To A Gurkha
When God first chose a Gurkha
As a vessel of his own,
He took a chunk of cheerfulness
And laid on flesh and bone,
A face, well some deny it,
But a soul that no one could,
For anyone who’s seen it
Wishes his was half as good.
Faith there’s little small about him
Save the question of his size,
From the mountains which begat him
To the laughter in his eyes.
His sport, his love, his courage
Preserve the sterling ring
Of the simple-minded Hillman
With the manners of a King.
He has given of his thousands
And he hasn’t finished yet,
There’s’ never been a murmur
Of what he himself will get.
That’s not the way he looks at things
But in a simple trend
He heard the “Sahib-Log” call him
So he’s with us to the end.
I have seen him broken, mangled
With his life’s tide running low,
And the tears welled deep within me
As I watched the last thing go;
But it triumphed ere it left him
And stifled every moan,
T’was the little chunk of cheerfulness
Being gathered to its own.
List of the Brigade of Gurkha recipients of the Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross (VC) is a military decoration that may be bestowed upon members of the British or Commonwealth armed forces for acts of valour or gallantry performed in the face of the enemy. Within the British honours system and those of many Commonwealth nations it is the highest award a soldier can receive for actions in combat. It was established in the year 1856 and since then has been awarded 1,356 times, including three service personnel who were awarded the VC twice.
The British Army’s Brigade of Gurkhas, a group of units composed of Nepalese soldiers—although originally including British officers—has been a part of the Army since 1815. When raised it originally focused on conflicts in the Far East, but the transfer of Hong Kong from British to Chinese hands necessitated that the brigade move its base to the UK. A battalion is still maintained in Brunei and as of 2009, units serve in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans.
Since the VC was introduced it has been awarded to Gurkhas or British officers serving with Gurkha regiments 26 times. The first award was made in 1858 to a British officer of the Gurkhas, John Tytler, during the campaigns that followed the Indian Rebellion of 1857, while the first award to a native Gurkha, Kulbir Thapa, was in 1915 during the First World War.
When the Victoria Cross was initially established, Gurkhas, along with all other native troops of the British East India Company Army or the British Indian Army, were not eligible for the decoration and as such, up until 1911, all of the Gurkha recipients of the award were British officers who were attached to Gurkha regiments. Until that time the highest award that Gurkhas were eligible for was the Indian Order of Merit.
Since 1911 however, of the 16 VCs awarded to men serving with Gurkha regiments, 13 have been bestowed upon native Gurkhas. The most recent award was made in 1965 to Rambahadur Limbu, during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation. Along with the Royal Green Jackets, the Gurkha Regiments are one of the most heavily decorated Commonwealth regiments.
In 1950, when India became a republic, Gurkhas serving in the Gurkha regiments of the Indian Army lost their eligibility for the Victoria Cross and they are now covered under the separate Indian honours system. Under this system the Param Vir Chakra (PVC), which is India’s highest military decoration for valour, is considered to be equivalent to the Victoria Cross. As such only those serving in the Gurkha units of the British Army remain eligible for the Victoria Cross.
66th Bengal Native Infantry later 1st King George V’s Own Gurkha Rifles 1858
Indian Rebellion of 1857
Tytler was 22 years old, and a lieutenant in the 66th Bengal Native Infantry, Bengal Army, (later 1st Gurkha Rifles) during the Indian Rebellion of 1857 when the following deed took place on 10 February 1858 at Choorpoorah, India for which he was awarded the VC:
On the attacking parties approaching the enemy’s position under a heavy fire of round shot, grape, and musketry, on the occasion of the Action at Choorpoorah, on the 10th February last, Lieutenant Tytler dashed on horseback ahead of all, and alone, up to the enemy’s guns, where he remained engaged hand to hand, until they were carried by us; and where he was shot through the left arm, had a spear wound in his chest, and a ball through the right sleeve of his coat.
(Letter from Captain C. C. G. Ross, Commanding 66th (Goorkha) Regiment, to Captain Brownlow, Major of Brigade, Kemaon Field Force.)
Bengal Staff Corps attached to 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles 1872
Macintyre was 40 years old, and a major in the Bengal Staff Corps, British Indian Army, and 2nd Gurkha Rifles during the Lushai Expedition, India when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross
On 4th January 1872 during the Lushai Campaign, North-East India, Major Macintyre led the assault on the stockaded village of Lalgnoora. He was the first to reach the stockade, at that time about 9 feet high, and successfully stormed it under heavy fire from the enemy.
He fought in the Second Anglo-Afghan War and was granted the rank of major general upon retirement.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Gurkha Museum in Winchester, Hampshire, England.
Bengal Staff Corps attached to 1st King George V’s Own Gurkha Rifles 1875
He was educated at Cheltenham College. He served with the 89th and 95th regiments until 7th August 1866.
