New Delhi [India], December 11 (ANI): Colonel Prithipal Singh Gill, who may be the only man to have served in all three defence services -- the Indian Army, the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force -- turned 100 years old on Friday.
Colonel Gill led a unique and what may be called the only military career of its kind having started as a pilot in the Royal Indian Air Force, then sailing the High Seas with Indian Navy, and finally witnessing the action as a Gunner Officer with the Indian Army in the 1965 War.
Finally, he had culminated as an Assam Rifles Sector Commander in Manipur.
Residing in Chandigarh now, Colonel Gill had joined the Royal Indian Air Force. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer and stationed at Karachi, flying Howard aircraft. However, his family did not approve of the same, as flying was then considered unsafe and his family did not want their son to live the life of a Pilot.
This is when a British General, known to the Gill family, Gen Savoy, came to his help and was able to have Pilot Officer Prithipal Singh transferred to the Indian Navy, where he served on a mine sweeping ship and later he was on INS Teer, which was a Navy escort ship for cargo ships during the World War II.
As a Naval Officer, Sub Lt Prithipal Singh Gill was detailed to attend the Long Gunnery Staff Course at School of Artillery, Devlali, and he qualified as an Instructor in Gunnery (IG). He then sought a transfer to the Army, which was approved and he was posted to "Gwalior Mountain Battery" equipped with 5.4-inch Howitzers.
He later served with 34 Medium Regiment and later raised and Commanded 71 Medium Regiment. During the 1965 India-Pakistan War, four guns of his regiment were cut off by enemy action. Lt Col Prithipal Singh Gill personally led a successful mission to retrieve the four guns.
On promotion to the rank of Colonel, Pirthipal Singh, Commanded an Assam Rifles Sector in Ukhrul, Manipur. After his exceptional career in the Royal Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and the Indian Army (Artillery), Col Gill retired to farming the family lands at his native village Pakhi in Faridkot district. (ANI)