Life of WWII Indian flying ace celebrated in Gravesend
Family and friends of an Indian pilot who flew Hawker Hurricanes during World War II are celebrating his life at a gathering in Kent.
Squadron Leader Mahinder Singh Pujji, who was born in Simla in 1918, died at Darent Valley Hospital in Kent last week after a stroke.
The ceremony in his memory is being held at Holy Trinity School near his home in Gravesend on Tuesday evening.
Sqn Ldr Pujji won the Distinguished Flying Cross for services in Burma.
He also flew combat missions in Britain, Europe, North Africa and the Middle East during the war and earlier this year published a book about his experiences entitled For King and Another Country.
"He enjoyed life to the last moment and flying was the biggest passion," said his son, Satinder Pujji.
"He said, 'You get air sick, I get land sick so I want to be up in the air'."
Sqn Ldr Pujji, who survived several air crashes, was believed to be the last surviving fighter pilot from a group of 24 Indians who arrived in Britain in 1940.
After the war, he became a champion air race pilot in India, setting endurance records in gliders.
His life is also to be remembered with a portrait and exposition of his heroism at Gravesham Civic Centre.
"Mr Pujji's life reminds us of the immense personal sacrifice made by people like him in times of extraordinary adversity," said Mayor, Councillor Bill Lambert .
"It is that sacrifice which we need to honour and remember."