1 March 2008

The death has been announced of Lance Naik Bhanbhagta Gurung VC, 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles. He died at his home in Dharapani, Gorkha, Nepal, and according to Nepalese custom, was cremated on Sunday, 2nd March, at Devghal of Chitawan.

Bhanbhagta Gurung was born in Phalbu Village, Nepal, in September 1921 and earned his Victoria Cross in Burma in 1945. His Victoria Cross and campaign medals reside with the Gurkha Museum, Winchester, England.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 5 June 1945 ], Snowden East, Tamandu, Burma, 5 March 1945, Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung, 3rd Bn, 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles.

In Burma on 5th March 1945, a Company of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles attacked an enemy position known as Snowden East. On approaching the objective one of the, sections was forced to ground by very heavy Light Machine Gun, grenade and mortar fire, and owing to the severity of this fire was unable to move in any direction. While thus pinned, the section came under accurate fire from a tree sniper some 75 yards to the South. As this 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 then advanced again, but when within 20 yards of the objective was again attacked by, very heavy fire. Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung, without waiting for any orders, dashed forward alone and attacked the first enemy foxhole. Throwing two grenades, he killed the two occupants and without any hesitation rushed on to the next enemy foxhole and killed the Japanese in it with his bayonet. Two further enemy foxholes were still bringing fire to bear on the section and again Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung dashed forward alone and cleared these with bayonet and grenade.

During his single-handed attacks on these four enemy foxholes, 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. Realising that this Light Machine Gun would hold up not only his own platoon which was now behind him, but also another platoon which was advancing from the West, Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung for the fifth time 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. Two Japanese rushed out of the bunker partially blinded by the smoke. Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung promptly killed them both with his Kukri. A remaining Japanese inside the bunker was still firing the Light Machine Gun and holding up the advance of No. 4 Platoon, so Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung crawled inside the bunker, killed this Japanese gunner and captured the Light Machine Gun.

Most of the objective had now been cleared by the men behind and the enemy driven off were collecting for a counter-attack beneath the North end of the objective. Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung ordered the nearest Bren gunner and two riflemen to take up positions in the captured 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.

Bhanbhagta Gurung was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on the 16th October 1945.

Medal entitlement of Lance Naik Bhanbhagta Gurung - 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles

  • Victoria Cross
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Burma Star
  • War Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • India Service Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1977 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ( 2002 )
  • Star of Nepal ( 3rd Class )

VC Deaths

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Iain Stewart, 3 March 2008