Who's Who - Hardutt Singh Malik

Hardutt Singh Malik Hardutt Singh Malik, although failing to officially qualify as an air ace - his tally of two air victories fell short of the required five - was notable in being the first Indian to fly with the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) during the First World War - and the sole Indian aviator to emerge alive from the conflict.

Malik was studying at Oxford in England when war began in August 1914.  Once his studies were over he offered his services to the RFC; refused a commission however Malik turned next to the French air service who indicated their acceptance.  One of Malik's Oxford tutors worked on the former's behalf in contacting the head of the RFC to reverse their earlier decision.

In consequence Malik was accepted as a cadet by the RFC in early 1917 and he began his period of training on 5 April the same year.  Within three months Malik received a commission into 26 Squadron towards the close of June, and then with 28 Squadron where his flight commander was the renowned William Barker.

Serving in France and along the Italian Front Malik achieved two air 'kills', incurring leg wounds along the way (which continued to trouble him after the war).

Surviving the war - the sole Indian aviator to do so - Malik went on to see service with the Indian civil service and Foreign Office, subsequently acting as his country's ambassador to France.

A "Bangalore Torpedo" was an explosive tube used to clear a path through a wire entanglement.

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