Statue of Indian-origin British fighter pilot unveiled in UK

A statue of the longest surviving fighter pilot from a group of 24 Indians who had served in the British Royal Air Force during the Second World War has been unveiled in southeastern England.

London: A statue of the longest surviving fighter pilot from a group of 24 Indians who had served in the British Royal Air Force during the Second World War has been unveiled in southeastern England.

The statue of Sqn Ldr Mahinder Singh Pujji, who arrived in Britain in 1940, was unveiled in Kent in England yesterday.

The local Gravesend community, which has one of the largest gurdwaras in the UK, raised 70,000 pounds in a month for the artwork, BBC reported citing Gravesham borough councillor Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi.

The statue is intended to represent all the service personnel from across the world who have fought for Britain in conflicts since 1914.

The Indian fighter pilot joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1940 serving in the Battle of Britain and later Burma (now Myanmar) and the Middle East.

Sq Ldr Pujji, who learned to fly as a hobby in India, began training with the RAF in the autumn of 1940.

In early 1941, he began flying Hurricanes, protecting coastal convoys and intercepting bombers and fighters when Hitler ordered the bombing of London.

He flew combat missions throughout the war in Britain, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Burma and his bravery earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war he became a champion air race pilot in India.

The statue's sculptor Douglas Jennings said: "Reading about him made me realise what an amazing hero he was."

"He was a volunteer -- it was his choice to fight for the British and that bowls me over."

Sqn Ldr Pujji died at the age of 92 in Gravesend in 2010.  

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