Service No: 1863 GD(P)
Service: Air Force
Date of Birth : March 9, 1923
Birth Place : Sialkot, Pakistan
Last Rank: Squadron Leader
Unit: 3 Sqn AF
Award : Vir Chakra
Date of Martyrdom : April 28, 1950
Squadron Leader Kenneth Merals David hailed from Mumbai in Maharashtra and was born on 9th March,1923. Son of Shri A H David, he lived in the undivided Punjab during his childhood and later after partition, his family moved to Mumbai. Sqn Ldr David was commissioned into the IAF on 05 Apr 1942 at the age of 19 years. He was commissioned in the fighter stream of the IAF and got trained as a fighter pilot. After completing his flying training, he served with various flying squadrons located at different Air Force bases. He got promoted to the rank of Fg Offr in 1943 and Flt Lt in the year 1948.
During 1947-48 Indo-Pak war, he was serving with 8 Sqn AF and took part in operations in J&K. He was given the nation’s third highest gallantry award, “Vir Chakra” for his courage, devotion to duty and outstanding bravery during the air operations. Later in the year 1949, he got posted to 3 Sqn AF, based in Air Force base at Pune. By 1950, he had put in about 8 years of service and evolved into an ace fighter pilot having expertise in various air operations.
Air Operation : 28 Apr 1950
During 1950, Sqn Ldr David was serving as Commanding Officer of 3 Sqn AF based at Pune. in April 1946 No.3 Squadron had the privilege of being the first RIAF Squadron to be re-equipped with the Hawker Tempest II fighter bomber. The conversion had started in middle of 1946 and was completed by December 1946. In January 1947, Sqn Ldr Mohan Dev Suri took over command of No.3 Squadron and moved the unit to Pune.
Around middle of 1948, operations against the Nizam of Hyderabad appeared imminent and No.3 was involved in flying some reconnaissance sorties over the Hyderabad State. When Indian troops launched ‘Op Polo’ against Hyderabad, No.3 Sqn from Pune and No.4 Squadron operating from Gannavaram were involved in providing close support to the advancing Indian troops. The operations were on a very small and included strafing of Hakimpet airfield and enemy parade going on at Gulbarga.
The Tempest aircraft was a difficult aircraft to maintain and operate. The accident rate in those years was especially high as the Centaurus engine of the Tempest aircraft was said to be highly maintenance intensive and prone to failure. On 28 Apr 1950, Sqn Ldr KM David was undertaking a ferry operation to Pune. However the aircraft developed snag on the way and became uncontrollable. Eventually the aircraft crashed which proved fatal for Sqn Ldr KM David. Sqn Ldr KM David was a valiant soldier and a competent air warrior who laid down his life in the line of his duty.
The Citation for the Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:-
Squadron Leader Kenneth Merals David (1836) GD(P) flew well over 100 hours in the Jammu and Kashmir Operations and throughout displayed supreme courage by attacking enemy targets with utter disregard for his personal safety. He carried out may attacks over Kishenganga Bridge which was heavily guarded by the enemy. By his good flying and precision bombing he damaged the bridge more than once, thus temporarily paralyzing the enemy supply lines. He led his Squadron at every possible opportunity and set a good example to the Pilots of his Squadron.
For the valuable services rendered by him during the Jammu and Kashmir Operations, he was awarded the Vir Chakra..
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