Dinshaw Eduljee crashed in action behind Japanese lines. His body was never found. The Indian Air Force No. 1 Squadron's Log from Nov. 28, 1944 states:
"F/O Eduljee was the only (then) AFC in the Indian Air Force. He had obtained this award for outstanding service as instructor at Flight Training School, Ambala. Many of the younger pilots in the Indian Air Force may have been his pupils -
Si monumentum requiris, circumspice (If you seek his monument, look around you)."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Overview of His Life
Flying Officer
Dinshaw Ferozeshaw Eduljee.
Image credit: Bharat Rakshak
Flying Officer Dinshaw Ferozeshaw Eduljee (1919-1944) was the first pilot of the Indian Air Force, IAF, to receive the Air Force Cross, AFC (on June 1, 1944).

Eduljee is presumed to have died after the Hurricane fighter aircraft he was flying crashed in Burma (Myanmar today). The circumstances and time of his death are not known.

Dinshaw Eduljee was the son of Ferozeshaw and Khursheed Eduljee. A note left by his father Ferozeshaw states that Dinshaw Eduljee was born on June 30, 1919 (other records place his date-of-birth a year later).

According to his brother Major (Retd.) Erauch (Eddie) Eduljee, Dinshaw's parents enrolled him in one of India's most prestigious schools, the Allen School in the hills of Mussoorie, India. Allen School is part of the twin schools Wynberg Allen, Wynberg being the girls' school and Allen the boys' school. Having been founded in 1888, the schools will be celebrating their 125th year anniversary in October 2013. Dinshaw Eduljee is listed on the school's Roll of Honour as School Captain in 1939.

Dinshaw Eduljee's alma mater, Allen School, Bala Hissar, Mussoorie, India. [An Afghan ruler Amir Dost Mohammad Khan (1793-1863) is said to have been kept prisoner at Bala Hissar (the original building is no longer standing) by the British (c. 1842). Since Bala Hissar is the name of the fort and citadel in Kabul, Afghanistan - Dost Mohammad's previous residence - we wonder if the name was euphemistically given to the Amir's prison.] The senior boy's school was moved from the adjacent Wynberg Estate (see below) to the Bala Hissar property in 1926, around the time Dinshaw Eduljee joined the school. Also see the 1890 photo of the property on our 'Images-Other' page.
Image provided courtesy of Audrey Phillips, member of the school's Board of Management.
Wynberg Allen Schools, Mussoorie, India. Wynberg, the girls' school, is shown to the right and Allen, the boys' school (which Dinshaw Eduljee attended) is seen at the left of the photograph (which was recently taken from neighbouring Woodstock School by Ajay Mark an ex-Allen student who is currently employed at Woodstock). The valley of the city of Dehra Dun can be seen in the background.
Image courtesy of Audrey Phillips.
The Allen School's Roll of Honour
for students who gave their lives
in World War II (July 1951).
Image courtesy Audrey Phillips.
Upon graduating from Wynberg Allen in 1939 (after successfully passing the Senior Cambridge examination), Dinshaw Eduljee joined the volunteer reserve followed by his joining the Indian Air Force Academy also called the Flying College in Jodhpur, Rajasthan. At that time Indians served with the British led allied forces during the Second World War (World War II). Jodhpur was also home to No. 2 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS).

From there, Dinshaw Eduljee went on to become a pilot in the Indian Air Force and saw active service on the India-Burma (Allied/Commonwealth forces vs. Japanese forces) front-lines.

[Dinshaw Eduljee kept in close touch with his alma mater. On the school's founder's day in October (1942) - while serving as flight instructor at Ambala some 125 km west of Mussoorie - he buzzed the school with his Harvard trainer (a fighter trainer plane otherwise called the Yellow Thunder - also see Flight School Ambala) and dropped a message of greetings in a canister attached to a streamer or a small parachute. Wynberg-Allen's newsletter of May 2013 states, "Teachers would allow their pupils to leave the classroom to watch the aerobatics....One of Dinshaw Eduljee’s flying visits was probably the most memorable. On Founders’ Day 1942, when the School’s Inter-House Athletics Meeting on Allen’s flat was in full swing, Dinshaw appeared in his American Harvard Mark II plane and the athletics meet came to a standstill as the athletes and spectators watched his antics. He circled the school a few times, and then on departing, swooped low over the sports field to drop a package to which was attached a streamer. The package landed in the centre of the flat and all the athletes on the tracks raced to collect it. By sheer coincidence, Dinshaw’s young brother, Harry (Hoshang), reached it first. He took it to Mr. Craven who was supervising the events that day. The package contained a message from Dinshaw, wishing all at the school 'A Happy Founders’ Day'. Mr. Craven read out the message on the school’s Public Address system."]

