Monday, October 25, 2010

#8 Sgt Sidhu-Who Was He?

It all started with an old sepia tinged Black and White photograph of a bomber crew posing in front of their bomber- that I came across in one of my Dads old albums , years ago . Further questions revealed that the photograph included one of his cousins who had gone to England in 1940 or so , as an apprentice with the De Havilland Company. Once the war started, he chose to join the Air Force, rather than return to India and that he had been killed in WW2--the plane and the crew had been lost without a trace . As the years went by most of the family forgot about Sgt Sidhu . The older generation slowly passed away,Sgt Sidhu's own contemporaries and cousins( my Dad included) had faded memories of him. The subsequent generation, that includes me , were all post WW2 born.Only once, sometime in 1975, did I hear talk of Sgt Sidhu from someone in the family other than my Dad.The old photograph had an aura of mystery for me .All that my Dad could tell me was that Sgt Sidhu had joined the RAF(wrong--he had joined the RAFVR) ,that he was either the pilot or the navigator(wrong--he was the Flt Engr) and that he had been in Liberators (wrong--he was with a Sqn equipped with Stirlings) , that his bomber had been been shot down either during the second great raid over Berlin or maybe on a raid over the Ruhr (wrong on both counts--it was on a mine laying mission off the coast of Denmark).Also in an old envelope, I came across a faded cutting from a London newspaper extolling the wizardly 'hockey play'' by an Indian in some local match.There was an annotation on the cutting by Sgt Sidhu in his own hand--''About me'' , also a cutting from some paper or magazine showing him sitting on a chair.As an aviation enthusiast and an avid reader of military history,having grown up as a second generation Army officer and being a qualified helicopter pilot myself,tracing Sgt Sidhu became an obsession with me.Armed with this and no more, my quest to search for Sgt Sidhu began--read on as I develop the story.