He was 32 years old, and a captain in the Bengal Staff Corps, Indian Army, and 1st Gurkha Rifles during the Perak War when, on 20th December 1875 in Perak, Malaya, Captain Channer was the first to jump into the enemy’s stockade to which he had been despatched with a small party to obtain intelligence of its strength and position. The stockade was formidable and it would have been impossible to bring guns to bear on it because of the steepness of the hill and the density of the jungle. If Captain Channer and his party had not been able to take the stockade in this manner it would have been necessary to resort to the bayonet, with consequent great loss of life.
He later achieved the rank of General.
He died on 13 December 1905 at Westward Ho!, Devonshire.
Bengal Staff Corps attached to 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles 1878
Second Afghan War
Peiwar Kotal, Afghanistan
John Cook went to India at the age of eighteen and soon after his arrival was posted to the 3rd Sikhs. He was mentioned in despatches for his services in the Umbeyla Campaign and served as Adjutant of his regiment in the Hazara Expedition of 1868 on the North West Frontier. After being promoted Captain in 1872 Cook transferred to the 5th Gurkhas as Wing Commander in 1873.
On the 24th September 1878 the 5th Gurkhas were warned for active service, and in October proceeded from Abbottabad to Thal, were it joined Sir Frederick Robert’s Kurram Valley Field Force. Cook crossed the frontier with his regiment as part of Brigadier-General Thelwall’s 2nd Brigade and following the reconnaisance of Peiwar Kotal, won his Victoria Cross on the slopes of the Spingawai Kotal, or White Cow Pass.
A few days after John Cook’s Victoria Cross action, a grateful Major Galbraith sent General Roberts the following report dated ‘Camp near Zabbardast Kila, 5th December 1878: “I have the honour to submit the following statement in the hope that should you see fit you will bring the name of Captain Cook, 5th Goorkha Regiment, to the favourable notice of His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief.
“On the morning of of the 2nd December 1878, after our troops had stormed the second entrenchment above the “Spin Gawai”, the enemy attempted to rally in the woods at our right flank, and at the same moment about 150 to 200 men were observed moving down from a height on the left. The latter were at first supposed to be our own sepoys, and were thus enabled to approach unmolested within 50 yards of the entrenchment, when, their identity being established, Captain Cook opened fire with about 15 to 20 of his men. A very heavy fire was interchanged for two or three minutes, during which time he was reinforced by about 12 men of his own regiment and the 72nd Highlanders. Seeing that the enemy had a mountain gun with them, he charged out of the entrenchement with such impetuosity that the enemy broke and fled, leaving many of their men and three battery mules on the ground.
At the close of the mêlée I was on the left flank of the Goorkhas when a man rushed towards me from behind. I had seen him advancing but thought him a friendly sepoy, until he raised his rifle at about three yards from me, fortunately an intervening tree sheltered me for the moment, and gave me time to turn and discharge my pistol at him without effect. Captain Cook seeing my danger, with a shout distracted his attention to himself, and aiming a sword cut which the Duranee avoided, sprang upon him, and grasping his throat, grappled with him. They both fell upon the ground, the Duranee, a most powerful man, still endeavouring to use his rifle and seizing Captain Cook’s arm in his teeth, until I was able to end the struggle by shooting him through the head. The whole affair was the work of a moment, but I feel convinced that but for Captain Cook’s prompt endeavour to draw the man’s fire upon himself, I should, in all probability, have been shot before I could have again discharged my pistol, several others of the enemy were at the time within a few yards of us.”
London Gazette, 18 March 1879, Peiwar Kotal, Afghanistan, 2nd December 1878, Captain John Cook, Bengal Staff Corps and 5th Gurkha Regiment.
“For a signal act of valour at the action of the Peiwar Kotal on the 2nd December 1878 in having, during a very heavy fire, charged out of the entrenchments with such impetuosity that the enemy broke and fled. When perceiving at the close of the mêlée the danger of Major Galbraith, Assistant Adjutant-General Kurram Column Field Force, who was in personal conflict with an Afghan soldier, Captain Cook distracted his attention to himself, and aiming a sword-cut, which the Douranee avoided, sprang upon him, and grasping his throat, grappled with him. They both fell to the ground. The Douranee, a most powerful man, still endeavouring to use his rifle, seized Captain Cook’s arm in his teeth, until the struggle was ended by the man being shot through the head.”
On the 11th December 1879 Cook was attached to Macpherson’s brigade which attempted to attack the Afghans in the rear at Argundeh, but was forced to retire towards Sherpur in the face of overwhelming numbers. Late in the day Cook distinguished himself in the rear guard action which saved the brigade’s baggage and found himself fighting shoulder to shoulder with his brother. So persistent and bold were the Afghans that it was found needful to resort to a bayonet charge, which, gallantly led by Major John Cook, 5th Gurkha Regiment, and Lieutenant Walter Cook, 3rd Sikhs, taught them to keep their distance. Unfortunately, Walter was shot in the chest and was carried to the Sherpur Cantonment, and John was brought to his knees by a blow to the head.
