History GCSE: The Indian Royal Flying Corps fighter ace in WW1

19 year-old Indra Lal Roy broke through the colour bar to become a true war hero.

He was from Calcutta and had attended public school in England and during the war he wanted to join the Royal Flying Corps but it was difficult for him to join up.

Asian and Black people, anyone who was "not from pure European stock", were not able to become British Officers and therefore not encouraged to join the air force.

But during the war, the number of casualties forced a change in rules.

In 1918, he went to the front line in France and in 13 days in July 1918, he shot down 10 German aircraft in his SE5A, before he was killed in a dogfight.

He was buried with full military honours.

Teacher Notes

This could be used bu students to build on their literacy and evidence selection skills.

They could be encouraged to write an obituary for Indra Lal Roy, reflecting his military achievements and his personal achievements as a man who overcame institutional prejudice.

Curriculum Notes

These films are suitable for teaching History at GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at National 5 in Scotland.

How the colonies made WW1 a global war
The Chinese Labour Corps in WW1
The Belgian priest and the colonial troops in WW1
La Force Noire - West African troops in the French army
The African American war hero who had to fight for France
Overcoming racial stereotypes in France in WW1
Indian soldiers and friendship in WW1
Voices of Indian soldiers in WW1
British Indian soldiers who deserted to get home