Gurkha Soldier – 13 May 1945

The 4th Gurkhas at kit inspection

Never mess with a Gurkha. Not everyone knows this, but then again, many people don’t know what a Gurkha/Gorkha is. Gurkhas were a branch of troops from Nepal who historically served with the British army and now serve around the world. Gurkha troops served admirably during WWI, winning nearly 2,000 awards for bravery serving in virtually every theatre of the war.

In WWII, the Japanese Empire spread through Asia and the Pacific. Americans mostly recall the island hopping and battles over patches of turf like Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. The British fight (supported by China and some Americans) against Japan centered around Burma (Myanmar) and was a terrible slugfest in the depths of the South Asian jungles.

The Gurkhas were a major force for the British in the Burma campaign and on May 13th, 1945, five days after victory in Europe, the Gurkhas would face intense Japanese assaults. Lachhiman Gurung and his detachment manned the forward-most position on the banks of the Irrawaddy River.

A little after one in the morning the Japanese led a furious assault with around 200 men. The attack was aimed at Gurung’s position as he and his comrades held a hill that would give the Japanese sweeping views and attack lanes to the rear of British positions.

Type-97 Japanese grenade

The Japanese started their assault by tossing grenades into the foxhole of Gurung. Gurung responded by calmly grabbing the grenades and tossing them back. After a couple of times doing this, Gurung’s luck ran out as a grenade exploded in his right hand as he was trying to throw it away.

The blast took off Gurung’s fingers and most of his hand. It fractured several bones in his right arm and left shrapnel wounds in his right leg and face, damaging his eye. Gurung’s comrades were completely incapacitated by the blast, and so the defense fell to Gurung.

He brought up his rifle with his left arm and gunned down the advancing Japanese, even reloading with his left hand. Try reloading a rifle with your non-dominate hand, it’s quite difficult, even without life-threatening wounds.

Bleeding profusely in the middle of the night, Gurung held off sporadic assaults for four hours. As the sun rose, the Japanese assault faded away. Of the approximately 200 Japanese attackers, 87 of them were dead, with 31 of them laying in the immediate vicinity of Gurung’s location.

garrison hill during advancement

Gurung was immediately hospitalized where he would eventually lose his right eye. His right arm was saved, but he lost most of the use of his right hand. He would be awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions.

Gurung still wanted to serve and was allowed to return to his unit, staying with them through the liberation of India in 1947. He retired shortly after to work on a farm in his native Nepal.

Gurung had five children and eventually moved to London where he would pass away from pneumonia in 2010. The Gurkhas again served in nearly every theatre of the world war, earning close to 3,000 awards for bravery.

The Gurkhas were known for outstanding bravery in battle and their use of the fearsome Kukri blade as a utility knife and in battle.

Sir Ralph Turner, a well-known British professor, had this to say about the Gurkhas: “Uncomplaining you endure hunger and thirst and wounds; and at the last, your unwavering lines disappear into the smoke and wrath of battle. Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had country more faithful friends than you.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI Roundup style – 

WACs Wanted – 2 to 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leonard Bellis – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, Captain

James Brook – OR; US Navy, WWII, pilot, / FBI

Charles H. Daman – Coeur d’Arlene, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., nose gunner, KIA

Thaylon Hobbs – Logan, UT; US Navy, WWII

Charles “Bud” Jenkins – Fayetteville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Pfc., 307th A/B Engineers/82nd Airborne Div., KIA

Robert McCooley – Patterson, NJ; US Navy, Cuban Missile Crisis

Frank Perry – San Leandro, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Robert Rusello – Massena, NY; US Army, 221 Signal Corps

John Stormer – Altoona, PA; US Air Force, historian, / (author)

Max Tadlock – Toledo, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on July 19, 2018, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 111 Comments.

