TRUE STORIES AND FACTS

Britain honours Gurkha soldier for Afghanistan bravery

LONDON - A Gurkha soldier who single-handedly fought off up to 30 insurgents in Afghanistan, even using his gun tripod when he ran out of bullets, has been rewarded for bravery, British officials said Friday.

Sergeant Dip Prasad Pun, 31, of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, fired 400 rounds, launched 17 grenades and detonated a mine to thwart the assault by Taliban fighters at a British checkpoint near Babaji in Helmand province last year. The only weapon he did not use was the traditional curved Kukri knife carried by the Nepalese soldiers, because he did not have it with him.

Pun saved the lives of three colleagues who were at the checkpoint and was presented with the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for his outstanding bravery at a ceremony in London on Thursday, the Ministry of Defence said.

The medal is a level below the prestigious Victoria Cross, Britain's top award for gallantry.

"I think I am a very lucky guy, a survivor. Now I am getting this award it is very great and I am very happy," said Pun, who is originally from Bima in western Nepal but now lives in Kent, southeast England, with his wife.

Pun was on sentry duty on the evening of September 17, 2010, when he heard a clinking noise outside the checkpoint. Going to investigate, he found two insurgents trying to lay a bomb. Realizing he was about to be attacked, and his platoon were out on patrol, he informed his commander by radio and opened fire on the enemy. In the ensuing firefight, which saw him bombarded by rocket-propelled grenades and AK47s for more than 15 minutes, Pun moved around his position to fend off the attack from three sides using every type of weapon he could find.

Up on the roof, Pun found himself face to face with a Taliban fighter and fired his machine gun at him until he fell off. When another insurgent tried to climb up, Pun's gun either jammed or ran out of ammunition so he picked up a sandbag to use as a weapon, but then the contents fell out. In desperation, he grabbed the metal tripod of his machine gun and threw it at the man, shouting "Marchu talai" -- "I will kill you" in Nepali.

Pun told officers at the time that there were more than 30 attackers, although local villagers later told him there were more likely to be 12 or 15. He said he thought the assault would never end and "nearly collapsed" when it was over, admitting: "I was really scared. But as soon as I opened fire that was gone -- before they kill me, I have to kill some."

Pun was one of 136 servicemen and women awarded honours Friday, four of them posthumously


Khukuri Man

Suraj Kuwar,
Courtesy of Kantipur Newspaper
(Jestha 06, 2069)

[Last week, plantation event of 250 years old Chhyorten was held in mountainous Helegang of Helambu. Hundreds of people gathered to take part in the very event. I, reporter of Kantipur newpaper from Kathmandu, was also there to attend it. The moments are captured of the conversation I made with a few local folks.]

Dawa And Saila

Almost all had carried camera, mobile and video camera. But Dawa Lama & Saila Syanbo (whose occupation is agriculture and has spent most the time in cattle farming and roaming around the mountainous region) looked different in the crowd of modern people. The reason was the attire they had worn with Sirupate Khukuri on the waist. Putting on traditional Daura Suruwal, Bhadgaunle Topi, coat and carrying Khukuri wrapped by a piece of cloth (patuka), they were representing our ancestor.

I asked them about their age on which counting on fingers Dawa Lama (man with beard on left) replied 70 and Saila Syangbo (man in green gumboot on right) replied 64.

When I asked to Dawa (who has been carrying khukuri since he was 13 years old) “Why are you carrying Khukuri?” He replied “Being hilly people, we often have to go to cut grasses & look after the yaks. There are thorns in the jungle. So to protect our face from those thorns, we carry khukuri.” There are no ways in jungle, so Khukuri becomes a friend in making a way. To walk ahead making way is the main benefit of carrying khukuri. Stick is needed to walk in steep road. Wood piece making..., walking....How peaceful isn’t it saila?

Dawa put a counter question to me, “How would you feel if you don’t have dot pen with you?” it’s the same with us. Then Saila added, “Without khukuri, it feels like something is missing.” Moving his hand towards the scabbard of his khukuri, he continued, “It’s our friend. When we don’t carry khukuri, the whole day, our mind gets disturbed.” It seems the khukuri is very close to them. That’s why they connect the mountainous people of that region with the soldier. They urged, “Look! a person without khukuri is just like a soldier without barrel. If Khukuri is with us, we feel relaxed and safe like army with gun.

