Video – Aiming High. Training in 1942

 A rare documentary film made by V Shantaram about the Indian Air Force in 1942. The film is from the Films Division of India archives and it showcases the training of officer cadets of No.12 Pilot’s Course.    


A rare film made by V Shantaram about the Indian Air Force in 1942. The film is from the Films Division of India archives and it showcases the training of officer cadets of No.12 Pilot’s Course.   This film is borrowed from the Films Division and can be seen on their channel as well.  What we are providing is a detailed analysis of the film with personalities identified where possible.

The Indian interest starts at 1m28s The Flight Cadets are from the 12th Pilot’s Course, which commenced training in late 1941. The two recognisable faces at 1m29s appear to be CD Devasher (IND/1867) and KM David (IND/1863)

At 1m29s is George Vurghese (IND/1862) killed in a flying accident in the UK.

Unidentified Sikh Pilot Officer at At 1m35s 

1m49s The man with the pencil thin mustache is A S Latif (IND/1860) He appears again at 2m11s 2m59s in Flt Cdt Uniform 2m59s

2m23s is R S Kalyaniwala (IND/1869) who later was awarded the Vir Chakra for his leadership in the 1947-48 Kashmir Operations. He appears at 4m16s

The scene shifts to Initial Training Wing – the ITW which was at Walton Aerodrome,  Lahore at that time. 2m23s

The main protagonist of this film is this young Sikh cadet, whom we will identify later. 2m38s We will see more and more of him later on

2m52s In the standing shot of cadets in their civilian dress, reporting for training, the Sikh cadet is on left. In the center is M M Crishna (IND/1857) with A S Latif to the right of the screen. Crishna is seen at 2m58s and in uniform at 3m34s 5m07s

3m36s to the left of the screen is Iqbal Narain Shivpuri (IND/1858) who died in a flying accident in the UK.

3m39s The tall cadet marching closest to the instructor is possibly Ronald Duncan Rollo (IND/1864) who went to the Pakistan Air Force.

3m43s and 3m54s The Sikh Cadet marching closest to the instructor is Kartar Singh Taunque (IND/1880), who had started his career with the IAF as a Hawai Sepoy in the mid 30s. He served as an air gunner with No.1 Squadron and was already mentioned in despatches

4m54s In this shot, M M Crishna in the center of the screen has a different rank badge to the others – possibly some sort of an Under Officer rank?

5m01s The first clue on the name of our protagnist is given – it sounds like “Tar beg Singh”.. looking up all the names in our course list, The closest and the only name that comes up is “Harbaksh Singh” (Number Not Issued) . Who it appears was commissioned but did not last till October 1942 in the India Air Force. He was one of the 100 or so officers who were not in the IAF on that date and thus was not issued a service number.

The Walton Passing Out parade starts at 6m25s where the Officer Cadets were sent for flying training at either Begumpet or at Jodhpur.

At 6m37s the Cadet on left in second row already has an Air Gunner’s badge.

At 6m37s a clear shot of Kartar Singh Taunque (IND/1880) wearing his Air Gunner’s badge (half wing). He also wears the ribbon of the India General Service Medal 1936-39 below it and the slightly different Officer Cadet rank badges as well.

At 7m00s Cadets report for Flying Training on Tigermoths at the EFTS. Note mixed lot of long pants and shorts!

At 7m31s Tigermoths at the EFTS sporting RAF Serial HK814, but still retaining their pre-war civil registration – VT-AQR.  All the Tigermoths were on civil register and were impressed into service when war broke out.
HK813 / VT-AQQ
HK811 / VT-AQD
DP256 / VT-AQB
HK817 / VT-AQU
DG512 / VT-AQK

All these Tigermoths were operated by the No.2 EFTS at Jodhpur.

8m13s VT-APX

10m08s ASM Bhawnani IND/1868 seen in the background.

10m23s Shots of Audaxes and a Wapiti (Radial engined). Both the types were at Ambala

11m31s VT-AQR HK814 – the underwing registration can be seen. The stock footage of various aircraft flying starts at 11m36s.

No indian interest after that point.



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