Ganju Lama

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Ganju Lama
Ganju Lama VC.jpg
Birth nameGyamtso Shangderpa
Born22 July 1924
Sangmo, Sikkim
Died1 July 2000 (aged 75)
AllegianceBritish India
Years of service1942–1968
RankSubedar Major
Battles/warsWorld War II

Ganju Lama VC MM (22 July 1924 – 1 July 2000) was a Nepalese origin Sikkimese Gurkha recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


Ganju Lama was born in Sangmo, southern Sikkim, India, on 22 July 1924. He enlisted in British Gurkha Army in 1942 at the age of seventeen. His parents were both of Sikkimese Bhutia descent and lived in Sikkim, which made him unusual, as he was neither an ethnic Gurkha nor a Nepalese subject.[1] At that time, however, Gurkha regiments were prepared to accept any recruit who closely resembled the Gurkha and lived near the border of Nepal.[1] Ganju Lama's tribe lived in the kingdom of Sikkim. His name was Gyamtso Shangderpa, but a clerk in the recruiting office wrote it down as Ganju, and the name stuck. After leaving the regimental centre in 1943, he joined the 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles, near Imphal, India.[1]

Victoria Cross[edit]

Ganju Lama was nineteen years old, and a rifleman in the 1st Battalion, 7th Gurkha Rifles, in the Indian Army during World War II when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross:

On 12 June 1944, near Ningthoukhong, India, 'B' Company was attempting to stem the enemy's advance when it came under heavy machine-gun and tank machine-gun fire. Rifleman Ganju Lama, with complete disregard for his own safety, took his PIAT gun and, crawling forward, succeeded in bringing the gun into action within 30 yards of the enemy tanks, knocking out two of them. Despite a broken wrist and two other serious wounds to his right and left hands he then moved forward and engaged the tank crew who were trying to escape. Not until he had accounted for all of them did he consent to leave to his wounds dressed.[2]

A month earlier, during operations on the Tiddim Road, Ganju Lama's regiment had surprised a party of Japanese and killed several of them. He was awarded the Military Medal for his part in the action.[3] Strangely though, this award was actually announced in the London Gazette after his Victoria Cross, appearing on 3 October 1944, almost a month later.[4]

Later life[edit]

After India gained its independence, he joined the Indian 11th Gorkha Rifles, retiring in 1968, when he became a farmer in Sikkim. He was appointed honorary ADC to the President of India for life.[5] His Victoria Cross is displayed at The Gurkha Museum in Winchester, England along with those of other Gurkhas.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Parker 2005, p. 201.
  2. ^ "No. 36690". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 September 1944. pp. 4157–4158.
  3. ^ Parker 2005, pp. 201–202.
  4. ^ "No. 36730". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 October 1944. p. 4572.
  5. ^ "Ganju Lama, VC - Telegraph". The Daily Telegraph. London. 3 July 2000. Retrieved January 11, 2013.
  6. ^ [1]


  • Parker, John. (2005). The Gurkhas: The Inside Story of the World's Most Feared Soldiers. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7553-1415-7.
  • Dominick Donald, Noah Price, Edwin King, Tom Bates[citation needed]
  • Ganju Lama, VC, The Times, 3 July 2000. Retrieved on 10 October 2009.

External links[edit]