Air Marshal Sir Thomas Walker Elmhirst was the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Air Force. He was Air Chief from 15 August 1947 to 21 February 1950. It was Air Marshal Elmhirst, who insisted that the Indian Air Force be an independent service under no control of the Army. Before independence of India, the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army exercised control over the Air Force too. Thus, it was Air Marshal Thomas Walker Elmhirst's foresight that led to the independent status of IAF. Air Marshal Elmhirst was also instrumental in turning an incomplete air force into a cohesive fighting machine.
Thomas Elmhirst was born in 1895, the fourth son of a Priest. He
enrolled into the Royal Navy and took part in World War I. In 1919,
Elmhirst transferred to the Royal Air Force. During World War II,
Elmhirst commanded a Bomber Wing, and as an Air Commodore, was on the
staff of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain in September 1940.
In 1947, Elmhirst was posted to India as the Chief of Inter Service
Administration on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief in India. He
became Air Chief at the time of India's independence and laid down the
office in February 1950. Sir Thomas Elmhirst died on 6 November 1982.