Dinshaw Eduljee is presumed to have died following the crash of the fighter plane he was piloting. The crash took place in Burma not too far from the Indian border on November 27, 1944 - a date the IAF records use as the date of his death.

Chronology of Dinshaw Eduljee's life
June 30, 1919 Born Lucknow, India
End 1939 Graduated from Allen School (Senior Cambridge) Mussoorie, India
Indian Air Force Academy Jodhpur, India
March 3, 1941 Commissioned & started training at 1 SFTS
(No. 1 Service Flying Training School)
Ambala, India
Jan, 42 – Oct 15, 43? Served as flying instructor Ambala, India
Oct 16, 43 – Feb, 44? At 1AGS (No.1 Air Gunners School) Bairagarh, India
Feb, 44? – Jun 1, 44 At 151 OTU (Operational Training Unit) Risalpur, India
          -  Feb 21, 44 Group photo at 151 OTU of 27 B Course Risalpur, India
          -  Mar 16, 44 Crash-landed repaired Hurricane Risalpur, India
Jun 1, 44 – Nov 27, 44 Hurricane pilot Imphal, India
Nov 27, 44 Crashed in action Sizwe, Burma

Indian Air Force Service
Upon leaving the Air Force Academy, Dinshaw Eduljee joined the Indian Air Force (IAF) - and in doing so, he became one of the first 200 officers to have joined the Indian Air Force.

Service Number 1669
Service numbers (SN) for Indian Air Force officers started at 1551 and Eduljee's service number was 1669, indicating he was the 118th member of the IAF (service numbers in 2002 were in the 25,000s).

[Some prominent early IAF officers were: the first IAF officer Subroto Mukerjee, SN 1551, who received his commission on October 1, 1932; Air Marshal Aspi Engineer, SN 1554, who received his commission on July 15, 1933, and Aspi's brother Minoo (Minochehr Merwan) Engineer, SN 1614, who received his commission on August 1, 1940.]

Pilot Training
Upon joining the IAF, Eduljee continued his pilot training. According to Jagan Pillarisetti who maintains the Bharat-Rakshak website: "Dinshaw Eduljee belonged to No.7 Pilots Course" (in Ambala)."

"This course was the last one in which the pilots received a commission on the date they joined (presumably at the basic training level)." Eduljee's batch held the rank of Pilot Officer upon joining the basic level of the training - the last batch to do so for according to Pillarisetti, "Later batches were given Flight Cadet (Flt. Cdt.) rank with the commissioning happening end of the basic flying training stage."

Dinshaw Eduljee's service record notes that he received his commission as an officer in the Indian Air Force on March 3, 1941.

Pillarisetti continues: "Dinshaw Eduljee’s batch passed out (graduated) of the Training School at Ambala in January 1942. The batch started with 28 Officers - but only 16 passed out."

Trophy for the Best Officer during Training at Ambala
At the end of his training, Eduljee received a trophy or medal for being the top officer in his batch. According to Jagan Pillarisetti, "a trophy was instituted to be awarded to the most promising service pilot of the batch on the day the 7th course passed out. The trophy was to be kept at the Ambala Station, and the winner's name was to be engraved on the trophy. The first trophy was given was to Pilot Officer Eduljee (and presumably his name was engraved on it). The trophy winners were supposed to have been given a medal engraved with their name after that."

Flight Instructor at Bairagarh & Ambala
It does appear that immediately upon successfully completing his course in January 1942, Dinshaw Eduljee became a flight instructor training new recruits - and that he did so at Ambala, the very school from which he had graduated. The school was more completely called No. 1 Service Flying Training School (1 SFTS).

