Wednesday 28 April 2010

Bhanbhagta Gurung: The Real Life Rambo

Bhanbhagta Gurung (no, I’m not sure how you pronounce that, but I’m willing to bet you can just call him “Rambo”) was a Nepalese recipient of the Victoria Cross. A lot of people misunderstand the Victoria Cross, thinking it’s the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British forces. It would be fairer to say that it’s a badge given to those who are able to dish out more kick-arse than some sort of part-Batman part-Bruce Lee part-Predator part-Hippopotamus hybrid. Actually, he’s probably part-Vasquez as well.

And, yes, Hippos totally deserve to be on that list. They’re on record as the animal Steve Irwin claimed he was the most scared of.

Like all heroes, Bhanbhagta Gurung was born in a small village – possibly inhabited by a race of Hobbit like people – called Phalpu, in western Nepal in the district of Gorkha. He enlisted in the army during World War II, joining the 3rd Battalion, 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (AKA The Sirmoor Rifles, and not to be confused with King Edwards, which are a potato, King Edward’s, which are a cigar, and King Edward, which is a king) at the age of eighteen.

Shortly before the action that won him the Victoria Cross, he was reduced to the ranks for neglect of duty after being “blamed for taking the wrong hill”. One can only begin to imagine the fun Abbott and Costello could have had with that concept.

In February 1945, the 25th Indian Division landed at Ru-ywa (he’s in Street Fighter II), as a diversion from the offensive towards Mandalay, and advanced through the pass, held by the Japanese from a number of hills. The Gurkhas held two hills, code-named "Snowden" and "Snowden East", but were attacked by the Japanese and pushed back. They were ordered to retake the hills.

On 5 March 1945 near Tamandiu, in Burma, Gurung and his squad were approaching Snowdon-East. En route, his company took fire from a concealed sniper, and became hopelessly pinned down. The unit began to take causalities at the hand of their hidden assailant.

We’ve all seen war movies, or played war video games. We know what you’re supposed to do in that situation. You either have to a) sneak out and around to the side to get the drop on the sniper, or b) toss something shiny to distract him, then – whilst he’s blasting that – jump out and blast him back. The one thing you are not supposed to do is stand up in the middle of the firing zone, take aim, and fire at the sniper.

See if you can guess what Bhanbhagta Gurung did.

Gurung stood up in the middle of the fire zone, and calmly shot the douchebag, saving his unit. We’d also like to believe that the sniper looked through his scope, saw Gurung aiming back at him, made a “huh?” noise - and then the brave hero’s bullet smashed its way up the his scope before exploding his head. We’d also like to write Rodan in there somehow, but fear that may be pushing it.

Oh, that’s not what he got the Victoria Cross for. Now for the brave part...

Gurung’s squad advanced further but came under heavy fire once again. This pissed Gurung off something awful, and he got mean. Without waiting for orders, Gurung charged bat-shit-crazy-like to attack the first enemy fox-hole. Dropping two grenades down, he (unsurprisingly) killed the two occupants and without any hesitation rushed on, on, onto the next one like some sort of Ghurka Dave Grohl, this time laying into them with his bayonet. He cleared two further fox-holes with bayonet and grenade. On his own.

During his single-handed attacks on these four enemy fox-holes, Gurung was subjected to continuous point-blank fire from a Light Machine Gun. Here’s what one of those looks like:

Now, if we know Gurung (and I think by now we do) then we know he won’t put up with that kind of nonsense for long.

For the fifth time, Gurung went forward alone in the face of heavy enemy fire. He doubled forward and leapt onto the roof of the bunker from where he reached for his hand grenades – only to discover that he had none left! Without worry, hesitation, or sweat, Gurung instead threw in two No. 77 smoke grenades through the bunker slit. As two Japanese soldiers ran, coughing, from the bunker, Guring leapt on them with his Ghurka knife, and then advanced into the cramped bunker and killed the remaining Japanese soldier.

As enemy reinforcements began to pour in, Gurung used their own Light Machine Gun against them and recaptured the hill – the right hill, this time. Bhanbhagta Gurung – not only does he take no shit from snipers, lead solitary charges into enemy territory armed only with knives and explosives, and use a captured enemy’s dakka-dakka against them, but you can also win at Scrabble with his name. Especially if you stick “VC” on the end, bitch.


  1. An unusual take on military history. It probably won't catch on with the grognards, but I like it! There's a Combat Commander: Pacific scenario in there for sure; heck, it might already've been done! :)

  2. Interesting style to the V.C. citation, we only need more to remember the heroes of yesterday to the newer generations of today. Thanks.