However, John Cook was able to take part in the attack next day on the Taht-i-Shah peak, the highest and most inaccessible point of the range of hills dominating Kabul. It was during this action that Major Cook received his death wound, being struck by a bullet that passed through the bone of the left leg, just below the knee. After spending the night on the hill in the open, Cook was eventually taken to the hospital at the besieged Sherpur Cantonment, where he died later from his wounds.
On the 21st December 1879 Major John Cook was buried in the Sherpur Cantonment British Cemetery, locally known as the ‘Gora Kabar’ which literally means ‘White Graveyard’.
Bengal Staff Corps attached to 8th Gurkha Rifles 1879
London Gazette, 11th May 1880, Konomo, Eastern India, 22nd November 1879, Captain Richard Kirby Ridgeway, 44th ( Sylhet ) Regiment, Bengal Native Infantry.
For conspicuous gallantry throughout the attack on Konoma, on the 22nd November 1879, more especially in the final assault, when, under a heavy fire from the enemy, he rushed up to a barricade and attempted to tear down the planking surrounding it, to enable him to effect an entrance, in which act he received a very severe rifle shot wound in the left shoulder.
Owing to his wounds this prevented Richard Ridgeway from attending an investiture and therefore his Victoria Cross was posted to him in Ireland by the War Office on the 2nd June 1880.
Richard Ridgeway died at his home in Harrogate and was cremated in the Lawnswood Crematorium, Leeds, West Yorkshire.
Indian Staff Corps attached to 8th Gurkha Rifles 1891
In 1891, in response to internal politics, Lieutenant Grant’s small detachment had marched into Manipur in an attempt to rescue the Chief Commissioner of Assam, Mr Quinton; the Local Resident Mr Grimwood; Lieutenant Colonel Skene; and two other officers, who had all entered the Manipuri fort for talks with the ‘Senapti’, the Chief Military Advisor to the Manipur Raja. Unknown to Lieutenant Grant all five had already been murdered by the time he had set out.
Seven miles inside Manipur his column came under fire, so they captured a defensive position at Thobal. The first attack came early on the 31st March and continued until the 9th April, the Manpuris having by then built up their attacking force to 2000 men plus field guns.
Grant held out against all the assaults of a numerically vastly superior force, including launching attacks outside the compound. After the battle he was involved in further fighting along the road. His horse was shot from under him and later he was hit by a bullet that went through the base of his neck and out the other side. Charles Grant and his small detachment finally reached safety in Tamu on the 9th April 1891.
For the award of the Victoria Cross
London Gazette, 26th May 1891, Thobal, Manipur, Burma, 27 March to 9th April 1891, Lieutenant Charles James William Grant, 12th Regiment ( 2nd Burma Bn ), Madras Infantry.
For the conspicuous bravery and devotion to his country displayed by him in having, upon hearing on the 27th March 1891, of the disaster at Manipur, at once volunteered to attempt the relief of the British Captives, with 80 Native Soldiers, and having advanced with the greatest intrepidity, captured Thobal, near Manipur, and held it against a large force of the enemy.
Lieutenant Grant inspired his men with equal heroism, by an ever-present example of personal daring and resource.
Charles Grant was invested with his Victoria Cross by the Governor of Madras, Lord Wenlock, at Octacamund, India, on the 6th July 1891.
Indian Staff Corps attached to 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles 1891
Nilt Fort, India
Boisragon was 27 years old, and a lieutenant in the Indian Staff Corps, British Indian Army, and 5th Gurkha Rifles during the Hunza-Naga Campaign, India when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
On 2nd December 1891 during the attack on Nilt Fort, India, Lieutenant Boisragon led the assault, forcing his way through difficult obstacles to the inner gate, when he returned for reinforcements, moving fearlessly to and fro under heavy cross-fire until he had collected sufficient men to drive the enemy from the fort.
John Manners Smith
Indian Staff Corps attached to 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles 1891
Nilt Fort, India
After transferring from the Norfolk Regiment to the British Indian Army, Smith was 27 years old, and a lieutenant in the Indian Staff Corps and 5th Gurkha Rifles, British Indian Army, during the Hunza-Naga Campaign, India when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
On 20th December 1891 near Nilt Fort, British India, Lieutenant Smith led the storming party at the attack and capture of a strong position occupied by the enemy. For nearly four hours on the face of the cliff which was almost precipitous, he moved his handful of men from point to point, and during this time he was unable to defend himself from any attack which the enemy chose to make. He was the first man to reach the summit within a few yards of one of the enemy’s sangars, which was immediately rushed, the lieutenant pistolling the first man.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: GURKHA MUSEUM, WINCHESTER., HAMPSHIRE.
4th Prince of Wales’ Own Gurkha Rifles 1903
Third Somaliland Expedition
Walker was 39 years old, and a captain in the 4th Gurkha Rifles, Indian Army, attached to the Bikanir Camel Corps during the Third Somaliland Expedition when, on 22nd April 1903 after the action at Daratoleh, British Somaliland, the rearguard got considerably behind the rest of the column.