Next, we read that Eduljee was stationed in Bairagarh, Bhopal from October 16, 1943 up to an unknown date (perhaps around February 1944). There, he was assigned to 1AGS (No.1 Air Gunners School also called No.1 Gunnery School). No.1 Air Gunners School undertook training of wireless operators and air gunners for the IAF. An aircraft deployed at Bairagarh 1AGS was the Boulton-Paul Defiant, models TT.I & TT.III.

From around February 1944, Eduljee was stationed at 151 OTU (Operational Training Unit) at Risalpur. As a side note, 152 OTU - The Dive Bomber Course using the Vengeance bomber - was conducted some 40 km west of Risalpur at Peshawar. Both Risalpur and Peshawar were in the North-West Frontier province, now in Pakistan.

Training at Risalpur included so-called "conversion training" to the Hurricane fighter aircraft. Since Hurricanes are said to have been deployed in Ambala as well, we do not know if Eduljee's stay at 151 OTU Risalpur, was in his capacity as a trainer or if he was part of a course - the 27B Course - with which he was photographed (see image below).

According to Jagan Pillarisetti, the OTU courses at Risalpur had started at 1 with Eduljee being part of the 27th Course. Pillarisetti further states that if the courses were large enough, they were divided into sections . 27th Course would have had an 'A' and 'B' section at the least. Eduljee's course can completely be referred to as 'No 27 Fighter Conversion Course,  Section B'.

27 B Course at 151 OTU, Risalpur February 21, 1944.
Image courtesy of Arun Agnihotri whose father is shown seated to Eduljee's right. 
Jagan Pillarisetti informs us that on March 16, 1944, Eduljee crashed landed a Hurricane being air-tested after a repair. It is hard to imagine that a trainee would be given the responsibility of test-flying a recently repaired aircraft. As such Eduljee could have been the trainer for the course.

Eduljee becomes Acting Flight Lieutenant
At some stage Dinshaw Eduljee became an acting Flight Lieutenant and this was the rank recorded on his AFC citation.

Dinshaw Eduljee left Risalpur to join 1 Squadron at Imphal of June 1, 1944, the same date on which he was awarded the Air Force Cross for his achievements as a trainer.

Air Force Cross Award
The Air Force Cross medal and ribbon.
Image credit: Wikipedia
In recognition of his work in training other pilots, Dinshaw Eduljee was awarded the Air Force Cross (AFC). The tenure as a trainer must have been exceptional, since he was the first IAF officer to have received this award - on June 1, 1944 (and recorded in the Supplement of the London Gazette of June 8, 1944 where his rank is given as acting Flight Lieutenant.).

No. 1 Squadron's Summary of Events November 26-27, 1944 reads:
"F/O (Flying Officer) Eduljee was the only AFC in the Indian Air Force. He had obtained this award for outstanding service as instructor at FTS Ambala. Many of the younger pilots in the Indian Air Force may have been his pupils - si monumentum requiris, circumspice. [Our note: this translates to ‘If you seek his monument, look around you’. Perhaps this meant that though Eduljee would possibly never be found or have a tombstone placed over his remains, his monument nevertheless was his work – represented by the many successful pilots of the Indian Air Force.]"

The letter from Squadron Leader Arjan Singh informing Dinshaw's father Ferozeshaw that his son was missing in action states, "His achievements and ability in instructional work at Ambala earned him the Air Force Cross, which is the highest honour one can get in that line and he was the first and the only officer in the Indian Air Force to earn that decoration. From the operational training unit he passed out with credit."

Dinshaw Eduljee AFC citation reads: "This officer has been a flying instructor since January 1942. During that period he has done much to provide liaison between the British and Indian members of his unit. An excellent flight commander, Flight Lieutenant Eduljee has set a fine example by his efficiency and enthusiasm. He has contributed a great deal to the training of the Indian Air Force."

[Since then two other Indian Air Force officers were awarded the AFC: Flt. Lt. Pothery Charuvary Ramachandran (on January 1, 1945) and Flt. Lt. Homi Dhanjishaw Bharucha (on September 1, 1945).]

