A Collection of Gallantry Awards to the Indian Army for the Burma Campaign 1944-45

Image 1

Click Image to Zoom

Date of Auction: 22nd July 2016

Sold for £1,400

Estimate: £600 - £800

A Second World War Burma operations M.M. group of four awarded to Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa, 1st Battalion, 3rd Gurkha Rifles, who was decorated for a series of point-blank encounters with the enemy in May-August 1945: he was also awarded Jangi Inam, a grant of land

Military Medal, G.VI.R. (36031 L. Nk. Tekbahadur Thapa, G.R.), officially impressed naming; 1939-45 Star; Burma Star; War Medal 1939-45, these three officially impressed, ‘36031 L./Nk. Tekbahadur Thapa, 3 G.R.’, one or two contact marks to the obverse of the first, otherwise very fine and better (4) £600-800

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 6 June 1946. The original recommendation states:

‘Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa has been in every action with this Battalion since 1943. Throughout these campaigns this G.O.R. has distinguished himself in patrolling, and has proved himself a junior leader of great ability, and has shown considerable bravery.

During the period 16 May to 15 August 1945, Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa again distinguished himself in many of the patrol clashes which took place on the Penwegon-Pegu Road. On 17 May Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa was sent out as commander of a recce. patrol of four men to gain information regarding a village which his company was to occupy the following day. The patrol crawled up close to the edge of the village and was fired on by a Jap L.M.G. and rifle and grenade discharger fire. Lance-Naik Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa immediately pin-pointed the enemy positions and, undaunted by the enemy fire, led his small party round to the flank from where he again closed on the enemy position. From point-blank range the patrol opened up on the enemy position with Tommy guns while Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa hurled grenades into the enemy slit trenches. The enemy fire ceased and Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa crawled forward and found 12 dead Japs in these positions. The remainder had fled. To ascertain whether the enemy were still in the village he took his patrol forward again and began to search it thoroughly. He was fired on again but refusing to withdraw he returned fire with all weapons the patrol could muster. The Japs promptly left the village in confusion.

On 23 May 1945, when Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa with three men was in a listening post outside his company perimeter, one and a half miles east of Nyaungbintha, a small Jap jitter party approached the perimeter. Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa ordered his men to hold fire and then opened up on the Japs at point-blank range, killing two. The remainder hastily withdrew. Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa then moved his party to another position and, on hearing the Japs still moving in the area, he stalked them with his few men and scattered them with Tommy gun fire and grenades.

Throughout this period Lance-Naik Tekbahadur Thapa has been on many recce. patrols. In the Shan States, east of Kalaw, he has also distinguished himself invariably in night work at which he excels. His fine leadership of these night patrols and his initiative in drawing enemy fire to enable positions to be pin-pointed reflect the bravery of an excellent N.C.O. His successful methods of patrolling have become an example to all other patrol commanders.’

Tekbahadur Thapa was a Hindu Gurkha from the village of Gagahata in Darjeeling, north Bengal and joined the 1st Battalion, 3rd Gurkha Rifles soon after the retreat from Burma in 1942. His subsequent record of unbroken active service over a period of a year and a half was exceptional by any standards, including as it did countless battalion actions and skirmishes, and continuous patrol work, first in the jungles of Imphal, later in the plains of the Irrawaddy to Rangoon, and in the Shan States. In addition to his well-merited award of the M.M., he was also awarded Jangi Inam, a grant of land from which he could derive income: he was the only soldier in his Battalion to receive both distinctions; sold with copied research.