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!

We are getting Spitfires! - Gp Capt George Philip

 This is the second part of the recollections of Gp Capt CGI Philip. The first part covers his IAF training, and his first tour of ops with No 8 Squadron on Vultee Vengeances. This part will cover his second tour with the same squadron, flying Spitfires. As before, Gp Capt Philip's words, we believe, convey a unique sense of those unique times, and we have retained them for much of this article.

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My Days With The I.A.F (1940-48)

VSC Bonarjee was born in  Calcutta on the 27th January 1917. He was the third child and only son in a Bengali Christian family.  After graduation, He was commissioned in the Indian Air Force in 1940 in the 4th Course as an Observer (IND/1623) and saw action in Burma. He obtained his release as a Wing Commander to join the Indian Administrative Service in 1948.  He retired from the I.A.S   in 1975, worked for two international organizations till 1989 and lived with his family at Kalyani near Calcutta. In 1997, his friends convinced him to write down his memoirs which were published in the form of a book by Dr Arabinda Dey.  He passed away in 2001. The Account on this page is derived from that book - with the kind permission of Dr. Vernon Bonarjee, his son.

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Air Marshal Mohan Swaroop Chaturvedi

This is a short summary of the career of Air Marshal Mohan Swaroop Chaturvedi (IND/1592). It chronicles his service to the nation from a young Observer who fought in the Northwest Provinces and in Burma, through his invaluable role as a Strategist who built the foundations of a strong and successful Air Force, using his able leadership capabilities in many different roles

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Memories Of No.8 Squadron, IAF

In the winter of 1980-81, Wg Cdr Joseph Thomas,  CO of 106 Squadron took a detachment to Tezpur where his friend, Wg Cdr Manjit Singh Sekhon was commanding 8 Squadron. 8 SQuadron was preparing for its colour presentation and were updating their archival material. When Wg Cdr Thomas mentioned that his father, Sqn Ldr T J Thomas (Retd) had served in 8 squadron from the time of its formation through service in the Burma front and till they moved to Quetta, Manjit Sekhon immediately wanted Sqn Ldr T J Thomas to write about his experiences in 8 Squadron. Sqn Ldr Thomas was then 66 years old and he put pen to paper to record his memoirs from WW2. The result was sent to 8 Squadron who made a typescript and incorporated it in their history folder. The account is now reproduced on this page, courtesy of Wg Cdr Joseph Thomas, who retains the original manuscript. The memoirs offer a rare insight into the life of an airman during those tumultuous times. It offers a view into  the difficult circumstances under which the ground crews operated. We concentrate too often on officers memoirs, and in the process miss out on potential contributions from other ranks. This article goes a small way into changing that.

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Air Force Reminiscinces

AVM  S N Goyal 1560 GD(P) was the seventeenth Indian Officer to be trained in Cranwell.  After serving with No.1 Squadron in his early years, he was the tenth in seniority among the IAF Officers at the outbreak of the war. He commanded No.1 Squadron briefly in 1943. AVM Goyal is a recipient of the MBE.

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Wing Commmander Alfred Anthony (2824/GD(P))

Alfred Anthony joined up to serve in the Indian Air Force at the height of World War Two. He was part of the 21st Pilots Course that commenced its training at Initial Training Wing, Poona in July 1943. After completing the initial training Alfred arrived at the No.1 Elementary Flying Training School at Begumpet on 31 October 1943. Three months of flying training on the De Havilland Tigermoth followed before Alfred was commissioned in the Indian Air Force on 31 January 1944 with service number IND/2824. He was just 26 at that time.

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Fg Offr P Krishnamurti - Trying to piece together my father’s past

by Padmini Sankar - A daughter's quest to research her father's career - Flying Officer P Krishnamurti was one of the only 28 Officers commissioned in the  Meteorological Branch 

This album has some rare documents from her collection - including her father's commission parchment, and a service discharge book - the first one we ever saw!

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By the old Moulmein Pagoda - Gp Capt George Philip

A WW2 veteran of service on the Burma Front, Gp Capt CGI Philip was actually born in Burma, and had strong family connections to that country even before the War.  Jagan interviewed him in April 2004 and in November 2005, while building Bharat-Rakshak's oral archive. Gp Capt Philip's words, we believe, convey a unique sense of those unique times. We have therefore retained his own words, for much of this article, which covers his early days in the Indian Air Force training on dive bombers and flying his first tour of operations with No.8 Squadron on the Vultee Vengeance.

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Air Cmde Nanu Shitoley DFC

Nanu Shitoley was kind enough to share his time and hospitality with me one evening in January 2004, thanks to a meeting fixed up by my old family friend and his neighbour, Dincey Muncherjee [IAF transports, who later flew 747-400's for Air India and S'Pore Airlines]. As I walked down the road from my place in Colaba to his, I was terrified at the prospect of reaching later than the appointed hour of 7pm - an extra huff and a wheezy puff ensured that I just made it ! What followed was an hour and a half of the story of a fascinating life, including the sortie to Tamu I have semi-fictionalised at this link [which epitomizes the sheer grit and determination which earned him his DFC]. Alas, his log book is lost [as are photographs], and with it, details of the 300 hours of operational flying which he did in Burma, at the end of which he received his well-earned DFC. What follows is based upon his memory, supplemented, in parts, by extracts from the Official History of the IAF in the Second World War….

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Pilot Officer Sayanapuram Duraiswamy Thyagarajan

Sayanapuram Duraiswamy Thyagarajan, who was known as "Tiger" Rajan, was one of the rare breed of Indian pilots who was joined the Royal Air Force in UK directly. Tiger Rajan would make his mark flying Whirlwind fighters and then Typhoons. His life was lost on the front lines over France - and he is remembered with gratitude by three different nations - India, Great Britain and France.

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  • 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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