Honorary Lieutenant Narbahadur Gurung, Bahadur OBI MBE

‘NBG’ in Dehra Dun in 1946

Narbahadur Gurung joined the Regiment in 1915 and served as a signaller with the 1st Battalion in Mesopotamia and Persia from September 1917 until April 1921.  He was briefly taken prisoner by the Russians during the Caspian campaign.  He was Jemadar Adjutant of the 1st Battalion in 1929-30, an appointment usually given to those showing promise and potential.  In 1937 he went to the UK for the coronation of King George VI as part of the Brigade of Gurkhas contingent.  The Regimental diarist reported that on returning to India ‘He….delivered a number of lectures to rather incredulous Gurkha audiences in which he gave his impressions of London policemen, told how he solved the mystery of the automatic change machines in Piccadilly tube station and related his first encounter with an escalator’.

He served with the Battalion in Waziristan in 1937-38 for which he was awarded the Army Commander’s certificate for good work, and went there with them again in 1941.  He was appointed Subedar Major of the 1st Battalion in 1941 and remained in post until August 1943.   He was awarded the Order of British India 2nd Class and the title ‘Bahadur’ in 1942, the MBE in 1944 and was mentioned in despatches for his overall contribution during the war.  He was also awarded the Royal Victorian Medal (the predecessor to becoming a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (MVO)).

‘NBG’ when Subedar Major, with Captain Ramsay-Brown and Lieutenant Ormsby, in Iraq

When he finished his tour as Subedar Major, the Regimental History reported that ‘all ranks of the Battalion united in tribute to an outstanding personality.  Both Gurkha and British officers acted as hosts at farewell dinners.  At his leave-taking the Battalion lined the road.  Garlanded, he climbed into General von Arnim’s staff car [belonging to the former commander of Axis troops in North Africa, which the 1st Battalion had captured] and drove through the cheering ranks’.

On arrival at Dehra Dun the Commandant of the Regimental Centre wrote: ‘A large leave party led by NBG [he was always known by these initials in the Regiment] has just arrived.  I have never seen a body of men more full of confidence or in better spirits.  The way they marched past the Queen’s Truncheon and through the Memorial Arch was worth watching.  A special nine days’ puja was carried out at the Centre as a thanksgiving for the 1st Battalion’s success in Africa and the tika was sent out to the Battalion.’

He spent the remainder of the war as Subedar Major of the Regimental Centre, eventually retiring in 1946.  He was appointed Honorary Lieutenant on retirement.  He died at his home in Nepal in early 1969.  In an obituary in the Regimental Journal that year Brig GSN Richardson wrote that Narbahadur was ‘a legendary figure in North Africa who was a Gurkha of exceptional stature.  Loyal and staunch, he had the most perfect manners, and despite his prestige and universal renown he remained unspoilt, courteous and approachable.  He was undoubtedly one of the outstanding Gurkhas of his time and indeed of those ever to have been borne on the roll of the Regiment.’

His medals were part of the Regimental collection and were donated to the Gurkha Museum, Winchester, in 1998.

 

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