Rest in Peace, Cecil Chaudhry

LUBP offers sincerest condolences to all Pakistanis on the sad demise of decorated war hero, educationist and rights activist Group Captain (Retired) Cecil Chaudhry. He passed away a few hours ago in Lahore at the age of 70 after fighting a long battle against lungs cancer. Our prayers are with his family and his soul. It is a great national loss for all Pakistanis.

Chaudhry was schooled at St Anthony’s High School and was an alumnus of the Forman Christian College. He joined the Pakistan Air Force Academy in 1958, where he studied aeronautics and mechanical engineering. It was as a pilot that Chaudhry developed his legacy as national hero for several flight missions including the 1965 and 1971 wars for which he received a Sitara-e-Jurat and Tamgha-e-Jurat.

He served as the principal of St Anthony’s High School in Lahore and St Mary’s Academy Lalazar, Rawalpindi.

“He struggled for the rights of minorities and women,” said retired Brigadier-General Samson Simon Sharaf, who was close to Chaudhry and present at the hospital. “He was a great fan of Quaid-e-Azam’s ideals and was critical of the Objectives Resolution [of 1949].”

Executive director of the National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Peter Jacob, worked closely with Chaudhry and said he actively worked in various capacities to promote a better Pakistan.

He was seen as a mentor of the late minorities’ affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti and was part of the All-Pakistan Minorities Alliance. “He would tell us that he had fought two wars for the country, but was willing to fight 100 wars against extremism,” Jacob said. “For the Christian youth, he was a hero,” he added. (Source: 1, 2

On 6th September, 1965, Flight Lieutenant Cecil Chaudhry was No. 2 in a fligth of 3 F-86 aircraft led by Squadron Leader Rafiqui. Their target was Halwara airfield of the Indian Air Force. This formation of 3 F-86s was intercepted by 10 Hunter aircraft of the Indian Air Force. During the engagement, the leader’s guns stopped firing and he handed over the lead to Flight Lieutenant Cecil Chaudhry, who very ably and aggressively continued the fight against heavy odds. About 60 miles inside enemy territory, he destroyed two enemy Hunter aircraft with his gun attack. His courage and professional ability in such adverse circumstances was outstanding and he successfully managed to return to base after having lost contact with other members of the formation. On 15th September, 1965, in spite of insufficient information from Ground Radar, Flight Lieutenant Cecil Chaudhry pursued his attack aggressively on enemy bombers and chased them 150 miles from his base. During the engagement, he destroyed one enemy Canberra bomber.The services rendered by him were beyond the call of normal duty and contributed a significant share towards Pakistan Air Force achieving air superiority. For these acts of courage, dedication and professional ability, Flight Lieutenant Cecil Chaudhry was awarded Sitara-i-Juraat. (Source)

Cecil Chaudhry, the son of Faustian Elmer Chaudhry, the famous Chief Photographer of Pakistan Times, Lahore, was born in 1941. His interest in aircraft and flying brought him to the PAF and he graduated in 1960. He soon established himself professionally and in 1965 was working as Flight Commander (Training) under the renowned Squadron Leader Sarfraz Rafiqui. When war broke out on 6 September, 1965, Cecil busied himself flying numerous Close Support missions to ward off the Indian ground attack against Lahore and Sialkot. He was detailed to fly a dusk strike mission against Halwara under the command of Squadron Leader Rafiqui. There were unavoidable delays in their take-off and Halwara got forewarned because of the successful PAF strike against Pathankot. When Rafiqui, Yunus and Cecil reached their target Halwara, they were intercepted by numerous Hunter aircraft of the Indian Air Force. During the engagement, after shooting down one Indian Hunter, Rafiqui’s guns jammed and he handed over the lead to Cecil. The three fought bravely against heavy odds but Rafiqui and Yunus were shot down while Cecil managed to return safely after shooting down a Hunter. The loss of his mentor Rafiqui and friend Yunus enraged Cecil and he fought the rest of the war aggressively and with determination. For his acts of courage, dedication and professional ability, Cecil received the Sitara-i-Jurat.

During the 1971 war also Cecil, by now a Squadron Leader, fought with valour. On 7 December, during his second mission of the day over Zafarwal-Shakargarh sector, Cecil’s aircraft was hit by ground fire and badly damaged. He had to eject in enemy territory but he managed to make good his escape and reached Sargodha base safely. He continued to fight valiantly despite fractured ribs and exacted his revenue on 11 December, when he managed to shoot down an Indian SU-7 fighter right over the area where he had lost his aircraft.

During the course of his service, Cecil commanded the prestigious No 9 Squadron and the Combat Commander’s School PAF. He retired in 1986 in the rank of Group Captain. Not one to sit idle, he took time to educate himself and subsequently became the Principal at St. Anthony’s School at Lahore. He continues to turn out scores of motivated young men who are bubbling with zeal and enthusiasm to serve their country with dedication, pride and honour. (Source)



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