Roll of Honour: 2nd Goorkhas Casualties

Introduction.

There are no accurate or reliable figures for Sirmoor Battalion/2nd Goorkhas casualties in campaigns prior to the First World War, although some numbers are available in the Regimental History.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is responsible for the commemoration of service personnel who died during the First World War between 4 August 1914 and 31 August 1921.   (Although the Armistice was signed on 11 November 1918 the official end of the First World War was not until 31 August 1921).  The are also responsible for those who died during the Second World War from 3 September 1939 and 31 December 1947, the latter being a date selected as being approximately the same period after VE day as was the official end of the First World War after the Armistice.

The CWGC looks after the graves or memorials of a total of 1603 Sirmooris.  They range in rank from Follower 79 Shiuratan, a locally employed civilian worker attached to the 1st Battalion, who died on 28 October 1917 and is commemorated at the Basra Memorial in Iraq, to Lieutenant Colonel L A Alexander, Commandant of the 3rd Battalion, who was killed in action on 28 April 1943 on the Chindit Operation Longcloth and is commemorated at the Taukkyan War Cemetery, Yangon, Myanmar.

The CWGC remit does not cover any campaigns before 4 August 1914, nor the interwar years, nor the campaigns which have taken place since the end of the Second World War.  The source of casualty numbers for the interwar and postwar periods is the Regimental History.  An accurate and reliable list of casualties from 1948 until the Regiment was merged to become part of the Royal Gurkha Rifles in 1994 is available in Colonel Denis Wood’s Volume IV of the Regimental History.

[Interactive map showing the location of all casualties 1815-1994].

Casualties before the First World War (1815-1913).

Quotations below are taken from Volume 1 of the Regimental History.

Koonja (3rd October 1824).  ‘The casualty list of the [Sirmoor] Battalion showed 1 havildar and 4 sepoys killed, and 2 subahdars, 2 jemadars, 1 havildar, 3 naiks and 25 sepoys wounded, of whom several died later of their injuries.’

Bhurtpore (18th January 1826).  ‘The total British loss was 1,100.  It is difficult to find what the actual losses of the Sirmoor Battalion in the assault were, but from accounts and letters it would seem they got off lightly with four wounded and two killed.’

Aliwal (28th January 1846).  ‘The casualty list of the Corps [Sirmoor Battalion] in this battle was 49 killed and wounded out of a strength of 650 all ranks, and out of a total loss to the British force of 589 men.’

Sobraon (10th February 1846).  ‘The grand total of British casualties on this day was 2,383 all ranks, to which the Sirmoor Battalion contributed Captain Fisher [the Commandant/Commanding Officer] and 13 Goorkhas killed, 4 Goorkha officers, 3 non-commissioned officers and 123 sepoys wounded; or 145 out of 610 all ranks.’

Delhi and the Indian Mutiny (1857).  After the capture of Kissenganj on 14th September 1857: ‘Reid’s….own battalion losses, inclusive of this final day, now totalled 327 of all ranks out of the 490 with which they entered on the siege, and eight British officers killed and wounded out of nine.’

Looshai Expedition (1871-72).  ‘The return of casualties was as follows:- Killed in action, two riflemen; wounded, Captain Battye and eleven riflemen; died of disease, Subahdar Kumla Jhankri, eight riflemen and two followers.’

North-West Frontier 1878-79.  ‘The total casualties through wounds and illness came to only fifteen over this expedition.’

Second Afghan War (1879-80).  ‘Their grand total of casualties throughout the second phase of the Afghan Campaign came to 63 of all ranks of whom 23 succumbed to diseases’.

Looshai 1889-90.  Two 2nd Goorkha signallers ‘were cut down by the Looshais while in the act of sending’ and Lieutenant Boileau drowned in the Koladyne River.

Manipur 1891.  No casualties in action are recorded, but it is recorded that when cholera broke out ‘between Naungba and Irang out of fifty-eight men attacked thirty-two succumbed to the disease.’

North-West Frontier 1897-8.  A detailed breakdown of casualties is given on p.117 of Volume 1 of the Regimental History.  30 were killed, including 2 British officers and one Gurkha officer, and 87 were wounded, including 3 British and 3 Gurkha officers.

Mahsud Waziri Blockade 1902.  One man was killed and 3 wounded.

First World War.

A total of 763 Sirmooris lost their lives during the First World War of whom 21 were British Officers and 16 were Gurkha Officers.  Their graves or memorials may be found in the following 10 Countries:

Egypt -13.  2nd Goorkha casualties are recorded at the Heliopolis (Port Tewfik) Memorial, Cairo.

