WW-II veteran, who served in all 3 defence wings, dies
World War II veteran Col Prithipal Singh Gill (retd), a centenarian with the unique distinction of having served in all three wings of the armed forces – Air Force, Navy and Army – breathed his last on Sunday afternoon. He was 100 and died just a week before his 101st birthday.
His last rites were performed at Sector 25 cremation ground in Chandigarh, with friends, relatives and officers from the army’s Western Command in attendence.
Gill is survived by his wife, a son, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“He was perfectly alright, but age caught up with him. He was a little sluggish in the morning, and when we checked on him in the afternoon, we realised he had left us,” said his son Dr Ajaipal Singh Gill. “My father had a good life. He lived the way he wanted to.”
Gill, a resident of Sector 35, had begun his service life with the Royal Indian Air Force in 1942. He joined as a flight cadet in Karachi. However, his father, Harpal Singh Gill, an army officer, was not too happy with his flying career and he had to give it up on his father’s insistence.
Later, he joined the Navy when he was 23 and served for five years, from 1943 to 1948. After then joined the Army in 1951 and was posted to the Regiment of Artillery.
Gill raised and commanded the 71 Medium Regiment during the India-Pakistan War of 1965. After attaining the rank of colonel, he took early retirement in 1970. He was a good sportsman as well.
Even in the twilight years of his life, his charismatic smile and robust health made him stand out, which he had attributed to his inherited genes. Born in 1920 in Patiala, he studied at Government College, Lahore. In 1950, he married Preminder Kaur.
A close family friend, Justice HS Bedi (retd), said: “Apart from being a distinguished serviceman, he was a wonderful human being. It’s a great loss for us.”