Ravi is a traveler and foodie who loves to visit off-the-beaten-track places and understand the culture, history and customs behind them.
A brave person shows his strength in a difficult situation whereas a true badass person does a bit more by doing everything possible that he can do, no matter how difficult is the situation without expecting any fanfare or appreciation. In simple words, a true badass does not really care if he can beat the odds or not, he just goes ahead and does his bit.
And that is what Havildar Lachhiman Gurung did on the night of 12 May 1945 when he single-handedly(yes, literally) fought 200 Japanese soldiers despite a bloodied arm blown by a grenade and wounded severely all over the body for more than four hours continuously.
For four hours Lachhiman remained alone at his post, not giving even an inch of his ground and by the time reinforcements came at dawn, they found a badly wounded Lachhiman barely conscious inside a trench and the bodies of 31 Japanese soldiers killed by him lying around the trench.
The story of Lachhiman Gurung
Lachhiman Gurung was born on December 30, 1917, in the village of Dakhani, Tahani District, Nepal. In 1940, he tried to join the British Indian Army but he was rejected because he stood a mere 4’11” tall which was far below the military standards of recruitment.
As the war progressed, the conditions were relaxed as the British needed everybody who can fight. Finally, the 23-year-old joined the British Indian Army in December 1940. He was puny but he was as tough as nails and he proved that on the night of 12 May 1945 when he was sent as part of a small forward platoon of 8th Gurkha Rifles to defend a key position in Burma.
All of a sudden, the platoon came under attack as a large regiment of 200 Japanese soldiers attacked them and started hurling grenades at them along with heavy gunfire. A lot of Lachhiman’s colleagues died in the surprise attack and it seemed that the Japanese would crush them mercilessly. But they underestimated Lachhiman who was unfazed and would not go down without a fight.
Initially, Lachhiman snatched the live grenades up from the floor of the trench and hurled them back at the Japanese. The Japanese suffered heavy causalities from their own medicine until one of the grenades blew off Lachhiman’s right arm leaving him heavily bloodied and partially blinded. Half-dead, bloodied all over, and badly wounded, he grabbed his rifle, chambered a round, and shouted.
“Jai Mahakali! Ayo Gorkhali!”
Kali is the Hindu god of destruction and the patron of the Gurkha community to which he belonged and by invoking her name Lachhiman was warning the Japanese not to mess with him as he would destroy them like Kali. And he did exactly that for four continuous hours.
And despite every person of his regiment dead around him, his face pummelled with burning shrapnel and mouth severely bleeding, he never stopped firing his rifle. Load-sight-fire, he continued to repeat that for the next four hours fighting off waves of Japanese soldiers who would come near his trench only to get killed. The battle-hardened Japanese soldiers were terrified as Lachhiman did not allow them even to move an inch beyond his position.
It was later when military experts tried to dissect his technique, they realized there was no technique involved at all. It was pure savagery that involved only shooting, surviving, and again shooting, nothing else. He was truly the most badass soldier of World War II.
By the time the reinforcements came to help Lachhiman at dawn, they found an exhausted and bloodied Lachhiman lying unconscious in the trench and at least 31 Japanese killed around the trench. The remaining Japanese had retreated long back.
Lachhiman had just given a new definition of what ‘single-handedly’ actually means.
After the war
Lachhiman’s injuries were so severe that he could not return to action during the remainder of the war. He had lost a right arm, a right eye, and was deafened in one ear. In 1947, once India became independent, his regiment the 8th Gurkha Rifles joined the new Indian Army.
He eventually settled in Britain where he died in 2010 – after successfully fighting the British government for the rights of Gurkha veterans like himself living in Britain.
When asked later in life whether he never felt afraid during those tense moments, fighting the Japanese all alone, he simply said.
"I had to fight because there was no other way. I felt I was going to die anyway, so I might as well die standing on my feet. All I knew was that I had to go on and hold them back. I am glad that helped the other soldiers in my platoon, but they would have all done the same thing."
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Tamara Yancosky from Uninhabited Regions on March 07, 2021:
Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 04, 2021:
Thanks, Flourish. He was a remarkable man.
FlourishAnyway from USA on March 04, 2021:
You have to really respect his raw survival instinct. What an incredible story you've conveyed here.
Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 01, 2021:
Ravi Rajan (author) from Mumbai on March 01, 2021:
Ann Carr from SW England on March 01, 2021:
What a brave man, but then the Gurkhas have such a reputation. I remember the fight for their recognition here in Britain.
MG Singh emge from Singapore on February 28, 2021:
Good you highlighted exploits of a brave soldier. Gurkha's are great fighters and the British respected them after the Anglo -Gurkha wars of 1816.
Rosina S Khan on February 28, 2021:
This is an interesting account of the Badass Nepali Soldier of World War II. Stories like this exist plentifully around that time but this was certainly outstanding. Thanks for sharing, Ravi.