Som Bahadur Sahi

Som Bahadur Sahi, Lance Corporal

(Portrait © Gurkha Voices Oral History Project)

Former machine gunner in the 1/6 Gurkha Rifles, Som served for ten years and was ambushed in the jungle on operations for the Borneo Confrontation, 1963-66.

Som features in our short film on our website which is featured by clicking here.

  • Som has kept a record of all his locations in the jungle

  • Example of platoon's supplies arriving in jungle camp

  • Example of paras dropping in to jungle, Brunei

  • Sport competitions

  • Football was very important to Som

  • Competitive sport was a daily activity

Audio 1 using voice of interpreter (54 secs)

After the war, I went to the Para Company. We flew from Singapore at 1 am to our drop zone. The containers to be dropped were very heavy.  Once it was released from the cargo bay, the container went crashing down and smashed as it hit the floor, destroying many weapons.

An unusual and sad incident happened; there were 66 paratroopers flying to our drop zone. 33 jumped out from one door and 33 from the other. The aeroplane orbited the drop zone and left.  That aeroplane crashed on its way back and all 6 crew on board died. Had it crashed while we on board and on our way to the drop zone then we would all have probably died. It took a week for the search and rescue team to find them in the thick jungle.

Audio 2 using voice of interpreter (1 min 42 secs)

Once they sent out two sections of Gurkhas in the dukha (troubled) territory to wipe out the enemy. There were 21 Gurkha 6 British officers and a dog. On our way, we found biscuit and sweet wrappers on the jungle floor and followed the trail and found them camped near a small hill. They were set up in groups and it almost looked like they had a company there. Before we decided what to do, the leading scout  fired a SMG ,small machine gun, which managed to hit an Indonesian Haldar Major. He shouted  with agony and alerted his troops.

The platoon commander ordered all to drop their bags and charge. After that, all the 21 Gurkhas charged saying , “Ayo Gorkhali, charge! ” The Scottish OC praised us for our work and said that the officers who had only heard and read stories about Gurkhas had the opportunity to witness it first-hand.

In this incident we salvaged many weapons, among them were 19 rifles, 1 machine gun and uncountable pistols, grenades and ammunition. We cleared a small area for the helicopter to drop us some nettings. We filled the nettings and burned all their rations with petrol. The helicopter had to do 3 trips to transport all the guns and ammunitions including radio sets along with other salvaged goods.

We also helped the injured enemy to the helicopter but sadly he died on the way. He was shot with the SMG burst.

Oral histories: © Gurkha Voices Oral History Project