The Queens’ TruncheonJuly 25, 2016
VC WAR DIARY
Havildar (Sergeant) Gaje Ghale enlisted in 1934 as a boy recruit into the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force). From the outbreak of the 2nd World War he had been an Instructor at the Regimental Centre in Abbotabad. His Battalion had fought in Burma during the the retreat from the invading Japanese forces in 1942. In May 1943, re-equipped, the Battalion with Havildar Gaje Ghale returned to the fight. Between 24th and 27th May 1943 the Japanese attempted to advance into the Chin Hills on the border between India and Burma. Two previous assaults by Gurkhas from his battalion against an enemy position had failed. This is the contemporary War Diary for 27th May when Havildar Gaje Ghale led his platoon against the Japanese for this third attempt. Gaje Ghale had not been under fire before!
The next page describes the bitter fighting and failure to hold the summit of the Japanese position.
Finally Havildar Gaje Ghale leads his platoon to success.
The Citation for Havildar Gaje Ghale’s Victoria Cross
THE VICTORIA CROSS
Havildar Gaje Ghale, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Frontier),
Burma, 27 May 1943
“In order to stop an advance into the Chin Hills of greatly superior Japanese forces it was essential to capture Basha East hill which was the key to the enemy position. Two assaults had failed but a third assault was ordered to be carried out. Havildar Gaje Ghale was in command of one platoon: he had never been under fire before and the platoon consisted of young soldiers. The approach for this platoon to their objective was along a narrow knife-edge with precipitous sides and bare of jungle whereas the enemy positions were well concealed. In places, the approach was no more than five yards wide and was covered by a dozen machine guns besides being subjected to artillery and mortar fire.
While preparing for the attack the platoon came under heavy mortar fire but Havildar Gaje Ghale rallied them and led them forward. Approaching to close range of the well-entrenched enemy, the platoon came under withering fire and this N.C.O. was wounded in the arm, chest and leg by an enemy hand grenade. Without pausing to attend to his serious wounds and with no heed to the intensive fire from all sides, Havildar Gaje Ghale closed his men and led them to close grips with the enemy when a bitter hand to hand struggle ensued.
Havildar Gaje Ghale dominated the fight by his outstanding example of dauntless courage and superb leadership. Hurling hand grenades, covered in blood from his own neglected wounds, he led assault after assault encouraging his platoon by shouting the Gurkha’s battle-cry. Spurred on by the irresistible will of their leader to win, the platoon stormed and carried the hill by a magnificent all out effort and inflicted very heavy casualties on the Japanese.
Extracts from London Gazette 30 September 1943.
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