Lt. Gen. Inderjit Singh Gill, PVSM, MC


An officer of high calibre (1922 – 2001)

Lt. Gen. Inderjit Singh Gill was born on 16 January 1922, in UK where his father Dr. G. S Gill had gone to study medicine, and had married an English lady. Dr. Gill returned to India and joined the Indian Military Service (IMS). The IMS was abolished in 1930 and he became Superintendent of Jail, a post which then had to be staffed by a doctor.

Inder finished school in Chennai with good grade and got admission in engineering faculty in Edinburg University. He joined Royal High School in UK in 1939. War was declared in 1939, and he left the school to join the army. He joined the Black Watch Regiment on 29 January 1941. In the light of his school background, he was transferred to Engineers and granted commission on 5 April 1942. He was posted to 274 Field Company which sailed for Egypt on 15 June 1942.

Part of the supplies to Rommel’s army in Africa was being sent by train to Greece, and from there on by ships. The allies were finding naval interception difficult due to control of the skies by the German Air Force. Operation Harling was planned to drop a team by parachutes to destroy one of the major railway bridges. Inder volunteered for the task and four volunteers were given a brief parachuting training. They took off in a converted Liberator bomber air craft from Cairo on 27 October 1942. The Greek villagers were instructed to light fire to demonstrate a friendly site. The team was dropped at a site next to the camp of Italian soldiers who had lit fire for their own comfort. The Italian soldiers struck out to search for the paratroopers but the team managed to reach the friendly Greek villagers. They could not bring their kit and had to collect explosives from the local sources. The team along with Greek patriots attacked the Italian guard on 26 November and destroyed the Gorgopotamos bridge. To avoid capture by three Italian columns, they travelled back by night along difficult mountain tracks. They reached the coast on 23 December. They were to be picked up by a submarine. One of the submarines had been destroyed by the Germans and they did not want to risk sending another submarine. They became British Liaison Officers with the British Military Mission in Greece and were instructed to work with the Greek patriots to disrupt communications. Inder’s relations with the Greek guerrillas were good, and his ability to get on with the villagers won him many friends. They flew out of Greece in December 1943. For his work of disrupting communications in June 1943, he was awarded Military Cross (MC). He learnt about it on 2 February 1944.

Inder arrived in Italy from Egypt on 19 March 1944 and joined 42 Field Company. He was severely wounded on 2 July and was discharged from the hospital on 25 September. He carried a few splinters in the body. Years later when he was Lt. General, the Security Staff in USA were alarmed to notice beep as he crossed the security alarm. His wife had to tell, them that he carried splinters in his body. They stood to attention when they read the passport and saw that he was a serving Lt General in India. The war came to an end in May 1945. Inder gave up his commission in the British Army, after the war was over and joined the Indian Army in January 1948. He served in J&K Militia, 2 Parachute Battalion before taking over command of 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment. He had got married on 29 September 1949 to Miss Manmohini Kalsy daughter of Rai Saheb L R Kalsy.

He got high grading in various courses and attended Command and Staff Course in USA. He held key command and staff appointments and was noted for integrity and clarity of mind. He was GOC 17 Mountain Division in Sikkim. The people were greatly impressed by the relief measures organised by Inder and a road was named after him. He was Director Military Operations during the 1971 War.

He was awarded PVSM for his outstanding work.

Lt. Gen. Inderjit Singh Gill commanded IV corps and Western Command and left his mark on training and operational readiness. He retired on 1 June 1979 and settled in Chennai. He passed away on 31 May 2001.

Brigadier Suresh Chandra Sharma (retd.)