Courage & Devotion to Duty : A Chronicle of IAF’s Honours and Awards (1932-2008)

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About the Book:

Honours and Awards are an integral part of the Armed Forces. It is therefore imperative that a consolidated record is maintained of the awardees along with their photographs. However, this part of history is more often than not neglected. This trend is not peculiar to the Indian Armed Forces but has been prevalent all over the world. This book attempts to rectify this situation in respect of the Indian Air Force.

As things stand today, there is no single known source that has citations and photographs of all decorated Air Warriors of the Indian Air Force. The official lists of awardees have missed out names of personnel recommended by the IAF and subsequently conferred with various awards. The availability of citations is even more difficult. As far as photographs of awardees is concerned, there is no system in place today and it is not possible to get hold of photographs of most decorated Air Warriors especially those who retired from the service in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

This Chronicle has attempted to fill in these gaps in the history of the Indian Air Force. The Chronicle covers the period right from the inception of the Indian Air Force i.e., 8th October, 1932 till 31st December, 2008. The names covered in this Chronicle not only include those belonging to the Indian Air Force but also members of the Indian Army, Indian Navy as well as the civilians whose names were recommended by the IAF. The Chronicle also includes those foreigners who were a part of or attached to the Indian Air Force when they were conferred with awards. This Chronicle is a rare and never-beforeattempted work in any part of the world. The Chronicle is a saga of incredible courage, valour and supreme sacrifice of the IAF’s Air Warriors.

The citations bring out various tales of the ingenuity, innovative spirit, determination, perseverance, making the best of meager resources and actions well beyond the call of duty. It is an enviable record of more than 4000 persons who were in the forefront in making the IAF what it is today.

Besides authentic citations (99%) and photographs (97%) of all the recipients of Presidential Awards the Chronicle also traces the origin and history of each award and gives other statistical data like the first winner of each award, number of awardees in each categories and other trivia that will be of interest to the readers. The Gazette notification for each award has also been indicated in the Chronicle.

About the Author:

Air Marshal Bharat Kumar was commissioned in the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force in December, 1959. A Fighter Combat Leader and an Instrument Rating Examiner, he had over 2900 hours of fighter flying to his credit. He took part in Indo-Pakistan Conflicts of 1965 and 1971.

Air Marshal Bharat Kumar is an alumnus of National Defence Academy, Defence Services Staff College and Vorosholov General Staff Academy (Moscow). He has also carried out an instructional tenure at Defence Services Staff College and was deputed to a friendly country for two years for imparting flying training.

Air Marshal Bharat Kumar commanded a MiG-21 Squadron and two major operational bases with distinction. He has held many staff assignments both at Command and Air HQ. The more noteworthy of these appointments have been as Director Operations, Director Plans and, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Inspection) at Air Headquarters and Air 1 and Senior Air Staff at Headquarters of Operational Commands.

Air Marshal Bharat Kumar was Air Officer Commanding HQ Maritime Air Operations and reached the pinnacle of his career when he took over as the Air Officer Commandingin- Chief Southern Air Command, IAF. He retired from the service in 1997. He was conferred with Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 1984 and Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 1997 for rendering distinguished service of most exceptional order.

Air Marshal Bharat Kumar is a Fellow of Aeronautical Society of India and Indian Management Association. Other books by Air Marshal Bharat Kumar are: ? An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation. ? An Incredible War: Indian Air Force in Kashmir War of 1947-48.

Title: Courage & Devotion to Duty: A Chronicle of IAF’s Honours and Awards (1933-2008)
Author: Air Marshal Bharat Kumar PVSM AVSM (Retd)
Publisher: Pahujas in association with Center for Air Power Studies (CAPS)
Price: INR 2600
Pages: 918

This book is one of my proudest possessions on the history of the Indian Air Force. Air Marshal Bharat Kumar has produced a real labour of love to collect almost all awards given to IAF, with perhaps less than half a dozen citationss missing. Despite the author’s committed efforts, these could not be included only because no published information about them was available anywhere. Photographs of around 97% of awardees are included. The book contains records of all awards earned by the Air Force from its inception in 1932 to 2008, including the five years during which it was RIAF. Apart from learning about the great achievements of our peers and friends, it has been a remarkably good source of the history of the Indian Air Force. While this expression of my views on this book could be interpreted as its review, in fact it is also my personal vote of thanks to the author.

The book may well be unique as no similar collection has been mentioned in the social media for any defence forces. I learnt about it when at my request the Air Marshal reproduced the citations for the gallantry awards for LRD (Creamy) Blunt, MO (Micky) Blake, GD (Nobby) Clarke, Desmond Pushong and others for their valour during the 1948 Kashmir War. Most of them had emigrated to Australia and did not have any idea of what the citation of their awards had said about them. The number of awardees who have never seen, or who no longer have copies of their citations, is by now unacceptably large.

For the families and descendants of award winners, Courage & Devotion to Duty is a remarkable source of important family history, to be cherished for ever. It is a source of pride for them to discover the significant deeds of their loved ones and how these were officially recognised and duly rewarded by the Nation. Obviously, it is vital that access to this book should be made easier in the interest of the IAF itself. Apart from boosting morale, the book may well inspire the young to follow in the footsteps of the persons who contributed their effort and often their lives to the benefit of the country and the Air Force. It is strongly recommended that all Air Force Stations which maintain libraries for their personnel and families should keep one or two copies of it. In fact for training establishments and Air Force Schools making this book available to students should be made compulsory by IAF.

The first forty pages of the book need special mention. These contain a comprehensive history of awards from the earliest days to 2008, starting with a Vedic quotation. This part is so important that IAF would do well to include it in the curriculum of every initial training institution. It would inform and inspire those about to begin their Service careers. It may even inculcate a genuine sense of pride in our beloved Air Force. Libraries of the other defence services and even civilian libraries should seriously consider including this book in their inventories.

Courage & Devotion to Duty (918 pages) is priced at Rs. 2600 for civilians and Rs. 1800 for service personnel or their relatives. It is available with Hind Book House at A-29, New Friends Colony, New Delhi – 110065, India. Please contact Mr Prithvi Raj by phone +(91-11) 26831827 and 26843576 or by email to


Webmaster’s Recommendation:

Every book aspires for a five-star rating and only a few would make the cut. Almost none can exceed the rating scale –  But this book is an exception and should be rated higher than Excellent – not just in the scope of effort and coverage, but also in terms of quality of production and pricing. If there ever is a list of “Top 5 books for the IAF Aviation Historian”, Air Marshal Bharat Kumar’s book will inevitably be in that list.

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