We will remember them
Next Sunday (8 November) we remember the brave soldiers who gave their lives for us or suffered in War.
Over 90,000 Gurkha soldiers served in the British Army during the War, of which more than 20,000 were wounded or killed.
They served in Asia, the Middle East and in Europe, earning a reputation for valour. A battalion of the 8th Gurkha Rifles distinguished itself at Loos in Flanders, fighting nearly to the last man. In the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, the 6th Gurkhas also gained fame as the only Allied troops to throw back the Turks in their sector.
Two of these soldiers were awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest military award for bravery; Kulbir Thapa and Karanbahadur Rana.
Kulbir Thapa was a 26-year-old Rifleman when he carried three injured comrades through no man’s land to safety whilst being fired at by the enemy in an extraordinary act of courage.
For his actions, he received a Victoria Cross in September 1915. It was personally awarded by King George V at Buckingham Palace. He was the first ever Nepali winner of the medal.
Karanbahadur Rana was just 19 when he received his Victoria Cross. He was awarded the medal of honour for his actions in Palestine in April 1918.
During an attack, Karanbahadur’s bravely protected his fellow soldiers from the enemy with a Lewis gun under direct enemy fire. He bravely removed defects from the gun, which on two occasions had prevented it from firing.
A Gurkha hero of World War Two: Dhandal’s story
Dhandal was recruited from his home village in the Tehrathum district of Nepal in 1942. With the world in the throes of War, the British Army drastically increased their intake of Gurkhas and Dhandal was one such soldier. During his tenure with the 10th Gurkha Rifles he fought valiantly across the world and proudly recalls the medals he was awarded for his service: the 1939-45 Star, the Burma Star and the War Medal.
In 1947, with the British Army downsizing, he was released from his service and returned to his home village, where he still lives today. At 99 years-old, Dhandal is small in stature but large in personality. Fiercely independent, he lives in a modest home built of stone and mud under a thatched roof with his wife Mansari Limbu. Though he relies on the financial support your generous donations allow us to give him, he also proudly runs a modest shop from his home, selling noodles, sweets and tobacco.
On his return to Nepal, Dhandal used the 700 Nepali Rupees he was given on leaving the Army (approx. £4.50) to purchase some local land. For many years, he was able to feed his family by subsistence farming. Years later, he began receiving financial support from The Gurkha Welfare Trust.
“[The money] supports me and my wife, helps me to buy food and basically, survive. If there was no pension, well, it would have been difficult but I would have had to survive anyhow.”
Both he and Mansari are grateful that our team now visit him at his home, as it’s difficult for him to travel the 2.5 hours to our nearest Welfare Centre.
“Before, I used to go to the Welfare Centre to collect my money and medicines. But, now that I am unable to make the journey, the nurse comes to visit me at my house to check up on me and brings me medicines. It is very convenient now. Nowadays, I actually wait anxiously for them to come and meet me.”
At 99 years old and still fighting fit, we asked for some wisdom and a message to pass onto the Trust’s supporters back in the UK:
“The money from The Gurkha Welfare Trust helped us survive and also set up this small shop. So, I’m very grateful to you.”