Valor Friday

| November 26, 2021

Tul Bahadur (left) and Dipprasad (right) Pun

Last week I talked about Lieutenant Tul Bahadur Pun VC of the 6th Gurkha Rifles. Pun, as the post-nominals indicate, received the Victoria Cross for action during World War II in Burma, when he continued a charge on an enemy position alone after his compatriots were killed or wounded. Single-handedly vanquishing the enemy within he then used the enemy’s own machine guns to provide covering fire for the remainder of his company, allowing them to finally reach their objective.

I said at the end of last week’s article that I’d be speaking this week of a relation of Pun’s. His grandson to be specific. You’ll see how valor is a family trait for the Puns.

Dipprasad Pun was born in Nepal in 1980 and, like his father and grandfather before him, joined the British Army’s Gurkha Regiment. In 1994, after the Cold War, the British Army consolidated their Gurkhas into a single regiment. The following units were merged into the singular Gurkha Regiment;

  • 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles)
  • 6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles
  • 7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles
  • 10th Princess Mary’s Own Gurkha Rifles

After his training, Pun would join the Gurkha’s 1st Battalion. The 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles had been formed by the consolidation of the 1st Bn, 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles and 1st Bn, 6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles. Pun was serving in the unit which carried his grandfather’s lineage.

I can’t find too many details on Pun’s career or when exactly he enlisted. He was a corporal by the time that he was serving in Afghanistan in 2010 though. With the size of the Gurkha Regiment (~4,000 men) and the British Army’s slow promotion rates, as a corporal it can be inferred that Pun had several years of service by this point.

On 17 September 2010, Pun and three fellow Gurkhas were manning a small outpost near Babaji in Helmand province. The four men were the only ones remaining in the small, two-story base, since the rest of the platoon had been sent out on patrol. The following day were parliamentary elections, and they wanted to ensure that the roads to town were free of Taliban forces. Pun and his three fellow soldiers were taking turns serving watch over their position.

Pun, an acting sergeant, heard some clicking while he was on his turn at the guard post on the roof. Assuming at first it was a cow he still investigated. He found two insurgents digging in the dirt to plant an IED. He then saw that there were more Taliban forces, which had their small outpost surrounded. Estimates placed the size of the enemy force at at least 30.

With remarkable presence of mind, Pun grabbed two radios (which came in handy very soon so he could speak with his commanding officer and also called in airstrikes), his personal weapon, and a machine-gun.

As he was about to be attacked from multiple sides by dozens of Taliban, Pun radioed to his commander they were under attack and immediately lobbed a grenade into the first enemy formation.

The enemy opened fire on Pun’s position with a well-coordinated barrage of small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire. Fighting from the small outpost’s roof, Pun bore the brunt of this assault for at least 15 continuous minutes.

Pun knew he was going to die. The fearless Gurkha did what many of the small in stature but large in fighting spirit Gurkha warriors have done and resolved himself to kill as many of the enemy as he could. The acting sergeant then proceeded to do just that.

Firing his weapons and lobbing grenades, Pun was the only target for his foe that night. Putting up a determined defense while being attacked from three sides, Pun fired hundreds of rounds as he single-handedly held off a far larger enemy force, pivoting from direction to direction to fight off the encroaching fighters.

While most of the enemy were about 50 feet away from his post, and he was holding them off, one very large Taliban fighter climbed the structure and was looming over Pun. He opened fire with his machine gun on the man until the enemy soldier was pushed back and fell off the roof, mortally wounded.

When another insurgent tried to climb the side of the building, Pun tried to shoot him with his SA80 rifle, but it wouldn’t fire. Jammed or empty, Pun had to improvise. Grabbing a sandbag to throw onto the enemy’s head, he found the bag hadn’t been tied. In a moment of comedy that at the time was probably the single most frustrating event of his life, the sand fell harmlessly out of the bag at Pun’s feet.