Captain Walker and George Murray Rolland, with four other men were with a fellow officer when he fell badly wounded, and while one went for assistance, Captain Walker and the rest stayed with him, endeavouring to keep off the enemy. This they succeeded in doing, and when the officer in command of the column, John Edmund Gough, arrived, they managed to get the wounded man on to a camel. He was, however, hit a second time and died immediately.
8th Gurkha Rifles 1904
British expedition to Tibet
Gyantse Jong, Tibet
For the award of the Victoria Cross
London Gazette, Gyantse Jong, Tibet, 6 July 1904, Lieutenant John Duncan Grant, 1st Bn, 8th Gurkha Rifles, Indian Army.
On the occasion of the storming of the Gyantse Jong on 6th July 1904, the storming Company, headed by Lieutenant Grant, on emerging from the cover of the village, had to advance up a bare, almost precipitous, rock-face, with little or no cover available, and under a heavy fire from the curtain, flanking towers on both sides of the curtain, and other buildings higher up the Jong. Showers of rocks and stones were at the time being hurled down the hillside by the enemy from above. One man could only go up at a time, crawling on hands and knees, to the breach in the curtain.
Lieutenant Grant, followed by Havildar Karbir Pun, 8th Gurkha Rifles, at once attempted to scale it, but on reaching near the top he was wounded, and hurled back, as was also the Havildar, who fell down the rock some 30 feet. Regardless of their injuries they again attempted to scale the breach, and, covered by the fire of the men below, were successful in their object, the Havildat shooting one of the enemy on gaining the top.
The successful issue of the assault was very greatly due to the splendid example shown by Lieutenant Grant and Havildar Karbir Pun. The latter has been recommended for the Indian Order of Merit.
John Duncan Grant was invested with his Victoria Cross by King Edward VII at Buckingham Palace on the 24th July 1905.
3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles 1915
First World War
Born 15th December 1889 in Palpa, Nepal; son of Haria Gulte. He was a Rifleman in the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Gurkha Rifles, British Indian Army during the First World War.
Rifleman Kulbir Thapa, having been wounded himself, found a wounded soldier of The Leicestershire Regiment behind the first-line German trench. Although urged to save himself, the Gurkha stayed with the wounded man all day and night. Early next day, in misty weather, he took him through the German wire, within spitting distance from the Germans , and, leaving him in a place of comparative safety, returned and brought in two wounded Gurkhas, one after the other. He then went back, and, in broad daylight, fetched the British soldier, carrying him most of the way under enemy fire.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: THE GURKHA MUSEUM, WINCHESTER, HAMPSHIRE.
9th Gurkha Rifles 1917
First World War
Major George Campbell Wheeler won the Victoria Cross (VC) for his actions at Shumran in Mesopotamia on 23rd February 1917. Together with one Gurkha officer and eight men, he crossed the River Tigris and immediately rushed the enemy’s trench in spite of the heavy bombing, rifle, machine gun and artillery fire to which they were being subjected. The party of which Major Wheeler had command were successful in obtaining a footing on the river bank, when almost immediately a strong detachment of the enemy with bombers launched a violent counter-attack. At once Wheeler led a charge with another officer and three men against the on-coming enemy when he received a severe bayonet wound to the head. In spite of this, he continued to lead and disperse the enemy and save the situation.
3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles 1918
First World War
El Kefr, Egypt
Karanbahadur Rana was a Rifleman in the 3rd Gurkha Rifles. He was just 19 years old when he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in El Kelfr, Egypt on 10th April 1918. His citation explains further:
For most conspicuous bravery, resource in action under adverse conditions, and utter contempt for danger. During an attack he, with a few other men, succeeded under intense fire in creeping forward with a Lewis gun in order to engage an enemy machine gun which had caused severe casualties to officers and other ranks who had attempted to put it out of action. No 1 of the Lewis gun opened fire, and was shot immediately. Without a moment’s hesitation Rifleman Karanbahadur Rana pushed the dead man off the gun, and in spite of bombs thrown at him and heavy fire from both flanks, he opened fire and knocked out the machine-gun crew; then, switching his fire on to the enemy bombers and riflemen in front of him, he silenced their fire. He kept his gun in action and showed the greatest coolness in removing defects which on two occasions prevented the gun from firing. During the remainder of the day he did magnificent work, and when a withdrawal was ordered he assisted with covering fire until the enemy were close on him. He displayed throughout a very high standard of valour and devotion to duty.
Rana survived the war. He died in Litung, Nepal in 1973 at the age of 74.
Lal bahadur Thapa
2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles 1943
Second World War
On the night of 5th -6th April, during the silent attack on the Resse-es-Zouai, Subadar Lal Bahadur Thapa was Second-in-Command of D Company….
