6 November 1916 – And he comes from India

The RFC continues to draw on volunteers from around the empire to fill ranks at all levels. Today, Canadians Francis Henry Bronskill, Sidney McLaughlin and Medley Kingdon Parlee were seconded to the RFC. McLaughlin will be an Equipment Officer and the other two will train as pilots. An Australian Harold Stanley Preston also joined to train as a pilot.

Perhaps the most noteworthy however, is Jeejeebhoy Piroshaw Bomanjee, who is the first Indian to join to RFC to train as a pilot. He has been commissioned as an Honorary Temporary 2nd Lieutenant.

This is quite unusual as the prevailing policy of the War Office to this point has been to deny commissions to applicants not of of ‘pure European descent’, as it was believed that ‘a British private will never follow a half-caste or native officer.’

It is likely that the pressure of significant casualties has loosened these requirements. Sefton Branker has likely influenced the decision too, as he responsible for recruitment in his position as Director of Air Organization. He served in India between 1908 and 1912.

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One thought on “6 November 1916 – And he comes from India

  1. sethspeirs Post author

    Unfortunately, Jeejeebhoy Piroshaw Bomanjee never made it as a pilot as he fell ill while at the Oxford Training School in January 1917. He was eventually declared unfit for service and resigned his commission in May 1917. Other Indians went on to join the RFC, however. For more details on this and the subsequent development of Indian aviation see “The RAF in India and the Creation of the Indian Air Force” in Air Power Review (http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafcms/mediafiles/BC18F893_1143_EC82_2E16AC19F19FE2D2.pdf)

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