Brigade of Gurkhas VCs – L-Cpl. Rambahadur Limbu – 21 November 1965

Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross

One of a series of posts concerning Gurkha recipients of the Victoria Cross, each of which will appear on the anniversary of the action leading to the award.

Recipient: Lance Corporal Rambahadur Limbu

Unit: 2nd Battalion, 10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha Rifles

Date: 21 November 1965

Engagement: Sarawak, Borneo

Citation: 21148786 Lance Corporal RAMBAHADUR LIMBU, 10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha Rifles.

On 21st November 1965 in the Bau District of Sarawak Lance Corporal RAMBAHADUR LIMBU was with his Company when they discovered and attacked a strong enemy force located in the Border area. The enemy were strongly entrenched in Platoon strength, on top of a sheer sided hill the only approach to which was along a knife edge ridge allowing only three men to move abreast. Leading his support group in the van of the attack he could see the nearest trench and in it a sentry manning a machine gun. Determined to gain first blood he inched himself forward until, still ten yards from his enemy, he was seen and the sentry opened fire, immediately wounding a man to his right. Rushing forward he reached the enemy trench in seconds and killed the sentry, thereby gaining for the attacking force a first but firm foothold on the objective. The enemy were now fully alerted and, from their positions in depth, brought down heavy automatic fire on the attacking force, concentrating this onto the area of the trench held alone by Lance Corporal RAMBAHADUR LIMBU.

Appreciating that he could not carry out his task of supporting his platoon from this position he courageously left the comparative safety of his trench and, with a complete disregard for the hail of fire being directed at him, he got together and led his fire group to a better fire position some yards ahead. He now attempted to indicate his intentions to his Platoon Commander by shouting and hand signals but failing to do o in the deafening noise of exploding grenades and continuous automatic fire he again moved out into the open and reported personally, de- spite the extreme dangers of being hit by the fire not only from the enemy but by his own comrades.

It was at the moment of reporting that he saw both men of his own group seriously wounded. Knowing that their only hope of survival was immediate first aid and that evacuation from their very exposed position so close to the enemy was vital he immediately commenced the first of his three supremely gallant attempts to rescue his comrades. Using what little ground cover he could find he crawled forward, in full view of at least two enemy machine gun posts who concentrated their fire on him and which, at this stage of the battle, could not be effectively subdued by the rest of his platoon. For three full minutes he continued to move forward but when almost able to touch the nearest casualty he was driven back by the accurate and intense weight of fire covering his line of approach. After a pause he again started to crawl forward but he soon realised that only speed would give him the cover which the ground could not.

Rushing forward he hurled himself on the ground beside one of the wounded and calling for support from two light machine guns which had now come up to his right in support he picked up the man and carried him to safety out of the line of fire. Without hesitation he immediately returned to the top of the hill determined to complete his self imposed task of saving those for whom he felt personally responsible. It was now clear from the increased weight of fire being concentrated on the approaches to and in the immediate vicinity of the remaining casualty the enemy were doing all they could to prevent any further attempts at rescue. However, despite this Lance Corporal RAMBAHADUR again moved out into the open for his final effort.

In a series of short forward rushes and once being pinned down for some minutes by the by the intense and accurate automatic fire which could be seen striking the ground all round him he eventually reached the wounded man. Picking him up and unable now to seek cover he carried him back as fast as he could through the hail of enemy bullets. It had taken twenty minutes to complete this gallant action and the events lead- ing up to it For all but a few seconds this young Non-Commissioned Officer had been moving alone in full view of the enemy and under the continuous aimed fire of their automatic weapons. That he was able to achieve what he did against such overwhelming odds without being hit is miraculous. His outstanding personal bravery, selfless conduct, complete contempt of the enemy and determination to save the lives of the men of his fire group set an incomparable example and inspired all who saw him.

Finally rejoining his section on the left flank of the attack Lance Corporal RAMBAHADUR was able to recover the light machine gun abandoned by the wounded and with it won his revenge, initially giving support during the later stages of the prolonged assault and finally being responsible for killing four more enemy as they attempted to escape across the border. This hour long battle which had throughout been fought at point blank range and with the utmost ferocity by both sides was finally won. At least twenty-four enemy are known to have died at a cost to the attacking force of three killed and two wounded. In scale and in achievement this engagement stands out as one of the first importance and there is no doubt that, but for the inspired conduct and example set by Lance Corporal RAMBAHADUR at the most vital stage of the battle, much less would have been achieved and greater casualties caused.

He displayed heroism, self sacrifice and a devotion to duty and to his men of the very highest order. His actions on this day reached a zenith of determined, premeditated valour which must count amongst the most notable on record and is deserving of the greatest admiration and the highest praise.

London Gazette: (21 April 1966)

Subsequent career: Rambahadur Limbu (whose original VC was stolen but replaced) reached the rank of Captain, as a QGO (Queen’s Gurkha Orderly), and was subsequently appointed an MVO (Member of the Royal Victorian Order).

L-Cpl. Rambahadur Limbu, VC

L-Cpl. Rambahadur Limbu, VC

Medal entitlement:

  • •Victoria Cross
  • •Member, Royal Victorian Order ( MVO )
  • •General Service Medal ( 1918-62 )
  • 1 clasp: “Malaya”
  • •General Service Medal ( 1962-2007 )
  • 2 clasps: “Borneo” & “Malay Peninsula”
  • •Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1977 )
  • •Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ( 2002 )
  • •Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal ( 2012 )
  • •Army Long Service & Good Conduct Medal (“Regular Army”)
  • •Brunei Gurkha Reserve Unit Service Medal
  • •Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal ( 2005 )

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About Nigel

Retired law firm project manager based in Jersey, British Channel Islands. When he isn't shooting clay pigeons, he's polishing his collection of kukris or digging his vegetable patch.
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