The garrison of the outer posts were all killed by Subadar Lal Bahadur Thapa and hi men by kukri or bayonet in the first rush and the enemy then opened very heavy fire straight down the narrow enclosed pathway and steep arena sides. Subadar Lalbahadur Thapa led his men on and fought his way up the narrow gully straight through the enemy’s fire, with little room to manoeuvre, in the face of intense and sustained machine-gun concentrations and the liberal us of grenades by the enemy.Next the machine-gun posts were dealt with, Subadar Lal Bahadur Thapa personally killing two men with his kukri and two more with his revolver. This Gurkha Officer continued to fight his way up the narrow bullet-swept approaches to thecrest. He and two riflemen managed to reach the crest, where Subadar Lal Bahadur Thapa then secured the whole feature and covered his company’s advance up the defile.
5th Royal Gurkha Rifles 1943
Second World War
Chin Hills, Burma
The action in which he won his VC was fought in the final phase of 17th Indian Division’s withdrawal and life-and-death struggle with the Japanese 33rd Division on the Tiddim Road on 27th May 1943. If their line was to be held against sustained Japanese pressure, it was essential for 2 / 5th Gurkhas to clear the enemy from positions overlooking their own. Two assaults on Basha East Hill, the key to the Japanese position, had failed. Casualties among the platoon commanders had been so heavy that Gaje was made an acting havildar in command of a platoon of D Company and led it in the third assault.
London Gazette, 30 September 1943, Basha East Hill, Burma, 24th – 27th May 1943, Havildar Gaje Ghale, 2nd Bn, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles.
In order to stop an advance into the Chin Hills of greatly superior Japanese forces it was essential to capture Basha East hill which was the key to the enemy position. Two assaults had failed but a third assault was ordered to be carried out by two platoons of Havildar Gaje Ghale’s company and two companies of another battalion.
Havildar Gaje Ghale was in command of one platoon: he had never been under fire before and the platoon consisted of young soldiers. The approach for this platoon to their objective was along a narrow knife-edge with precipitous sides and bare of jungle whereas the enemy positions were well concealed. In places, the approach was no more than five yards wide and was covered by a dozen machine guns besides being subjected to artillery and mortar fire from the reverse slope of the hill.
While preparing for the attack the platoon came under heavy mortar fire but Havildar Gaje Ghale rallied them and led them forward. Approaching to close range of the well-entrenched enemy, the platoon came under withering fire and this. N.C.O. was wounded in the arm, chest and leg by an enemy hand grenade. Without pausing to attend to his serious wounds and with no heed to the intensive fire from all sides, Havildar Gaje Ghale closed his men and led them to close grips with the enemy when a bitter hand-to-hand struggle ensued.
Havildar Gaje Ghale dominated the fight by his outstanding example of dauntless courage and superb leadership. Hurling hand grenades, covered in blood from his own neglected wounds, he led assault after assault encouraging his platoon by shouting the Gurkha’s battle cry. Spurred on by the irresistible will of their leader to win, the platoon stormed and carried the hill by a magnificent all out effort and inflicted very heavy casualties on the Japanese.
Havildar Gaje Ghale then held and consolidated this hard won position under heavy fire and it was not until the consolidation was well in hand that he went, refusing help, to the Regimental Aid Post, when ordered to do so by an officer. The courage, determination and leadership of this N.C.O. under the most trying conditions were beyond all praise.
Gaje Ghale was invested with his Victoria Cross by the Viceroy of India, Field Marshal Lord Wavell, at the Red Fort, Delhi, on the 6th January 1944
Gaje Ghale was promoted Jamadar in October 1943. His VC was presented to him by the Viceroy, Field Marshall Lord Wavell in 1944, and he was a member of his regiment’s contingent at the Victory Parade in London. He maintained the closest links with his former British officers of the 5th Gurkhas, and visited England on a number of occasions under the auspices of the VC & GC Association. His most recent visit was in the Autumn of 1990.
Indian Armoured Corps attached to 6th Gurkha Rifles 1944*
Second World War
Pin Hmi Road Bridge, Burma
The citation in the London Gazette which announced Allmand’s award reads:
“Captain Allmand was commanding the leading platoon of a Company of the 6th Gurkha Rifles in Burma on 11th June, 1944, when the Battalion was ordered to attack the Pin Hmi Road Bridge. The enemy had already succeeded in holding up our advance at this point for twenty four hours. The approach to the Bridge was very narrow as the road was banked up and the low-lying land on either side was swampy and densely covered in jungle. The Japanese who were dug in along the banks of the road and in the jungle with machine guns and small arms, were putting up the most desperate resistance. As the platoon come within twenty yards of the Bridge, the enemy opened heavy and accurate fire, inflicting severe casualties and forcing the men to seek cover. Captain Allmand, however, with the utmost gallantry charged on by himself, hurling grenades into the enemy gun positions and killing three Japanese himself with his kukrie.
Inspired by the splendid example of their platoon commander the surviving men followed him and captured their objective. Two days later Captain Allmand, owing to casualties among the officers, took over command of the Company and, dashing thirty yards ahead of it through long grass and marshy ground, swept by machine gun fire, personally killed a number of enemy machine gunners and successfully led his men onto the ridge of high ground that they had been ordered to seize. Once again on June 23rd in the final attack on the Railway Bridge at Mogaung, Captain Allmand, although suffering from trench-foot, which made it difficult for him to walk, moved forward alone through deep mud and shell-holes and charged a Japanese machine gun nest single-handed, but he was mortally wounded and died shortly afterwards.
