The Royal Air Force has paid tribute to the memory of Second World War fighter pilot, Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji, on the 10th anniversary of his death on 18th September 2010.
A small ceremony was held at the statue dedicated to the decorated pilot in The Grove, Gravesend led by Air Commodore Shaun Harris. Air Commodore Harris was joined by Squadron Leader Amir Khan and WO Flora Balbir MBE in an event configured to comply with Covid restrictions.
“We have just marked the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The Battle galvanised people around the world to rally to Britain and the cause of freedom and Mahinder Singh Pujji was one of the first of those gallant individuals. In the year that we also commemorated the 75th anniversary of VE and VJ Day, it’s only right we pause to remember the sacrifices of all who served."
Air Commodore Shaun Harris
He added “Mahinder campaigned tirelessly to highlight the role of Sikhs in the armed forces during World War 2; a proud contribution that continues today. It’s a reminder of how individuals from all backgrounds and communities united to preserve the freedoms we enjoy. Then, as now, the Royal Air Force’s strength comes from the quality and diversity of our people. Mahinder’s legacy of courage and tolerance is one we are committed to protecting and honouring.”
Squadron Leader Pujji volunteered for the RAF in 1940 and went on to serve in all three major theatres of the war. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry in the Far East. After the war, he became an air traffic controller before spending his final years in Gravesend before passing away, aged 92.
WO Flora Blabir, who knew Sqn Ldr Pujji said “Sikh’s have served with the Royal Air Force since its formation in 1918 but for me it’s a great honour to attend today’s service to remember one of the greatest, Sqn Ldr Pujji. Having met him, when I hosted his visit to RIAT and the Battle of Britain Ball at RAF Honington, I was proud to be a part of today’s wreath laying and to be able to pay my personal respects on the 10th anniversary of his passing”.