Medals relating to the Malaya and Korea Campaigns from the Philip Burman Collection

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Date of Auction: 9th May 2018

Sold for £1,900

Estimate: £1,600 - £2,000

A ‘Malaya operations’ M.M. pair awarded to Rifleman Thambahadur Gurung, 1st Battalion, 2nd Gurkha Rifles, who was recognised for his repeated acts of gallantry carried out over a period of ten years’ service against ‘bandits’ in Malaya, including in Gelang Pateh, 14 April 1955, ‘Partap killed one and I opened fire. The daku returned fire and wounded Partap who slumped down. They scattered and tried to escape. I killed some and then chased a couple of them as they ran away, firing as I did. Once in the jungle I killed one of them.

The other daku had an LMG and he turned and fired at me but his bullets went high. He then went into dead ground up a ravine. I swore at him, “Run away would you?’ and chased him. I went ahead, saw him, selected a lying position and fired at him. I killed him also’

Military Medal, E.II.R., 1st issue (21131356 Rfn. Thambahadur. Gurung. 2nd Gurkha Rifles.) rank officially corrected; General Service 1918-62, 1 clasp, Malaya, E.II.R. (21131356 Rfn. Thambahadur Gurung GR) last additionally impressed ‘Duplicate’, good very fine (2) £1600-2000

Footnote

M.M. London Gazette 8 May 1956:

‘In recognition of distinguished services in Malaya during the period 1st July to 31st December, 1955.’

The recommendation states:

‘Since the start of the Emergency in Malaya in 1948, 21131356 Rifleman Thambahadur Gurung has taken an active part in operations against the Communist Terrorists. Throughout this period he has consistently shown resources, initiative and courage of very high degree.

On 23rd September 1954 in the Kulai area of Johore, while searching with his platoon for a Terrorist track that had temporarily been lost, he located a camp occupied by some 10 Terrorists. Although he was immediately seen by the Terrorists he dashed forward, ahead of his Platoon, into the camp firing his Bren Gun. In face of his assault the Terrorists fled, leaving behind a rifle and several blood trails. The body of a dead terrorist was later recovered close to this camp.

On 14th April 1955 in the Gelang Pateh District of Johore Rifleman Thambahadur Gurung was in ambush when three Terrorists approached his position. On the order of his Section Commander he opened fire. The Terrorists, one of whom was wounded, fled. Rifleman Thambahadur Gurung immediately gave chase, again ahead of his companions. When the Terrorists paused to return fire at him, he stood fearlessly in the open to engage them with fire from his Bren Gun. All three terrorists were subsequently killed. The complete success of this operation was almost entirely due to the personal courage, determination and inspiration displayed by this rifleman.

As a fearless, skilled and enthusiastic soldier, Rifleman Thambahadaur Gurung is an outstanding example of the highest fighting qualities of the Gurkha Soldier. By his personal endeavours above the course of normal duty he has inspired the men of his platoon and of his Company to emulate his own unremitting purpose to close with the enemy on every possible occasion.’

Thambahadur Gurung was born in 1929, and enlisted in the 2nd Gurkha Rifles in January 1948. He served with the Regiment in Malaya March 1948 - April 1950, December 1950 - August 1953, April 1954 - May 1957 and November 1957 - November 1958. Thambahadur Gurung advanced to Lance-Corporal and was discharged, 7 March 1959, having served 11 years and 124 days with the Colours.

Thambahadur Gurung was one of a number of Gurkhas interviewed for the book Gurkhas At War. In their Own Words: The Gurkha Experience 1939 to the Present, by J. P. Cross and Buddhiman Gurung. His experiences in Malaya are thus recorded:

‘I enlisted on 4 November 1947 [sic] and went to Malaya soon afterwards. We had been told we’d be in brick buildings but we were all in tents, including the British officers’ families, at Ulu Pandan in Singapore. Apart from the many fatigues we were used on to establish the camp, we had very little training, only shooting five practices on the range. We moved out on what we were told was to be a three-month operations but we were back after one month. We had many operations around the Poh Lee area of Johore. Some operations were to surround where suspected daku were while the air force bombed it. The first time this happened nothing was found, nor on the second time.

The third time there was no air support and I was in a platoon that met up with daku tracks. We followed them for a week. That day I was in front and the platoon commander, Jemadar Ganeshbahadur Gurung, was behind me. He had a rifle and I had an LMG. We came across an enemy camp with trenches around it and saw the sentry. He was asleep. We crawled up as near to him as possible and the platoon commander said he would shoot the sentry and I was to spray the camp with bursts. The Jemadar killed the sentry and I sprayed the camp with fire. No one shot back as the camp had been emptied of men. Neither of us saw anyone leave though there could have been up to 40 people in the camp. The platoon came up and we searched the camp, finding a workshop and all the arms, ammunition and kit the enemy had left behind. It took a day to carry the corpse and the kit from the workshop back to the main road. In the workshop were three rifles and 12 hand bombs. The sentry was dressed in khaki and had a red star in his hat. Ganeshbahadur won an MC for that action.

In another action I was with Lieutenant (KGO) Dalbir Ghale, IDSM, on Niyor Estate. There were many daku in the area. We were some three hours walk into the jungle from the nearest rubber estate. We heard fire to a flank. As there were none of our troops in that area it had to be daku firing. Aircraft were bombing yet another area. Dalbir and I, both with LMGs, set up an ambush. Two men walked about ten yards in front of us, carrying sickles, wearing packs but with no headgear. They wore rubber shoes. As I did not see any weapons I did not open fire but Dalbir did, killing them both. The rest of the platoon came up to where we were and we carried the bodies out and gave them to the police.

There must have been a complaint from somewhere as I was arrested and put in prison. Wood sahib told me what to say when my case came up and that I had to stick to my story. I repeated my story in the High Court in Johore Bahru. An Englishman with false hair on his head sat in the middle with Malays sitting on either side of him. I stuck to my story and was acquitted so I did not have to go back to jail.

Another operation I went out on after that was when Lieutenant (KGO) Partap Gurung was platoon commander. This time it was in the Geylang Patah area, near a swamp and not far away was a river that had crocodiles in it. The company base was in a rubber estate factory that had been made empty for us. News came about daku coming in to pick up some rations and stores at a certain place. We had to ambush them and we stayed there for a week, 11 Platoon across the river and my 10 Platoon this side of it. I was No 1 on the LMG. The daku RV was in the middle. The rubber tappers were in that area milling around and seven daku came into our killing zone with them, talking loudly. One had an LMG and the others rifles and grenades, all weapons at the ready.

Partap was dozing by his LMG when the daku came into view so I nudged him awake and told him that some of the people to our front were tappers and some had weapons. He said that he would aim at one man and kill him and I was to open rapid fire on the rest of them. I was afraid that I might kill some of the rubber tappers when I killed the daku but that couldn’t be helped if they were mixed up. Partap killed one and I opened fire. The daku returned fire and wounded Partap who slumped down. They scattered and tried to escape. I killed some and then chased a couple of them as they ran away, firing as I did. Once in the jungle I killed one of them.

The other daku had an LMG and he turned and fired at me but his bullets went high. He then went into dead ground up a ravine. I swore at him, “Run away would you?’ and chased him. I went ahead, saw him, selected a lying position and fired at him. I killed him also. I found myself alone then. I made my way back and heard Partap shouting at me “Shabash, shabash.” We joined up and he said he would recommend me for a bahaduri.

I got an M.M.’

Sold with a copy of recipient’s service papers.