Air Marshal S Raghu Raghavendran (- 2020) was one of the first to join the Indian Air Force after independence and rose up to become a Air Marshall
Air Marshall S. Raghavendran was a member of the small group of future fighter pilots who joined the Indian Air Force in 1947 soon after independence. During his 41 year career, he participated in two wars, was a Commander of Squadrons and Air Force Stations and ultimately rose to be the Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force before retiring in 1988.
His book “Panther Red One: Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot: Memoirs of a Fighter Pilot” published in 2013 is a riveting account of not just the mighty Indian Air Force but a picture post card account of life in Ooty from the 1920s to the 1950s. He was believed to be working on his second book.
Hailing from Palghat Iyers of Perinkolam, the Air Marshall recalls quite candidly his simple and humble early years in Ooty, the contented life with his siblings and relations, his barefoot schooling in Municipal (now Government) High School, his clustered house Ivy Cottage, the laid back and ‘egalitarian’ town that was Ooty, the family picnics, their first car and the British administrators of those days.
Ooty of the 1930s, as the Air Marshall says ‘deserved to be called the queen of hill stations. All the surrounding mountain tops were covered with a blanket of trees and there were trees all over the township. The roads were well developed but there were very few cars. It was tranquil, very peaceful and laid back. There was an influx of the rich and the famous during summer. The town looked more lively but not crowded.
Air Marshall’s father was the first and only non-British and non-Christian to teach in Breeks Memorial School from 1922 to 1949 before moving to Lawrence School, Lovedale. Breeks school did not admit Indian students those days.
Nilgiri Documentation Centre