b. 02/10/1924 Singla, Nepal. d. 10/11/1944 Monte San Bartolo, Italy.
Thaman Gurung (1924-1944) was born in Singla, in the Gorkha District, Western Nepal on 2nd October 1924. He enlisted with the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) and in September 1944 was posted to the 1st Battalion in Italy then part of the 17th Brigade of 8th Indian Division in the Eighth Army.
On 10th November 1944, “A” Company, in which Thaman Gurung was serving, was ordered to send a fighting patrol of one platoon on to Monte San Bartolo, the objective for a future attack. Monte San Bartolo was a high intermediate bluff devoid of cover with steep and precipitous approaches. It was joined to the main feature held by the battalion by a narrow, almost knife-edged, saddle. It was known that this position was occupied by the enemy and the approaches to it covered by a number of machine gun posts.
By skillful stalking both scouts succeeded in reaching the base of the position undetected. Rifleman Thaman Gurung then started to work his way to the summit; the second scout attracted his attention to Germans in a slit trench just below the crest, who were preparing to fire with a machine gun at the leading section. Realizing that if the enemy succeeded in opening fire, the section would certainly sustain heavy casualties, Rifleman Thaman Gurung leapt to his feet and charged them. Completely taken by surprise, the Germans surrendered without opening fire. Rifleman Thaman Gurung then crept forward to the summit of the position, from which he saw a party of Germans, well dug in on reverse slopes, preparing to throw grenades over the crest at the leading section. Although the sky-line was devoid of cover and under accurate machine gun fire at close range, Rifleman Thaman Gurung immediately crossed it, firing on the German position with his Tommy gun, thus allowing the forward section to reach the summit, but due to heavy fire from the enemy machine guns, the platoon was ordered to withdraw. Rifleman Thaman Gurung then again crossed the sky-line alone and although in full view of the enemy and constantly exposed to heavy fire at short range, he methodically put burst after burst of Tommy gun fire into the German slit trenches, until his ammunition ran out. He then threw two grenades he had with him and rejoining his section, collected two more grenades and again doubled over the bullet-swept crest of the hill top and hurled them at the remaining Germans. This diversion enabled both rear sections to withdraw without further loss.
Meanwhile, the leading section, which had remained behind to assist the withdrawal of the remainder of the platoon, was still on the summit, so Rifleman Thaman Gurung, shouting to the section to withdraw, seized a Bren gun and a number of magazines. He then, yet again, ran to the top of the hill and, although he well knew that his action meant almost certain death, stood up on the bullet-swept summit, in full view of the enemy, and opened fire at the nearest enemy positions. It was not until he had emptied two complete magazines, and the remaining section was well on its way to safety, that Rifleman Thaman Gurung was killed.
Thaman Gurung was laid to rest in the Rimini Gurkha War Cemetery, Rimini, Italy. On 19th December 1945, at a parade in Delhi, the Viceroy of India, Field Marshal Lord Wavell, presented his posthumous VC to his mother. She was accompanied by Thaman’s step-father and several other family members. The medals are still in private ownership.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NOT PUBLICLY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: RIMINI GURKHA WAR CEMETERY, RIMINI, ITALY.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT III, ROW B, GRAVE 5.