Gurkha war hero dies at 93

A GURKHA warrior who won the Victoria Cross for repelling wave after wave of Japanese attacks despite being badly wounded by a grenade blast has died aged 93.

In his latter years, Lachhiman Gurung was a key part of the campaign fronted by actress Joanna Lumley to win Gurkhas the right to stay in this country, and she paid tribute to the fearless fighter, who was just 4ft 11in tall.

She said: "Although he was small in stature we shall all walk in his huge shadow."

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Born in the Chitwan district of western Nepal in 1917, Lachhiman joined the British Indian Army in December 1940. He joined the 4th Battalion of 8th Gurkha Rifles.

He and his comrades were defending an important jungle track alongside the west bank of the Irrawaddy River in Burma.

For three days and two nights the withdrawing Japanese attacked, sending in wave after wave of suicidal attacks.

Lachhiman, with two Gurkha comrades, held the most forward post some 100 yards ahead of the rest of the platoon.

The rifleman was in a trench with two comrades overnight from 12 to 13 May when at least 200 soldiers attacked their position. As daylight broke and the battle eased, of the 87 enemy dead, 31 lay dead in front of Rifleman Lachhiman's section.

His VC citation reads: "This Rifleman, by his magnificent example, so inspired his comrades to resist the enemy to the last, that, although surrounded and cut off for three days and two nights, they held and smashed every attack."

Lachhiman returned to Nepal on completion of his service, but returned to international prominence as a figurehead of the Gurkha Justice Campaign for UK settlement rights for veterans.

He settled in Hounslow, London, in 2008 and was often at the front of protest marches, including presenting petitions to Downing Street, and was joined by his fellow VC and friend Tul Bahadur Pun.