July 22, 2019

Lieutenant Indra Lal Roy - India's only World War 1 fighter pilot/ ace

Indra Lal Roy in his Royal Flying Corps uniformIndra Lal Roy (2 December 1898 – 22 July 1918) is the sole Indian World War I flying ace. He is designated as First Indian Fighter Aircraft Pilot. While serving in the Royal Flying Corps and its successor, the Royal Air Force, he claimed ten aerial victories; five aircraft destroyed (one shared), and five 'down out of control' (one shared) in just over 170 hours flying time.


Roy was killed over Carvin on 22 July 1918 in a dog fight against the Fokker D.VIIs of Jagdstaffel 29. He is buried at Estevelles Communal Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France

Awards and honours

Roy was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in September 1918 for his actions during the period of 6–19 July 1918. He was the first Indian to receive the DFC. His citation read:

"A very gallant and determined officer, who in thirteen days accounted for nine enemy machines. In these several engagements he has displayed remarkable skill and daring, on more than one occasion accounting for two machines in one patrol. (20 September 1918)[16]

In December 1998, to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Indian postal service issued a commemorative stamp in his honour


My notes: the fighter planes of that era were rudimentary at the best. Not more than 8-10 instruments, no pressurisation, not sure if radio was there, no ejection system.

You can read more about the plane at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Aircraft_Factory_S.E.5

SE5A at Old Warden.jpg

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