Major (QGO) Reshambahadur Thapa MBE MM

Reshambahadur as a Lance Corporal shortly after winning his Military Medal

Major Reshambahadur Thapa was enlisted in 1959 and served with the 2nd Battalion, most of his career being spent in Support Company, of which he eventually became Company Second-in-Command.

He won his Military Medal in an action in Borneo in 1964.  The Assault Pioneer Platoon under Lieutenant (QGO) Nandaraj Gurung was sent to set up an ambush on the evening of 13 June.  Only fifty minutes after they were in position a force of some 50 Indonesian soldiers appeared.  A savage firefight ensued, Rifleman Reshambahadur Thapa making particularly brave use of his Bren gun to kill several of the enemy.  The enemy formed up to counter-attack from the left flank, and Nandaraj redeployed his men to counter it, Reshambahadur again doing fine work with his Bren gun.  The enemy started to withdraw.  Nandaraj called for artillery fire to prevent further attacks and about forty minutes after the ambush had been sprung the enemy broke contact and withdrew.  The platoon remained in the area until morning, withdrawing slightly to a hill in case the enemy put down mortar fire on the ambush position.  At first light they searched the position, finding nine dead men and the weapon of another man who had been washed away.  It was later confirmed that thirteen enemy had been killed without any Gurkha losses.  Nandaraj was awarded the Military Cross, Reshambahadur the Military Medal.

Reshambahadur was also later mentioned in despatches in a separate ambush operation under Captain Christopher Bullock on Operation Hell Fire at the beginning of September 1965, when he single-handedly carried out a successful rearguard action as Support Company of the 2nd Battalion withdrew ‘gripping his gun to his waist….[he] fired off a complete magazine to the accompaniment of more screams and shouts.  In the resulting confusion we slipped back into the safety of the dark and dank swamp leaving behind the howls of wounded, shouted orders and the acrid smell of cordite hanging in the air’.

Reshambahadur’s last appointment was as Gurkha Major of the Brigade of Gurkhas Centre in Pokhara, western Nepal.  He retired from the Army on 11 February 1990 and died in Nepal on 7 August 2014.

Besides his bravery and achievement of high rank in a successful Army career, Reshambahadur was famous for having been the model of a silver statuette commissioned in 1965 to commemorate Confrontation.  Major David Thomas took the photos after the 2nd Battalion’s second operational deployment to Borneo in late 1965.  The statuette was made by Garrards in London and delivered in late 1966.  Two copies were made later, one for the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club to be presented to the winner of the Kukri Stakes each year, and to Major General EJS Burnett on his retirement as Major General Brigade of Gurkhas in 1975.   The original is now held by the Royal Gurkha Rifles; the Kukri Stakes copy is in Hong Kong; and the copy presented to General Burnett was donated to the Gurkha Museum when he died in 1978.


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