First and only Indian flying air ace

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  1. Ray

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    Indra Lal Roy (Bengali: ইন্দ্রলাল রায়), DFC (2 December 1898 – 22 July 1918) was the first Indian flying ace. He served in the First World War with the Royal Flying Corps and its successor, the Royal Air Force. He claimed 5 aircraft destroyed (including 1 shared), and 5 'down out of control' wins (including another shared) in just over 170 hours flying time.[1]

    The son of Bengali parents - P. L. and Lolita Roy - he was born in Calcutta. When World War I broke out, Roy was attending St Paul's School, Hammersmith in London, England.

    Five months after turning 18, in April 1917 he enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on 5 July 1917. After training and gunnery practise at Vendôme and Turnberry, he joined No. 56 Squadron on 30 October 1917. Roy was part of "A" Flight, commanded by flying ace Captain Richard Maybery.

    Two months later, Roy was injured after he crash-landed his S.E.5a fighter on 6 December 1917. While recovering, Roy made numerous sketches of aircraft — many of which still exist. Though concerns were raised that he was medically unfit, Roy was successful in returning to duty after he completed his period of recuperation. Subsequently he was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant. He was transferred to Captain George McElroy's flight in No. 40 Squadron in June 1918.

    On his return to active service Roy achieved 10 victories (two shared) in thirteen days. His first victory was a Hannover over Drocourt on 6 July 1918. This was followed by three victories in the space of 4 hours on 8 July 1918 (two Hannover Cs and a Fokker D.VII); two on 13 July 1918 (a Hannover C and Pfalz D.III); two on 15 July 1918 (two Fokker D.VIIs); and one on 18 July 1918 (a DFW C.V). Roy's final victory came the following day when he shot down a Hannover C over Cagnicourt. He was thus first and only Indian flying air ace to this day.

    He was killed over Carvin on 22 July 1918 while flying in formation with two other S.E.5a in a dog fight against Fokker D.VIIs of Jagdstaffel 29. Roy was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in September 1918 for his actions during the period of 6–19 July 1918. He is buried at Estevelles Communal Cemetery.

    His nephew Subroto Mukerjee too was a fighter pilot who later became the first Indian Chief of Air staff of the Indian Air Force. His father's name was Prof. P K Roy, a distinguished academician, a member of Indian Education Service and the first Indian principal of the Presidency College, Calcutta. His mother Sarala Roy, a daughter of Durga Mohan Das was a well known educational reformer who established the 'Gokhale Memorial Girl's School' and college, one of the premier institution for women.

    Victories
    Date/ Time/ Unit/ Aircraft/ Opponent/ Location/
    1 6 Jul 1918 / 0545/ 40/ S.E.5a (B180)/ Hannover C (OOC)/ Drocourt/
    2 8 Jul 1918 / 0645 /40/ S.E.5a (B180)/ Hannover C (OOC)/ Drocourt/
    3 8 Jul 1918 / 0925 40/ S.E.5a (B180)/ Hannover C (OOC) 1/ E of Monchy/
    4 8 Jul 1918 / 1025 40/ S.E.5a (B180)/ Fokker D.VII (OOC)/ SE of Douai/
    5 13 Jul 1918 / 0645 40/ S.E.5a (B180) /Hannover C (DES) 2 /W of Estaires/
    6 13 Jul 1918 / 2005 40/ S.E.5a (B180)/ Pfalz D.III (DES)/ Vitry-Brebières/
    7 15 Jul 1918 / 2005 40/ S.E.5a (B180) /Fokker D.VII (DES)/ Hulloch/
    8 15 Jul 1918 / 2005 40/ S.E.5a (B180)/ Fokker D.VII (OOC)/ Hulloch/
    9 18 Jul 1918 / 2040 40/ S.E.5a (B180)/ DFW. C (DES)/ SE of Arras/
    10 19 Jul 1918 / 1025 40/ S.E.5a (B180) /Hannover C (DES)/ Cagnicourt/
    1 Shared with Capt George McElroy, Lt Gilbert Strange
    2 Shared with Capt George McElroy, Lt Gilbert Strange, Lt FH Knobel (D3528)
    Indra Lal Roy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
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  3. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    IL Roy (later RFC) (rear right) is seen with his brother PL Roy (rear left) of the Honorable Artillery Company (HAC) on 20 Dec 1914 at OTC. PL Roy survived the war.

    1/48 Lindberg SE 5a - An Online Magazine Devoted to Scale Aircraft Modelling
     
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  4. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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