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Politics | Howards Way

Politics: Gallantry in the face of odds which meant almost certain death

Contributed by editor on Jun 07, 2007 - 12:00 AM

Howards Way

.... a weekly column from Michael Howard MP 

7 June 2007

On Wednesday of last week I did a pre-recorded interview for Meridian TV
about the case of Tul Bahadur Pun VC who had been refused leave to come to this
country from Nepal where he has been living in retirement. I said the decision
was indefensible and should be changed and called for the Home Secretary to


About 24 hours later the Home Office did indeed intervene and the decision
was changed. Rifleman Pun will, after all, be allowed to come here.

I would like to think that my intervention made all the difference. But I am
realistic enough to know the limits of my influence. Many others were making the
same point and, on this occasion at least, the Home Office listened and reversed
the decision.

It is worth recalling the extraordinary valour shown by Rifleman Pun for which
he was awarded the Victoria Cross, our highest award for gallantry.

On June 23, 1944 Rifleman Pun, then just 21 years old, was fighting the Japanese
in Burma.

After two weeks of fighting, his regiment, the 6th Gurkha Rifles of the Indian
Army, had been reduced from 1,400 men to about 830. At dawn an attack was
ordered on a key Japanese position at a railway bridge. Only three members of
Rifleman Pun’s section survived the initial assault. The other two were badly
wounded as they pressed home the attack. Rifleman Pun then made a furious lone
charge across 30 yards of open ground at an enemy machine gun nest, killing
three Japanese and putting five more to flight. He then used the machine gun he
had captured to provide covering fire for other troops to secure their

The citation for his VC states:-

“His outstanding courage and superb gallantry in the face of odds which meant
almost certain death were most inspiring to all ranks and beyond praise.”

Apt words. And thank goodness that in the end we had apt action to recognise the
contribution Rifleman Pun has made to our country.


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