01 April 2016

Lieutenant Indra Lal Roy - Hero Indian Pilot of the 1st World War 19.12.1998

Indra Lal Roy DFC (2 December 1898 – 22 July 1918) is the first, and thus far only Indian World War I flying ace. While serving in the Royal Flying Corps and its successor, the Royal Air Force, he claimed ten aerial victories; five aircraft destroyed (one shared), and five 'down out of control' (one shared) in just over 170 hours flying time.
When the First World War broke out, Roy was attending St Paul's School, Hammersmith in London, England. Initially rejected by the Royal Flying Corps on the grounds of defective eyesight, Roy paid for an second opinion from a leading eye specialist, and the decision was overturned. Five months after turning 18, on 4 April 1917 he joined the RFC, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant on 5 July. After training and gunnery practice at Vendôme and Turnberry, he joined No. 56 Squadron on 30 October. Roy was part of "A" Flight, commanded by Captain Richard Maybery.

Two months later, Roy was injured after he crash-landed his S.E.5a fighter on 6 December. While recovering, Roy made numerous sketches of aircraft — many of which survive. In May he returned to duty as an equipment officer, but within a few weeks was passed as medically fit to fly and was transferred to Captain George McElroy's flight in No. 40 Squadron in June 1918.

On his return to active service, Roy achieved ten victories (two shared) in thirteen days. His first was a Hannover over Drocourt on 6 July. This was followed by three victories in the space of four hours on 8 July (two Hannover Cs and a Fokker D.VII); two on 13 July (a Hannover C and a Pfalz D.III); two on 15 July (two Fokker D.VIIs); and one on 18 July (a DFW C.V). Roy's final victory came the following day when he shot down a Hannover C over Cagnicourt. He is believed to be the first and only Indian flying ace of the First World War.

Roy was killed over Carvin on 22 July 1918 in a dog fight against Fokker D.VIIs ofJagdstaffel 29. He is buried at Estevelles Communal Cemetery, Pas-de-Calais, France.

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