The post-independence Indian Air Force owes its independent status to one man, Air Marshal Sir Thomas Walker Elmhirst, who was the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Air Force of Free India. It was Air Marshal Elmhirst, who insisted that the Indian Air Force be an independent service under no control of the Army, unlike previously when the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army exercised control over the Air Force too.
Elmhirst was born in 1895, the fourth son of a Priest. Completing his education from the Royal Naval College, he enrolled into the Royal Navy and took part in World War I. He was involved in many a sea battle and having survived them, he was among the select few of a batch of twenty sailors who formed a Naval Airship Service raised to counter German Submarines. Elmhirst commanded a Naval Air ship between 1915 to 1918, after which he took over command of a the 8th Airship Squadron. In 1919, Elmhirst transferred to the Royal Air Force. He flew seaplanes in the beginning, slowly transferring to flying boats, and bombers.