"AN EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD PILOT" (Former Air Vice Marshal H.M. Grave), "A PILOT OF OUTSTANDING ABILITY" (Asghar Khan, Former Chief of the Air Staff of Pakistan), "ONE OF THE MOST CELEBRATED FIGHTER PILOTS OF WORLD WAR-II AND A PILOT PAR EXCELLENCE AND A DAREDEVIL" (Lt. Gen. Harwant Singh, Retd.), a legend in the sky and saviour of Ladakh and Poonchh ; Field Marshal Slim was whose great admirer, the hero of Royal Indian Force, and one of the most valorous and daredevil pilots of any air force in the world, is the name of Air Commodore Baba Mehar Singh who was the hope and inspiration of the RIAF in 1940s World War II, who knew no fear when he sat in the cockpit. For his brave feat in the hills of Arakan on the Burma front against Japanese, he was honoured with the second highest gallantry award of the British Empire-DSO (Distinguished Service Order) next to Victoria Cross. He was the FIRST AND THE ONLY DSO in whole of the RIAF, whereas there were as many as 22 DFCs (Distinguished Flying Cross). Again when the gallantry awards were instituted, MVC (Maha Vir Chakra) was conferred upon him. Again he was also the FIRST officer of the IAF to be awarded MVC for the services rendered by him in Jammu and Kashmir in 1947-48.
Being fully adapt in piloting fighters, bombers and multi-engine transport planes, he did wonderful job of rescuing beleaguered American and Australian men, women and children in the Air Force Station of Habbaniyah during 1941 insurgency for which he was highly commended and next year evacuating refugees from Burma and from Pak in 1948. All the feats speak of his valour, courage, professional competence and devotion to duty. In 1942 he received a commendation certificate for his feat in SIND during HUR disturbances. On May 24, 1948 he set a World Record of landing Dakota aircraft on the world's highest battlefield sans airstrip.
Air Commodore Baba Mehar Singh was the Air Officer Commanding no. 1 group of the RIAF during the 1947-48 Jammu and Kashmir operations. In May 1948 a besieged LEH was desperately in need of reinforcement. To accomplish the mission with Dakota was considered impossible till then. But Baba Mehar Singh gave a surprise not only to the manufacturers of the Dakota but to the world as a whole and set FIRST world record on May 24, 1948 when for the first time he landed Dakota aircraft on the world's highest battlefield LEH sans airstrip and made possible an impossible mission. This legendary event in the history of flying world opened the supply route to badly beleaguered garrison there and ultimately LED TO THE RETENTION OF LEH WITH INDIA; OTHERWISE, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN OCCUPIED BY PAKISTAN. Baba Mehar's this daring feat of May 24, 1948 finds a mention in the book entitled 'Defence Organisation in India', by Sh. A.C. Venkateshawaran, Secretary, National Defence College, New Delhi as follows:
"....the most daring was the feat of Group Captain Mehar Singh DSO, IAF who flew over unsheltered mountain ranges without even oxygen and landed his plane at Leh on a dry river bed without even the apology of an airstrip. Never before any plane landed or flown over Leh....". Another press note of the Public Information Bureau of the Defence Wing of the Govt. of India, dated Feb. 1, 1948 reads as under: "A dare-devil pilot, Mehar Singh, made history, when he pioneered the flights over the Himalayas across unchartered mountainous routes. It will be recalled that he was the first to land at the hurriedly constructed airstrip in the beleaguered town of Poonch and thereafter established the long-drawn airlift operation, thus saving 30,000 refugees."Download Ebook to Read Continue