Netrabahadur Thapa VC

b. 08/01/1916 Nepal. d. 26/06/1944 Bishenpur, India.

Netrabahadur Thapa (1916-1944) was born at Rahu in the Lamjung district of Nepal on 8th January 1916 and was recruited into the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) in 1934. After training, he joined the 2nd Battalion of his Regiment as a Rifleman. Subsequently promoted to Lance-Naik and then to Naik, he joined the recruit training staff of the Regimental Depot at Abbottabad in 1940 and was promoted to Havildar. Because of the severe casualties suffered by his Battalion in Burma, he and his colleague, Havildar Gaje Ghale, who was also awarded a VC, were posted to 2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles in the spring of 1942. Shortly afterwards he was promoted to Jemadar in command of a platoon.

Netrabahadur Thapa VC

In March 1944, 2/5th RGR was part of 17th Indian Division in direct contact with the enemy in the Chin Hills area having been ordered to withdraw on Imphal to withstand the severe threat posed by the Japanese advance towards the Assam plains and Bengal. Casualties mounted during the blocking and clearing operations along the Tiddim-Imphal road. The 2/5th were assigned to the Bishenpu area at the beginning of June by which time he had been promoted to Acting Subedar.

On 25th–26th June 1944, at the age of twenty eight, Thapa was an acting subedar of the 2nd Battalion of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles in the Indian Army during World War II. He was in command of a small isolated hill post at Bishenpur, India when the Japanese army attacked in force. The men, inspired by their leader’s example, held their ground and the enemy were beaten off, but casualties were very heavy and reinforcements were requested. When these arrived some hours later they also suffered heavy casualties. Thapa retrieved the reinforcements’ ammunition himself and mounted an offensive with grenades and kukris, until he was killed.

Sadly, his body was not recovered after the battle and he is commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial. His posthumous VC was presented to his young widow, Nainasara Magarni, by His Excellency the Viceroy, Field Marshal Lord Wavell, on 23rd January 1945 at a special parade of the Battalion at Nowshera in Northern India (now Pakistan). His medals are not publicly held.