The superb gallantry, outstanding leadership and protracted heroism of this very brave officer were a wonderful example to the whole Battalion and in the highest traditions of his regiment.”
6th Gurkha Rifles 1944
Second World War
Pun was 21 years old, and a Rifleman in the 3rd Battalion, 6th Gurkha Rifles, in the Indian Army during World War II when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
On 23rd June 1944 at Mogaung, Burma, during an attack on the railway bridge, a section of one of the platoons was wiped out with the exception of Rifleman Tul Bahadur Pun, his section commander and one other. The section commander immediately led a charge on the enemy position but was at once badly wounded, as was the third man. Rifleman Pun, with a Bren gun continued the charge alone in the face of shattering fire and reaching the position, killed three of the occupants and put five more to flight, capturing two light machine-guns and much ammunition. He then gave accurate supporting fire, enabling the rest of his platoon to reach their objective.
War Office, 9th November, 1944
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to:-
No. 10119 Rifleman Tulbahadur [sic] Pun, 6th Gurkha Rifles, Indian Army.
In Burma on 23rd June 1944, a Battalion of the 6th Gurkha Rifles was ordered to attack the Railway Bridge at Mogaung. Immediately the attack developed the enemy opened concentrated and sustained cross fire at close range from a position known as the Red House and from a strong bunker position two hundred yards to the left of it.
The cross fire was so intense that both the leading platoons of ‘B’ Company, one of which was Rifleman Tulbahadur Pun’s, were pinned to the ground and the whole of his Section was wiped out with the exception of himself, the Section commander and one other man. The Section commander immediately led the remaining two men in a charge on the Red House but was at once badly wounded. Rifleman Tulbahadur (sic) Pun and his remaining companion continued the charge, but the latter too was immediately wounded.
Rifleman Tulbahadur Pun then seized the Bren Gun, and firing from the hip as he went, continued the charge on this heavily bunkered position alone, in the face of the most shattering concentration of automatic fire, directed straight at him. With the dawn coming up behind him, he presented a perfect target to the Japanese. He had to move for thirty yards over open ground, ankle deep in mud, through shell holes and over fallen trees.
Despite these overwhelming odds, he reached the Red House and closed with the Japanese occupants. He killed three and put five more to flight and captured two light machine guns and much ammunition. He then gave accurate supporting fire from the bunker to the remainder of his platoon which enabled them to reach their objective.
His outstanding courage and superb gallantry in the face of odds which meant almost certain death were most inspiring to all ranks and beyond praise.
— Supplement to the London Gazette, 7th November 1944 (dated 9 November 1944)
Pun was invited, along with other Victoria Cross recipients, to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on 2 June 1953. He attended the ceremony at Westminster Abbey, and was invited to the party afterwards at Buckingham Palace.
He made several visits to the United Kingdom, particularly to meet with other members of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association. He had tea with Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.
5th Royal Gurkha Rifles 1944*
Second World War
On 25th–26th June 1944, at the age of twenty eight, Thapa was an acting subedar of the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles in the Indian Army during World War II. He was in command of a small isolated hill post at Bishenpur, India when the Japanese army attacked in force. The men, inspired by their leader’s example, held their ground and the enemy were beaten off, but casualties were very heavy and reinforcements were requested. When these arrived some hours later they also suffered heavy casualties. Thapa retrieved the reinforcements’ ammunition himself and mounted an offensive with grenades and kukris, until he was killed.
Sher Bahadur Thapa
9th Gurkha Rifles 1944*
Second World War
San Marino, Italy
He was a Thapa Chhetri of Khas origin and a son of Ramdhoj Thapa, a permanent resident of Ghalechap of Tanahu, Nepal. Thapa enlisted in the British Indian Army on 20th November 1942 and was a 22 years old Rifleman in the 1st Battalion of the 9th Gurkha Rifles, in the during World War II when the following deed took place at the Battle of San Marino, for which he was awarded the VC.
His citation in the London Gazette reads:
On 18/19 September 1944 at San Marino, Italy, when a company of the 9th Gurkha Rifles encountered bitter opposition from a German prepared position, Rifleman Sher Bahadur Thapa and his section commander, who was afterwards badly wounded, charged and silenced an enemy machine-gun. The rifleman then went on alone to the exposed part of a ridge where, ignoring a hail of bullets, he silenced more machine-guns, covered a withdrawal and rescued two wounded men before he was killed.
5th Royal Gurkha Rifles 1944
Second World War
He was born in the village of Amsara, in the Okhaldhunga district of Nepal
Agansing Rai was a 24-year-old Naik in the 2nd Battalion, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, in the Indian Army during World War II, when he led his section in an attack on one of two posts which had been taken by the enemy and were threatening the British forces’ communications on 26th June 1944 near the town of Bishenpur in the state of Manipur, India.
