Kulbir Thapa (15th December 1889 - 3rd October 1956)

Memorial and Grave
Kulbir Thapa

Born in Palpa, Nepal, Lance Naik Kulbir Thapa was a Rifleman in the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Gurkha Rifles.

He had never been under fire until the battle where he was awarded his Victoria Cross at Fauquissart, France - a diversionary attack which was to be the opening move of the Battle of Loos.

After preliminary use of gas, artillery bombardment and a mine under the German position, the Allied infantry assault began at 0600 on September 25th, 1915. Kulbir Thapa was in one of the leading companies, many of whom were killed trying to breach the German wire under cover of thick smoke.

Kulbir Thapa made it through but was wounded and stranded on the German side of the line. Though alone, he began to dig a firing position intending to hold his ground till the next wave moved forward.

Thapa Map
With grateful thanks to Gordon Corrigan

Nearby, he noticed a badly wounded soldier of the 2nd Btn, Leicester Regiment so went to him and although urged by the British soldier to save himself, stayed with him all day and night, comforting him with what little English he knew and killing any Germans who approached.

On the morning of September 26th there was a thick fog. Seizing his chance he picked up the wounded Leicester and carried him over the German trench and through the virtually uncut wire.

Placing the man in a shell crater for cover, he went back over the German trench to look for more Germans. Instead, he came across two badly wounded men of his own regiment. One at a time, Thapa carried these two men back to the lines of the 39th Garwahlis who were holding the British front line at this point.

Finally in broad daylight, under heavy fire and badly wounded, he returned once more to no mans land and rescued the wounded Leicester.

For his heroic deeds, Kulbir Thapa was awarded the Victoria Cross, the first Nepalese recipient. He was also promoted to the rank of Naik. He survived the war and retired eventually as a Havildar.

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

He has not been forgotten by the Royal Leicestershire Regiment; he is remembered on a special panel in the Regimental Museum at the Newarke Houses Museum.

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