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2:37am GMT 04/03/2008 – Havildar Bhanubhakta Gurung, who has died aged 86, was awarded a VC when serving as a rifleman in the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles in Burma on March 5 1945.
“On approaching the objective, one of the sections of the company was forced to the ground by a very heavy light-machine-gun, grenade and mortar fire, and owing to the severity of this fire was unable to move in any direction.
“While thus pinned down, the section also came under accurate fire from a sniper in a tree some 75 yards to the south. As this sniper was inflicting casualties on the section, Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung stood up and, while fully exposed to heavy fire, calmly killed the enemy sniper with his rifle, thus saving his section from suffering further casualties.”
Bhanubhakta then began to run for the top of the hill, yelling for his comrades to follow him. Though the casualties were heavy, the section ploughed forward until within 20 yards of their objective, when the Gurkhas were again halted by exceptionally heavy fire.
Without waiting for any orders, Bhanubhakta dashed forward alone and attacked the first enemy foxhole. Throwing two grenades, which killed the two occupants of the trench, he immediately rushed on to the next enemy foxhole and killed the two Japanese in it with his bayonet.
All this time he was under continuous light-machine-gun fire from a bunker on the north tip of the objective, and two further fox-holes were still bringing fire to bear upon the section. Bhanubhakta dashed forward and cleared these trenches with bayonet and grenades.
He then turned his attention to the machine-gun bunker, and realising, as the citation put it, that it “would hold up not only his own platoon which was not behind him, but also another platoon which was advancing from the west”, he pushed forward a fifth time to knock out the position.
“He ran forward and leapt on to the roof of the bunker from where, his hand grenades being finished, he flung two No 72 smoke grenades into the bunker’s slit.” Two Japanese rushed out of the bunker, partially blinded by the smoke and with their clothes aflame with phosphorous; Bhanubhakta promptly killed them both with his kukri.
One Japanese soldier remained inside, holding up 4 Platoon’s advance with the machine gun. Bhanubhakta crawled in and, prevented by the cramped space from using his bayonet or kukri, beat the gunner’s brains out with a rock.
The term “bayonet” repeatedly used in the citation is actually in reference to the Gurkha Kukri – the extremely formidable edged weapon picture above.
UPDATE – The Gurkha Regiments crossed Kukri insignia added.