The son of an Indian World War-II hero is selling his father’s coveted medals so that they can “go to a serious collector”, rather than to grandchildren who he fears might fight over them.
Bambi Majumdar is the son of late Wing Commander Karun Krishna Majumdar, affectionately referred to as “Jumbo” by his friends and colleagues and revered as the “father of the Indian Air Force.” Jumbo’s maternal grandfather WC (Womesh Chunder) Bonnerjee was the first president of the Indian National Congress.
Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh, the only surviving contemporary of Squadron Leader Majumdar, describes him as “my hero Jumbo Majumdar” on a signed personal portrait he has given to Bambi. For his part, Bambi, now an NRI chartered accountant living on the outskirts of Birmingham, has no memory of his father who died in 1945 during an air display in Lyallpur when he was only two years old.
He was subsequently brought up by his mother, “Premo” Premola Dutt, was from a well-known Bengali family settled in Lahore who moved to Jalandhar after Partition. Her second husband and Bambi’s stepfather was Kanwar Mahindar Singh of the Kapurthala royal family.
The medals that Bambi is selling include his father’s ‘Double’ Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), India General Service Medal, Flying Logbook and other items. They are expected to raise between £20,000-£30,000 (just under Rs 30 lakh) when they come up for sale at a London auction next Wednesday.
“I decided to sell them after due consideration,” Bambi told The Tribune. “I have two children and six grandchildren and ask myself what would happen if I died. There would be a conflict over who was entitled to them.”
The DFC and Bar were awarded to Jumbo for acts of skill and courage on both the Burma front and in Europe. The official citation for his DFC reads: “Early this year this officer commanded the squadron during its activities in Burma. He led two unescorted attacks on enemy airfields in Thailand and attacks in support of the army in Tennasserim; he also completed valuable reconnaissances during the retirement from Rangoon to the Prome positions.” The official citation for the Bar to his DFC reads in part: “His skill and courage have always been outstanding…Before the advance northwards in France, he completed exceptionally valuable photographic reconnaisances of the Seine bridges, in the face of heavy ground defences.”
To go under hammer
•Bambi Majumdar, Wing Commander Majumdar's son, is selling his father's 'Double' Distinguished Flying Cross, India General Service Medal, flying logbook and other items
'Father of the IAF'
•Wing Commander Karun Krishna Majumdar, affectionately referred to as 'Jumbo', is revered as the 'Father of the Indian Air Force'
•Kolkata-born Majumdar went to St Paul's School, Darjeeling, before leaving for England in 1932
•Majumdar died during an air display over Lyallpur in February 1945 when the Hurricane he was flying stalled and crashed