Lachhiman Gurung

Lachhiman Gurung was born on December 30, 1917, in the village of Dahakhani, Chitiwan, Nepal.

Not much is known about his early life. However, we do know that he joined the British Indian Army in December 1940. A notable exception was made for him so he could join because he was only four feet, eleven inches, below the minimum allowed peacetime height.[1] Nevertheless, he was enlisted into the army and became a rifleman in the 4th Battalion, 8th Gurkha Rifles.

Gurung’s Battalion was ordered to cross the Irrawaddy River and attack Japanese forces north of the road from Prome to Taungup. The Japanese withdrew towards Taungdaw, where Gurung was part of the two companies waiting when the Japanese attacked in the early morning. Gurung was manning the most forward post of his platoon, which bore the brunt of the attack, when at least two hundred Japanese soldiers attacked.

Gurung threw back two grenades that had fallen into his trench. He was in the midst of throwing back a third when it exploded. The explosion blew off his fingers, shattered his arm, and severely wounded his face. It also badly injured two of his comrades. Nevertheless, Gurung, now alone, disregarded his wounds and continued to load and fire his weapon for four hours, all while screaming, “Come and fight a Gurkha!” He only fired at point-blank range.

The London Gazette later wrote of him:
“…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.”[2]

The Viceroy of India gave him the Victoria Cross on December 19, 1945.[3]

[1]John Parker, The Gurkhas: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Feared Soldiers (London, England: Headline Book Publishing, 2005), 208.
[2] “No. 37195”. The London Gazette (Supplement). 24 July 1945. p. 3861.
[3]John Parker, The Gurkhas: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Feared Soldiers, 208.

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