Dawa and Saila inspite of belonging to different village possess some common habit. Like to carry khukuri on the waist after having breakfast; to carry along the whole day; and to sleep facing khukuri towards the wall in faith to have a nice dream. “It’s a habit from tradition to carry khukuri.”Those who had interest in Khukuri, used to order from Sikkim and Arunachal (places of India) in early days. Some used to take out from Kathmandu. It used to be the first souvenir to bring by the people while returning from abroad. Dawa said, “Now the people who has gone abroad for employment returns with mobile, T.V and other modern gazettes.

“If someone carried a new designed khukuri, he would roam around the neighbour’s VDC chowk and e-chowk with style. People used to make a khukuri of their own design.” Remembering the old days, Dawa continued, “those who can afford used skin for sheath, rich people used silver chain and some used to add karda.” At that time khukuri was available at Rs 30 (USD 0.50) but now it costs minimum 7-8 hundred (USD 10)” said another man without khukuri, Sonam Wangdi.

According to Sonam (who had visited from Delhi to Helambu), leaving 99% only 1% carry khukuri that also the elder generation. 55 years old Sonam said, “Mobiles in literate people’s pocket, khukuri on illiterate people’s waist.” According to their sayings, the tense situation of decades ago made the khukuri distant from the people’s waist. By carrying khukuri, People used to take the vehicle to do shopping and do governmental work from Melamchi point. Security force used to snatch khukuris from the people while checking that starts from the very place.

According to Dandul Lama (who informed us about the snatching of people’s khukuri by security force at Melamchi Bridge), security force had ceased dozens of khukuris of Helmo’s inhabitants. Desire of today’s generation for khukuri has also decreased. They feel shy in carrying khukuri.“Our son and grandson tease us on going to cities carrying khukuri and Doko”. Dawa said,” today’s children requests us not to be there carrying khukuri and Doko as they feel awkward among their friends and circles. When Dawa was young, he had gone to Bhaktapur for shopping and exchanging the raw materials carrying thunche. “At that time, he used to reach Bhaktapur, Thimi and Nagdesh carrying Nigaalo ko Daalo, Aalu (potato), Gundruk (fermented leaf vegetable), and Mula ko Chaana. Newars used to exchange with chillies and other used to buy with cash. Dressing style of that time was exactly the same (dress worn by Dawa and saila) just they don’t have thunche”.

Carrying khukuri has both pros and cons. Sonam said, “It provides courage; those who carry sharp edge khukuri don’t have heart pain; removes the fear while walking in jungle at night.”Likewise, it is believed that ghost won’t attack if khukuri is with us and even cheetah won’t dare to attack. In addition, we can protect ourself from dog bite showing khukuri while going to other people’s animal shed. Not only this, it’s a tradition to carry khukuri while going to in-law’s house by son-in-law. If he didn’t, he is looked with different eye. At the same time, Khukuri has also invited crimes in society. In ferocity, people would hit even their family member. “Agriculture and cattle farming is the main occupation of our caste. While drunk, even in smallest matter, one can hit the other in a way that a person gets 2-3 inches deep wound.” he said.

(Nepali Article translated to English by Samiksha Pradhan, website manager, KHHI)

[Last week, plantation event of 250 years old Chhyorten was held in mountainous Helegang of Helambu. Hundreds of people gathered to take part in the very event. I, reporter of Kantipur newpaper from Kathmandu, was also there to attend it. The moments are captured of the conversation I made with a few local folks.]

I asked them about their age on which counting on fingers Dawa Lama (man with beard on left) replied 70 and Saila Syangbo (man in green gumboot on right) replied 64.

When I asked to Dawa (who has been carrying khukuri since he was 13 years old) “Why are you carrying Khukuri?” He replied “Being hilly people, we often have to go to cut grasses & look after the yaks. There are thorns in the jungle. So to protect our face from those thorns, we carry khukuri.” There are no ways in jungle, so Khukuri becomes a friend in making a way. To walk ahead making way is the main benefit of carrying khukuri. Stick is needed to walk in steep road. Wood piece making..., walking....How peaceful isn’t it saila?

