Gurkha Victoria Crosses – Fighting with the Chindits – Michael Allmand.

Gurkha Victoria Crosses – Fighting with the Chindits – Michael Allmand.

Michael Allmand was born in 1923 and, though young, responded enthusiastically when called up for military service in 1942, breaking off his university studies. After officer training he was assigned to the Indian Armoured Corps, and immediately volunteered for service with the Second Chindit Expedition when the opportunity presented itself. The Chindit Expeditions, officially carried out by the ‘Long Range Penetration Group’ of the Indian Army, created by the unconventional Brigadier Orde Wingate, were designed to send groups of highly-trained soldiers deep behind Japanese lines in Burma, to disrupt supply lines and harass enemy soldiers headed towards India. This mission, codenamed Operation Thursday, was much larger than its predecessor, Operation Longcloth, and required many more troops. Allmand’s request was accepted and he was attached to the 3rd Battalion of the 6th Gurkha Rifles, part of the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, commanded by the redoubtable Brigadier J M ‘Mad Mike’ Calvert. 77 Brigade was to be dropped in with the rest of the Chindits and head towards and capture the town of Mogaung, but terrible weather conditions quickly sapped the strength and health of many of the soldiers. Despite this the brigade pressed on and Allmand proved himself a very capable and cool-headed officer, though himself suffering from trench foot, which would have caused serious pain. On June 11th 1944, Allmand, (then an Acting Captain, due to the attrition rates of other officers) was commanding the lead platoon of a company of 6th Gurkha Rifles, and was ordered into an attack on a bridge across the Pin Hmi road. This site was heavily defended by well dug-in Japanese troops, and when the Gurkhas approached, they took accurate and withering fire. Allmand led from the front and charged the positions with kukri and grenade, despatching three enemy soldiers himself with his kukri, causing his men to take heart and follow him, capturing the position.

However, the allied troops were still in relatively poor condition, and two days later Allmand had to take command of the entire company. In another attack, he again charged forward and led his men onto a high ridge they had been ordered to take, avoiding heavy machine gun fire and killing a number of Japanese machine gunners. On June 23rd, despite his trench foot becoming more and more debilitating, Allmand, leading an attack on the Mogaung railway bridge, crawled forward ahead of his men through mud and shell-holes to charge a Japanese machine gun nest. As he did so he was hit with a burst of fire and killed.

Michael Allmand was just 20 years of age at the time of his death, and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in the days before he was killed. His Victoria Cross is currently on display in the Gurkha Museum.

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