The Times, Tuesday, 30 May 2000

Agansing Rai was born in Amsara in east Nepal on 24 April 1920. He enlisted in the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles ( Frontier Force ) in 1941 and, after joining the 2nd battalion, soon became a section commander with the rank of Naik ( corporal ).

Following his service career he lived quietly at his home some three days' walk from Katmandu. Subedar-Major and Honorary Captain Agansing Rai, VC, the hero of the defence of Imphal, died on 27 May 2000, aged 81.

In June 1944 the 17th Indian Division was still under intense pressure from the Japanese at Bishenpur, southwest of Imphal. Their supply route, a mere track running through the hills to Silchar, became a scene of bitter fighting. On the morning of June 25, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles ( Frontier Force ) was ordered to recapture an enemy position dominating the track.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 5 October 1944 ], Burma, 26 June 1944, Rifleman ( acting Naik ) Agansing Rai, 2nd Bn, 5th Gurkha Rifles ( Frontier Force ), Indian Army.

In Burma on 24th and 25th June 1944, after fierce fighting, the enemy, with greatly superior forces had captured two posts known as "Water Piquet" and "Mortar Bluff". These posts were well sighted and were mutually supporting and their possession by the enemy threatened our communications.

On the morning of 26th June 1944, a Company of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles ( Frontier Force ) was ordered to recapture these positions. After a preliminary artillery concentration, the Company went into the attack but on reaching a false crest about 80 yards from its objective, it was pinned down by heavy and accurate fire from a machine-gun in "Mortar Bluff" and a 37 millimetre gun in the jungle, suffering many casualties.

Naik Agansing Rai, appreciating that more delay would inevitably result in heavier casualties, at once led his section under withering fire directly at the machine-gun and, firing as he went, charged the position, himself killing three of the crew of four. Inspired by this cool act of bravery the section surged forward across the bullet swept ground and routed the whole garrison of "Mortar Bluff." This position was now under intense fire from the 37-millimetre gun in the jungle and from "Water Piquet". Naik Agansing Rai at once advanced towards the gun, his section without hesitation following their gallant leader.

Intense fire reduced the section to three men before half the distance had been covered but they pressed on to their objective. Arriving at close range, Naik Agansing Rai killed three of the crew and his men killed the other two. The party then returned to "Mortar Bluff" where the rest of their platoon were forming up for the final assault on "Water Piquet".

In the subsequent advance heavy machine-gun fire and showers of grenades from an isolated bunker position caused further casualties. Once more, with indomitable courage, Naik Agansing Rai, covered by his Bren gunner, advanced alone with a grenade in one hand and his Thompson Sub-Machine gun in the other. Through devastating fire he reached the enemy position and with his grenade and bursts from his Thompson Sub-Machine gun killed all four occupants of the bunker. The enemy, demoralized by this N.C.Os calm display of courage and complete contempt for danger, now fled before the onslaught on "Water Piquet" and this position too was captured.

Naik Agansing Rai's magnificent display of initiative, outstanding bravery and gallant leadership, so inspired the rest of the Company that, in spite of heavy casualties, the result of this important action was never in doubt.

Agansing Rai was invested with his Victoria Cross by the Viceroy of India, Field Marshal Lord Wavell, in Peshawar, India, on the 23rd January 1945.

Medal entitlement of Naik Agansing Rai - 2nd Bn, 5th Gurkha Rifles

  • Victoria Cross
  • Raksha Medal ( 1965 )
  • Indian Independence Medal ( 1947 )
  • Sainya Seva Medal ( India ) clasp "Jammu Kashmir"
  • Videsh Seva Medal ( India ) clasp "Congo"
  • United Nations Service Medal ( 1960-65 ) ( ONUC ) Congo ribbon
  • 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 )
  • 20 Years' Long Service Medal
  • 9 Years' Long Service Medal

VC Deaths

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Iain Stewart, 22 July 2004