  1. Thanks for being such a wonderful follower of my blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for following my blog; you are very kind. Thanks, also, for your likes of my posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gurung was an amazing soldier.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for following my blog, and for your likes of my posts; you are very kind. Please have a good evening.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent story on Gurung gp, definitely a VC winner, I have never had the privilege of meeting a Gurkha but their history is one of a very formidable opponent.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Indeed! In the sub-continent they are well regarded as loyal, fierce fighters. The Indian Army has several Gurkha regiments.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The Gurkhas were treated very badly by the UK government with lower salaries and benefits than other veterans. Shocking – given how brave they were.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That rifle that he used against the Japs was probably an old Lee Enfield.303, They weighed in a 9lb, the magazine held 6 bullets and they had a kick of a mule; I had trouble shooting one as a fit 18 year old soldier I can’t imagine what sheer agony Gurung must have suffered, even loading the magazine would have been an amazing feat,
    We were always informed of their great feats and prowess,
    We English treated them as second class citizens, if even that, yet they fought for ‘King and Country” with greater devotion than our own, and I still can’t understand why.
    They were the greatest fighting force of all British troops

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amazing. Made me cry.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Always love your contributions and how you frame them up so interestingly.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I knew about the Gurkhas bravery and skill from their time with the British in India. But this is an amazing story

    Liked by 2 people

  12. So glad to endorse your tribute to the heroic Gurkhas.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. The Gurkhas as renowned for their courage and loyalty. Britain has not always treated them as well as they deserve. Wonderful people.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Others have said how much the Gurkhas are respected in the UK – and how they were treated is not one of our prouder moments. I hadn’t heard Gurung’s amazing story before, though. My father told me a tale from the North Africa campaign (Western Desert) of 1942-43, when the advance was held up by a well-entrenched German battery in the hills. The Gurkhas were sent in at night with their kukris and, according to my dad, were seen at breakfast the following morning holding ears, which helped determine their bounty pay. The advance continued without interruption from the German artillery. I don’t know how true the story is…

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Gurkhas were some of the fiercest fighters in Afghanistan!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Great article GP. In Australia one hears about the Gurkhas when the Pacific War is being discussed, usually with breathless reverence. They had fearsome reputations amongst the Allied soldiers wherever they fought together. One of my grandfather’s digger mates’ prized possessions was a gifted Gurkha bayonet.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Your grandfather’s mate was sincerely honored by receiving the bayonet (Kukri). I can fully understand the ‘breathless reverence’. Thank you for your input!

      Like

  17. The most misspelt soldiers of WW2!! They seem to have a wonderful mixture of decency and fierceness. Every time they unsheathe that kukri it has to draw blood and they will cut themselves if no likely enemies are around. It was dreadful that our government would not let them settle in England, and supremely ironic when you see many of the people who come to live in Britain as career criminals.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I imagine a lot of people misspell their name!! I’m glad to see that they have finally received some recognition.
      As far as your final sentence – we have the same problem!

      Like

  18. Yes, the Gurkhas have an a reputation for being fiercesome soldiers. Gurung’s story is incredible. I suspect that they were treated shabbily by the British government because of underlying racism and penny-pinching. The campaign by Joanna Lumley, Pete refers to above, was well-supported by the public and the government had to give in and give them their rights as British soldiers.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. The Gurkhas are phenomenal soldiers. We owe them so much.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Gurung sounds like a Superman. That’s real bravery in the midst of batte.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. We tend not to know or we forget how many soldiers from so many countries fought with the Allies in WWII. Thanks for sharing this sad story.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. I have the utmost respect for Gurkhas. Even Modern Gurkhas are crazy. Did you hear about the story of one who served in India who fought off 30 robbers? Or the Gurkha serving with the British in Afghanistan that fought alone against a platoon size elements of the Taliban?

    Liked by 4 people

    • Our news here just concentrates on hating Trump and reporting catastrophes. So, no I had not heard, but I certainly believe it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The events took place a few years ago; I think if you google “Gurkha train robbery” and “Gurkha thirty” you will find articles on it. Simply incredible. On a personal note I have gotten the opportunity to know a Gurkha veteran a few years ago and being myself a former Marine I was truly impressed with their warrior spirit yet gentle and humble manners. I had an older Kurkri from that friendship and I considered that a high honor…

        Liked by 1 person

  23. There were also a few Gurkhas who served in Europe in World War II.

    An old serviceman that my father knew who served in World War II was asleep in his tent one night when he felt someone feeling his shoe laces on his boots.

