Sikhs in the air
 
Indian Air Force Hurricanes No.6 Squadron under 'Baba' Meher Singh remains one of its greatest legends. His extraordinary and inspired flying skills and his leadership were at their most brilliant during the traumatic months before the 1947 partition and then immediately thereafter during the Kashmir operations of 1947-48.
Flight Lt M.S.Pujji and Hurricane IIB
Sqd Ldr Dalip Singh Majithia and his Hurricane IIC.
 
Shivdev Singh served with the famous XV Squadron flying Stirling bombers, raids over Germany followed including night attacks and on the German submarine pens at Kiel. Shivdev Singh had a most distinguished career rising to Air Marshal and becoming Vice Chief of Air Staff.  

Sgt "Eddie" Chambers, rear gunner, missing on mine-laying op to Frisian Islands;    Sgt "Johnnie" Spalding, mid-upper gunner, missing on 'ops' to Duisberg;    F/O Clifford "Cliff" Reeves, navigator;    S/L Matthew "Jock" Wilson, pilot, killed in crash;    P/O Shevdiv Singh, 2nd pilot, posted back to India;   Sgt William "Jim" Ely, flight engineer Sgt Noel "Ginger" Cash, front gunner, killed in crash at Gravely on NFT on 19th May 1942;   Sgt "Dan" Lammie.

This image was kindly supplied by Roger Leivers from Godmanchester.

 

 
Forth generation fighter pilot, Sqn Ldr Harpreet Singh Basra and his Mirage 2000H bi-sonic fighter.
IAF's 10th Anniversary in Ambala, 1943. Squadron Leaders Prithipal Singh, Mehar Singh, Arjan Singh and Surjit Singh Majithia.
 
Conference of IAF Squadron Commanders, New Delhi 1943.  
Lt Hardit Singh Malik, in service with the Royal Air Corps, World War I

 

Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh DFC on a visit to RAF Cranwell. One of the most respected officers in the IAF in recent times.

 

 

No 1 Squadron of the Indian Air Force was to be in the thick of the vital battles of 1944 under the command of Sqn Ldr Arjan Singh. When C-of-C Indian Army Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinleck inspected the squads he was most impressed with No1 and when Arjan Singh advocated his intense desire to go back into battle, he keenly supported the request to station the squad at Imphal on the Manipur front where massive build ups were taking place on both sides of the Assam-Burma border. The next fifteen months were to be breathless with action in the already chequered history of No1 Sqn. Under the command of Arjan Singh the squadron commenced operational flying with offensive, tactical and photographic sorties to observe the Japanese movements.

 

Sqn Ldr Arjan Singh's leadership had a distinct style: quite courage with firmness and a ready smile. After the Japanese had been thrown back, in a great honour to Arjan Singh, the supreme Commander Lord Louise Mountbatten, personally flew into Imphal and in the presence of Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Priese and the assembled squadron, pinned the Distinguished Flying Cross on Arjan Singh's tunic. Twenty years later Arjan Singh was appointed Chief Air Staff and led the Indian Air Force during the September 1965 war. After retiring in 1969 he served as India's ambassador to several countries and became Lt.Governor of Delhi, he is still regarded by many as simply "The Chief".

 

Hardit Singh Malik, the first Sikh to fly in action. Born on 23rd Nov 1894 Hardit was educated at a public school,Eastborne college and went on to Balliol College Oxford. When WW1 broke out in 1914 he volunteered to join the Royal Flying Corps in 1917, the first Sikh or Indian ever to do so. A specially designed helmet was worn by Hardit over his turban. He went 'solo' in a Cauldron after just two and half hours of instruction. He got his wings in under a month. Under the command of Major Barkar, Hardit fought against the legendary 'Red Baron' Manfred von Richthofens Staffel. He was one of the most popular officers at Biggin Hill. Hardit Singh shot down many German Fockers and lived till he was 91.

Hardit Singh Malik (left)in his Oxford blazer and (far left) in the flying gear.

     
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