Arjan Singh

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For the conservationist, see Billy Arjan Singh.
Marshal of the Indian Air Force
Arjan Singh
DFC
Marshal if Indian Air Force.gif
Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh and (right) the ceremonial baton
Born (1919-04-15) 15 April 1919 (age 97)
Lyallpur, Punjab, British India
(now Faisalabad, Pakistan)
Allegiance British India (1938-1947)
India (from 1947)
Service/branch Indian Air Force
Years of service 1938–1969
2002–present[1]
Rank Marshal of the IAF.svg Marshal of the Air Force
Commands held No. 1 Squadron IAF
Ambala Air Force Station
Western Command
VCAS
Battles/wars World War II
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Awards

Padma Vibhushan
General Service Medal 1947
Samar Seva Star
Raksha Medal
Sainya Seva Medal
Indian Independence Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
1939–1945 Star
Burma Star
War Medal 1939–1945

India Service Medal

Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh, DFC (Punjabi: ਅਰਜਨ ਸਿੰਘ) (born 15 Apr 1919 as Arjan Singh Aulakh) is the only officer of the Indian Air Force to be promoted to five-star rank, equal to a Field Marshal, to which he was promoted in 2002.[2] He was born in the Punjab town of Lyallpur, British India (now Faisalabad, Pakistan). With the death of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in June 2008, he is the only living Indian military officer with a five-star rank.

Early life and career[edit]

Arjan Singh as the Flight Lieutenant with Indian pilots of No.1 Squadron by a Hawker Hurricane IIc. L to R : Ibrahim, Homi Ratnagar, Arjan Singh, Henry and Murcot. World War II.

Arjan Singh was born on 15 Apr 1919 in Lyallpur (now Faisalabad, Pakistan) in Punjab Punjab in what was then British India in a distinguished military family. His father was a Lance Daffadar in the Hodson's Horse at the time of his birth, and retired as a full Risaldar of the Cavalry, serving for a time as ADC to a Division Commander. His grandfather Risaldar Major Hukam Singh belonged to the Guides Cavalry between 1883 and 1917. His great-grandfather, Naib Risaldar Sultana Singh was among the first two generations of the Guides Cavalry enlisted in 1854, he was martyred during the Afghan campaign of 1879. Arjan Singh was educated at Montgomery, British India (now in Pakistan). He entered the RAF College Cranwell in 1938 and was commissioned as a pilot officer in December 1939. As a distinguished graduate of the RAF College, Singh's portrait is now to be found on the walls of the College's west staircase.

Singh led No. 1 Squadron, Indian Air Force into command during the Arakan Campaign in 1944. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in 1944, and commanded the Indian Air Force Exhibition Flight in 1945. Singh almost faced a court-martial in February 1945 when he tried to raise the morale of an trainee pilot (later rumored to be the future Air chief marshal Dilbagh Singh) by conducting a low level air pass over a house in Kerala, but he insisted that such tricks are needed for every cadet to be a fighter pilot.

Commands held[edit]

Arjan Singh, C.O. of No. 1 Squadron IAF, being handed command during World War II.
Flag of the Marshal of Indian Air Force

He was Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), from 1 August 1964 to 15 July 1969, and was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1965.[3] He also became the first Air Chief Marshal of the Indian Air Force to be upgraded to the position of Air Chief Marshal from the rank of Chief of the Air Staff in recognition of his Air Force’s contribution in the 1965 war. He took retirement from his services in 1969 at the age of 50. In 1971 (after his retirement) he was appointed as the Indian Ambassador to Switzerland. He concurrently served as the Ambassador to the Vatican. He was also appointed as the High Commissioner to Kenya in 1974. He has also remained a member of the National Commission for Minorities and The Government of India (from 1975-1981). He was the Lt. Governor of Delhi from Dec 1989 - Dec 1990 and was made Marshal of the Air Force in January, 2002.[4]



IAF career highlights[edit]

Year Event Rank
1938 Entered RAF College Cranwell as a Flight Cadet
23 December 1939 Commissioned in Royal Air Force as a Pilot Officer
UK-Air-OF1B.svg
9 May 1941 Flying Officer
UK-Air-OF1A.svg
15 May 1942 Flight Lieutenant
UK-Air-OF2.svg
1944 (Acting) Squadron Leader
UK-Air-OF3.svg
2 June 1944 Awarded Distinguished Flying Cross
UK-Air-OF3.svg
1947 Wing Commander, Royal Indian Air Force, Air Force Station, Ambala
UK-Air-OF4.svg
1948 Group Captain, Director, Training, Air Headquarters
Group Captain of IAF.png
1949 (Acting) Air Commodore, Indian Air Force AOC, Operational Command
Air Commodore of IAF.png
2 January 1955 Air Commodore, AOC Western Air Command, Delhi
Air Commodore of IAF.png
19 December 1959 Air Vice Marshal
Air Vice Marshal of IAF.png
1961 Air Vice Marshal, Air Officer in Charge of Administration, Air HQ
Air Vice Marshal of IAF.png
1963 Deputy Chief of Air Staff and subsequently Vice Chief of the Air Staff (India)
Air Vice Marshal of IAF.png
1 August 1964 Chief of Air Staff (India) (Air Marshal)
Air Marshal of IAF.png
26 January 1966 Chief of Air Staff rank upgraded to that of an Air Chief Marshal; appointed Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee
Air Chief Marshal of IAF.png
15 July 1969 Retired from Indian Air Force
Air Chief Marshal of IAF.png
26 January 2002 Marshal of the Indian Air Force
Marshal of the IAF.svg

Paying homage to Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam[edit]

Ninety-six-year-old Arjan Singh who was wheelchair bound on that day due to temporary indisposition, was also among the many dignitaries to lay a wreath at the base of the coffin carrying the mortal remains of former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the Palam Airport. He paid his last respects to late Dr Kalam at Palam Airport on Tuesday, July 28.[5]

U.S. President Obama greets Arjan Singh, Marshal of the Indian Air Force, at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi in January 2015. Marshal of the Indian Air Force is accompanied by Wing Commander Mohan Rana, Staff Officer to Marshal of the Air Force.

Air Force Station Arjan Singh[edit]

On 14 April 2016 at an event to mark the Marshal's 97th birthday, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha announced that Indian Air Force base at Panagarh in West Bengal will be named after MIAF Arjan Singh in honor of his service, and will be called Air Force Station Arjan Singh from then.[6][7][8]

Awards and Decorations[edit]

Padma Vibhushan
General Service Medal 1947
Samar Seva Star
Raksha Medal
Sainya Seva Medal
Indian Independence Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
1939–1945 Star
Burma Star
War Medal 1939–1945
India Service Medal

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Indian military officers of five-star rank hold their rank for life, and are considered to be serving officers until their deaths.
  2. ^ Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, DFC
  3. ^ Photo
  4. ^ A Many Splendoured Career
  5. ^ Summary of Service Record
  6. ^ Sudhi Ranjan Sen. "India's Oldest Serving Soldier, Marshal Of Air Force, Gets Rare Honour". NDTV. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  7. ^ "Bengal air base named after Arjan Singh". The Tribune. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 
  8. ^ "Panagarh airbase to be renamed after Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh". ANI News. Retrieved 15 April 2016. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Aspy Engineer
Chief of the Air Staff (India)
1964–1969
Succeeded by
Pratap Chandra Lal
Preceded by
Aspy Engineer
Vice Chief of the Air Staff (India)
1963–1964
Succeeded by
Pratap Chandra Lal
Political offices
Preceded by
Romesh Bhandari
Lieutenant Governor of Delhi
1989–1990
Succeeded by
Markandey Singh