Remembering India’s only Flying Ace

22 Jul 2019  Mon

The incredible Air Warrior from Bengal, Indra Lal Roy died on 22 July 1918. He was the first and only Indian to become a flying in Ace in World War I. Roy was born on 2nd December 1898 in Calcutta, where his father was a barrister and Director of Public Prosecutions. The Roy family had a history of illustrious individuals. In 1901, his family moved to England. Educated at St Paul’s School in Kensington, he was only 15 when the First World War broke out. In 1917, at the age of just 18 he was commissioned into the Royal Flying Crops. Within the space of three months, he had earned promotion to the rank of second lieutenant. He later served in the Royal Air Force, and joined Number 56 Squadron as a part of A-Flight headed by Richard Maybery. He destroyed five aircraft and five other down out of control. Overall, he gained ten aerial victories which were accomplished in 170 hours of flying time. Roy claimed himself the title the Flying Ace and was awarded a posthumous Distinguished Flying Cross (The Third Gallantry Award of Royal Air Force) in September 1918. Lieutenant Indra Lal Roy last victory came with his death. He was shot in Hannover C over Cangnicourt on 22nd July 1918. And he was later buried at Estevelles Communal Cemetery, Pas-de-calais, France. A unique inscription was inscribed on his grave in French and Bengali. The Bengali legend reads “Maha birer samadhi; sambhram karo, sparsha koro na.” (A valiant warrior’s grave; respect it, do not touch it). To mark his 100th Birth Anniversary, India Postal Department has issued a 300 Paise commemorative stamp in 1998. Visit philamart to view and purchase variety of stamps from all over the world.

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