With nothing else at the ready, Pun grabbed the tripod for the machine gun. Throwing it down at the Taliban fighter’s head, Pun shouted in Nepali, “Marchu talai!” (“I will kill you”). Two insurgents remained after Pun had used up all his ammunition (and tripods). By later count, Pun had fired 250 machine gun rounds, 180 rifle rounds, and 17 grenades (six phosphorus grenades, six normal grenades, five underslung grenade launcher rounds).

Pun used the last remaining munition available to him, a claymore mine. Pointing it “Front Toward Enemy” (as the device itself helpfully reminds you for just such a circumstance), Pun triggered the mine, driving back the last of the enemy fighters.

It was then that help finally arrived in the form of Pun’s commander, Major Shaun Chandler. Rapping the Gurkha on the back, the officer asked him if he was alright. Somehow, he’d come out unscathed. The only weapon that Pun didn’t employ that night was his traditional kukri, only because he didn’t have it on his person at the time. I can only assume that he will never be without it again.

Pun’s one-man stand at that tiny outpost saved the lives of three of his fellow soldiers and prevented the location from being overrun. He was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross by Queen Elizabth II at a Buckingham Palace ceremony in 2011.

Pun’s award citation says in part;

Sergeant Pun couldn’t know how many Taliban were attempting to overcome his position, but he sought them out from all angles despite the danger, consistently moving towards them to reach the best position of attack:

“I thought there might have been around 20 to 30, but later locals told me it was probably about 15. The firing went on continually for about 17 minutes”, said Sergeant Pun.

“At first I was a bit scared, and I thought definitely they are going to kill me. But as soon as I started firing, that feeling went away”.

The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) is the second highest award for combat bravery in the British awards and decorations system. Only 60 have been awarded since the award’s inception in 1993. The CGC was created during a consolidation of the complex British awards system, which prior to 1993 gave different awards for officers than to other ranks (enlisted, non-commissioned, and warrants). The CGC replaced the other ranks awards of Distinguished Conduct Medal (for Army personnel) and the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (for air and naval personnel) as well as the Distinguished Service Order for commissioned officers (when awarded for combat valor, it is still awarded for meritorious service).

Pun’s grandfather, you might recall from last week’s article, had died unexpectedly in 2011 on 20 April. The younger Pun’s CGC award wasn’t presented until June of that year. Dipprasad’s award was gazetted (announced) in March though, so his grandfather lived long enough to see his grandson’s incredible valor receive proper recognition.

Dipprasad is married and lives in Ashford, Kent in the UK at last report.

Category: Historical, UK and Commonwealth Awards, Valor, We Remember

11 Comments
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Sapper3307

KoB

The epitome of “bringing every weapon to bear”. Sandbag? Tripod? Handheld Claymore? Surprised he didn’t use them Big Brass Ones to split a few skulls. HARDCORE! And yep, you can bet that his kukri is always in reach now.

Great Story, Mason. Thanks!

A Proud Infidel®™

Those Gurkhas are some very badassed Warriors, we did a few missions with them and hadji DID NOT mess with us when we were outside the wire with the Gurkhas!

26Limabeans

Front Toward Enemy

but don’t hold it your hand…

Hatchet

An old joke about the Gurkhas =============================== During the Second World War a Company of Germans were in the desert when a voice called out from behind a sand dune: “One Gurkha can kill five Germans!” Irritated by this the German captain sends a couple of soldiers round to sort out this man out, nobody disrespects the German army. Moments later the voice calls out again “One Gurkha can kill 10 Germans!” The commander sends… Read more »

Robert Szrama

Would love to shake hand.

Sparks

Hard fighting troop there!

Green Thumb

Word.

AW1Ed

Corporal Dipprasad Pun is pictured standing behind his, well, there you have it.

balls

Thanks, Mason.

Berliner

Awarded “in recognition of an act or acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy”.

The medal has been awarded 60 times, 3 posthumous.
Acting Sergeant Pun was the 48th recipient and the only Gurkha to receive the award.

Big brass ones, like depicted above, run in that family. A good read on both men. Thank you.

sarge

Bad ass mo fo right there. Might as well submit his balls to the Guinness Book to see how they rack up against the top 10.