined 43 Squadron.

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I was a Japanese Prisoner of War

Towards the end of November 1944, No.2 Squadron IAF moved from Kohat to Mambur airstrip on the Burma Front to take part in the operations against the Japanese. Within a day of the operations starting, On 2nd December 1944, Flying Officer K V Nair failed to return from a sortie. His Hurricane aircraft, LA316 was seen force-landing near a Chaung 15 miles NE of Akyab. Nair was seen clmbing out of the aircraft but his  fate remained a mystery till about five months later when he was one of the Prisoners of War liberated from the Rangoon Jail.  Nair would give the following account of the period he spent as as a POW under the Japanese.

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Subcategories

  • Veterans Project - Interviews, Profiles and Memoirs

    The WW2 Veterans Project : WWII Veteran Encounters, Profiles and Memoirs started off in earnest in 2002 when between a small group of like minded enthusiasts, an effort was made to locate and interview WW2 veterans of the Indian Air Force.  With the dwindling number of veterans every passing year, the effort continues in terms of family members writing profiles of their loved ones who took part in the war - and in keeping their memories alive.

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