Dawa put a counter question to me, “How would you feel if you don’t have dot pen with you?” it’s the same with us. Then Saila added, “Without khukuri, it feels like something is missing.” Moving his hand towards the scabbard of his khukuri, he continued, “It’s our friend. When we don’t carry khukuri, the whole day, our mind gets disturbed.” It seems the khukuri is very close to them. That’s why they connect the mountainous people of that region with the soldier. They urged, “Look! a person without khukuri is just like a soldier without barrel. If Khukuri is with us, we feel relaxed and safe like army with gun.

Dawa and Saila inspite of belonging to different village possess some common habit. Like to carry khukuri on the waist after having breakfast; to carry along the whole day; and to sleep facing khukuri towards the wall in faith to have a nice dream. “It’s a habit from tradition to carry khukuri.”Those who had interest in Khukuri, used to order from Sikkim and Arunachal (places of India) in early days. Some used to take out from Kathmandu. It used to be the first souvenir to bring by the people while returning from abroad. Dawa said, “Now the people who has gone abroad for employment returns with mobile, T.V and other modern gazettes.

“If someone carried a new designed khukuri, he would roam around the neighbour’s VDC chowk and e-chowk with style. People used to make a khukuri of their own design.” Remembering the old days, Dawa continued, “those who can afford used skin for sheath, rich people used silver chain and some used to add karda.” At that time khukuri was available at Rs 30 (USD 0.50) but now it costs minimum 7-8 hundred (USD 10)” said another man without khukuri, Sonam Wangdi.

According to Sonam (who had visited from Delhi to Helambu), leaving 99% only 1% carry khukuri that also the elder generation. 55 years old Sonam said, “Mobiles in literate people’s pocket, khukuri on illiterate people’s waist.” According to their sayings, the tense situation of decades ago made the khukuri distant from the people’s waist. By carrying khukuri, People used to take the vehicle to do shopping and do governmental work from Melamchi point. Security force used to snatch khukuris from the people while checking that starts from the very place.

According to Dandul Lama (who informed us about the snatching of people’s khukuri by security force at Melamchi Bridge), security force had ceased dozens of khukuris of Helmo’s inhabitants. Desire of today’s generation for khukuri has also decreased. They feel shy in carrying khukuri.“Our son and grandson tease us on going to cities carrying khukuri and Doko”. Dawa said,” today’s children requests us not to be there carrying khukuri and Doko as they feel awkward among their friends and circles. When Dawa was young, he had gone to Bhaktapur for shopping and exchanging the raw materials carrying thunche. “At that time, he used to reach Bhaktapur, Thimi and Nagdesh carrying Nigaalo ko Daalo, Aalu (potato), Gundruk (fermented leaf vegetable), and Mula ko Chaana. Newars used to exchange with chillies and other used to buy with cash. Dressing style of that time was exactly the same (dress worn by Dawa and saila) just they don’t have thunche”.

Carrying khukuri has both pros and cons. Sonam said, “It provides courage; those who carry sharp edge khukuri don’t have heart pain; removes the fear while walking in jungle at night.”Likewise, it is believed that ghost won’t attack if khukuri is with us and even cheetah won’t dare to attack. In addition, we can protect ourself from dog bite showing khukuri while going to other people’s animal shed. Not only this, it’s a tradition to carry khukuri while going to in-law’s house by son-in-law. If he didn’t, he is looked with different eye. At the same time, Khukuri has also invited crimes in society. In ferocity, people would hit even their family member. “Agriculture and cattle farming is the main occupation of our caste. While drunk, even in smallest matter, one can hit the other in a way that a person gets 2-3 inches deep wound.” he said.

(Nepali Article translated to English by Samiksha Pradhan, website manager, KHHI)


First Again For GDC RMAS

A khukuri has been received and unveiled for ceremonial use with the Gurkha Demonstration Company Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (GDC RAMS) on 26 January 2004. Believed to be the biggest khukuri in the world it measures a staggering 2 metres in length and weighs in at a colossal 15 kg.

