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Indra Lal Roy – The Flying Ace of India and the Only Hindustani Pilot in World War 1


Indra Lal Roy

Quick Facts

  • Name: Indra Lal Roy
  • Also Known As: Laddie
  • Famous As: First Flying Ace of India
  • Birth Date: 2 December 1898
  • Died On: 22 July 1918 in Carvin, France
  • Nationality: Indian
  • Birth Place: Kolkata, West Bengal
  • Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross


There is no shortage of pilots in India today. There are great air fighters but Indra Lal Roy is the only one to be remembered for ages. This Hindustani pilot had acquired so much at the age of 19 that even big giants can just watch and admire his skills. This skillful pilot with strong will power left the world in just 19 years of age.

Early Life and Family Background

Indra Lal Roy was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on 2nd Dec 1898. His father’s name was Piera Lal Roy and his mother was Lolita Roy. His father was a barrister and Director of Public Prosecutions. His family was full of qualified persons and are very distinguished even today. Paresh Lal Roy, Indra Lal’s older brother, who is known as the father of India Boxing, also served in the 1st Battalion. Dr. Surya Kumar Goodeve Chakraborty, who was one of the very first Indians to get the training of western medicine was his maternal grandfather. The first Indian Chief of Air Staff and Indian Air Force Subroto Mukherjee was the nephew of Indra Lal Roy.

Joining the Force

When the First World War started, Roy was in St. Paul’s School in London, England. This super Hindustani pilot of World War 1 was rejected at first by the Royal Flying Corps for bad eyesight. But later he did the second test of his eyes and was selected in the RFC on 4th April 1917. On the 5th of July, he was commissioned as the second lieutenant. He joined the 56 squadron after his gunnery practice and training. The command of Roy’s flight was in Capt. Richard Maybery’s hand. He was the only Flying ace of India at the time of World War 1.

Return of the Flying Ace of the India

Indra Lal Roy was injured in a crash two months later but he was not sitting idle in his recovery period. He made a number of sketches on aircrafts which will ensure the safety of pilot. He returned as an equipment officer but not as a pilot. But due to his strong will power, he passed the medical tests for flying in few weeks. In June 1918, he was transferred to the No. 40 squadron captained by George McElroy.

Showcasing the Fight within

Image Source

Indra Lal Roy now started flying high. He had 10 victories in just 13 days. His first victory was on 6th July. In 8th July, he has 3 victories and these victories kept on coming for him. His final victory was on 19th of July. Roy was killed in a fight against Fokker D.VIIs on 22nd July 1918. This great fighter was buried at Estevelles Communal Cemetery in France.

Awards won by the Hindustani Pilot

By showcasing his amazing skills, the only Hindustani pilot in World War 1 had received a lot of awards.

  • Roy was the first Indian to get the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC).

  • He got the award after his death in September 1918.

  • On his 100th Birth anniversary, Govt of India issued stamps of his image and name.

Image Source

The Fighter Pilot of India –  Indra Lal Roy

Roy was the first Indian for whom we can proudly say the sky is the limit. The Sole Indian Flying Ace of the World War 1  destroyed the 5 ships completely among the 10 battles he won, which proves his skills as a fighter pilot.


Written By: Hetal Kabra


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