Hurricanes in India

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7 years 5 months

Posts: 259

I'm hoping some of you clever bods might be able to help. Any idea which squadrons were operating Hurricanes out of Murree, India (now Pakistan) during WW2. My cousin and I are looking into my grandfather's activities, having discovered a diary and a few photos...

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7 years 5 months

Posts: 259

thanks mmitch, will have a look at that. Having had a quick look around I think that Murree possibly refers to a place called Lower Topa, which would appear to have been an RAF depot. Looking on Google Earth, despite it's name, Lower Topa appears to be on top of a mountain about 42kms NE of Islamabadand 3kms SE of Murree. No chance of an airstrip, although an F86 does appear to have made it to the roadside here. I will see if I can do a "past and present" photo thingy in due course. Think I may have also found some footage of Lower Topa from the period at www.colonialfilm.org.uk, but can't seem to get it to work. I think the footage is owned by IWM.

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11 years 2 months

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"During WW2" is a bit wide - can you narrow down the years? There will not have been many RAF squadrons operating Hurricanes in what is now Pakistan - Indian Air Force squadrons may be more likely or perhaps an OTU. Or, as you suggest, a depot/Maintenance Unit. In Jefford's RAF Squadrons the only mention of Murree is for 31 Sq with Be2c in 1916. Lower Topa is linked to 155 Sq in 1942, where it is called No.1 Hill Depot, but this is two months before being issued with any aircraft (Mohawks) at St. Thomas Mount. There was an Upper Topa but this was only used in mid-1945 for the formation of glider squadrons 668, 669 and 670.

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7 years 5 months

Posts: 259

Thanks Graham. He was there in October 1944. I think that the hill depot at Lower Topa could well have been for training or respite from the heat of lower altitudes. I don't think there is any room for any sort of airstrip, the football pitch however, does still seem to be there. We also have mention of Srinagar 156, which could refer to what is now Kashmir International Airport? This is about 130kms East of Lower Topa, but looks one hell of a journey through the mountains, even now!

As far as his activities go, all I know is that he was involved in servicing Hurricanes (and possibly Dakotas in Burma). There's quite a bit of stuff in his diary, but as you'd expect it's more on the personal side. We do have a great picture of an enormous milestone, which we are trying to locate - a bit of a geological treasure hunt!

Will keep you informed of any developments and try to get some pics uploaded. There are a few good ones which have been uploaded from elsewhere on Flickr showing war time Lower Topa.

M

P.S. Just realised Srinagar 156 relates to the milestone

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20 years 1 month

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RAF Units, IAF Units, various maintenance depots, repair and salvage units. etc etc .

As of 1943, some 1100 Hurricanes were flying around in the Indian Subcontinent. Atleast 7-8 IAF Squadrons and an equal if not more RAF units would have operated Hurricanes during the time, plus a few operational training units and various independent flights

As of 1945, within India, there were nearly 211,000 odd personnel of the Air Forces (125K+ RAF, 30K IAF, 40K Non Combatants, Civilian trades) .. that is like a little army in itself.