The Second World War, I Saw

Can you find a warrior of war against World War II? Yes of course, you can, if you go on looking for it. The Gorkha Sainik Awaaj has found out two surviving warriors of the World War II. They are: Rudra Bahadur Dumi Rai and Lal Bahadur Loharung Rai. Rudra Bahadur is, now, 104 years old who had migrated to Topgachhi, Jhapa from Sungdel, Khotang ( his permanent residence) whereas Lal Bahadur, a resident from Sankhuwasabha, some time ago, celebrated one-hundredth birthday, dancing with his family members, friends and neighbors.

Japan and Pakistan fought a fierce war during Rudra Bahadur’s tenure (when Rudra Bahadur stayed in paltan). He remebers, ‘The battle with Japan was the Second World War, I just got to know later’. How did he not know the World War II even when he was in his paltan? While knowing later, he was a beloved character of his senior military officer.

He was highly interested to go to war. However, it remained unfulfilled. While expressing his interest to get into the war, his officer had rebuked him, he recalls. He was always confined to the office in the 13 years of paltan (as a clerk). Even though he did not go to the war, he knew all about Gurkhalese death in the war. He never heard about Whites’ death even while he was well aware of the Gurkhalese buried in the jungle after their death in the war.

He was recruited twice to the British Gurkha Army under the then East India Company. His Gurkha Rifle was 3/11 and army number was 90467. Opening reason behind two times recruitment, he cried out, ‘Even to the Naik, I did not return home to the pension. I served 6 years for the first time, and seven years for the second time, I returned back to my native country Nepal by resigning’.

The second time, when he returned back to home after the resignation, his hand had a handful of rupees worth Rs. 150 Indian Currency. Even now, British Gurkha Welfare has been defusing him by giving some financial support and health expenditure. He is satisfied with the provision.

Lal Bahadur, a warrior from the Second World War, is a living witness. He had fought battle against Japan from the East India Company side.While fighting the battle, he was captured by the Japanese army in Pegu (a historical city of Burma).

This is the case of 1942. The Japanese Army made him a captive (prisoner of war). He said, “I missed all near and dear ones very much for four months as a prisoner. However, four months later, I ran away from the Japanese Army”.

Lal Bahadur from the First Ten GR was sent to control guerrilla warfare in Kabul in 1939. In the paltan, known as Ichiro, he fought as a gunner during the peak hour of the World War II in Burma’s Rangun, Pegu and Phoolbari. How did Lal Bahadur become a captive? Talking about the incident that had turned to be history, he said, ‘We encountered with Japanese armies in Burma. Firing was opened. The bullet was over from our side. While thinking about what to do, the Japanese army took me up. However, the batsmen never did mischief’.

He used to be there where Japanese armies would have been. The Japanese armies repeatedly asked him the same question – Why did you fight against us as a Gurkhali? Moreover, the Japanese army also urged him to fight the war from their battle line. But, he did not want to do so.

After four months of wilderness with the Japanese troops, he heard that the Brittany party was killing Japanese captives. This unusual news saddened him extremely. Instantly, he crafted an idea–he had no option except escaping from the captivity. Seven days later he fled from the Japanese army in Burma, he came in contact with his own paltan.

He was about to be promoted to the First Ten GR Havaldar Major in 1947. After the East India Company’s retrieval from India, he did not want to go to the UK. Due to his parents had already passed away, he returned to Nepal to handle household affair. He spent 12 years in paltan, who was recruited in 1934 from Darjeeling’s Gumapahad. He also received 10,000 pounds when Japan compensated for the prisoners of war during World War II.

‘Let’s go to the UK, you will be a lieutenant after six months’, Lal Bahadur remembers his White Officer’s word along with his hundred years old laughter, ‘But I denied’, he further added. And this is the story of the Second World War told by Rudra Bahadur Rai and Lal Bahadur Rai. How has the daily life of these two living legends of the World War II been going on?
The Gorkha Sainik Awaaj intended to know.

Rudra Bahadur is highly jovial even in his 104 years old age. He walks around his home. He involves in open sharing with his guests and does not like to live a lazy life. He is not likely to stay doing nothing at home as well. “I am utilizing my time by making bamboo basket, and other bamboo materials including Mahala, Khungi, Furlung etc.”, He said. He is in the bed rest after he had had his legs broken falling down from the chair. Still, he walks with the help of crutches. Despite his good hearing capacity, he does not see the eyes properly.

What is the daily of Lal Bahadur then, who is the resident of Khandbari Municipality-4, Lokepang. He has celebrated hundredth anniversary and is quite healthy. He walks all ups and downs in the village. He travels easily between Lokepangma to Khandabari market, four kilometer distance.

Lal Bahadur, who keeps the body healthy, maintains early morning-walk and evening-walk as daily activities. He eats rice as brunch, roti and tea as dinner and takes milk, ghee and honey every day. He is also known as a philanthropist who participated actively in politics during Panchayat Period.

The son of Lal Bahadur,Krishna Lal, who is working as a British Army, arrived in Sangkhuwasva, along with his wife to celebrate his father’s hundredth birthday celebration. Feeling proud of the father (LalBahadur, a living witness of the World War II), people like Krishna and his wife may rarely return Nepal merely for the celebration of their father’s birthday.

(With the help of Niliba Subba and Nagendra Rai)

Translation: Rasik Kirat