Squadron Leader Mohinder Singh Pujji was one of a few Indian ace flyers in the RAF and as the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain approaches, 91 year old Pujji has revealed how his turban had saved his life.
The young Sikh fighter was forced to crash land his fighter aircraft near the White Cliffs of Dover after a dogfight. After a dangerous crash landing and with serious head injuries, the young pilot was pulled from the wreckage of his Hurricane fighter plane. Sqdn Ldr Pujji gave his account of what happened and how his religious symbol saved him:
“The padding of my turban saved me, it was full of blood. I was taken to the hospital but after seven days I was back to flying again. In the fight a German bullet smashed into my dashboard and all my instruments were gone. Oil was pouring out of the engine and covered the windscreen. I asked for directions back to the nearest landing strip as I could see the Channel beneath me and it looked so cold – I really didn’t want to bail out.
“I could see the White Cliffs and I thought I would make it and then the landing strip appeared with fire engines around it. But as I put my landing gear down the fire took hold of the plane – there was blood pouring from my head but that six feet of wound cloth which makes up my turban saved me from worse impact injuries. People say you claim this as you are a religious man but I really think it was the case.”
Sqdn Ldr Singh Pujji explained that he signed up to the RAF after seeing an advert in an Indian newspaper titled: ‘Pilots needed for Royal Air Force.’ When he had learnt to fly in 1937 he became one of just eight pilots from the Empire colony good enough to fight. Mohinder Singh Pujji has also recently campaigned against the BNP and Nick Griffin for using the Iconic Spitfire as symbol; Pujji was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for bravery.
The Sikh Times