Pilot Officer Hukum Chand Mehta

Plt Offr Hukum Chand Mehta


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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.

After more than six months of training , Mehta died when his Hurricane IIB (Z3150)  flew into the ground at Kiedler in Northumberland,  during a formation practice on 3 November 1941.


A few days after Mehta died in the crash, Air Ministry had prepared a small write up to commeorate Mehta's contribution.

HCMehta

HCMehta

"He died for Freedom"

As one of a veritable International Brigade, Pilot Officer Hukam Chand Mehta was happy with the squadron of the Fighting Cockerel. When he joined the Squadron to fly a 12 gun Hurricane, he came from india with two of his coutnry men who had also chosen to be fighter pilots. The others were posted to different squadrons but Mehta stayed on and a quiet, shy, young Indian developed into a typical fighter pilot.

He forgot his shyness he learned the squadron slang and he learned to leg-pull with the best. Amid a mixture of Australians, Amerians, Czechs, poles and so on, mehta fitted into the squadron as a representative of a part of India - the Punjab - that has produced some of the finest fighting men of all time. 

Now Mehta has given his life for the idea of freedom and free peoples. He died - as he would have wanted to - in his Hurriane. It crashed in bad visibility. His only regret would have been that he was to die before he could shoot down a German. Often he went out on oeprational flights against the enemy, but he was never able to fire th 12 guns that he used most accurate on practice targets. "Joe", as he was affecitonately known by his fellow pilots, was regarded as a sound and steady fighter pilot. Hisdeath camea s a shock to his squadron, for the pupil home he was taking on a practice flight got home to his base.

Mehta was so keen to fly that after taking an arts degree at the University of Lahore, he spent 300 pounds accumlating over 100 hours of flying experience. If he had survived the war, he would have returned to India to put his enthusiasm for flying into civil aviation.  He joined the Indian Air Force at the outbreak of the war and he was delighted when he was able to vllunteer for service in Britain.

"He was a grand fellow whom we are all proud to have known", says his Squadron Commander. "If he ha lived he would have done a ffine job of work against the Hun."

 


Jim Corbett of the Air Crash Investigation and Archaeology(ACIA) spent many years researching air crashes in North East England. He was part of the North East England Air Crash Research (NEEACR ) group which became one of the founding members of ACIA. Jim discovered the crash site of Hurricane Z3150and is planning to write a book on Aviation Archaeology and his site trips.

Jim's page on HC Mehta's crash site can be seen on the ACIA website.

According to Jim, nearly all of Z3150 remains at the site (in bits) and it is one of the largest high ground Hurricane sites in the United Kingdom. 

Jim adds that the UK Ministry of Defence does not allow any removal of items without permission. It considers the site to be a war grave as human remains can still be around.

As part of his research Jim has sent a photograph of the crash site as well as scans of HC Mehta's Death Certificate and the Accident Card of Hurricane Z3150. These are featured on this page.

All Images are copyright ofwww.acia.co.uk

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  The remains of the Hurricane IIb Z3150 can still be seen today at the crash site.  The only recognisable part in this picture is the one of the main wing ribs seen in the background.

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The official death certificate from the county of Roxburg, UK,  lists HC Mehtas name in the last row - puts his branch as the IAF Volunteer Reserve. His parents hailed from Lyallpur in present day Pakistan.

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The Air Ministry Form 1180 was used to record particulars of every accident. This particular card is for Mehta's Hurricane.

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The other side of the card gives the date of wings for HC Mehta as 15th April 1941.  By that time he had a total of 284 hours under his belt, including 184 hours on the Hurricane.


 More Links:

  1. http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Galleries/History/WW2/RAF24/ - M S Pujji's Gallery
  2. http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/IAF/Database/Courses/courselist.php?qunit=4 - The 4th Pilot's Course
  3. HC Mehta's Service Page