With the Tigers in Burma - Air Marshal A R Pandit
- Category: Veterans Project - Interviews, Profiles and Memoirs
- Last Updated: Monday, 05 October 2009 13:58
- Written by Amit Javadekar
- Hits: 9184
Anand Ramdas Pandit was born on 21st June 1921 at Indore. He joined the IAF Volunteer Reserve in 1941.
He commenced his training with the Initial Training School at Lahore in April 41. After about a month and a half, he was part of the 8th Pilots Course that commenced training at the No.2 EFTS in Jodhpur on Tigermoth aircraft.
The four months spent at EFTS involved learning elementary flying on a number of civilian Tigermoths. The instructors were from RAF and included a number of civilian Indian pilots.
In September 1941, He commenced advanced flying with the No.1 SFTS at Ambala. learning flying on Audax and Hart aircraft. The cadets earned their wings in February 1942.
His first operational posting was to No.2 Squadron, IAF. He was with the Squadron for 10 months before going to No.22 AACU in Karachi for a brief while. Then he was assigned to convert to the Hurricane Fighter bomber and was sent to the Risalpur No.151 OTU. .
|Officer Cadets Belekar, AR Pandit and HA Khan in June 1941. They were undergoing initial training at the ITS Lahore.|
|c July 1941. Officer Cadet Pandit in flying gear at Jodhpur. He was flying the Tigermoth trainer aircraft at No.2 EFTS.|
|Members of the 8 Pilots Course at 1 SFTS Ambala, Jan 1942
L to R Back Row - 1701 Georges,1705 SK Gohel, Zal Sanjana, 1715 Mehta, 1708 Rao, Sequeira
Middle Row - 1709 Joe Ezekiel, 1703 TAM Andrade, 1712 Atal, 1706 Hussain, Goordeen, 1714 Guharoy, 1707 AR Pandit, 1704 D Ranga Reddy
Front Row - 1711 Pratap Lal Singh, 1710 Dorabji, 1702 BS Dastoor, 1699 Behman Sanjana, Khan, 1683 Keshav Reddy, Chakravarty, 1583R Atmaram
|Section 7 Pilots of 8th Course at Ambala.
L to R Back - Goordeen, Dastoor, Irani, Ezekiel, Georges, Dorabji, Ghose
|Section 9 of the 8th Course were Observers.
Standing L to R: O/C Godhkindi, O/C Sarup, O/C Dolly Engineer, Sgt Glover
Sitting: Kumar, P/O Chandran, P/O Jagbir Singh, O/C Akut
|Wings at last! AR Pandit (Left) and Himmat Singh Gohel (Right) after the commissioning.|
|Another Photograph taken after commissioning. (Stding L to R) P/Os Zal Behram Sanjana, Surendra, (Sitting L to R) D R Reddy, Ranbir, AR Pandit.
Sanjana died 30 Aug 42 in an Audax Crash. Reddy was shot down by a IJAAF Oscar on 8 Feb 44 on the Burma Front, but not before he himselfdowned another Oscar in aircombat, a fact that goes unrecognised in official records.
|Pandit's first posting was with No.2 Squadron from February 1942 onwards. No.2 Squadron was initially flying Audaxes and Wapitis and soon re-equipped with the Lysanders discarded by No.1 Squadron, seen here at Trichy around May 1942. Note the Tiger and 'Bombay City' markings near the cockpit. Lysanders of No.1 Squadron also carried the 'NB' Codes.|
|A photograph dated Jan 1943, from his time with the No.22 AACU in Karachi. Both became DFC winners - JC Verma (Left) and AR Pandit (Right). JC Verma is the only IAF Pilot from WW2 to be officially recognised as having scored an Air Combat Kill.|
After passing out of 151 OTU, he joined No.1 Squadron IAF based at Miranshah in the North West Frontier Province in April 1943. His duties included Road Recce, Tactical Recce, Photography and Bombing and Machine Gunning of the ferocious and ruthless Pathan tribals.
This tour of duty totalled 19 hours of operational flying and ended when he had to force-land his Hurricane IIB after an engine failure during a low level bombing exercise at Nowshera. As a result of injuries suffered in this accident, he was not with No.1 Squadron when it moved to operations in Burma in December 1943, but joined them later in March of 1944 at Imphal.
His duties in Burma mostly involved photo and tactical reconnaissance of strongly held Japanese positions and the photographs that he brought back provided very valuable information to the Army. The photographs secured by him were highly commended by the Fourteenth Army and for these acts of gallantry he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross on 22 Jan. 1945. During this tour of duty he completed 169 sorties totalling 206 hours in seven months.
© AMIT JAVADEKAR