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A Rare Tale: A Man Who Served in All 3 Branches of the Armed Forces Turns 100

MG is an air warrior and a global traveler well as an amateur astrologer who loves to visit and explore new places.



There are no known examples in any country today of an officer who has served in all three services of the military and also reached the age of 100.This in short is something stupendous. Colonel Prithipal Singh Gill (retd), a World War 2 veteran, has the unique distinction of having served in the Royal Indian Air Force, Royal Indian Navy and the Indian Army during his career in uniform. I will say he is a blessed man who had done the warriors fraternity proud. There were a few officers of other nations who served in various arms of the military but I am not aware of any who reached the age of 100.

Colonel Gill resides in the North Indian city of Chandigarh. The city is a union territory and serves as the capital of two states, namely Haryana and Punjab. It is also the Headquarters of the Indian army's Western Command ; a command that was created by the British and is in existence for over a 100 years.

Colonel Singh resides in Sector 35 of the city with his son and recently celebrated his 100th birthday. As Singh had retired from the Artillery Corps, the Gunners regiment gave him a great celebration. As the visitors trooped in to congratulate the centurion many asked him the secret of his success. The Colonel replied that it was a "secret." His daughter in law however had something to say and she added, " Its because of his daily peg of whiskey which he has been taking for over 70 years."

Colonel Gill's wife, Preminder Kaur, who is 93 is along with him. The couple, got married on December 24, 1950, and will shortly be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary. That calls for "cheers" by all of us.


The man

Preminder Kaur informed the correspondent of the Indian Express that her husband was an avid ‘shikari’ ( hunter). He used to spend a lot of time hunting but now he does not go for the game. During the days of the Raj, hunting was considered an elite sport but now it has been banned by the government due to its effect of depletion of wild life.

Colonel Gill graduated from Government College, Lahore. This is now in Pakistan and is one of the oldest colleges set up during the days of the Raj. He wished to fly and that was his first love. He joined the flying school at Walton at Lahore and earned his flying license. From British days Walton was the Lahore Cantonment with an airfield. Flying for him was a passion and led him to join the Royal Indian Air Force. He was easily selected as he had a flying license. He joined the RIAF in 1942 at Karachi and began to fly the Harvard T-6, single engine piston aircraft. Just for the record the T-6 was one of the most difficult planes to fly.

His father, who was army Major Harpal Singh Gill, was not keen he should fly and withdrew him from training. Gill did not go home as the government offered him a post in the Royal Indian Navy. World War II was in full swing at that time and Colonel Gill joined the crew of the minesweeper RINS Teer. His ship was an escort warship to the supply convoys. He remained in the Navy till the end of the war when the British government decided on demobilization.

On demobilization he joined the Army and was commissioned in the 1 Sikh (now 4 Mech) regiment. His father had served in the same regiment. But after a short stint he was transferred to the Artillery regiment because of his experience in gunnery, having served on the warships. He completed the Long Range Gunnery Course was graded Instructor Gunnery (IG). His first posting was with the Gwalior Mountain Battery equipped with 5.4 inch guns.

He continued in the army and took part in the 1965 war with Pakistan


The Last Hurrah

There is an excellent biography of the officer written by by Brig IS Gakhal (retd). he is a historian who served in the Sikh Regiment. We learn that Colonel Gill later served in 34 Medium Regiment and also commanded 71 Medium Regiment. This regiment was raised by him.

He saw action in the 1965 war The war lasted just 21 days and at the end of the war he was promoted. He was later sent to command the Assam Rifles Sector in Ukhrul in Manipur, before retiring in 1970. He retired and went to his farm at Faridkot and took to farming. He retired half a century back and one can get nostalgic about the life of Colonel Gill.

Colonel Gill is an example to all young Officers and he has been congratulated by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Amrinder Singh who was a captain during the 1965 war. I will say this is a tale of wonder and hope my readers can appreciate the warrior spirit of this man. The Gunners of the Indian army have also felicitated him and the regiment sent him a special cake.

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MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 16, 2020:

Manatitaji, Yes Col Parker did a great job. Thank you for commenting

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 16, 2020:

Linda thank you for sparing time and commenting

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 15, 2020:

Hello Manatitaji, Nice reading your comment after a long time. Thank you.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 15, 2020:

Linda, nice reading your comment

manatita44 from london on December 15, 2020:

Congratulations to him and job well done! He reminds me of Colonel Parker, now 100 also, who became famous in Covid-19 times, walking the length of his entire lawn with his three-wheeled frame,100 times, to raise awareness and funds for the NHS. He made millions!!

All great men, those who offer untiring and selfless service for their countries, are to be applauded. Om Shanti!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 14, 2020:

This is an interesting article. I've never heard of Col. Gill before. Thank you for sharing the facts about his life.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 14, 2020:

Thank you Vanita for commenting.

Vanita Thakkar on December 14, 2020:

The celebrations of Col. Gill’s Birthday were covered by Indian Television News channels. You have compiled many interesting facts about such a great personality in this article. Happy to read. Thanks for sharing.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 13, 2020:

Chitra, thank a lot for commenting.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 13, 2020:

Chores, thanks for commenting. I am glad you liked the information.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 13, 2020:

Great article about this great personality. I have read the news about his 100 th year and that he has served in all the three branches. Sounds wonderful and amazing.

You have shared some more interesting details about him. Enjoyable read and gives a feeling of pride.

Wonderful information and thanks for sharing.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 13, 2020:

Thank you, Sangre, for sparing time and commenting. Such a pleasure to read your comment.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on December 13, 2020:

That's amazing that he reached that age. He seems to have really done a lot in his lifetime. This is a nice tribute to him.

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 13, 2020:

Thanks Tom, some veterans live long to glory.

tom on December 13, 2020:

lt col sumer singh died 101 years in 2017,two sons rtd as lt gen

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 13, 2020:

Major Batra, its a pleasure that you commented

MG Singh emge (author) from Singapore on December 13, 2020:

Col Parduman Singh, great pleasure and thanks for reading and commenting.

Major A Batra on December 13, 2020:

Wonderful article, such articles up the morale of old veterans and its such pleasure to read such information.

Lt Col Parduman Singh on December 13, 2020:

What a wonderful article about a man I never knew though having spent quality time in the army. It was great reading this article and may Col Singh have another 100 years. God bless him

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