In a new book, Stephen Barker tells the story of the only Sikh to fly with the RAF and RFC


New Delhi: A new book by independent museum consultant and historian Stephen Barker tells the fascinating life story of Hardit Singh Malik, who was the only Sikh airman to fly with the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force during the First World War.

Published by HarperCollins, the book, titled “Lion of the Skies: Hardit Singh Malik, the Royal Air Force and the First World War,” will be released on July 7 on “Softcover,” ThePrint’s online site to launch nonfiction books. -fiction.

An expert in work relating to the First World War and the British Civil Wars, Barker completed several successful projects for Oxford University, Oxford Brookes University, the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum and the Battlefields Trust. Barker has years of experience designing exhibits and completing funding applications on behalf of museums, universities, charities and other organizations in the heritage sector.

Barker’s book is a rich historical and biographical undertaking that highlights Hardit Singh Malik’s unique story of struggling against discrimination and alienation while struggling to enlist and serve as a fighter pilot alongside military personnel. British.

Barker said of the book: “Only a handful of the one and a half million Indian soldiers who fought on behalf of the Empire in the Great War left personal testimonies and Malik’s story is therefore unique – this book represents the only biography of an Indian Fighter alongside British soldiers!

The chronologically ordered book covers time and continents, from Rawalpindi in 1894 to Yatesbury in 1917, and finally to Amritsar until 1921. Full of fascinating anecdotes as well as vast amounts of information about Malik’s life, the The book’s writing style includes a blend of the historical with the personal.

Barker’s book paints a picture of Malik from his early days as a fourteen-year-old public schoolboy in Britain, and chronicles his journey through his university years before highlighting to the world his commendable role as an elite pilot. during the World War One.

Fascinatingly, Malik wore a specially designed flying helmet that could fit over his turban as he was a devout Sikh.

Before joining the RFC, Malik served with the French Red Cross in 1916 as an ambulance driver, until one of his Oxford tutors recommended him to a former RFC leader and succeeded in get a cadet position. Malik had two wins under his belt before being shot down behind Allied Lines with his Sopwith Camel also taking a hit over 400 bullets. Later, he became the first Indian High Commissioner to Canada, after which he served as India’s Ambassador to France.

Praising the book, renowned scholar and writer Shashi Tharoor writes, “Beyond painting an insightful portrait of the life of this interesting and accomplished man, Barker delves into various angles of the history of Britain’s relationship with colonial India: the alienation sometimes felt by Indian students. in Britain, the long battle to allow Indians to serve in the British army, and more.

In the words of Swati Chopra, Editor-in-Chief of HarperCollins India, this book is likely to make readers’ list of good reads “to sink your teeth into”.

Read also : ‘Insight of a person whom time has ignored’: Kasturba Gandhi’s rare diary comes in book form


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