Air Commodore E L Birch

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Evans Lionel Birch was born in Amritsar PUnjab on 23rd Oct 1927. After joining the IAF just about the end of WW2, he was trained at No.2 EFTS at Jodhpur and later at the Advance Flying School in Ambala in the 44th Pilots Course. He was commissioned on 17th May 1948 (IND/3487). During this period, he trained on Cornells, Spitfire VIII and Spitfire XIVs as well as Spitfire XVIIIs.
In Jan 1953, he was one of the first pilots selected to fly the HT-2 trainers from Bangalore to New Delhi to take part in the Republic day parade fly past.

Birch then flew Vampires with No.17 Squadron and also later attend the No 112 Long bombers course in Bassingbourn – UK from April to June 1957 where he flew Canberra T4 and B2 bombers.

In 1958, he was one of the small batch of pilots deputed to Indonesia as part of the IAF training team. There he flew Vampires and was also one of the rare pilots to get to fly the legendary P-51 Mustang, still in service with the Indonesian Air Force. He returned from this tenure in 1959.

Birch then served as the CFI at Jodhpur and later as the CO of FIS at Tambaram from 1965 to 1967.

This was followed by a stint as the Joint Director of Air Defence in 1971, and as the Director of Air Defence at Air HQ till 1973.

E L Birch retired in April 1976 as an Air Commodore. By that time he had accumulated a total of 4502.20 hours in flying as well as a couple of dozen types of aircraft!


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EL Birch sometime around 1949 , an year into his service after getting commissioned in the RIAF in 1948.

Article in the local newspaper – passing out parade for the 44th pilots’ course. (Note the future Air Chief’s at this function, There are atleast four.).  15 Officers passed out of this batch. Click to Enlarge
- When Flying Officer Birch married on 23rd June 1951, his best man at the wedding was Flt Lt G V Kuriyan, seen here with his family.
G V Kuriyan (1st from Left) also led the first batch of HT-2s from Bangalore to Delhi in 1953 to take part in the republic day parade.  Birch (2nd from left) was one of the chosen few  who flew these HT-2’s from Banglore to Palam on Jan 12th 1953. -
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These were the HT-2s picked up by the pilots for the flight to Delhi.



The six aircraft at the fly past on Republic Day 26 Jan 1953. -
Birch-VimanaSamachar_Small.jpg (20788 bytes) This journal (Viman Samachar) was published in the 1950s by Hindustan Aircraft Limited as an Internal Magazine . Click on the cover to download select pages from this issue – related to the HT-2 flypast.

Fifth Anniversary of No 17 Squadron – Vampires – 1956 Poona. (Squadron commander- Sqn.Ldr (later Air Chief Marshall) L.M Katre.

Sitting – Front Row: SK Kaul, NK Ramprasad, SK Anand, I Ezekiel, AL Michael, LM Katre (CO), EL Birch, N Raghunath, M Palamkote, AB Lamba, Rono Gupta
Standing Center Row: M Sadanand, KP Chatterjee, SK Bishnoi, S Prakash, VK Naidu, SD Mohan, AN Sanyal, SD Karnik, PP Dass, NM Puri
Standing Last Row: AM Mehta, RK Chanda, CP Ireland.

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-  A note to Birch, then the Chief Flying Instructor at Jodhpur from the pupils of the 78th Pilots
Article in the Air Force Journal – Jodhpur, mentioning that the letter of appreciation presented by the AOC-in-C Training Command, AVM S N Goyal Birch-SqnLdr_Small.jpg (21085 bytes)
On completion of the Staff Course at DSSC in 1965.

Sitting – Front Row: CHL Digby, NK Lalkaka, MA Shoukry, TS Brar, SS Achreja, Maj Gen D Somdutt, PCRoby, B Nair, LM Katre, AL Bajaj, EL Birch
Standing Center Row: D Allison, RL Bhalla, SL Chopra, MK Kapoor, MS Kapoor, NL Keswani, TAK Kotval, SK Mehra, JN Mookerjee
Standing Last Row:  Flt Sgt RA Utturkar, AD Ralli, MS Rao, SK Roy Choudhury, SG Trivedy, Cpl A Mahadevan

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- As an Air Commodore, just before his retirement.
The Wings and medals of Air Commodore Birch. Birch-Medals_Small.jpg (22526 bytes)

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