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Colonel
Prithipal Singh Gill
Born 11 December 1920(1920-12-11) (age 101)
Place of birth Patiala State, British Raj
(now in Punjab, India)
Allegiance  British India
India India
Service/branch  Indian Air Force
 Indian Navy
 Indian Army
Years of service 1942–1948
1951–1970
Rank Pilot Officer (Indian Air Force)
Lieutenant (Royal Indian Navy)
Colonel (Indian Army)
Service number IC-5571
Unit 34 Field Regiment (Cassino-II)
HMIS Tir
Commands held 71 Medium Regiment
Battles/wars Second World War
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Insurgency in Northeast India

Colonel Prithipal Singh Gill (born 11 December 1920) is an Indian centenarian and the only officer of the Indian Armed Forces known to have served in all three of its branches.[1]

Career[]

Born in Patiala State, Gill studied at Government College Lahore. A passionate flyer, he earned a flying licence at Walton Airport in Lahore, and in 1942, without informing his family, joined the Indian Air Force.[1][2] Commissioned a pilot officer, Gill was training on Harvard aircraft at Karachi when his father Harpal Singh Gill, an army officer, arranged for his transfer from the IAF as the family considered flying unsafe.[2]

Gill transferred to the Royal Indian Navy, and was commissioned a temporary sub-lieutenant in the gunnery branch of the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve (RINVR) on 25 January 1943.[3][4] For the remainder of the Second World War, Gill served on minesweepers and escort vessels, serving on convoy duties protecting shipping in the Persian Gulf. He was subsequently sent to attend the Long Gunnery Staff Course at the Army School of Artillery in Deolali, qualifying as an instructor. He ended his naval service in September 1948, and briefly served as a civil servant.[4]

In April 1951, Gill joined the Indian Army. Though he had initially hoped for assignment to his father's former battalion, the 1st Sikh Regiment,[1] he was instead posted to the Regiment of Artillery due to his prior experience with gunnery.[4] His initial posting was with the Gwalior Mountain Battery, equipped with 5.4 inch guns.[1] Gill later served with 34th Field Regiment and was promoted major on 13 May 1956.[5] Promoted lieutenant-colonel on 2 August 1962,[6] Gill raised and commanded 71 Medium Regiment during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. Seeing action in the Sialkot sector, during a battle he personally led a mission to retrieve four of his guns which had been cut off by the enemy.[1] He was promoted colonel on 19 June 1968 (seniority from 24 May),[7] and was appointed a sector commander in the Assam Rifles, stationed at Ukhrul in Manipur.[1] He took early retirement from the army, relinquishing his commission on 1 December 1970.[8]

Personal life[]

Gill married his wife Preminder Kaur (born 1927) on 24 December 1950.[1]

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Man Aman Singh Chhina (11 December 2020). "Aviator, sailor and soldier — Col Prithipal Singh Gill turns 100". Indian Express. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/aviator-sailor-and-soldier-col-prithipal-singh-gill-turns-100-7101285/. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Prithipal Singh Gill: A warrior of all 3 Services turns 100". The Hindu. 11 December 2020. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/prithipal-singh-gill-a-warrior-of-all-3-services-turns-100/article33307763.ece. 
  3. "The Royal Indian Navy - Officers of the Royal Indian Navy". The Navy List: July 1945. HM Government, UK. 1945. pp. 2119. https://archive.org/details/navylistjul1945v2grea/page/2118/mode/2up. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "War veteran who served in Air Force, Navy & Army turns 100". Tribune (Chandigarh). 11 December 2020. https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/war-veteran-who-served-in-air-force-navy-army-turns-100-183065. 
  5. "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 22 December 1956. p. 258. http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/1956/O-2166-1956-0051-98889.pdf. 
  6. "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 17 April 1965. p. 193. http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/1965/O-1730-1965-0016-79060.pdf. 
  7. "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 28 February 1970. p. 291. http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/1970/O-1389-1970-0009-62652.pdf. 
  8. "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Army Branch)". The Gazette of India. 6 March 1971. p. 252. http://egazette.nic.in/WriteReadData/1971/O-1354-1971-0010-60724.pdf. 

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