Service No: 4657 F(P)

Date Of Birth : Jul 6, 1933

Birth Place : Nowshera(Pak)

Service: Air Force

Last Rank: Wing Commander

Unit : 47 Sqn, AF

Award : VrC, VM

Missing in Action : Dec 13, 1971

Wg Cdr Hersern Singh Gill VrC,VM

Wing Commander Hersern Singh Gill was born 6th July 1933 in Nowshera (Now in Pakistan). Son of an Army veteran Maj Pooran Singh Gill, he later moved to Delhi for his higher studies. Subsequently his family moved to Bareilley, when his father who served in the Army in the Army Medical Corps retired from the active service. He later got selected to join the Indian Air Force and was commissioned on 16 Jan 1954 at the age of 20 years. He was trained as a fighter pilot and gradually gained experience in flying various fighter aircraft of the IAF.

 

He became one of the first pilots to be selected to fly a highly sophisticated aircraft introduced in the Indian Air Force. He achieved a Master Green instrument rating on MiG-21 aircraft and became an Instrument Rating Instructor. A pilot of outstanding ability, he set the pace for the highest standards in his squadron. He was twice selected for low-level aerobatics displays and in recognition of his outstanding skill once a visiting dignitary awarded him his country’s “ Class I Pilot’s Brevet ”on the spot. By the year-1971, he had been promoted to the rank of Wing Commander and developed into an ace fighter pilot with expertise in diverse air operations.

 

Badin Air Strike Mission: 13 Dec 1971

 

During the operations against Pakistan in December 1971, Wg Cdr Hersern Singh Gill was commanding a Fighter Squadron operating MiG -21 aircraft based in the Western sector. When Pakistan Air Force attacked various air basis of the IAFon 3rd Dec 1971, 47 Sqn got involved in various air operations against the enemy forces. As commanding officer of 47 Sqn, Wg Cdr Hersern Singh Gill led several operational missions on air defense, close support, and counter-air operations from 3rd Dec onward. He led from the front like a true military leader and inspired his pilots. His Squadron shot down successfully one enemy F-104 aircraft over Jamnagar on 11th Dec 1971 and hit another F-104 aircraft on 12th December 1971.

 

On 12th Dec 1971, Wg Cdr Gill undertook a strike mission over the Badin Signals Unit Complex in Pakistan in the face of intense enemy Anti-Aircraft fire. On 13th December 1971, he led another strike mission on the same target. The target was heavily defended by enemy air defense assets and entailed great risk. Despite that, displaying extraordinary courage and professional skill, Wg Cdr Gill pressed on with the attack. However, during this attack, his aircraft got hit by the enemy Anti-Aircraft guns and crashed. Wg Cdr Gill ejected and is presumed to have been taken over as a POW (Prisoner of War). He was captured and his name was subsequently announced on Pakistan radio, the same day, as captured “ace Indian pilot”. However, successive regimes in Pakistan have denied the existence of Indian PoWs in its jails. Wg Cdr Gill was given the gallantry award, “Vir Chakra” for his exceptional courage, leadership and professional skill of a very high order.

The Citation for the Vir Chakra awarded to him reads:-

 

During the operations against Pakistan in December, 1971, Wing Commander Hersern Singh Gill was commanding a Fighter Squadron in the Western Sector.  He led several operational missions on air defence, close support and counter air operations during the period from 3rd December, 1971 to 13th December, 1971. He set an inspiring example to his pilots with his fearless approach, flying skill and dedication to his duties. His Squadron shot down one enemy F-104 air craft over Jamnagar and hit another F-104 aircraft on 11th and 12th December, 1971, respectively. Disregarding his personal safety, and with great courage and skill, he undertook strike missions over the Badin Signals Unit Complex in the face of intense enemy Anti-Aircraft fire.  On the 13th December, 1971, he undertook another strike mission on the same target.  During this attack his aircraft was shot down by the enemy Anti-Aircraft fire.

 

Throughout these operations, Wing Commander Hersern Singh Gill displayed gallantry, leadership and professional skill of a high order.

 

Citation presented to Wing Commander Hersern Singh Gill on April 01, 1971 :

 

Wing Commander , then Squadron Leader , Hersern Singh Gill was one of the first few to be selected to fly a highly sophisticated aircraft (*) introduced into the Indian Air Force. A pilot of outstanding ability, he set pace for the highest standards in his squadron. He was twice selected for low level aerobatics displays and in recognition of his outstanding skill once a visiting dignitary (**) awarded him his country’s “ Class I Pilot’s Brevet ”on the spot.

Awarded Vayu Sena Medal for outstanding professional skill and exceptional devotion to duty.

* MIG 21 for which he was sent to USSR for training before induction.

** Air Force Chief from USSR.

Wing Commander Hersern Singh Gill had also qualified during 1960-1961 for Gliding Certificates A, B and C  of Federation Aeronautique Internationale (India) awarded by it’s recognized Sporting Authority in India, The Aero Club of India. He was awarded the Silver Gliding Badge of Federation Aeronautique Internationale.

In Feb 2020, on the occasion of Diamond Jubilee of 47 Sqn AF at Adampur , a hall was named after Wg Cdr HS Gill, who was the Squadron’s Commanding Officer during 1971 Indo-Pak, as “HS Gill Motivation Hall”, which was inaugurated by his brother Shri GS Gill. Photo No 01

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4 Comments
  • Divya Jha

    2019at8:21 am Reply

    This tribute is very small in front of the exemplary courage and grit shown by our brave Wing Commander H.S Gill. It is because of people like him that we feel proud to call ourselves Indian. We can never imagine let alone even tolerate the torture and suffering our brave hearts go through when they are captured by enemies. Thank you for inspiring me and for fighting for our safety. You put your lives at risk for us and your tenacity to tolerate the torture and still not spill out valuable information is commendable. You are the true celebrities of India and deserve the most noble award, best facilities for housing, for your family and highest salary. We salute you and you will always be alive in our hearts. We promise to put our best effort in completing the mission for which you so valiantly laid down your life. We will fight terrorism till our last breath. Our condolences to your family. They have not only lost their son, brother, husband, nephew or father but the whole nation has lost a son- a veer jawan whom we are proud to call- Martyred Wing Commander H.S Gill.
    Jai Hind

  • Prashant Kulkarni

    2019at5:45 am Reply

    My father was posted in SF Station jamnagar during the war and I distinctly remember having seen this brave officer the day before he took off on his final sortie….I remember to this day what I felt when we heard the news that he was shot down. I was a young boy if 15 then, and I remember I had tears when this news came through. Long live these bravehearts. Long live the spirit of sacrifice and bravery. And long live the spirit of resilience and fortitude that the bereaved families must have had to face in he face of such tragedies.

  • Sparsh

    2020at2:34 pm Reply

    Prashant Kulkarni sir, Our small group want to do something about Missing-54.
    Plz guide us. I also want to know more thing about missing-54. I am from Gujarat, Porbandar.

  • sparsh

    2020at2:41 pm Reply

    plz give your reply. we r waiting.

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