Honorary Lieutenant Kalu Sing Chhetri, Sirdar Bahadur OBI MBE MC

Kalu Sing was born in Gulmi in about 1897.  He enlisted on 3 November 1917 and served with the 3rd Battalion in the 3rd Afghan War of 1919 and in the Waziristan campaign of 1919-21.  When the 3rd Battalion was disbanded he transferred to the 2nd Battalion.  He became a member of the shooting team and was awarded a medal in the Cawnpore Woollen Mills Musketry competition of 1921.  He progressed through the ranks, becoming a Company Havildar Major before being commissioned as a Jemadar on 25 March 1937 when the 2nd Battalion was at Chittagong.  He was again in Waziristan with the Battalion in 1939-40.  The Digest of Service for that period notes that on 11 November 1939 near Band Picquet (near Bannu) ‘Considerable firing too place all day on A Company’s position from another party of enemy.  During that withdrawal four enemy appeared on a hilltop which had just been evacuated.  These were promptly engaged by Jemadar Kalu Chhetri’s platoon, two being killed’.

He went to Malaya with the 2nd Battalion in August 1941, taking over as senior Gurkha Officer when Subedar Major Hari Sing Bohra was injured when his truck went off the road.  His exemplary conduct throughout the Malayan campaign was recognised by the award of the Military Cross in 1946.  He went into captivity with the rest of the Battalion on 15 February 1942, and took over as officiating Subedar Major when Hari Sing Bohra was killed by the Japanese.  He was subsequently awarded the MBE in 1947 for his leadership and fine example during the Battalion’s captivity.

He returned to India with the Battalion in September 1945 and became Subedar Major of the Demobilisation Battalion in the Regimental Centre.  The Regimental News of March 1947 reported that ‘Kalu Chhetri has gone on release at his own request and we were all very sorry to say goodbye.  He was ageing very rapidly towards the end and still complained of pains in his body.  He is a great loss’.  He was appointed Honorary Lieutenant in retirement.

Together with four other distinguished Gurkha Officers he attended the centenary celebrations of Delhi, held in Singapore in 1957.  As the senior surviving Gurkha officer he held the Queen’s Truncheon on the 14th September parade.  He was described as an ‘alert and sprightly veteran of 61’.

He had two sons and three daughters.  He died in Nepal in July 1963.

The Sirmooree for Spring 2017 reported that on 13 May 2016 Kalusing Chhetri’s MBE was belatedly presented to his grandson, WO2 Khadak Chettri, at Buckingham Palace by Prince William (then the Duke of Cambridge).   Some photographs of the event and a subsequent meeting of WO2 Khadak with Lieutenant Colonel Peter Kemmis-Betty are included.


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