VC Kulbir Thapa

Kulbir Thapa(Magar) VC (1889 – 3 October 1956) was a first Nepalese recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest military award given to British and Commonwealth forces for gallantry in the face of the enemy.He was a Rifleman in the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Gurkha Rifles, British-Indian Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

On 25 September 1915 in Fauquissart, France, 26 year-old Thapa performed an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

A medal in the shape of a cross hanging from a crimson red ribbon.

The Victoria Cross

Born 15 December 1889 in Palpa, Nepal; son of Haria Gulte.  He was a Rifleman in the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Gurkha Rifles, British Indian Army during the First World War.

Rifleman Kulbir Thapa, having been wounded himself, found a wounded soldier of The Leicestershire Regiment behind the first-line German trench. Although urged to save himself, the Gurkha stayed with the wounded man all day and night. Early next day, in misty weather, he took him through the German wire, within spitting distance from the Germans , and, leaving him in a place of comparative safety, returned and brought in two wounded Gurkhas, one after the other. He then went back, and, in broad daylight, fetched the British soldier, carrying him most of the way under enemy fire.

Such an incredible act of faith and courage had by now attracted a good deal of attention, and when he emerged from his trench for the third time with one more wounded comrade over his shoulder, the German soldiers actually clapped their hands to encourage the Gurkha on. Only this time, the Gurkha walked right across the No-Mans-Land back to his own side.

The German High Command, it is believed, in recognition of that exemplary courage and self-sacrifice, wrote a citation offering to honour the anonymous Gurkha. The British Army would of course, have nothing to do with German sentiments, but when the story reached London by words of mouth, His Majesty King George V expressed a desire to see the Gurkha soldier himself in person. Accordingly, in due course of time, the Gurkha was ushered into the Buckingham Palace, where, in a rare expression of royal prerogative, the King Emperor personally decorated Rifleman Kulbir Thapa with Britain's highest military honour, the Victoria Cross.

This is an historical event which paints the Gurkhas' image in even sharper focus and negates the uninformed rumour that the Gurkhas are cold blooded killers. Instead, their ability to remain cool under adverse situations and their readiness to sacrifice whatever it takes make the Gurkha more than a dependable soldier, he emerges a more complete man. Rifleman Thapa was the first ever Gurkha to be so decorated but his self sacrifice and devotion to his fellow soldiers show in greater measure the compassionate nature of the Gurkhas.

He later achieved the rank of Havildar.

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Gurkha Museum (Winchester, Hampshire, England).