Service No : 9100 F(N)

Date of Birth : April 11, 1945

Last Rank : Flight Lieutenant

Unit : 5 Sqn AF

Arm/Regt : Indian Air Force

Operation : Op Cactus Lily

Martyrdom : December 10, 1971

Flight Lieutenant G Theophilus

Flight Lieutenant G Theophilus was born on 11 Apr 1945 and got selected to join the prestigious NDA after his schooling. He was commissioned into the Indian Air Force on 25 Dec 1964 at the age of 19 years. He was commissioned in the flying stream of the IAF and got trained as a Navigator as part of 29/30 NAV Course.  After completing his flying training, Flt Lt Theophilus served with various flying squadrons located at different Air Force bases. By 1971, Flt Lt G Theophilus had put in about 7 years of service and evolved into a professionally competent navigator having experience in various air operations.


Offensive Air Operation (Indo-Pak War) : 10 Dec 1971


During 1971, Flt Lt G Theophilus was serving with 5 Squadron known as "Tuskers" which was operating Canberra fighter bomber aircraft. The 5 Squadron was formed at Kanpur on 2 November 1948, under the command of Squadron Leader JRS “Danny” Dantra. Within a couple of months, it moved to Poona (now Pune), which was to remain its base for the next eight years. The Squadron was initially equipped with B-24 Liberators, but on 1 September 1957 under the command of Wing Commander (Later Air Commodore) WR Dani, became the first IAF squadron to be equipped with the B(I)58 bomber-interdictor version of the Canberra.  As the PAF attacked 11 Air Force bases on 03 Dec 1971, the Indian Air Force decided to launch counter offensive operations on the eastern as well as western front. 5 Sqn commanded by Wing Commander (later Group Captain) Man Mohan Bir Singh Talwar was tasked to undertake offensive missions against the targets on the western front. The first raid on the Pakistani air bases took place about 2300 hours on 3 December.


The Indian Canberras struck at the air bases at Chander, Sargodha, Mianwali, Rafiqui, Murid and Risalwala. Early next day about 200 sorties were flown by Hunters and SU-7s against these bases and the radar installations at Sakesar and Badin. Later in the day Hunters penetrated as deep as Kohat, Peshawar and Chaklala. These attacks continued thereafter with renewed vigour. Flt Lt G Theophilus was tasked for one such strike mission on Lodharan railway station in Lodharan city in Punjab province of Pakistan on 10 Dec 1971 with Flt Lt R D Naithani as pilot and Flt Lt M Purohit as 2nd navigator.


As planned Flt Lt R D Naithani along with Flt Lt G Theophilus as first navigator and Flt Lt M Purohit as 2nd navigator took off on 10 Dec and reached the target area as per the given TOT (Time Over Target). As the target was important for the enemy, it was heavily defended by the anti-aircraft guns and air defence aircraft. Despite the threat of enemy air defence assets, Flt Lt R D Naithani went for the attack. However their aircraft crashed while returning after the attack and the actual reasons for the crash could not be ascertained. They are presumed to have been taken over as a POWs (Prisoners of War). However, successive regimes in Pakistan have denied the existence of Indian POWs in its jails. Presently, Flt Lt G Theophilus's name features on the official list of the ’54 Personnel Missing in Action’, tabled in the Lok Sabha in 1979 by Shri Samarendra Kundu, Minister of State of External Affairs at that time.

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