France – 296.  A detailed breakdown of 2nd Goorkha casualties in France is given on p.82 of Volume II of the Regimental History.  Of these, 232 are buried in cemeteries in France.  Click on the yellow rectangle to get more details of any cemetery shown:

Map of 2nd Goorkhas War Cemeteries in France

Map of 2nd Goorkhas War Cemeteries in France
Neuve Chapelle Memorial Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez Canadian Cemetery No 2, Neuville St Vaast Valenciennes (St Roch) Communal Cemetery Gorre British and Indian Cemetery Lillers Communal Neuville Sous Montreuil Indian Cemetery Zelobes Indian Cemetery, Lacouture Meerut Military Cemetery, St Martin les Boulogne Merville Communal Cemetery Rue de Bacquerot No 1 Cemetery, Laventie Royal Irish Rifles Graveyard, Laventie Rue David Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix St Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg l'Avoue Mazargues War Cemetery, Marseilles St Venant Communal Cemetery

Neuve Chapelle Memorial

187 men of the 2nd Battalion 2nd Goorkhas are buried in this cemetery, including the following officers:

Major N MacPherson - 31st October 1914
Major HS Becher - 2nd November 1914
Lieutenant IC Innes - 2nd November 1914
Lieutenant HCM Lucas - 2nd November 1914
Lieutenant JL Reid - 2nd November 1914
Second Lieutenant JHL Walcott - 2nd November 1914
Major HC Nicolay - 10th March 1915
Captain CM Mullaly - 9th May 1915
Major G Rooke, 10GR attached 2/2GR, - 9th May 1915
Subedar Major Man Sing Bohra - 2nd November 1914
Subedar Tekbahadur Gurung - 2nd November 1914
Subedar Chetsing Thapa - 2nd November 1914
Subedar Gopalsing Rawat - 2nd November 1914
Subedar Jagbir Thapa - 11th March 1915
Subedar Jitbahadur Gurung - 28th March 1915

Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez

Captain GD Matthew, who was killed on 10th May 1915, is buried here.

Canadian Cemetery No 2, Neuville St Vaast

Major FGC Ross, who was killed on 2nd November 1914, is buried in this cemetery.

Valenciennes (St Roch) Communal Cemetery

One 2nd Goorkha soldier is buried here.

Gorre British and Indian Cemetery

Three 2nd Goorkha officers and men are buried here, including Second Lieutenant G Sanderson, killed on 13th October 1914.

Lillers Communal

4 Gurkha Other Ranks of the 2nd Goorkhas are buried in this cemetery.

Neuville Sous Montreuil Indian Cemetery

Two Gurkha Other Ranks of the 2nd Goorkhas are buried in this cemetery.

Zelobes Indian Cemetery, Lacouture

Five Gurkha Other Ranks of the 2nd Goorkhas are buried in this cemetery.

Meerut Military Cemetery, St Martin les Boulogne

Eight Gurkha Other Ranks of the 2nd Goorkhas are buried in this cemetery.

Merville Communal Cemetery

Eight Gurkha Other Ranks of the 2nd Goorkhas are buried in this cemetery.

Rue de Bacquerot No 1 Cemetery, Laventie

Four Gurkha Other Ranks of the 2nd Goorkhas are buried in this cemetery.

Royal Irish Rifles Graveyard, Laventie

One British Officer of the 2nd Goorkhas, Captain FH Barton, is buried in this cemetery.  He was killed on 2nd November 1914.

Rue David Military Cemetery, Fleurbaix

One Gurkha Other Rank of the 2nd Goorkhas is buried in this cemetery.

St Vaast Post Military Cemetery, Richebourg l'Avoue

One Gurkha Other Rank of the 2nd Goorkhas is buried in this cemetery.

Mazargues War Cemetery, Marseilles

Two Gurkha Other Ranks of the 2nd Goorkhas are buried here.

St Venant Communal Cemetery

From January 1915 to October 1917 the British and Indian Casualty Clearing Station was located at St Venant, which is where the 3 Gurkha Other Ranks of the 2nd Battalion buried here had died.

Germany – 18.  The 18 men buried at the Zehrensdorf Indian Cemetery died during captivity as prisoners-of-war after being captured on the Western Front, many of them dying of wounds incurred during the fighting.

India – 87.  These casualties, recorded on the Delhi Memorial (India Gate), were from ongoing campaigns on the North-West and North-East frontiers of India.  They include Jemadar Mansaram Gurung who was killed on 14th June 1921.

Iraq – 337.  Men buried here are casualties from the 1st Battalion campaign in what was then Mesopotamia in 1916-1917, including many who died from disease rather than enemy action.  The majority, 334, are commemorated at the Basra Memorial, including 6 Gurkha Officers: Subedar Shamsher Kharwas, Subedar Karbir Thapa, Jemadar Gopi Thapa, Jemadar Partab Sahi, Jemadar Chandrasing Gharti and Jemadar Dhanraj Gurung.  Two men are buried at the Amara War Cemetery, and one at the Basra War Cemetery.

