Rifleman Thaman Gurung’s actions on the 10th November 1944 in Italy earnt him the Victoria Cross for his heroic actions in the face of the enemy.
Born in the small village of Singla in Gorkha, Western Nepal in 1924, Thaman Gurung first enlisted with the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) and was posted to ‘A’ Company of the 1st Battalion of that regiment in September 1944, as part of the famous 8th Army.
On November 10th 1944 ‘A’ Company was ordered to send one platoon on a fighting patrol to a future attack objective named Monte San Bartolo, a high bluff with very little cover and connected to a larger feature held by 1st battalion 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles by a narrow, rocky saddle, covered by enemy machine gun positions.
Thaman Gurung was one of two scouts in the patrol and during his advance managed to reach the base of the bluff undetected however the other scout was not so lucky. Thaman’s position meant he was able to observe the enemy as they prepared to open fire on his companion. Thinking quickly Thaman Gurung leaped up and charged the enemy position, taking them completely by surprise and forcing them to surrender before they opened fire.
Continuing on, Thaman Gurung crept towards the summit of Monte San Bartolo. Over the summit a large number of German troops were well-dug in and preparing to launch a devastating grenade and machine-gun barrage upon any troops trying to charge the hill.
Despite it silhouetting him against the skyline and placing him in full view of the German troops, Thaman charged up, crossed the summit of the hill and opened fire on the forward German positions until his ammunition and grenades were exhausted, allowing the attacking sections of his platoon to reach the summit and attempt an attack.
They came under heavy fire and were forced to withdraw but Thaman refused to give up. Briefly retreating back over the summit to acquire more grenades and ammunition, Thaman charged forward again, giving enough fire to allow all the sections involved in the attack to withdraw except the leading section.
With the leading section being the only ones left on the summit, Thaman Gurung once again retreated in order to acquire a Bren gun and ammunition, before charging back for a third and final time to provide heavy covering fire, allowing the final section to withdraw and expending two full magazines of ammunition before being tragically killed.
Thaman Gurung’s actions undoubtedly reduced the casualties his platoon would have taken had he not done as he did, and the information gained from the attack allowed Monte San Bartolo to be captured just three days later.
Rifleman Thaman Gurung was only 20 years old when he was killed, and his actions were immediately put forward for consideration for the Victoria Cross.
On 19th December 1945 Thaman Gurung’s mother was presented with his V.C. by the Viceroy of India, Field Marshal Lord Wavell, at a ceremony in Delhi.