At 103, Army’s oldest gunner officer passes away

Major Gurdial Singh Jallanwalia fought in World War II and was part of India’s wars against Pakistan in 1948 and 1965

At 103, Army’s oldest gunner officer passes away

Major Gurdial Singh Jallanwalia

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22

At 103, the Indian Army's oldest surviving artillery officer Major Gurdial Singh Jallanwalia has marched into oblivion. A war wounded veteran, who was part of the Second World War and two wars against Pakistan, died on Wednesday in Ludhiana.

Major Jallanwalia and 13 of his family members served in the defence forces and have the distinction of participating in all the wars fought by the Indian Army since World War I.

Born on August 21, 1917, Major Jallanwalia passed out from the Royal Indian Military School, Jalandhar, and joined the Mountain Artillery Training Centre in June 1935. After completing his training, he was posted with 14 Rajputana Mountain Battery at Abbottabad (now in Pakistan) and in 1940, he was transferred to a Survey Troop at Cammbellpur (also in Pakistan).

In 1939-40, he took part in Ahmadzai-Waziristan Operation in the North West Frontier Province, now in Pakistan. Then in 1944, Jallanwalia’s unit was moved by road from Bengaluru to Burma to fight against the Japanese during World War II.

He along with others was sent to Burma (now Myanmar) by road. When the unit reached Iraawadi river, they were engaged by Japanese forces. Jallanwalia’s unit killed two Japanese soldiers but he was injured by an enemy bullet.

After Independence, Jallanwalia participated in operations to check Pakistani infiltration in the Nowshera Sector in 1948. In the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, he served as a counter-bombardment officer with XI Corps in the Amritsar-Lahore Sector.

He finally hung up his boots in 1967. His two sons – Harmanderjeet Singh and Harjinderjeet Singh – served the Indian Army and Indian Air Force, respectively, and were part of the 1999 Kargil conflict.

His grandson is also an Army officer. Major Jallanwalia's father, Risaldaar Duleep Singh, had fought with the erstwhile British India Army in Mesopotamia during World War I.

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