    “It’s all right, Johnny (short for Johnny Canuck), go back to sleep,” the voice said as he then gently patted his feet.

    The serviceman was wondering what that was all about.

    The next morning, he asked his commanding officer and the officer told him.

    He then found out why his commanding officer was so insistent that all his soldiers not only go to bed with their boots on but insisted on all tying their shoelaces a certain way.

    The nearest German camp as they were advancing was only a few miles away.

    And German soldiers as part of the uniformity of the Reich all tied their shoelaces a certain way also sleeping with their boots on so they could get up and move at a moment’s notice.

    A few Gurkhas had been brought in to help the Canadians in their advance on this particular front.

    Gurkhas who could move stealthily and unseen in the night.

    Feeling shoe laces was the Gurkha way of determining whether the soldier in the tent they were in was German or Canadian.

    If it was Canadian, the fellow would hear the whisper, “It’s all right, Johnny, go back to sleep.”

    If it was German, no whisper.

    Instead Jerry (short for Jerry German) would wake up the next morning finding himself dead with his throat slashed.

    It’s interesting that the day after the British Defense Minister announced that a contingent of Gurkhas would be participating in the British Invasion of the Falkland Islands 🇫🇰 during the 1982 Falklands Islands war, the Argentinian garrison in the Falklands Islands capital of Port Stanley suddenly raised the white flag of surrender.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. In a forward position in the jungle as a sentry or watcher, nerves vibrating in the darkness and alert to every motion, such that not even an ant could get near …

    … you might feel a movement on your boot. Like a creepy-crawly caterpillar, perhaps? Don’t fret—
    —unless you absent mindedly cross-laced your boots.

    Japs cross-laced, Brits straight laced; and Gurkhas were brilliant at sneaking up in the night and testing suspects in the darkness with a delicate fingertip.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Simply an amazing story of one man from a group that is the definition of courage and tenacity.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I must have heard about Gurkha from somewhere but did not know exactly what/who they were and not curious enough to read about them. Thanks for my education today. I always learn something new here. Gurung’s story is quite remarkable! Glad to hear they finally got the recognition they deserved.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Wow! I don’t remember ever hearing of the Gurkhas or Gurung! Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Very sad to hear how they were treated, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. I have come across many Gurkhas in my time here in the uk, even living near one of their barracks a few years back. They are a deserving and brave group of people who have been sadly neglected by the British Government. If ever in trouble, I’d want a Gurkha by my side.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Thank you for the story about Gurung. Amazing soldiers the Gurkhas.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. My Dad served with Gurkhas during his time in India, and had great respect for them. He even brought home a Kukri they gave him. But they were treated shabbily by the British Army. Despite being led by British officers, they were always considered to be ‘mercenaries’ and had few rights to pensions, or UK citizenship, even though most served more than 20 years as regulars. Not long ago, (2008) a high-profile campaign led bt the actress Joanna Lumley at long last restored their full rights as British soldiers.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurkha_Justice_Campaign
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 8 people

    • I can’t imagine why they were treated badly after how much they did, but egos reign supreme wherever you go and in whatever time and place, eh? You Dad was quite honored by them to receive a Kukri from them. They must have respected him greatly!!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Hello there.
    Very interesting piece.
    I’ve heard of the Gurkhas, but never knew anything about them.

