Mar­shal Ar­jan Singh dies in Delhi

The Asian Age - - Front Page -

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

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