Marshal Arjan Singh 1919-2017: First officer to lead IAF in conflict

Singh served as the chief of air staff till July 15, 1969.

By Zee Media Bureau | Last Updated: Sep 17, 2017, 00:06 AM IST
Marshal Arjan Singh 1919-2017: First officer to lead IAF in conflict

New Delhi: Former Indian Air Force chief Arjan Singh, who passed away here on Saturday after a massive cardiac arrest, had spearheaded the India-Pakistan War in 1965, making him the first officer to lead the IAF in a conflict. 

At the age of 44, Singh was appointed the Chief of Air Staff on August 1, 1964 and he held the post till July 15, 1969.

After his retirement, he served as India's envoy to Switzerland and Kenya. He was also appointed Lt. governor of Delhi. He became the Marshal of Air Force in January 2002.

In 2016, IAF renamed its Panagarh airbase in West Bengal after Marshal Arjan Singh.

Singh, a Padma Vibhushan awardee, was born on April 15, 1919 in the then Punjab town of Lyallpur.

After the death of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw in 2008, he became the only living Indian military officer with a five-star rank.

Singh came from a family of military officers.

His father had served as ADC to a division commander, while his grandfather was in the Guides Cavalry.

According to wikipedia, his great-grandfather was among the first two generations of the Guides Cavalry enlisted in 1854.

Singh was educated from the RAF College in Cranwell in 1938 and was commissioned as a pilot in December 1939.

He had led the No. 1 Squadron of the IAF into combat during the Arakan Campaign in 1944. And the same year, he was awarded with the distinguished Flying Cross.

He was made the Air Chief Marshal from the rank of Chief of Air Staff in recognition of his contribution in the 1965 war.

He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1965 for distinguished service.

He retired from service in 1970 at the age of 50.

After his retirement, he served as India's Ambassador to Switzerland and the Vatican. He was also appointed as the High Commissioner to Kenya in 1974.

He also became the Lt. Governor of Delhi from Dec 1989 to Dec 1990.