Mahinder Singh Pujji

Other names: 

Mohinder Singh Pujji

Date of birth: 
14 Aug 1914
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Aug 1940
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1940-1; 1973-present


Liverpool, London, Drem (Scotland), Newham, Gravesend.


Mahinder Singh Pujji, was a Royal Air Force pilot and an Indian Air Force officer during the Second World War. He served with RAF Squadron 43 and 258 in Britain between 1940-1.

Mahinder Singh Pujji first arrived in the UK in August 1940, responding to an advertisement in Indian newspapers to join the RAF. He was seconded to RAF depot Uxbridge on 8 October 1940, until he completed his military flying training. He was awarded his RAF Wings on 16 April 1941. He joined RAF Squadron 43, before transferring to Squadron 258 at Kenley (South of London), flying Hurricanes in sorties over the English Channel. He was part of a group of twenty four Indian RAF pilots who were selected to train in England. Of the twenty four, eighteen successfully passed their training course. Six, Pujji among them, became fighter pilots, the rest bomber pilots. He asked for permission to fly with his turban, a request which his RAF superiors granted, designing a special cap that would fit over his turban so that he could still use his headphones and oxygen mask. While in London, he was a member of the India League.

He was stationed subsequently with the RAF in North Africa in September 1941 before being transferred to the Indian Air Force, flying in operations in the North West Frontier Province between 1942-3. In December 1943 he was posted to No. 6 Squadron on the Arakan Coast in the Burma theatre, where he flew tactical reconnaissance missions. In 1944, he transferred from No. 6 Squadron to No. 4 Squadron. He was a squadron leader with the Indian Air Force in Burma 1944-5, making him one of the few Indian pilots to have served in all three theatres of war. For his outstanding leadership and courage, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He settled in the UK in the 1970s.


Krishna Menon (through the India League), Jawaharlal Nehru, Lord Slim.

Royal Air Force, Indian Air Force.

Involved in events: 
Secondary works: 

Somerville, Christopher, Our War: How the British Commonwealth Fought the Second World War (London: Cassell Military, 2005)

Bance, Peter, The Sikhs in Britain: 150 Years of Photographs (Stroud: Sutton, 2007)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Visram, Rozina, 'Pujji, Mahinder Singh (1918–2010)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2014) []

Visram, Rozina, The History of the Asian Community in Britain (London: Wayland, 2007)

Archive source: 

Sound Archive, Imperial War Museum, London