Graduation Reviewing Officer
Awan Aizad (A) Government College, Lahore
Berens Richard (A) Wellington
Beresford-Peirse Francis (C) Eton
Bradley Jack (A) St. John's College, Southsea
Broughton Charles (B) Bank College, N.Z.
Burwood Ilorace (B) High School, Colchester
Carter Robert (C Halton
Combe Andrew (B) Rugby
dePentheny (B) Downside
Evans Dcnald (B) Wellington
Gale Thomas (A) Halton
Gosnell Robert (A) Malvern
Gully Bernard (B) Burntwood, Caterham
Humphreys Herbert (A) Cambridge County High S.
Lee David (C) Bedford
Leonard Williams (B) Lancing College
Lloyd Claude (A) Hurstpierpoint
Marchbank Stanley (B) Halton
Michell Douglas (B) Portsmouth G.S.
Middleton Lawrence (C) Eton
Morton Crichton (B) King William College, I. of M.
Moseley Thomas (B) Queen Elizabeth G.S., Tamworth
Mukerjee Subroto (A) Presidency College, Calcutta
Peel John (A) Clifton College
Rhys Mervyn (A) Monmouth S.
Rolfe Theodore (C) Pangbourne
Seymour Paul (C) Stowe
Shaw Richard (A) Scarborough H.S.
Shore Donald (A) Highgate
Singh Anargit (B) Government College, Lahore
Singh Bhupindra (B) Christian College, Lahore
Sircar Harish (C) St. Stephen's S., Delhi
Tanner William (C) Capetown Diocesan College
AVM A M Longmore CB DSO
ACM Sir John Salmond KCB CMGCVO DSO LLD
Known as the ‘Father of the Indian Air Force’, India’s first Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee was one of Indian Air Force’s first recruits and went on to win numerous awards throughout his illustrious career.
He was commissioned in the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a pilot in October 1932 and became chief of air staff in April 1954.
Subroto was one of the six Indians selected for training as pilots at the RAF College, Cranwell.
From six officers and 19 Hawai Sepoys back in 1933, the Air Force now is the fourth largest in the world.
In 1930, six young men (Harish Chandra Sircar, Subroto Mukherjee, Amarjit Singh, Bhupendra Singh, Aizad Baksh Awan and T.N. Tandon) were sent to train as pilots at RAF Cranwell, while 29 were recruited from railway workshops in India to train as hawai sepoys or apprentice aircraft hands.
The first squadron of the IAF, No.1 Squadron, was formed in 1932 equipped with just one Westland Wapiti (nicknamed “what a pity”) aircraft.
Foundation of the Indian Air Force
On the eve of beat up, there was a general expression of joy and expectation of fun on every senior’s face. We all were still in black dinner jackets as our mess kits were with Burberrys. After roll call; instructors, Squadron officer, and senior cadets started moving towards the dinning hall. There was not a smile on any of our faces.
All of us consoled each other; in a sporting spirit. it nicely boys. “Take It nicely boys. Be a sport. Take it with a smiles. It is all in the fun of the game.”
After dinner we assembled in the ante-room. Bishop Scrong and Samie Sawyer with well decorated chests and a double line of war medals slowly moved out of the ante room. Percy Pitchies, Struts and Coulomb also S/L said good night and they slammed the door behind them. Now the ante room was ready for the show. Under-officer Hogan produced a whip which was used for Beagling in the college. Quite politely he said “Will the Indian Cadets please jump on the table immediately in one second and give us an Indian song.” In one second we jumped on the big table and sang a song. That was probably the last song I shall every sing again. It could hardly have been called a song. Anyway our voices were lound and that was what was required. “Very good, good show, well done, now jump from that table and run straight out of this room without tripping each other, you damn fellows bog off”. In a flash we ran out of the room and very nearly tripped each other in the narrow corridor. We left the entrance gate and came into the verandah. We must have a look at what is going to happen to the rest of the first term. The three cadet under officers were the masters of ceremony. We peeped through an outside window. The boys were being made to take off their clothes. Some of them had a vest and pants on, others had a vest and trouser on. “Get in the centre of the room you blighters” roared one of the under officers. “Now you are a pack of Beagles. Get down on fours and yelp as if you were tuning after a hare, and if any one does not behave like a good Beagle, then I shall beat him with this whip”, and he cracked his whip mighty hard. This produced a roar of laughter from all the second, third and fourth termers. Within a flash, Peele, Carnagan, Coombe, Rhys, Broughton, Michal, Gosneh Shaw, Shore, Marchhank, Lee, O’Kelly, Leonard Williams, Dathan, Seymour, Carter, Berens, Pelly, Rolfe, and the rest were yelping like Beagles and spinning round in circles on their hands and knees. Watching this fun; even we laughed from the verandah.
Then there was a crack of the whip “Upon the beam you beggars and leave your trousers behind”. Seeing poor Kiwi Broughton and Michal struggling upto the beam brought laughter alround. The beam was nearly ten feet high. There was crack of whip again ‘Now you better sit properly on the beam and take that grin off your face” Now I shall place your bowler hats below the beam you jump from the beam and squash your bowler under your feet and if you miss it, you will have to climb up the
beam again and make a second jump for your bowler.” Berens was the first to leap forward. A big fellow about six feet two inches, weighing about one ninety pounds. He came down on his bowler like a sack of bricks. Bowler was smashed to smithereens. This brought laughter all round from the seniors. Then one by one like monkeys they came down on their bowlers like a bolt from the blue. It was magnificent to notice that not one of our pals missed his bowler in one jump.
Suddenly Stainthorpe of the fourth terms, looked outside the window and saw us peeping in. “Bog off you” said he. “Your turn is finished. What the hell are you doing here”.
So ended the beat up of our first term. We took it in good spirit and we tried to laugh it off next morning but the fact was that our morale was shaken. Kiwi Broughton had hurt a very delicate portion of his anatomy. Many of the boys had bleeding limbs and sides. We were told by the batmen that this was about the most deadly beat up they had seen in the college. Even in Bader and Coote’s term, such a deadly treatment was not given. The Commandant, Air Vice Marshal Longmore was also perturbed at exceeding the limit. The beat up cannot be stopped. It is an unwritten Law of Cranwell Cadet College.
30-9 Entry 4th September 1930 - 27th July 1932
On April 1, 1933, the RIAF commissioned its first squadron, No.1 Squadron, with four Westland Wapiti biplanes and five Indian pilots.
Pictured here P/Os Awan, Sircar, Amarjit Singh, Bhupinder Singh and Mukerjee (No. 16, A.C. Squadron R.A.F. Old Sarum, Dec, 1932.)
First Five of the RIAF
However, it was only in 1937 that the Indian pilots, who had by then familiarised themselves with flying rules and regulations, were sent on their first field operation in the North-West Frontier Province, where they proved their worth.
The Beat Up ( Recalling an introduction to Cranwell.)