Rifleman Karanbahadur Rana VC and the action at El-Kefr, Palestine

Rifleman Karanbahadur Rana VC and the action at El-Kefr, Palestine

By early 1918 British and Allied forces had placed Ottoman Turkish troops on the defensive on all fronts, advancing steadily up through Mesopotamia and from Egypt into Palestine. The first months of the year saw Allied forces begin to assault north into the Jordan Valley. Attempts were made to raid across the Jordan river, and as preparation for these a series of attacks were made in early April. One of these attacks, near the Palestinian coast, in part of a wider attempt to capture the town of Tulkarm, took place at the small village of El-Kefr or Kafr-Dan on April 10th 1918. It was here that Rifleman Karanbahadur Rana, to protect the lives of his fellow soldiers pinned down by accurate and deadly fire from an Ottoman machine gun post, seized a Lewis gun from a dead comrade and silenced both the machine gun. This allowed his colleagues, some of whom had been pinned down for several hours, to withdraw to safety.

His citation reads:

“For most conspicuous bravery, resource in action under adverse conditions, and utter contempt for danger. During an attack he, with a few other men, succeeded under intense fire, in creeping forward with a Lewis gun in order to engage an enemy machine gun which had caused severe casualties to officers and other ranks who had attempted to put it out of action.

No 1 of the Lewis gun opened fire, and was shot immediately.  Without a moment’s hesitation Rifleman Karanbahadur pushed the dead man off the gun, and in spite of bombs thrown at him and heavy fire from both flanks, he opened fire and knocked out the enemy machine-gun crew; then, switching his fire on to the enemy bombers and riflemen in front of him, he silenced their fire.  He kept his gun in action and showed the greatest coolness in removing defects which on two occasions prevented the gun from firing.  During the remainder of the day he did magnificent work, and when a withdrawal was ordered he assisted with covering fire until the enemy were close on him.  He displayed throughout a very high standard of valour and devotion to duty”.

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