Indra Lal Roy was an Indian fighter pilot who served during the World War I in the British army. Born on December 2, 1898, he is the only Indian to have been recognised as the Flying Ace in the war.
Nicknamed as ‘Laddie’, Indra was ranked as the second lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps in April 1917. He later served in the Royal Air Force, and joined Number 56 Squadron as a part of A-Flight headed by Richard Maybery.
Indra has been credited for 10 air combat victories within a span of 13 days only on the Western Front. Three of these victories occurred within four hours in a span of one day itself. He shot these 10 aircraft down with only 170 hours of experience in hand, where he destroyed five aircraft completely and led the other five to become ‘out-of-control’.
Indra was born in Kolkata where his father was employed as the director of public prosecutions. He stayed with his family at a posh Westminster address in London for a while. He was still at a school situated right outside of London, St Pauls, when the World War I started. Indra joined the British army to serve in the World War I, soon after he turned 18.
Indra died in a crash on July 22, 1918 during an air combat in France against a German war aircraft. He was only 19 years old at the time of his death, and was buried at the Estevelles communal cemetery in France.
He also became the first Indian to be honoured with the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), which is considered the third highest gallantry award of Britain. The Indian government also issued a stamp on his 100th birth anniversary in the year 1998 to honour him.