Nandlal Thapa GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 12/07/1902 Nepal. d. 27/06/1987 Dhaulagiri, Nepal.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 31/05 – 01/06/1935 Quetta, India.

Nandlal Thapa (1902-1987) was born in western Nepal on 12th July 1902, though little is known about his early life and childhood. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Gurkha Rifles in December 1920. The Battalion saw active service in Waziristan, Shillong and international security duty in Bengal during 1930-1931.

Nandlal Thapa GC

By the spring of 1935, the Battalion were serving in the Quetta District of India (now Pakistan), when a huge earthquake struck on 31st May. In the aftermath, Naik Nandlal Thapa’s detachment was sent in to help. On arrival there was no time to collect tools and they worked with their hands for three hours in one of the most severely damaged parts of the city. During this time minor shocks frequently occurred, causing further falls of masonry. This NCO showed great bravery in the manner in which he entered tottering buildings in search of survivors and in the work and initiative he displayed in removing them, As a result of his disregard for his own safety, ten people were rescued alive.

On 19th November 1935, Nandlal Thapa was one of the nine to be awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Military Division. At the time of his award he was married with a son. In September 1940, the George Cross was created and all recipients of the EGM were automatically entitled to exchange their medals. To date, Nandlal Thapa is still the only Gurkha recipient of the GC. He received his EGM on the 23rd June 1936 at the King’s Birthday Parade in Loralai, India (now Pakistan).

After the events in Quetta, he completed his time in the Army and returned to Nepal, where he spent the rest of his life. He died on 27th June 1987 in Dhaulagiri, Nepal though his final resting place is unknown. His GC, 1953 QEII Coronation Medal, and 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal are held by the Gurkha Museum, Winchester, Hampshire.