Arjan Singh, hero of 1965 war, remembered: Marshal of Indian Air Force’s glittering career in and out of uniform
With the passing away of Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh on Saturday, India lost its last five-star officer.
The 1965 War hero enjoyed a distinguished career in the Indian Air Force and later also had a stint in diplomacy and public affairs. As we mourn the marshal’s death, let us look back at his illustrious life.
Born on 15 April, 1919 in Lyallpur (now Faislabad) in Punjab in undivided India, his father, grandfather and great grandfather too had served in the cavalry.
Educated at Montgomery (now Sahiwal), now in Pakistan, he joined the RAF College, Cranwell in 1938 and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in December the following year.
As World War II began in Europe, Singh joined squadron 1 in Ambala. His first assignment on being commissioned was to fly Westland Wapiti biplanes in the North-Western Frontier Province.
After a brief stint with the newly formed squadron 2 where the Marshal flew against the tribal forces, he later moved back to Squadron 1 as a Flying Officer to fly the Hawker Hurricane. In 1943, he became the Commanding Officer of the squadron.
Singh had the honour of leading the fly-past of over a hundred IAF aircraft over the Red Fort on 15 August, 1947.
Apart from being a competent officer, Singh was also considered a gentleman, as he served as a mentor to many of his juniors. Intrestingly, Singh once came very close to getting court-marshalled by the British authorities.