Under withering fire Agansing Rai and his party charged a machine-gun. Agansing Rai himself killed three of the crew. When the first position had been taken, he then led a dash on a machine-gun firing from the jungle, where he killed three of the crew, his men accounting for the rest. He subsequently tackled an isolated bunker single-handed, killing all four occupants. The enemy were now so demoralised that they fled and the second post was recaptured.
5th Royal Gurkha Rifles 1944*
Second World War
Monte San Bartolo, Italy
He was 20 years old, and a Rifleman in the 1st Battalion, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, in the Indian Army during World War II when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
The citation in the London Gazette reads:
In Italy on 10th November 1944 a Company of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles was ordered to send a fighting patrol on to Monte San Bartolo, an objective of a future attack. In this patrol were two scouts, one of whom was Thaman Gurung.
By skillful stalking both scouts succeeded in reaching the base of the position undetected. Rifleman Thaman Gurung then started to work his way to the summit; the second scout attracted his attention to Germans in a slit trench just below the crest, who were preparing to fire with a machine gun at the leading section. Realizing that if the enemy succeeded in opening fire, the section would certainly sustain heavy casualties, Rifleman Thaman Gurung leapt to his feet and charged them. Completely taken by surprise, the Germans surrendered without opening fire.
Rifleman Thaman Gurung then crept forward to the summit of the position, from which he saw a party of Germans, well dug in on reverse slopes, preparing to throw grenades over the crest at the leading section. Although the sky-line was devoid of cover and under accurate machine gun fire at close range, Rifleman Thaman Gurung immediately crossed it, firing on the German position with his Tommy gun, thus allowing the forward section to reach the summit, but due to heavy fire from the enemy machine guns, the platoon was ordered to withdraw.
Rifleman Thaman Gurung then again crossed the sky-line alone and although in full view of the enemy and constantly exposed to heavy fire at short range, he methodically put burst after burst of Tommy gun fire into the German slit trenches, until his ammunition ran out. He then threw two grenades he had with him and rejoining his section, collected two more grenades and again doubled over the bullet-swept crest of the hill top and hurled them at the remaining Germans. This diversion enabled both rear sections to withdraw without further loss. Meanwhile, the leading section, which had remained behind to assist the withdrawal of the remainder of the platoon, was still on the summit, so Rifleman Thaman Gurung, shouting to the section to withdraw, seized a Bren gun and a number of magazines. He then, yet again, ran to the top of the hill and, although he well knew that his action meant almost certain death, stood up on the bullet-swept summit, in full view of the enemy, and opened fire at the nearest enemy positions. It was not until he had emptied two complete magazines, and the remaining section was well on its way to safety, that Rifleman Thaman Gurung was killed.
It was undoubtedly due to his superb gallantry that his platoon was able to withdraw from an extremely difficult position without many more casualties than were in fact incurred and that some very valuable information was obtained which resulted in the capture of the feature three days later. The rifleman’s bravery cost him his life.
Highland Light Infantry attached to 9th Gurkha Rifles 1944*
Second World War
Born in Kasauli, Punjab, India, Frank Blaker was 24 years old, and a Temporary Major in the Highland Light Infantry, British Army, attached to 3rd Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles, in the Indian Army during World War II when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
On 9th July 1944 near Taungni, Burma (now Myanmar), Major Blaker was commanding a company which was held up during an important advance by close-range firing from medium and light machine-guns. The major went ahead of his men through very heavy fire and despite being severely wounded in the arm, located the machine-guns and charged the position alone. Even when mortally wounded he continued to cheer on his men whilst lying on the ground. His fearless leadership inspired his men to storm and capture the objective.
7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles 1944
Second World War
Ganju Lama was nineteen years old, and a rifleman in the 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles, in the Indian Army during World War II when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross:
On 12th June 1944, near Ningthoukhong, India , ‘B’ Company was attempting to stem the enemy’s advance when it came under heavy machine-gun and tank machine-gun fire. Rifleman Ganju Lama, with complete disregard for his own safety, took his PIAT gun and, crawling forward, succeeded in bringing the gun into action within 30 yards of the enemy tanks, knocking out two of them. Despite a broken wrist and two other serious wounds to his right and left hands he then moved forward and engaged the tank crew who were trying to escape. Not until he had accounted for all of them did he consent to leave to his wounds dressed.
A month earlier, during operations on the Tiddim Road, Ganju Lama’s regiment had surprised a party of Japanese and killed several of them. He was awarded the Military Medal for his part in the action. Strangely though, this award was actually announced in the London Gazette after his Victoria Cross, appearing on 3rd October 1944, almost a month later.
8th Gurkha Rifles 1945
Second World War
On 12th /13th May 1945 at Taungdaw, Burma (now Myanmar), Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung was manning the most forward post of his platoon which bore the brunt of an attack by at least 200 of the Japanese enemy. Twice he hurled back grenades which had fallen on his trench, but the third exploded in his right hand, blowing off his fingers, shattering his arm and severely wounding him in the face, body and right leg. His two comrades were also badly wounded but the rifleman, now alone and disregarding his wounds, loaded and fired his rifle with his left hand for four hours, calmly waiting for each attack which he met with fire at point blank range.