Deployment to 1 Squadron at Imphal
Dinshaw Eduljee wearing Flying Officer epaulets and standing before a hut. The door appears to be made from bamboo matting and further that the building was a 'basha' (see explanation in our DE's Crash location page).
Image credit: K. E. Eduljee personal collection from Maj. E. Eduljee's collection -
scanned and touched-up by Khushroo Captain

Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Pierse shaking hands with
Flying Officer Dinshaw Eduljee AFC
(with Arjan Singh? as squadron CO looking on).
Image credit: K. E. Eduljee personal collection
Eduljee was subsequently deployed to Imphal on June 1, 1944 as part of the Indian Air Force's 1 Squadron. Called the 'tigers' because of a tiger in their crest, the squadron had been stationed in Imphal from February 3, 1944. During this period, its Commanding Officer (CO) was Squadron Leader Arjan Singh (who had been assigned command of No. 1 Squadron in September 1943 while it was located at Trichy or Secunderabad).

Imphal was at that time part of British India. Today Imphal is the capital of one of India's Eastern-most provinces, Manipur, bordering north-western Myanmar, previously known as Burma.

Imphal had a forward air base that was at one stage of the Second World War, close to, if not at one time, on the British-Japanese front. Operations out of Imphal were critical in first stopping the Japanese advance and then in the launching of the allied British and Indian counter-offensive against the Japanese Army occupying Burma.

No. 1 Squadron's CO, Arjan Singh is credited [Indian Air Force in Wars by Marshal A. k. Tiwary (2012) p. 29] as spotting Japanese armour approaching Imphal - and then scrambling the entire squadron to attack the oncoming Japanese forces. No. 1 Squadron's mission was to serve as "the eyes of the 14th Army" - the British-Indian ground forces defending Imphal - and they fulfilled that mission admirably. The squadron was part of 221 Group under Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Air Vice-Marshall S. F. Vincent. In addition to reconnaissance and close air support, Group 221 was also tasked with supplying the 14th Army's ground forces when needed.

At the start of the Japanese assault towards Imphal and Kohima, General G. A. P. Scoones, Commander of the IV Corps, suggested to AVM Vincent that he move his air units further back out of the Imphal Valley for greater safety. Vincent refused saying that he had had done enough retreating and that he and his units would remain at Imphal and continue supporting and supplying the Allied ground troops.

Battles of Imphal & Kohima
The Japanese attack and the subsequent battle for the city of Imphal and nearby Kohima and their environ's were called the Battles of Imphal and Kohima respectively. So great was the significance of these battles, that the Telegraph newspaper called the battles "greatest ever battles involving British forces."

The Japanese offensive against Imphal and Kohima during WW II.
The subsequent battle in defence of these two cities has been called
the "greatest ever involving British forces" that included a large number of
Indians. Image credit: Wikipedia
The paper further stated, "The battles of Imphal and Kohima saw the British and Indian forces, under the overall command of Lieutenant-General William Slim, repel the Japanese invasion of India and helped turned the tide of the war in the Far East." "The fight for Imphal went on longer than that for Kohima, lasting from March until July. Kohima was smaller in scale, and shorter, from April to June - but the fighting was so intense it has been described as the Stalingrad of the East." Their eventual defeat in the Battle of Imphal is said to have been the worst ever suffered by the Japanese on land.

The Japanese surrounded Imphal and Kohima but never captured the cities. The Telegraph continues it story by stating, "In one sector, only the width of the town’s tennis court separated the two sides. When on 18 April the relief forces of the British 2nd Division arrived, the defensive perimeter was reduced to a shell-shattered area only 350 metres square." The Japanese had cut all roads into the town of Kohima and had effectively isolated it, for there was no airstrip. The small British-Indian garrison of 3,500 held out against an assault of 15,000 Japanese, who laid down a heavy artillery barrage from the surrounding heights. The siege lasted 16 days until Allied reinforcements relieved the defending garrison.

The dates given for the duration of the battle are March 8 to July 3, 1944.

It is towards the end of the Battle of Imphal that Dinshaw Eduljee was deployed to serve as a pilot in No. 1 Squadron based in Imphal on June 1, 1944.

