Veterans Project - Interviews, Profiles and Memoirs

The WW2 Veterans Project : WWII Veteran Encounters, Profiles and Memoirs started off in earnest in 2002 when between a small group of like minded enthusiasts, an effort was made to locate and interview WW2 veterans of the Indian Air Force.  With the dwindling number of veterans every passing year, the effort continues in terms of family members writing profiles of their loved ones who took part in the war - and in keeping their memories alive.

The Radio Broadcast of Wg Cdr K K Majumdar

Among the various artefacts that were part of the Jumbo Majumdar Collection sold by Morton and Eden was an audio recording of a radio address given by Wg Cdr Majumdar in the weeks prior to his death.  The recording was with the Majumdar family for years and were part of the artifacts acquired by the Indian Air Force.  A copy of the recording was recently provided by Mr. J R Nanda.  

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Gp Capt H S R Gohel - Flights of Valour

On the 101st birth anniversary of late Gp Capt H S R Gohel , who was born on 15th February 1921, the e-book "Flights of Valour" is presented to provide an insight into this distinguished aviator from the Second World War, who left behind a treasure trove of notes of his memories and experiences via his extensively annotated logbook. 

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Pilot Officer Phillipos - Accounts Branch Officer in WW2

Updated 03 February 2018: We regret to inform that Wg Cdr A Philipos passed away in Bengaluru on 31st January 2018. He was 101 years old.  Original: Wg Cdr A Phillipos  3033 GD(P) was commissioned as an Accounts Branch Officer in 1944.  He recently turned 100 years old and was felicitated by the Air Force Records Office in Bangalore. In this short article, he writes about his introduction to service life under the British.   

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I was a Japanese Prisoner of War

Towards the end of November 1944, No.2 Squadron IAF moved from Kohat to Mambur airstrip on the Burma Front to take part in the operations against the Japanese. Within a day of the operations starting, On 2nd December 1944, Flying Officer K V Nair failed to return from a sortie. His Hurricane aircraft, LA316 was seen force-landing near a Chaung 15 miles NE of Akyab. Nair was seen clmbing out of the aircraft but his  fate remained a mystery till about five months later when he was one of the Prisoners of War liberated from the Rangoon Jail.  Nair would give the following account of the period he spent as as a POW under the Japanese.

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We are getting Spitfires! - Gp Capt George Philip

 This is the second part of the recollections of Gp Capt CGI Philip. The first part covers his IAF training, and his first tour of ops with No 8 Squadron on Vultee Vengeances. This part will cover his second tour with the same squadron, flying Spitfires. As before, Gp Capt Philip's words, we believe, convey a unique sense of those unique times, and we have retained them for much of this article.

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"Then Whose Battle Was It?" - Sqn Ldr M S Pujji

Squadron Leader Mahender Singh Pujji was in fact one of the first batch of 24 Indian 'A' licence holders to be accepted for service in the Air Force early during the Second World War. He received a Volunteer Reserve commission, trained with the Royal Air Force, and was awarded RAF wings. He flew in a combat role from emblematic RAF stations in the British Isles such as Kenley (one of the three main fighter stations defending London; and the operating base of "Sailor" Malan, Johnny Johnson, and earlier, of Douglas Bader), putting his life on the line to defend the British mainland; and flew in some of the Allies' first offensive operations over Occupied France. He later flew briefly in the North African theatre, as well as extensively in the China / Burma / India theatre (and in the NWFP)

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Air Marshal Mohan Swaroop Chaturvedi

This is a short summary of the career of Air Marshal Mohan Swaroop Chaturvedi (IND/1592). It chronicles his service to the nation from a young Observer who fought in the Northwest Provinces and in Burma, through his invaluable role as a Strategist who built the foundations of a strong and successful Air Force, using his able leadership capabilities in many different roles

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Memories Of No.8 Squadron, IAF

In the winter of 1980-81, Wg Cdr Joseph Thomas,  CO of 106 Squadron took a detachment to Tezpur where his friend, Wg Cdr Manjit Singh Sekhon was commanding 8 Squadron. 8 SQuadron was preparing for its colour presentation and were updating their archival material. When Wg Cdr Thomas mentioned that his father, Sqn Ldr T J Thomas (Retd) had served in 8 squadron from the time of its formation through service in the Burma front and till they moved to Quetta, Manjit Sekhon immediately wanted Sqn Ldr T J Thomas to write about his experiences in 8 Squadron. Sqn Ldr Thomas was then 66 years old and he put pen to paper to record his memoirs from WW2. The result was sent to 8 Squadron who made a typescript and incorporated it in their history folder. The account is now reproduced on this page, courtesy of Wg Cdr Joseph Thomas, who retains the original manuscript. The memoirs offer a rare insight into the life of an airman during those tumultuous times. It offers a view into  the difficult circumstances under which the ground crews operated. We concentrate too often on officers memoirs, and in the process miss out on potential contributions from other ranks. This article goes a small way into changing that.

