Lance Corporal Rambahadur Limbu – The only living Gurkha VC recipient

Lance Corporal Rambahadur Limbu – The only living Gurkha VC recipient

Born at Chyangthapu in Eastern Nepal in 1939, Rambahadur Limbu enlisted in the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha Rifles in November 1957. It was three years later, in the December of 1962 a rebellion against the Sultan of Brunei led to a reignition of hostilities in the region.

From 1963 the ‘Borneo Confrontation’ between Indonesian and British and Malayan troops began. Rambahadur Limbu’s battalion was heavily involved in the Confrontation, continuing to utilise their honed jungle tactics from the previous decade of service in the Malayan Emergency.

It was in the November of 1965 that Rambahadur Limbu’s battalion was ordered to dominate a position about five thousand yards within Indonesian territory in the Bau district of Sarawak, Borneo. The aim was to attack a strong force of Indonesian soldiers with the position located on a steep hill which was only approachable by a narrow ridge.

Undaunted, Rambahadur led the cautious advance, reaching the nearest enemy trench and quickly killing its sentry, gaining a firm foothold for a further attack. The rest of the enemy positions became alerted to the Gurkhas presence and began directing heavy automatic fire onto the trench now held by Rambahadur. Rambahadur now appreciated that he could not continue supporting his platoon from his now-compromised position and left the relative safety of the trench to reposition himself and his fire team to a better position a few yards further ahead. The deafening noise of gunfire and explosives had made communication between his group and his platoon commander almost impossible and so Rambahadur again left his position to return to his commander in person, despite the heavy fire, and report his situation.

It was at this point that the two remaining men of Rambahadur’s fire team became seriously wounded. Rambahadur immediately attempted to return to his former position and rescue them, crawling for  a full three minutes under heavy and accurate machine gun fire from at least 2 separate enemy machine gun posts, until he was almost able to reach the nearest wounded man.

The sheer weight of fire stopped him advancing further, and he realised that only a quick rush would allow him a chance to cover the remaining ground and reach the wounded men. He rushed forward and managed to reach the first wounded man and carried him back to safety. Without hesitation he then returned to rescue the remaining wounded soldier. Through an even heavier hail of fire Rambahadur again moved out in a series of short bursts, using what little cover was available. Eventually after almost twenty minutes he reached the second man and ran back carrying him through the continuous enemy fire.

After re-joining his section, Rambahadur returned to the attack and recovering a light machine gun which had previously been abandoned earlier in the combat, gave support for the latter stages of the assault, personally killing four more enemy soldiers as they attempted to escape.

Lance Corporal Rambahadur Limbu was presented with his V.C. by the Queen at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 1966, accompanied by his five-year-old son Bhakta Limbu. Later in his service Rambahadur would rise to the rank of Captain (QGO), would become a Queen’s Gurkha Orderly officer in 1983 and would retire in 1985. Today Rambahadur Limbu is currently the only living Gurkha recipient of the Victoria Cross.

© The Gurkha Museum Trust Winchester - Registered Charity Number 1169920 (formerly 272426)