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: Rifleman Ganju Lama
Unit: 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles
Date: 2 June 1944
Engagement: Ningthoukhong, India
Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to: No. 78763 Rifleman Ganju Lama, 7th Gurkha Rifles, Indian Army.
In Burma, on the morning of the 12th June 1944, the enemy put down an intense artillery barrage lasting an hour on our positions north of the village of Ningthoukhong. This heavy artillery fire knocked out several bunkers and caused heavy casualties, and was immediately followed by a very strong enemy attack supported by five medium tanks.
After fierce hand-to-hand fighting, the perimeter was driven in in one place and enemy infantry, supported by three medium tanks, broke through, pinning our troops to the ground with intense fire. “B” Company, 7th Gurkha Rifles, was ordered to counter-attack and restore the situation.
Shortly after passing the starting line it came under heavy enemy medium machine-gun and tank machine-gun fire at point blank range, which covered all lines of approach. Rifleman Ganju Lama, the No. 1 of the PIAT gun, on his own initiative, with great coolness and complete disregard for his own safety, crawled forward and engaged the tanks single-handed.
In spite of a broken left wrist and two other wounds, one in his right hand and one in his leg, caused by withering cross-fire concentrated upon him, Rifleman Ganju Lama succeeded in bringing his gun into action within thirty yards of the enemy tanks and knocked out first one and then another, the third tank being destroyed by an anti-tank gun.
In spite of his serious wounds, he then moved forward and engaged with grenades the tank crews, who now attempted to escape. Not until he had killed or wounded them all, thus enabling his company to push forward, did he allow himself to be taken back to the Regimental Aid Post to have his wounds dressed.
Throughout this action Rifleman Ganju Lama, although very seriously wounded, showed a complete disregard for his own personal safety, outstanding devotion to duty and a determination to destroy the enemy which was an example and an inspiration to all ranks. It was solely due to his prompt action and brave conduct that a most critical situation was averted, all positions regained and very heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy.
London Gazette: 7 September 1944
Military Medal: Only a month earlier, Ganju Lama destroyed two tanks during an operation on the Tiddim Road, when his regiment surprised and killed many of a party of Japanese. Despite this being the earlier action, Ganju Lama’s Military Medal was gazetted after his VC.
Early life: Ganju Lama was born Gyamtso Shangderpa in southern Sikkim, India, and whilst neither a Nepalese subject nor an ethnic Gurkha, he was accepted into a Gurkha regiment under the pressure of wartime recruiting. A recruiting clerk misspelled his name, and that was the name under which he served.
Subsequent career: After Indian independence, Ganju Lama joined 11th Gorkha Rifles (created from the pre-independence 7th & 10th Gurkha Rifles) and was subsequently promoted to Subedar-Major, before retiring to his native Sikkim. In retirement, Ganju Lama was appointed honorary ADC to the President of India for life
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