Sunday, 16 October 2016

RAF Hero, Mohinder Singh Pujji

I was reading the excellent blog Spitalfields Life, in which the Gentle Author had a day out in Gravesend - where he found this statue (picture taken from Wikipedia):

Mohinder Singh Pujji was a commercial pilot before the Second World War, and one of the first pilots to volunteer with the Royal Indian Air Force to come to Britain. He flew Hurricanes just after the Battle of Britain, and later flew in the Middle East. He was awarded the DFC during his service in Burma for flying reconnaissance missions over Japanese territory, often in monsoon conditions, to bring back information about Japanese troop movements.
After the war, and a bout of TB that ended his military career, he worked at the Safdarjung Aerodrome in Delhi, and after his retirement he moved to Britain, finally living in Gravesend. In 2000, he was made an honorary Freeman of the Borough of Newham.

In 2005 he protested the use of the image of a Spitfire by the BNP in their leaflets, saying:
"The BNP are wrong to use the Spitfire as representative of their party. They forget people from different backgrounds helped in the Second World War. I am proof of this - I was flying a Spitfire. I also met Winston Churchill. Even in those days, there were ethnic minorities fighting for the British."

Partly because of his comments, the Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford mounted a permanent exhibition in 2009 called Diversity in the Royal Air Force - Mohinder Singh Pujji was guest of honour at the opening.
He died of a stroke in 2010, aged 92.
The statue was erected in 2014.

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