The khukuri, manufactured by Mr Lalit Lama, Ex 10 GR of Khukuri House Kathmandu, is not a tourist replica as found in many shops in Nepal but the genuine article (Mr lama himself being the only licensed manufacture Of Khukuris for the British Gurkha Solders) and is a magnificent example of the workmanship required in the making of such a weapon.

In the photo are left to right Mr J Archibald, Hall Porter Old College, 2IC Capt (QGO) Bhaktabahadur Limbu, Ops/ Trg Officer Capt (QGO) Hembahdur Thapa and Capt (Retd) Frank Jackson, the Honorary Member and close friend of GDC RMAS. Behind the noble assembly of officers is the magnificent 2GR Sirmoor Rifles memorial window depicting the Queen’s Gurkha Truncheon, situated in the Indian Army Memorial Room (formerly the Academy Chapel) here at the Old College RMAS.

After the photograph and trying to pick up the khukuri, Capt (QGO) Hem commented, “I think I had better by stronger belt or get a little taller!”


VC Ram Bdr, a regular customer of Khukuri House

VC (Victoria Cross) Ram Bahadur Limbu now in his early 60s still regularly visits Khukuri House to buy khukris for his friends and families. He has been a good and loyal customer of Khukuri House since the day he discovered us. He recently came to buy a couple of khukris and praised the quality and the prices we offer. He also jokingly said, I know much more about khukris than you guys do because I have used it and moreover used it when it needed the most...One of the most respected customers of Khukuri House; he has made all Gurkhas and Nepalese proud. WE SALUTE YOU!!!


Pharkera Herda

“A Gurkha NCO found in the jungle after Seven Years “

6582 Naik Nakam Gurung of 2/1 GR was contacted after 7 years isolation in the Malayan jungle by a patrol of 1/10 GR on 20 October 1949 during the Malayan Emergency.

During the Second World War he was moved to Malaya with his battalion on 5 September 1941, which was based at Ipoh.

He narrated his experiences in the jungle as follows:

“I was in C Coy. At that time 2Lt Gold was my Company Commander. As the war still being waged against the Japanese Imperial Army, our battalion was ordered to move towards the line, north of Sungei Patani. We were forced to retreat from there after fighting against great odds.

On 7 January 1942 in the Ipoh area our battalion was trapped in an ambush by the Japanese. After a considerable period of resistance, we were fragmented and scattered. I was with a group of consisting of Subedar Major Lalbahadur Gurung, Subedar Maniraj Thapa and other 56 ranks, which managed to fight its way out of the ambush.

We made a plan to march to Singapore through the jungle. On our journey we came across ‘Kampongs’ where the villagers treated us with hospitality and offered us food.

After 25 days of continuous march and cutting paths through the jungle, we reached the Jementah area where I suffered severely from Malaria. As I was unable to proceed further and my comrades were helpless, Subeder Major lalbahadur told me to stay there until the war was over. He further suggested that I should return to the battalion when the Japanese army surrendered. They left behind some rations for me for three months and then departed.

Miraculously after a month of suffering I recovered from Malaria. First of all, I set up a small shelter for myself and cultivated the land around it. I discovered some abandoned huts in the jungle. For survival I set a trap for wild pig, fished and searched for edible foods. From 1942 I had not eaten any salt until 20 October 1949 when a patrol of 1/10 GR luckily found me.

From time to time, during my stay in the jungle, I used to come across the local Chinese inhabitants; they gave me information of the whereabouts of the Japanese in the local area. They suggested that the only secure place for me to stay was in the jungle; one false move or exposure to the Japanese would cost me my life.

So, for my own safety, I did not leave the jungle. When the patrol of 1/10 GR found me on 20 October 1949, I did not know that war was over!

I was enlisted into 2/1 GR on 28 October 1929 and was promoted to LCpl on 1 July 1941.”

Naik Nakam Gurung later proceeded on leave in November 1949. He was subsequently discharged from the Indian Army with his full retrospective pay and allowances and a pension.