Play / pause A History of Service

A History of Service

  • Balbir Flora
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


A young Seaclad came up to me

a few years ago, and he said,

"why are you serving the Queen?

"You know, why are you serving this country?"

And I said to him, or I asked him,

where were you born, and he said,

"I was born in the UK,

"just down the road, in Smethwick."


I then said to him,

obviously you don't know your history very well.

I'm not actually,

I wasn't actually born in Britain.

I was born in Nairobi in Kenya,

which is a British

colony at the time,

so I'm British by birth.

But, because I live here,

I choose to serve the country that I live in.

And I asked him to go inside

and have a look at the exhibition we had

celebrating the BAME communities, sort of, contribution,

and if you look at the massive contribution,

especially India made in World War 1 and World War 2,

along with the rest of the Commonwealth,

you know, I said you need to go and see

what it's all about.

And, not only that,

but look at the Victoria Cross winners

display we had

of all the Indians who won the Victoria Cross season,



and he was quite shocked,

but he came back out because he didn't' realize

the rich history we have fighting for Britain,

and he actually came back and apologized to me

because, to me, it's an education piece

and that's why earlier on I mentioned

that Sikhs,

the first sort of BAME person to join the air force,

or the World Flying Corp was a Sikh

because I'm immensely proud of history,

and we need to sort of know what our history is,

because if you do, you will know that

this is the reason why we're in this country.

Because we fought for this country

and we continue to fight for this country

and protect it.

  • Balbir Flora

    © RAF Museum

  • Balbir Flora

    © RAF Museum

  • Balbir Flora

    © RAF Museum

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