Meet WWII veteran Dambahadur Thapa
Over 75 years ago, like so many Gurkhas before him, Dambahadur Thapa signed up to serve the British Army.
It was October 1940, and the Second World War was already raging in Europe. After training in India and a tour of the Middle East, Damabahadur was sent to the jungles of Burma.
Find out more about Dambahadur’s life in the clip below:
“We started to fight with the Japanese. There were lots of ambushes on both sides. We hid in the bamboo and I would fire my Bren gun until the ammunition ran out.
“The enemy were very close and there was a lot of gun fire. I didn’t get shot because I was hidden in the thick bamboo bush but bullets came flying very close to me. Many of my friends were killed.
“Towards the end of the war, when we tried to cross the Irrawaddy River, we were fired upon by the Japanese and they sank some of our boats.
“We eventually managed to cross the river only after receiving covering fire later on in the evening. We spent the night under fire on the riverbanks… Not long after, the war ended.”
Father and farmer
Following the war, Dambahadur eventually left the Army without having served the 15 years required for an Army pension. He returned to his home in Tanahun District, Nepal.
As a subsistence farmer, he raised a family of six children for many years before he became too old to work the fields. Fortunately, he heard of The Gurkha Welfare Trust and applied for our support.
“I use my Welfare Pension to buy food, medicine and clothes. I like to buy meat when I can.”
“One of my sons collects my pension from the Welfare Centre as I’m not able to go myself. I see the GWT doctors on a regular basis – they give me medicine for my knees and asthma.
“When the earthquake struck last year I was at home. My son dragged me away as the whole house was shaking violently. There was not a lot I could do but wait and see. I was helpless.”
Since then, the Trust has helped Dambahadur to build a new, earthquake resistant home next to his old one. It was completed in October 2016.
“The roof of our old house collapsed. I’m very happy to have this new place to sleep which is much stronger.”
An old soldier
Dambahadur’s daughter-in-law, Chintamaya, now takes care of him. She’s very fond of the old soldier.
“When they grow old, they become like children! He likes to eat meat but usually he has to have soft food like porridge.
“He likes to read the newspaper and weaves his straps for the doko (basket). He always tells us to come home early from the fields. He tells us stories about days as a soldier.
“Thank you to everyone who has helped us.”