12 December 2010

The death has been announced of Havildar Lachhiman Gurung VC, aged 92, 8th Gurkha Rifles, at the Chiswick War Memorial Homes where he was living and being cared for by his granddaughter Amrita. In 2008 Lachhiman Gurung moved from his native Nepal to live in the United Kingdom settling in Hounslow, to which he was formally welcomed at a ceremony led by the mayor and the council: he was later made a Freeman of the Borough. He attended many functions of the Nepalise communities in Hounslow and elsewhere, and was honorary vice-president of the Chiswick branch of the Royal British Legion.

Lachhiman Gurung VC made his last appearances at the VC & GC Association Service of Remembrance and Re-Dedication at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, on 9th November 2010, and attended the reception of VC holders given by HM Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. He also attended the private viewing and opening of the Lord Ashcroft Gallery in the Imperial War Museum on the 10th November 2010.

Lachhiman Gurung was buried in Chiswick New Cemetery, Staveley Road, Chiswick, West London, on Thursday, 23rd December 2010.

For the award of the Victoria Cross:

[ London Gazette, 27 July 1945 ], Taungdaw, Burma, 12-13 May 1945, Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung, 8th Gurkha Rifles.

At Taungdaw, in Burma, on the west bank of the Irrawaddy, on the night of 12th / 13th May 1945, Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung was manning the most forward post of his platoon. At 0120 hours at least 200 enemy assaulted his Company position. The brunt of the attack was borne by Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung's section and by his own post in particular.

This post dominated a jungle path leading up into his platoon locality. Before assaulting, the enemy hurled innumerable grenades at the position from close range. One grenade fell on the lip of Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung's trench: he at once grasped it and hurled it back at the enemy. Almost immediately another grenade fell directly inside the trench. Again this Rifleman snatched it up and threw it back. A third grenade then fell just in front of the trench. He attempted to throw it back, but it exploded in his hand, blowing off his fingers, shattering his right arm and severely wounding him in the face, body and right leg. His two comrades were also badly wounded and lay helpless in the bottom of the trench.

The enemy, screaming and shouting, now formed up shoulder-to-shoulder and attempted to rush the position by sheer weight of numbers. Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung, regardless of his wounds, fired and loaded his rifle with his left hand, maintaining a continuous and steady rate of fire. Wave after wave of fanatical attacks were thrown in by the enemy and all were repulsed with heavy casualties.

For four hours after being severely wounded Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung remained alone at his post, waiting with perfect calm for each attack, which he met with fire at point-blank range from his rifle, determined not to give one inch of ground. 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.

Lachhiman Gurung was invested with his Victoria Cross by Lord Louis Mountbatten at a parade at the Red Fort, New Delhi, on the 19th December 1945.

After the action which won him the Victoria Cross, Gurung was evacuated to hospital, but lost his right hand and the use of his right eye. He continued to serve with the 8th Gurkha Rifles but transferred to the Indian Army after Independence in 1947. He retired with the rank of havildar ( the equivalent of sergeant ) in the same regiment.

Medal entitlement of Hon Havildar Lachhiman Gurung - 8th 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 )

VC Deaths

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Iain Stewart, 16 December 2010