    Take care —

    Neil S.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. One of my grandfathers was stationed in Japan in 1945, and was fascinated by the legendary Gurkhas – most of their units had returned to Nepal, but there were some in the occupation force. He remembered his sergeant telling the men to be very polite, and found the Nepalese to be friendly and very patient about displaying their kukri blades to the gawking G.I.’s.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. I know you have read George MacDonald Frazer’s book on his experiences of the Burma campaign…it gives a picture of just how the Ghurkas were appreciated by their comrades in arms…and are still.
    I was horrified that it took a public campaign to allow those Ghurkas who served before 1997 to have the right of residence in the U.K….whatever has become of a country whose politicians do not respect the loyal service given so readily.
    I don’t know if this will work, but it is a shot of the Ghurkas marching down the Mall in London…my father, a true Scot, used to say that there was only one thing more terrible than being faced with the Ghurkas and that was being faced with their pipe band.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yes, it did work and thank you very much for sending it. I think the band sounded great!! I’m so glad to hear that they are so honored – they deserve it! I really appreciate you taking the time to come here and contribute to the post, Helen!!

      Like

  34. A great story about a very special man. The Gurkhas are held in the highest esteem in the British army. I am also glad to see this as, on my recent trip to the states, I met a man who was very surprised to hear that Britain and its colonial allies was involved in any way in the Asia/Pacific field of WWII. He had always assumed that the Americans did it alone!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Maybe because, as I hear it, the CBI is considered the forgotten war. People like yourself, with your outstanding book help remind people of what happened over there. I know in my school, the CBI was a mere mention and I only learned about Gurkhas from my father – not school. Thank you for coming by, Hilary, always a pleasure to see you!
      PS. I did a review for you on one book seller’s site. I’m trying to get my Amazon one published but they say I haven’t spent enough with them yet – go figure!!

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Gallant men. We have a Gurkha contingent serving in Singapore.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Wow, what a story GP. The stuff of legends. Yet I don’t remember hearing of the group. Thanks for shining the spotlight on it. Hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

  37. It is very commendable how you cover the exploits of both sides and so many countries across a wide theatre of war. It is true some of the bravest and toughest soldiers have been Gurkhas and they are not to be trifled with. This tradition is alive today with the exploits of Corporal Dipprasad Pun who was awarded the Conspicious Gallantry Cross for defending his outpost in Helmand. When you read his citation you wonder why it wasn’t the Victoria Cross.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. As a child I would often hear how fearless the Gurkhas were. They were affectionately referred to as the Gerkins and I can still hear women in the crowds lined up on the footpaths of Sydney, Aust, on Anzac Day telling their kiddies to stand tall and wave when the Gerkins marched by.

    Liked by 3 people

  39. Yes, the mighty men of the British army, but mighty in theri own cultural right too. Actress Joanna Lumley campaigned for greater recognition for them in Britain. You have also brought them to light. wonderful story amazing courage in the face of a determined enemy.

    Liked by 2 people

  40. I heard about the Gurkhas when I visited Nepal. It’s hard to miss. Many establishments in Kathmandu are Gurkha this, Gurkha that. I watched a live Bollywood-style number at Gurkha Bar. 🙂 I knew of their bravery, but not any specific account. Lachhiman Gurung’s story is awesome! And I didn’t know the Gurkhas were sent to Myanmar. I was at the Irrawaddy last May. Much of its banks is still jungle.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for giving us some feed back on this subject, AJ. We never learned about these people in school, that’s for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The problem in school education is the most interesting things are rarely told. Really interesting topics, for which you have to inspire yourself. For example the Doughboys. This was not even mentioned in Austria, but I am sure these soldiers are part of the historylession in the American schoolsystem.
        If I compare the American and European school system, then history in America definitely has a greater position in the classroom.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I only learned the term Doughboys from my parents and their friends and listening to their music. In school we were taught about WWII basically from a trench-war outlook. We always spent too much time memorizing names and dates for a test.

          Like

  41. Gurung is revered by the Gurkhas. I know, as I was Troop Sergeant in a Gurkha Signal Squadron in Hongkong late 1970’s 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  42. I first learned of the Gurkhas in my 8th grade world English literature class, when we studied Kipling’s poem “Mandalay” and, consequently, got a little context about Burma, That poem was about an earlier time, of course, and written from a quite different perspective, but I’ve admired the Gurkhas since then, and now have the not-at-all-idealized story of Gurung to admire.

    Liked by 3 people

  43. thank you for bringing this to light, i had no idea about them or gurung, the hero

    Liked by 2 people

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