With the end of National Inclusion week 2021, the RAF continue to celebrate its inclusive workforce by laying a wreath in memory of those from the Commonwealth who served during World War II.
The service took place at Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji’s Statue, in Gravesend; a figure remembered as the RAF’s Turban Wearing Sikh Fighter Pilot.
Sir Winston Churchill immortalises the British pilots who made up the majority of the RAF at that critical time in history:
"Never in the history of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
Some 24 of ‘the Few’ were Indians who left everything behind to fight for another country; a true testament to the strength in diversity.
Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji was one of the very few who made it safely home. Fighting the Japanese in the jungles of Burma, Punjii heroically helped save 300 lost American troops from imminent enemy danger. For this courage, he was awarded the RAF’s highest gallantry medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Of the many dignitaries, wreaths were laid by the Mayor of Gravesend, Councillor Lyn Milner; Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP; Wing Commander Manjeet Singh Ghataora; and Corporal Amrit Kaur on behalf of the Air Cadets. Sameer Arsiwala, grandson of Squadron Leader Pujji whose Statue was part of the service, was also present.
"Squadron Leader Pujji had an amazing life that started with his RAF Career and that’s why remembering him and all those from the Commonwealth who supporting the country is so important. Events like this are essential so that we don’t forget the sacrifices they made, but also to ensure we raise awareness, whilst inspiring the next generation of heroes."
Wing Commander Ghataora