India

India

The Indian Air Force (IAF) was created in 1932 while the country was still under British rule, but nevertheless comprised, in the main, of Indian air and ground crews, although initial officer training was carried out at the RAF college Cranwell.

By the outbreak of war in 1939, the Indian Air Force had reached a strength of over 20,000 personnel who fought alongside their RAF counterparts throughout the first Burma campaign, for much of the time in obsolete aircraft such as the Wapiti, Audax and Hart, and it is a measure of the professionalism and skill of the air and ground crews of the IAF, that they were able to continue operating to the level that they achieved.

It was only in late 1942, having distinguished itself in the army co-operation, reconnaissance and low level bombing roles that the force was expanded, with some squadrons being equipped with more modern aircraft such as the Spitfire and Hurricane.

In December 1943, the second Burma campaign started, in which the IAF played a key role, first on the Arakan front and later on the Imphal front in support of the beleaguered town of Kohima.

By this time the IAF was also equipped with the Dakota with which they were capable of moving whole armies at a time. The IAF also operated aircraft in the fighter, ground attack and reconnaissance role in support of the ground forces.

On the 3rd. May 1945, Rangoon fell to the Allies bringing the Burma campaign and the war to an end for the IAF, the majority of the squadrons returning to India.

During the course of the war, the IAF flew more than 16,000 sorties, and over 650 members were killed in action with a further 367 wounded

However, in addition to the war effort of the Indian Air Force itself, over 17,500 officers and airmen and airwomen served, not with the Indian Air Force, but with the RAF itself, in Europe, India, Burma and Ceylon and for these personnel the war continued to the bitter end.

The contribution to the war effort made by the IAF itself and the Indian nationals who volunteered to serve within the Royal Air Forece, cannot be under estimated. Over 1 million Indian nationals were employed by the RAF and IAF throughout the war years