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Hurricane Tales

MPO "Micky" Blake hailed from Bangalore in present day Karnataka. He was born 20 Mar 1923 and was commissioned (IND/2630) at the age of 20 in the Indian Air Force on  27 Sep 1943.  Blake served with No.42 Squadron RAF and  No. 3 Squadron IAF during the Second World War. Recently, Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava got Gp Capt Blake to pen down some  of his memorable experiences from the Second World War. Presented here in the own words of Gp Capt Micky Blake is the story of one of his 'unforgettable' sorties.

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My Days With The I.A.F (1940-48)

VSC Bonarjee was born in  Calcutta on the 27th January 1917. He was the third child and only son in a Bengali Christian family.  After graduation, He was commissioned in the Indian Air Force in 1940 in the 4th Course as an Observer (IND/1623) and saw action in Burma. He obtained his release as a Wing Commander to join the Indian Administrative Service in 1948.  He retired from the I.A.S   in 1975, worked for two international organizations till 1989 and lived with his family at Kalyani near Calcutta. In 1997, his friends convinced him to write down his memoirs which were published in the form of a book by Dr Arabinda Dey.  He passed away in 2001. The Account on this page is derived from that book - with the kind permission of Dr. Vernon Bonarjee, his son.

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Air Force Reminiscinces

AVM  S N Goyal 1560 GD(P) was the seventeenth Indian Officer to be trained in Cranwell.  After serving with No.1 Squadron in his early years, he was the tenth in seniority among the IAF Officers at the outbreak of the war. He commanded No.1 Squadron briefly in 1943. AVM Goyal is a recipient of the MBE.

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Air Marshal Aspy Engineer's Recollections

In 1992, the then CAS Air Chief Marshal N C Suri requested many of the surviving senior veterans of the Indian Air Force to write down their memoirs or recollections for the purpose of publishing them in a commemorative 50th Anniversary History. Air Marshal Aspy Engineer responded to the personal request of the CAS and penned down his recollections in nine pages of hand written notes. The account was never used in any publication, but thankfully the preserved notes are in the collection of Cyrus Engineer, Aspy's son. Recently Mrs Farida Singh, daughter of Jungoo Engineer procured the papers as well as several  photographs from the collection and very kindly provided them here for our website with the permission of the family

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Lysanders to Hurricanes : Air Commodore H S Ratnagar

When No.1 Squadron, Indian Air Force went into operations in February 1942 against the Japanese in Burma, it carried the hopes and future growth prospects of the Indian Air Force with it. Other than the little that is on the record about Sqn Ldr Majumdar, who was to perish in a crash a few years later, not much is known about the other officers and men who were to be the 'First in the Burma Skies'. We present a series of profiles of the personnel who were on the original team of the Tigers, No 1 Squadron, as they were being built up. The first in series of these articles is a profile of Air Commodore Homi Shapurji Ratnagar, who saw two tours of ops on the Burma Front, and is now (in 2003) 83 years old and settled in Hyderabad.

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Wing Commmander Alfred Anthony (2824/GD(P))

Alfred Anthony joined up to serve in the Indian Air Force at the height of World War Two. He was part of the 21st Pilots Course that commenced its training at Initial Training Wing, Poona in July 1943. After completing the initial training Alfred arrived at the No.1 Elementary Flying Training School at Begumpet on 31 October 1943. Three months of flying training on the De Havilland Tigermoth followed before Alfred was commissioned in the Indian Air Force on 31 January 1944 with service number IND/2824. He was just 26 at that time.

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By the old Moulmein Pagoda - Gp Capt George Philip

A WW2 veteran of service on the Burma Front, Gp Capt CGI Philip was actually born in Burma, and had strong family connections to that country even before the War.  Jagan interviewed him in April 2004 and in November 2005, while building Bharat-Rakshak's oral archive. Gp Capt Philip's words, we believe, convey a unique sense of those unique times. We have therefore retained his own words, for much of this article, which covers his early days in the Indian Air Force training on dive bombers and flying his first tour of operations with No.8 Squadron on the Vultee Vengeance.

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