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Page last updated at 16:41 GMT, Wednesday, 22 September 2010 17:41 UK

Battle of Britain's last surviving Indian pilot dies


BBC South East's Robin Gibson chats to Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji in the summer 2010.

Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji was the last surviving fighter pilot from a group of 24 Indians who arrived in Britain in 1940.

The Gravesend man has died aged 92 after a stroke.

Sq Ldr Pujji, who learned to fly as a hobby in India, sailed to England after reading an advert in a newspaper. He warned his family he might never return.

The group were invited to tea by the Royal family at Windsor Castle as a thank you for their willingness to risk their lives. Within a year, 12 of the Indian pilots had been killed.

He began training in the autumn of 1940 and early the next year began flying Hurricanes protecting coastal convoys and intercepting bombers and fighters when Hitler ordered the bombing of London in the Blitz.

He survived several crashes and flew combat missions throughout the war in Britain, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Burma and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war he became a champion air race pilot in India, and set endurance records in gliders. He even flew the first Indian prime minster Jawaharlal Nehru in his glider.

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