Tactical Reconnaissance Missions Flown by Eduljee
Hawker Hurricane Mark IIBs of No. 1 Squadron IAF undergoing maintenance in a revetment at Imphal Main, India.
Image credit: IWM
Dinshaw Eduljee was deployed to serve as a pilot with No. 1 Squadron based in Imphal on June 1, 1944. No. 1 Squadron's function was to gauge the intentions and activities of the Japanese military and thus provide the Allied 14th Army with tactical reconnaissance support.

During his deployment with No. 1 Squadron in Imphal, Eduljee few the Hawker Hurricane aircraft which was used both as a fighter and reconnaissance plane. It was during his return from a tactical reconnaissance (Tac/R) mission that Eduljee's plane crashed.

In this context, tactical reconnaissance (Tac/R) applies to the visual search for information from high-performance aircraft that might otherwise be used for tactical support. In the case of No. 1 Squadron, the aircraft was a Hurricane IIc. On a Tac/R mission, the pilot functioned as an observer. Often on Tac/R missions, the observer plane was accompanied by an additional plane employed to provide security and this was the practice in No. 1 Squadron (though at times, single plane missions were flown). The pilot of the primary observer plane was called the 'leader' while the pilot of the escorting plane was called the 'wingman' or weaver'. The Tac/R mission leader would also navigate while the wingman kept a lookout for Japanese interceptor aircraft. Some of the reconnaissance was performed while at flying fifty feet above the trees at 200 mph (320 kph) while other mission were conducted from a height of, say, 3,000 ft or 1,000 m.

A reconnaissance photo processing unit at the base.
Image credit: Bharat Rakshak
Wing Commander Hoshang K. Patel (Retd.), in his memoirs (at Bharat Rakshak) states that, "The Hurricanes were good for visual and photographic reconnaissance but not up to par as a fighter against the Japanese Oscars and Zeros (interceptor and fighter aircraft). Doing reconnaissance involved flying at not more that 50 ft above ground level (while) simultaneously keeping an eye open for possible targets, jotting notes down on your knee-pad etc. - not exactly something easy to do! Even the RAF Hurricane squadrons (e.g. No. 28) were not fighter, but recce squadrons. In a way, we did get an inferior aircraft in the Hurricane. Witness to this is the fact that we got our Spitfires only towards the end of the war. So we had to make do with what we had."

Air Commodore Narayanrao (Nanu) Shitoley (Retd.) in his memoirs (at Bharat Rakshak) states that he remembers they were engaged in almost non-stop photo and visual reconnaissance as well as ground attack sorties. While photo reconnaissance was conducted, say, at a height of 3,000 feet, visual reconnaissance and ground attacks were conducted at tree-top height - there being "zero margin for error". Shitoley remembers frequently encountering Japanese anti-aircraft fire on these sorties. Although the Japanese air force strength was low, their superior fighters posed a danger for the vulnerable Hurricanes who at times required an escort of a couple of RAF Spitfires. The sorties assigned to No. 1 Squadron's Hurricanes typically lasted 1 1/2 to 2 hours with long-range tanks.

Nanu adds, "Although some RAF Hurricane squadrons had removed two of the four 20 mm cannon from their aeroplanes for improved performance, Nanu does not remember this practice being followed in 1 Squadron (neither does Hoshang Patel remember this practice being followed in 6 Squadron)".

In other words, we understand that the No. 1 Squadron's Hurricane IIcs had their 4, 20 mm cannons in place and the only issue would be if all four were armed with ammunition as the ammunition did increase the weight of the aircraft.

The reconnaissance missions were not benign and the Hurricane's four cannons were not reserved for defence. The pilots often used their cannons to strafe (shoot up) transportation, gun emplacements, troops and encampments. It was on a strafing run that Dinshaw Eduljee crashed his plane. We describe his last reconnaissance mission, his presumed strafing target and crash in our page Last Flight and Crash.