Iran – 57.  The men who died in Iran, then known as Persia, are commemorated at the Tehran Memorial.

Romania – 9.  The men buried in the Slobozia Memorial Cemetery in Romania were prisoners of war captured by the Germans in France.  Sent to work in Romania they then died in captivity.

Turkey – 3.  The two Riflemen buried here, Rfm Dewansing Gurung and Rfm Haz Gurung, both of the 1st Battalion 2nd Goorkhas, were both attached to 1st Battalion 4th Gurkha Rifles and were killed at Gallipoli.  The third man, Lance-Naik Ramsing Thapa of the 1st Battalion, died on 4th October 1919.  He is commemorated at Haidar Pasha Memorial, Istanbul which is where the Turks buried Allied prisoners of war, but his back story is unclear.  He may have been captured by the Turks in Mesopotamia when the 1st Battalion was there earlier in the war, and died in captivity.

Switzerland – 1.  Captain Donald Macintyre, the eldest son of Major General Donald Macintyre VC, had been evacuated from the 2nd Battalion on the Western Front in October 1915 suffering from tuberculosis.  He was placed on half pay and sent to Vevey to recuperate, where sadly he died in 1919.

United Kingdom – 6.  Those buried here were 2nd Battalion men wounded on the Western Front who had been evacuated to the UK for medical treatment.  Two men are commemorated on the Hollybrook Memorial Southampton, and two are buried at the Patcham Down Indian Forces Cemetery, Sussex.  Lieutenant Colonel AB Lindsay, who died on 16th September 1914, is commemorated at the Brookwood 1914-1918 Memorial, Surrey, and Lieutenant W S Thompson, who died on 16th April 1920, is buried at the Mortehoe Cemetery in Devon.

Interwar Period.

During the interwar period the Regiment deployed on operations extensively, particularly to the North-West Frontier of India.  Some deployments took place after the First World War armistice but were counted as falling within the Commonwealth War Graves Commission remit.  Others took place during the Second World War but were not part of the wider global conflict.  For the purposes of categorisation, the following casualties are considered as falling in the ‘interwar’ period:

The Marri Expedition, March 1918.  One Rifleman died of disease and 5 were wounded.

Third Afghan War, May 1918 to August 1919.  2 Gurkha Other Ranks and one stretcher bearer were killed, 4 were wounded and 4 died of disease.

North-West Frontier Operations.  The 1st, 2nd and (during the First World War) 3rd Battalions served on the North-West Frontier during the interwar period.  In spite of many long tours of duty, casualties were light.  In the period 1920-1939 one Gurkha officer and 6 Gurkha other ranks were killed, a further two soldiers died of wounds and one Gurkha Other Rank was wounded.  In 1940 the 2nd Battalion had one Gurkha Other Rank killed and two who died of wounds, and in 1943 the 4th Battalion had 2 British officers wounded, 17 Gurkha Other Ranks killed and 13 Gurkha Other Ranks wounded.  The 3rd and 5th Battalions, which also served on the North-West Frontier during the Second World War, suffered no casualties.

Casualties during 1st Battalion operations in North-West Persia are shown under ‘Iran’  as part of the First World War figures in the section above.

Second World War.

A total of 840 Sirmooris lost their lives during the Second World War of which 23 were British Officers, and 14 were Gurkha Officers.  Their graves or memorials may be found in the following 14 countries:

Bangladesh – 1.  One man is buried in the Chittagong War Cemetery, Chittogra.

Cyprus -2.  Two men are commemorated at the Nicosia Cremation Memorial.

Egypt – 84.  68 Gurkha officers and men were killed outright on 28th August 1942 when a mine demonstration at Mena went wrong, and a further 85 were injured, many of them being blinded or losing limbs.  They are commemorated on the Alamein Cremation Memorial.  The remainder commemorated here became casualties during the advance westwards.

Greece – 7.  The men buried at the Phaleron War Cemetery, Athens, were killed during 1st Battalion operations in Macedonia.  They include a Gurkha Officer, Jemadar Harkabahadur Rana, who died on 15th November 1945.

India – 122.  116 men are commemorated in the Delhi/Karachi 1939-1945 War Memorial (which in spite of its name is situated in Delhi).  They include Subedar Jas Bahadur Thapa, who died on 29th March 1945, and Jemadar Madbir Pun, who died on 13th December 1943.  Two British Officers are buried in the Delhi War Cemetery: Lieutenant Colonel AWH Gascoigne, who died on 18th August 1945, and Major TH Whiffen, who died on 30th April 1946.  Two men are buried at the Imphal War Cemetery, including Lieutenant BF McAlister, killed on 21st March 1944.  Major HG Lyons-Montgomery, killed on 5th May 1944, is buried at the Kohima War Cemetery, and Second Lieutenant EPR Read, who died on 28th June 1942, is buried at the Kirkee War Cemetery, Pune.

