As our 72nd Independence Day is commencing, I thought about writing a patriotic article to celebrate the 72 years of freedom. After spending almost two days searching for a topic for my article, I finally found solace with Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif, who left this world on 30th April this year.
Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif was born in Hyderabad, Telangana in 1923. His father, Hasan Latif was an Oxford graduate and Chief Engineer of the Hyderabad state. He applied for Air Force for the first time, when he was seventeen and a half years old and finally got selected in the Royal Indian Air Force in 1942.
TRAINING IN U.K.
In 1943, Idris Latif was sent to the U.K. for training on modern Hurricanes and Spitfires. He came back to India and flew Hurricanes during his combat duty in Burma. It was difficult to fly a Hurricane here as compared to Europe. Finally, Latif also got a chance to fly the single seater Spitfires.
He became a Squadron leader in 1950, commanding 4 squadrons. During this time he flew one of the most powerful piston-engined fighters, the Hawker Tempest. It was risky to fly a Hawker Tempest back then because its engine could burst without warning. The proudest moment of his life came when he led the first fly-past on the 1st Republic Day of India, on 26th January 1950. In 1951, he married Bilkees, daughter of Ali Yavar Jung. They both shared 66 years of a happy marriage, till she passed away on 27th October 2017.
From 1955 till his retirement (1981), Idris Latif achieved admirable success in the field of Indian Air Force:
During the time of partition, lots of people moved between India and Pakistan. Many Indian Air Force Officers, Army Officers as well as Navy officials left the country too. Some of them were Latif’s friends, Flight Lieutenant Noor Khan, tried to convince Latif to join Pakistan Air Force but Latif told him that “Religion and Country are not related”. Latif served the Indian Air Force till his retirement. He was a World War II veteran, India’s ambassador to France, a responsible Air Chief Marshal and the pride of our country.
He left us in tears on 30th April 2018, and his contribution to the Indian Air Force can’t be forgotten. Commemorating this legend on the commencement of our 72nd Independence Day adds more joy to the celebration. Let us celebrate this Independence day with beautiful memories of this brave gentleman! May his soul rest in peace and hope our country procures more legends like him.
Let us all “Touch the sky with glory”!
Happy Independence Day!