b. 20/11/1921 Nepal. d. 19/09/1944 San Marino, Italy.
Sherbahadur Thapa (1921-1944) was born in Ghalechap in the Tannu District of Nepal on 20th November 1921 and was a Thapa of the Chettri tribe, one of the tribes enlisted by the 9th Gurkhas. He enlisted at the outbreak of World War II and after completing his basic training at the Regimental Centre was sent to 1st Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles who were based at that time in Italy. He was sent out when a new draft of men was needed following the extremely heavy casualties suffered during the second assault on Monte Cassino.
In September 1944 the Germans were holding a defensive position stretching east to west in Northern Italy and known as the Gothic Line. This was regarded as the final defensive position for the protection of the “under belly of Europe”. The 1/9th Gurkhas were part of the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade of 4th Indian Division engaged in battle close to the town of San Marino in the small principality of the same name.
On the night of 17th-18th September 1944, 1/9th Gurkha Rifles were ordered to seize three commanding positions, the last of which was not captured until the early hours of 19th September. By that time the forward company of the battalion had run out of ammunition and it was then that Rifleman Sherbahadur Thapa and his section commander jumped into action. Rifleman Sherbahadur Thapa and his section commander, who was afterwards badly wounded, charged and silenced an enemy machine-gun. The rifleman then went on alone to the exposed part of a ridge where, ignoring a hail of bullets, he silenced more machine-guns, covered a withdrawal and rescued two wounded men before he was killed.
Sherbahadur Thapa’s body was recovered and he was buried with full military honours in the Gurkha War Cemetery, Rimini, Italy. His posthumous VC announced in the London Gazette on 28th December 1944, was presented to his mother at a special ceremony in March 1945. She had travelled from Nepal to the Red Fort in Delhi for the occasion, and the medal was given to her by the Viceroy of India, Field Marshal Lord Wavell. The medals were later donated by the family to the 9th Gurkha Rifles Museum, Varanasi, India.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: 9TH GURKHA RIFLES MUSEUM, VARANASI, INDIA.
BURIAL PLACE: RIMINI GURKHA WAR CEMETERY, RIMINI, ITALY.
PLOT VI, ROW E, GRAVE 7.
Kevin Brazier – Cemetery Map.
Daniele Cesaretti – Image of the Sherbahadur Thapa VC Memorial in Monte Pulito, Italy.