Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gunner Extraordinaire

I am sad to learn the demise of Colonel MS Gill (Rtd) Gunner Extraordinaire, from Singapore in 2008. He had served a full army career in Singapore and particularly in the Singapore Artillery Corps. Colonel Gill will be well remembered by us for his invaluable service and contributions during our confrontation period. He was a direct commissioned officer from Singapore in 1965 and was posted to 2 ARTY as a Lt. He was deployed as a GPO to Sebatik Island, when he realized that the maps in the Malaysian side of the island was different from the maps in the Indonesian side. The gridlines and fixations does not match. He studied the problem and found out that Malaysian maps originated from standard British trig points, where else the Indonesian maps originated from Dutch trig points. Accuracy of fire was further compounded by lack of daily met data. It was quite a nightmare firing predicted targets.

Arty fire during the confrontation was mainly HF and DF fire missions. Only the DF(SOS) and other close targets were registered targets. Most targets were predicted targets, which would be upgraded to as fired targets, if the target was fired upon. Very often the GPO himself would accompany infantry fighting patrols into the general area of a fired target to confirm its fixation. Target record books would be handed over during bty roulements.

Colonel Gill was a trained and qualified metrologist before joining the army. He then worked out a comprehensive compensation chart called Gills Drop Factor for all firing ranges and charges. I recall that all the adjustments to our firing tables were drop, as opposed to add, because the primary arc of fire (Centre of Arc was south, as Indonesia occupied the southern half of the island. So what we did was to add a Drop Factor to our elevation. The amount of Drop depends on the range and charge used.

I suppose we would have GPS systems and Google maps incorporated into our battle management systems today. I hope those Drop Factor data sheets would still exist in our Artillery Museum or in the regiments as a valuable contribution and recognition of service from Colonel Gill.

Colonel Gill was a great loss to us when Singapore was separated from Malaysia. He returned to serve the Singapore Armed Forces, and helped to build a very formidable Singapore Artillery Corp. He rose in the ranks to become Chief of the Artillery and also Deputy Chief of General Staff Singapore, before retirement in the 80s.

Thank you Colonel Gill, May you Rest in Peace.

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