Action at Wadi Akarit, 5th/6th April 1943

Action at Wadi Akarit, 5th/6th April 1943

Artist: Harry Sheldon

Painting

The first Victoria Cross awarded to a Gurkha soldier during the Second World War was awarded to Subedar Lalbahadur Thapa of 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles (the Sirmoor Rifles). The action he was awarded it for took place over the 5th and 6th of April 1943 at Wadi Akarit in Tunisia. In order to allow for the Allied 8th Army to attempt to wheel round behind the forces of Erwin Rommel in the region, the 4th Indian Division, of which Lalbahadur’s unit formed part, was directed to take a feature known as the Fatnassa heights in a night assault. Lalbahadur let two sections of Gurkhas in this assault, who managed to overpower many of the outlying enemy positions with bayonet and kukri alone. They were eventually discovered however, and attacked with very heavy small-arms fire. Lalbahadur led his men in a charge up the heights, taking out machine gun posts as they went, until he and two other riflemen managed to reach the summit of the heights, putting the Axis troops to flight.

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