TRUE STORIES AND FACTS

VC Rambahadur Limbu

Ram Bahadur Limbu in action

Both Battalions of the Regiment made truly outstanding contributions to the success of the Borneo ‘Confrontation’ campaign in the mid-1960s, as did the Brigade of Gurkhas as a whole. In terms of enemy accounted for, gallantry awards won, and sheer professional accomplishment, the regiment’s record was second to none. It was therefore a fitting climax to the campaign when it was announced in April 1966 that LCpl Rambahadur Limbu of 2nd Battalion had been awarded the Victoria Cross.

Rambahadur earned the award on 21st November 1965, when C Company 2nd Battalion, under Captain ‘Kit’ Maunsell, attacked a strong Indonesian position on a Jungle hill across the border near Serikin. Rambahadur was in the forefront of the attack, killed the first enemy, and constantly braved enemy fire to carry out his duties as section second-in-command. Above all, for twenty minutes he persisted in supremely brave attempts to save two wounded men, and, in spite of intense machine gun fire concentrated on him personally, he finally succeeded in carrying them to safety.

But Rambahadur’s achievement did not end when the firing died down on that hill in Sarawak. There followed trials of a different kind which proved he was a man of many qualities.

Almost as the announcement was made Rambahadur had to bear the loss of his first wife, and to help his young children through that tragedy. Then there was the protracted ordeal of the countless press conferences, interviews and public appearances. Of the many events in UK when Rambahadur came to receive his Cross from Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace, one in particular serves to show both the British public’s admiration for Rambahadur in particular, and the special regard in which they hold Gurkhas in general. This was when he was taken to visit the Stock Exchange, that most hard-headed and unsentimental of institutions. Standing in the public gallery he was soon recognized and the people working ‘on the Floor’ left their tasks, gathered below and applauded him for a full three minutes. Then they gave him three cheers. The Chairman now asked to meet Rambahadur, and led him onto the Floor, where the workforce formed a path of honor and gave him another standing ovation. Never before had the Stock Exchange given such an honor spontaneously to an unannounced visitor. Business with the world’s markets stood still for the Gurkha VC, in a unique tribute.

It can be no easy thing to bear the weight of world publicity, but Rambahadur bore it with all the quiet dignity and humanity of his noble race. He continued to play his part as a true gentleman through to his retirement in 1985, \and continues it still. His eldest son is now a Sergeant in the Battalion.

Religious Significance

Honouring the man in a traditional Nepalese way

In the Army, the festival of Dasain (called Dashera in India and in the British Gurkha regiments) is of the greatest importance: during it the regiment's arms are blessed and goats and buffaloes are sacrificed in the process - but not now in this country. At home in Nepal goats dedicated to various causes are dispatched and then a fine male buffalo is ceremonially sacrificed in the name of the regiment by a proved and chosen expert. The large 'Khukuri' (in the army) or 'Konra' (in the village) is used because the head must be cleanly severed with one blow. When that is achieved, which is nearly always, the blessing of the gods lies on the regiment for the ensuing year and morale is high: if the stroke fails, leaving even so little as an inch of the dewlap uncut, bad luck will dog the regiment all year, morale drops and the unhappy man responsible is chased by his companions who hurl the head at him and spatter him with the victim's blood in attempts to avert the evil. It is the custom to honor the successful headsman with a 'pheta' (white turban) bound round his forehead by his Commanding officer, an honor much valued.