Sqn Ldr Keki Burjorji Commissariat

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A profile of Keki Burjorji Commissariat, an officer who joined the IAF early on as when the call for Volunteer Officers came in.

by Hoshi K Press

My father-in-law Sqn Ldr K B Commissariat was among the first recruits of the Indian Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Keki Commissariat was born on 9 February 1911 in Bombay. He was one of the pioneer Indians to get his Private Pilots Licence on 5th May 1937. He qualified on the BA Swallow and the DH Moth I and II to earn his PPL.

- KB Commissariat’s Private Pilot License No. 821, dated 5th May 1937.

At the outbreak of WW2, most of the PPL holders received invitations to join the IAF as a Commissioned Officer. Commissariat was one of the first entrants into the IAF. As was the norm in those days, he was called for  Observer training on 11th Nov 1939.   He reported for duty on 23 Nov 1939, and his commission was gazetted the same day. (Gazette No 1695 dt 23.12.39). At the age of 28, he was relatively older among all the recruits.

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KB Commissariat was one of the first entrants into the IAFVR. Seen on the left is his original selection letter dated 11th November 1939. The letter has been CC-ed to R Rajaram, later Air Marshal and Vice Chief, and his brother R Sitaram, who retired as an Air Commodore. They are   believed to have been part of either the 1st or 2nd Course. One of the officers who joined in the same batch was Pratap Chandra Lal on 14th November 1939, who later was the CAS during the India Pakistan war of 1971.

Right: Appointment letter from Delhi Flying Club for the position of Asst Instructor.


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Three Hawker Harts in formation at either Risalpur or Ambala. The Harts and Audaxes were standard aircraft for Observer training in 1940 Keki Commissariat standing third from Right. Pratap Chandra Lal can be seen seated second from left. R Rajaram sdg 1st from left. R Sitaram sdg 3rd from left. This photograph is certainly of the first batch of Observers commissioned  between 14 Nov 39 to 20 Nov 39.

However for unknown reasons, Commissariat resigned his commission on  24 Feb 40 (Gazette No 650 dt 4.5.40) and took up an assignment as the Assistant Pilot Instructor with Delhi Flying Club the following year.

Not soon after, he was again recalled to join the RIAF in the A&SD Branch, which he did on 21 Feb 42 and was given the service number of IND/1786 (Gazette No 356 dt 21.2.42)

--KB Commissariat’s second commission came on 7th Jan 1942, when he rejoined the IAF in the A&SD Branch. Seen on the Left is his original commission scroll No.531 signed on behalf of Field Marshal Wavell. Compare the same with Scroll No.12

Right: An appreciation letter from the ‘Auk’ – General Auchinleck’s letter issued to all personnel in the Indian Armed Forces on 1st January 1946.

He was to spend the ten years with the IAF and relinquished Commission on expiry of terms of engagement on 29 Sept 52. (Gazette No 828 dt 26.6.54). The last unit he served was No.2 Wing, AF at Poona. He was in Barrackpore (1949) and Ambala at various points of time during his career.


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With No.1 Operational Wing in December 1949. Photograph Ids are given in the framing Another photograph from No.1 Operational Wing.

He had accumulated a total of 10 Years and 6 months of service durign this period. During this period he earned the following Medals: India Service Medal, War Medal, Independence Medal.

After retirement from the Air Force, He also went on to join the Territorial Army in 1956 and became a Major in the TA .

Keki joined the Territorial Army after leaving the Air Force in 1952. Shown on the right is his Territorial Army Commission Scroll (TA-440) issued by the President of India on 11 June 56 --

A number of documents and photos from his collection are presented on this page. Most of the details of the photographs are unidentified and any suggestions regarding the locations, people in the photograph, or circumstances etc are welcome.


Left: Unidentified

Right: The Recruiting Office in Bombay after Independence.









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Heading the Central Map SectionKeki’s Medal entitlement : The Independence Medal, the 1939-45 War Medal and the India Service Medal.


A Blurry photograph shows Pandit Nehru’s visit to Kashmir (?) and Sqn Ldr Commissariat receiving him.With a group of Unidentified Army Officers


Unidentified Location and PeriodBeing introduced to the President of India, Shri Rajendra Prasad


Unidentified Location and PeriodPossibly Ladakh/Leh during the late 40s

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