His citation in the London Gazette ends with:
…Of the 87 enemy dead counted in the immediate vicinity of the Company locality, 31 lay in front of this Rifleman’s section, the key to the whole position. Had the enemy succeeded in over-running and occupying Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung’s trench, the whole of the reverse slope position would have been completely dominated and turned.
This Rifleman, by his magnificent example, so inspired his comrades to resist the enemy to the last, that, although surrounded and cut off for three days and two nights, they held and smashed every attack.
His outstanding gallantry and extreme devotion to duty, in the face of almost overwhelming odds, were the main factors in the defeat of the enemy.
He received his Victoria Cross from the Viceroy of India, Field Marshal Lord Wavell at the Red Fort in Delhi on 19th December 1945.
2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles 1945
Second World War
Snowdon East, Tamandu, Burma
Bhanbhagta Gurung was about 24 years old, and a Rifleman in the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Gurkha Rifles, British Indian Army when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC:
On 5th March 1945 at Snowdon-East, near Tamandu, Burma (now Myanmar), Gurung and his unit were approaching Snowdon-East. His company became pinned down by an enemy sniper and were suffering casualties. As the sniper was inflicting casualties on the section, Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung, being unable to fire from the lying position, stood up fully exposed to the heavy fire and calmly killed the enemy sniper with his rifle, thus saving his section from suffering further casualties.
The section advanced again but came under heavy fire once again. Without waiting for orders, Gurung dashed out to attack the first enemy fox-hole. Throwing two grenades, he killed the two occupants and without any hesitation rushed on to the next enemy fox-hole and killed the Japanese in it with his bayonet. He cleared two further fox-holes with bayonet and grenades. “During his single-handed attacks on these four enemy fox-holes, Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung was subjected to almost continuous and point-blank Light Machine Gun fire from a bunker on the North tip of the objective.” For the fifth time, Gurung “went forward alone in the face of heavy enemy fire to knock out this position. He doubled forward and leapt on to the roof of the bunker from where, his hand grenades being finished, he flung two No. 77 smoke grenades into the bunker slit.” Gurung killed two Japanese soldiers who ran out of the bunker with his Kukri, and then advanced into the cramped bunker and killed the remaining Japanese soldier.
Gurung ordered three others to take up positions in the bunker. “The enemy counter-attack followed soon after, but under Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung’s command the small party inside the bunker repelled it with heavy loss to the enemy. Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung showed outstanding bravery and a complete disregard for his own safety. His courageous clearing of five enemy positions single-handed was in itself decisive in capturing the objective and his inspiring example to the rest of the Company contributed to the speedy consolidation of this success.”
His regiment gained the battle honour “Tamandu” as a result of the engagement and he received his Victoria Cross from King George VI at Buckingham Palace.
10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha Rifles 1965
The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to:
21148786 Lance Corporal RAMBAHADUR LIMBU, 10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha Rifles.
On 21st November 1965 in the Bau District of Sarawak Lance Corporal RAMBAHADUR LIMBU was with his Company when they discovered and attacked a strong enemy force located in the Border area… Leading his support group in the van of the attack he could see the nearest trench and in it a sentry manning a machine gun. Determined to gain first blood he inched himself forward until… he was seen and the sentry opened fire, immediately wounding a man to his right. Rushing forward he reached the enemy trench… and killed the sentry, thereby gaining for the attacking force a foothold on the objective… with a complete disregard for the hail of fire he got together and led his fire group to a better fire position…
…he saw both men of his own group seriously wounded… and… immediately commenced… to rescue his comrades… he crawled forward, in full view of at least two enemy machine gun posts who concentrated their fire on him… but… was driven back by the accurate and intense… fire… After a pause he started again…
Rushing forward he hurled himself on the ground beside one of the wounded and calling for support from two light machine guns… he picked up the man and carried him to safety… Without hesitation he immediately returned… [for the other] wounded man [and] carried him back… through the hail of enemy bullets. It had taken twenty minutes to complete this gallant action and the events leading up to it. For all but a few seconds this Non-Commissioned Officer had been moving alone in full view of the enemy and under the continuous aimed fire of their automatic weapons… His outstanding personal bravery, selfless conduct, complete contempt of the enemy and determination to save the lives of the men of his fire group set an incomparable example and inspired all who saw him.
Finally, Lance Corporal Rambahadur was responsible for killing four more enemy as they attempted to escape…
He displayed heroism, self sacrifice and a devotion to duty and to his men of the very highest order. His actions on this day reached a zenith of determined, premeditated valour which must count amongst the most notable on record and is deserving of the greatest admiration and the highest praise.
The Gurkha Museum is in the former Peninsula Barracks, Winchester
Sourced from Wikipedia, Gurkha and VC sites.