No. 1 Squadron, Dinshaw Eduljee & the Allied Counter-Offensive
Flying Officer Narayanrao (Nanu) Shitoley - who we have quoted above - was a pilot with No. 1 Squadron and a colleague of Dinshaw Eduljee. He logged over 300 hours of flying time over Burma, survived the war, was awarded the DFC, and rose to become Air Commodore at which time he related his recollections of the war-days to Mukund Murty as recorded in the Bharat Rakshak archives. We reproduce some parts of these memoirs as they provide a first hand background leading up to Dinshaw Eduljee's crash:

"He (Shitoley) remembers that they (No. 1 Squadron) were engaged in almost non-stop Photo Reconnaissance / Reconnaissance/ Ground Attack sorties, the last two at tree-top height - there was zero margin for error, and he remembers frequently encountering Japanese anti-aircraft fire on these sorties."

"October 1944 was a momentous month for the Allies, and a busy one for No. 1 Squadron. The fall of (Japanese held) Bumzang (to an Allied counter-offensive assault) was quickly followed by that of the critical Tiddim on 18th October (the three critical points of the previous Japanese assault on Imphal had been Tamu to the south of Imphal, Tiddim to the south-west, and Ukhrul to the north-east). The squadron did sterling work in the Kalewa/ Kalemyo area, more than 120 miles away from their base, flying a record 439 sorties (including three at night !) totalling 779 hours and 40 minutes despite bad weather during the earlier part of the month. For this work the Squadron received four congratulatory messages from XXXIII Corps - a mammoth photo-reconnaissance task had been carried out, 9,555 prints were developed, and the Squadron well-deservedly praised 'for skill and speed with which air photographs have been produced and dropped on forward troops.'"

"November 1944 saw an even greater effort by the 17 pilots of the Squadron who flew an incredible 525 sorties totalling 1000 hours of which 25 hours were by night. Whilst most of the sorties were in the Kalemyo / Kalewa area, they went further south up to Gangaw and Monywa (almost 200 miles away from Imphal (to the limits of the Hurricane's fuel consumption) and east up to the Mu River. On these sorties they usually went in pairs, but sometimes also singly. They were sometimes provided with a Spitfire escort as there was a very real danger from Japanese fighters on these sorties so far south of Imphal (the 460 mile range of the Hurricane vis-à-vis the 1864 mile range of the Oscar would ensure that any combat was one-sided!).

"The bridge at Hpaungzeik over the Neyinzaya Chaung (chaungs or streams were raging torrents in the monsoons, which would disappear into dusty tracks during the dry months) was critical for the taking of Kalemyo, just south-west of it. Reconnaissance by day showed that the bridge was unserviceable, but piles of wooden planks stacked along the banks of the Chaung gave rise to the suspicion that these planks were placed on the bridge at night and used for traffic. Sqn. Ldr. Arjan Singh flew over Hpaungzeik on the night of the 3rd November, 200 miles in the dark, and confirmed that this was, indeed, the case! Kalemyo fell on the 15th November….

"November 1944 saw two casualties for the squadron, one fatal [our note: this is an assumption on the part of the narrator]. On the 22nd, an aeroplane returning from a recce of the Wetkauk-Naungmana area force-landed after a glycol (coolant) leak. Although it caught fire after landing, the pilot got out safely and, after a three-day trek through hostile jungle, returned home. [On the 27th] the other pilot, D. F. Eduljee, the only AFC holder in the IAF at this time, failed to pull out of his dive whilst strafing some camouflaged bashas [our note: see image above and a explanation in our page on Dinshaw Eduljee's Last Flight and Crash as well as the page on Eduljee's Cash Location page] in the Shwegyin area."

Eduljee had crashed near Sizwe. His last reconnaissance flight on November 27, 1944 had spotted Allied (British-Indian-Commonwealth) troops about 7 miles (11 km) to the north of Sizwe and the crash site. Between the end of November and December 2, 1944, the Allied 11th East African Division took Kalewa some 7 miles (11 km) NWW of Sizwe on the west bank of the Chindwin River and occupied the river's west bank in that sector.

Following pages:
» Dinshaw Eduljee's Last Flight & Crash
» Dinshaw Eduljee's Crash Location
» Events Immediately Following Dinshaw Eduljee's Crash - the Arrival of Troops at the Crash Location