Iraq – 7.  These men are commemorated on the Basra War Memorial.  They include Rifleman Ritbahadur Rai, killed at the age of 16, possibly the youngest 2nd Goorkha to have lost his life in World War II.

Israel – 1.  Major TOM Edwards, who died on 4th October 1943, is buried in the Ramleh War Cemetery, Ramala.

Italy -176.  Those buried in Italian cemeteries were 1st Battalion casualties incurred during the fight northwards up the Italian peninsula:

      • Cassino War Cemetery – 68, including Captain IA Nicholl, Lieutenant RF Loftus-Tottenham, Jemadar Minbahadur Ghale and Jemadar Parshad Gurung, all killed on 18th February 1944 in the battle for Monte Cassino.  A further 16 men are commemorated on the Cassino War Memorial.
      • 24 men are buried at the Rimini Gurkha War Cemetery, including three Gurkha officers: Jemadar Harkabahadur Thapa, who died on 2nd March 1944, Jemadar Ranbahadur Thapa who died on 7th June 1944 and Jemadar Lalbahadur Ghale who died on 4th September 1944.
      • Captain JH Atkins, who died on 27th May 1944, is buried at the Sangro River War Cemetery.
      • 31 men are buried at the Arezzo War Cemetery, including Major the Honourable LCF Shore, who died on 20th July 1944, and Captain CD Marley-Clarke, who died on 6th August 1944.
      • 4 men are buried in the Ancona War Cemetery.

Lebanon -2.  Two men are commemorated on the Beirut Cremation Memorial.

Libya -3.  Three men of the 1st Battalion are buried in the Tripoli War Cemetery.

Malaysia – 2.  Two men of the 2nd Battalion are buried at the Kuala Lumpur (Cheras Road) Civil Cemetery.  One of them is Captain AC Dallas-Smith, who died of dysentery in gaol after being captured by the Japanese.

Myanmar – 275.  The men who died in action or of disease in Myanmar (then known as Burma) were officers and other ranks of the 3rd and 4th Battalions which had been on operations there, including the Chindit expeditions:

    • 263 men are commemorated on the Rangoon War Memorial, including Jemadar Andaran Gurung, who died on 24th June 1943.  Two men are buried in the Rangoon War Cemetery.
    • 10 men are buried in the Taukkyan War Cemetery, Yangon.  They include Lieutenant Colonel LA Alexander, Commandant of the 3rd Battalion, who died on 28th April 1943, Major JE Stephenson, who died on 8th September 1944, and Major PR Collins, who died on 7th June 1945 in an attack he led at Tanbingon for which he was nominated for a posthumous Victoria Cross.

Singapore – 132.  The men commemorated in Singapore are those of the 2nd Battalion who died during the 2nd Battalion defence of Malaya against the Japanese or subsequently in captivity:

    • 7 men are buried in the Kranji War Cemetery, including Second Lieutenant KR Yates, who died on 9th October 1942.
    • 48 men are commemorated on the Singapore Cremation Memorial, including the Battalion Subadar Major, Hari Sing Bora, who died on 21 May 1944 of wounds inflicted by the Japanese while a prisoner of war, Jemadar Kubahadur Rana who died on 11th March 1945, and Jemadar Dallu Gurung who died on 1st July 1944.
    • The Singapore Memorial commemorates 77 men, including the Commandant of the 2nd Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey Woolcombe, who was lost at sea while escaping from Singapore, Captain BC Hancock who was executed by the Japanese on 20th December 1942 after leading a break-out from the gaol he was in, Captain RHD Bucknall and Lieutenant DB Combe, who both died on 10th February 1942, Lieutenant MJ Dowty who died on 15th February 1942, Second Lieutenant FH Lovett, who died on 29th January 1942, and Subedar Pahalmansing who died on an unknown date in December 1944.

Tunisia – 26.  22 men of the 1st Battalion are commemorated on the Medjez-El-Bab Memorial, and a further 4 are buried in the Sfax War Cemetery.

Casualties after the Second World War and Partition (1948-1994)

Appendix A to Volume 4 of the Regimental History gives a detailed Roll of Honour of those who were killed or died while serving with the Regiment in the postwar period, a total of 192 officers and men and one civilian mess waiter.  This number includes 8 British Officers or Gurkha Commissioned Officers and 13 King’s or Queen’s Gurkha Officers.

62 of these were killed in action, all in Malaya apart from 7 in Borneo.  28 were killed on active service, 6 in Borneo and the rest in Malaya, and one went missing.

28 died in accidents in various locations round the world where the Battalions were serving, and in Nepal.   A further 74 died of natural causes while serving, again in many different locations.