Marshal Arjan Singh dies in Delhi
New Delhi, Sept. 16: War hero Marshal Arjan Singh, who led the Indian Air Force during the 1965 India-Pakistan conflict, died on Saturday night. IAF sources said he passed away around 7.30 pm.
The 98-year-old, the only officer of the IAF to be promoted to five-star rank, equal to a field marshal in the Army, was admitted to the Army’s Research and Referral hospital on Saturday morning after he suffered a cardiac arrest, the defence ministry said.
New Delhi, Sept. 16: Air Force Marshal Arjan Singh, an icon of India’s military history, will always be remembered as a war hero who had successfully led a young IAF during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
The only officer to attain the highest post of Marshal, the Air Force equivalent to the Army’s five star Field Marshal, Singh was a fearless and exceptional pilot who had flown more than 60 different types of aircraft. He played a major role in transforming the IAF into one of the most potent Air Forces globally and the fourth biggest in the world.
“His contribution to the Indian Air Force is monumental to the least. The IAF grew with him. He was epitome of military leadership in classical sense and it is, therefore, not surprising that he was honoured with the rank of Air Force Marshal,” former vice-chief of IAF Kapil Kak said.
Singh was honoured with the rank of Marshal on the Republic Day in 2002. Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw and K.M. Cariappa were the only two army generals honoured with the rank of field marshal.
Known as a man of few words, Singh was not only a fearless pilot but had profound knowledge about air power and applied it in a wide spectrum of areas. Singh had assiduously led the IAF during the 1965 war and denied success to Pakistani Air Force though it was better equipped with American support. “His most outstanding contribution was during that war,” said Kak. Commending his role in the war, Y.B. Chavan, the then defence minister had written: “Air Marshal Arjan Singh is a jewel of a person, quiet efficient and firm; unexcitable but a very able leader.” In 1944, the Marshal had led a squadron against the Japanese during the Arakan Campaign, flying close air support missions during the crucial Imphal Campaign and later assisted the advance of the Allied Forces to Yangoon.
In recognition of his feat, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) on the spot by the Supreme Allied Commander of South East Asia, the first Indian pilot to receive it. Singh was selected for the Empire Pilot training course at Royal Air Force (RAF) Cranwell in 1938 when he was 19 years old. He retired from service in 1969. Singh was born on April 15, 1919, in Lyalpur (now Faislabad, Pakistan), and completed his education at Montgomery (now Sahiwal, Pakistan).
His first assignment on being commissioned was to fly Westland Wapiti biplanes.
Marshal Arjan Singh