Phakta Bahadur Pun
Phakta Bahadur Pun, Corporal
(Portrait © Gurkha Voices Oral History Project)
Gurkhas on patrol in Malaya
Phakta patrolled in river boats in Malaya
Depicts conditions for Phakta during his jungle patrols for 2 weeks
Phakta Bahadur Pun was born in Begkhola, Western Nepal, the youngest of 12 siblings (8 brothers, 3 sisters). Sadly, his father passed away when he was just 4 years old and he has no memories of his father. Phakta’s eldest brother had died in the Second World War and he believes it was a contributing factor to his father’s death as he could not cope with his loss. It was a struggle for his mother to keep the family going and as soon as his two elder brothers were able to join the Gurkhas it helped the family with the finances and made life slightly easier, but it was still very difficult. His earliest memory is being carried in a basket on his sister’s back to the fields where the crops grew.
Phakta joined the Gurkhas in 1962 and after completing his basic training he joined Company D of 1/2 Gurkha Rifles and was sent to Kuching for the Borneo Conflict. He spent several years on jungle operations and his Company D was involved in one particular ambush where several Company members, including his Commanding Officer in charge were awarded medals.
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(More veteran stories are in our book, published later this year. Keep posted via our blog: www.gurkhastories.wordpress.com)
Interview extract 1 (based on interpreter's translation):
On the day I [joined] I remember I have to do something, this is the day I have to stand up on my own feet and maybe I can help my mother. On the day we enlisted they took us in the store [supplies] then they issue everything about the military kit – woollen hat, sandals, trousers, shirts – so I send all my civilian clothes back to home… Up until that point I didn’t know anything about what’s the difference between military and civilian, what’s the law, order, regulations, I didn’t know anything about it!
Interview extract 2 (based on interpreter's translation):
We had a new Company Commander called Lalbahadur Pun and our 2IC was Chandra Ras Pun. We were given a task to go to another operation [in Borneo jungle]. On this operation we must carry ten days’ ration, including weapons, ammunition and everything. It was a long term operation. Because the area of the operation was fourteen kilometres inside Indonesia border so there wasn’t any air support or air drop, therefore we have to carry ten days’ ration… We had a bag and… another layer of bag so we had to carry the extra. We carried ten days’ ration but we stayed fourteen days. We collected bamboo shoots and fern to eat.
When we sent the ‘recci’ group, the group actually located the enemy, they were staying in a longhouse next to the river. Once they bring that information then we are going to attack. We walked five days to reach that fourteen kilometres in the jungle. Then when we see that hut, the Company Commander gathered every individual person and he ordered us to leave everything [behind], ration pack, everything. Just take one water bottle and the bag of salt and weapons.
The Company Commander when he centralised his watch for the time of the attack, went to each individual soldier and gave encouragement, ‘Don’t be frightened, one day we will all die, so we are here to kill the enemy.’ He said this to each individual, holding on the shoulder and giving the encouragement.
The continuation of Phakta’s story will appear in our Gurkha Stories book, published later this year! Keep in touch for news on the publication via our blog: www.gurkhastories.wordpress.com
Oral histories: © Gurkha Voices Oral History Project