Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rifleman Padam Singh Gurung : (Born 22.12.1913 - Death 11.07. 2012)

{It has been thirteen days since he left this world but for the person who knows him his legacy remains for forever. This World War II veteran was in his hundred years when he passed away at Singtam after a long-drawn-out illness. Recipient of Burma War Medal, Jammu and Kashmir Medal, Independence Medal (India) and Republic Day Award (Sikkim); Rifleman Padam Singh Gurung was indeed a pride of Singtam and we are proud that we were associated with this legend.}

Popularly more recognized as Singtam Thakurbari Mandir’s Gurung Bajey, Rifleman Padam Singh Gurung claimed to fame when at a tender age of 19 he joined 58 Gorkha Regiment then known as the 3rd Battalion of Second Gorkha Rifles (3/2 GR) as a rifleman.  The year then was 1941 and the WWII had already started. Gurung did his initial military training at Dehradun and later on their unit was shifted to. Loralai, Baluchistan (Pakistan) for further training that suited the Burma mountainous terrains where there were to be send.
3/2 GR moved from Baluchistan to Quetta and then to Lahore by road. Thereafter, the unit moved to Tiruchinapalli (Tamil Nadu) through rail route thereafter to Trivandrum (now Thiruvananthapuram, a capital of Kerala State). The unit was then dispatched to Burma through sea route. The Battalion landed at the southern tip of Burma and immediately joined the fighting against Japanese. The year was January 1942. The 58 Gorkha Regiment stayed for over three years at Burma where Gurung had participated at all the War Operations till Japanese army surrendered in 1945.

Mohan Pradhan ‘Neeraj’ noted Nepali literary writer from Singtam remembers Padam Singh Gurung as a legend and a pilgrim of his generation. Pradhan recalls having a talk with the late Rifleman few months back about his days at Burma during the WWII. Gurung in his word had said, “Japanese troops had invaded Rangoon and most part of Burma (now Myanmar) then. Our battalion was part of British Indian Army that fought the Irrawaddy River Operation against the Imperial Japanese Army. Every day for more than hours heavy artillery firing was done from both sides along the Irrawady River. The situation there was such that we never knew that we would be alive to see our families back home. Bullets were passing us from a breath distance.  In another instance, at Arakan Mountains, the Japanese troop had made captive Indian Army soldiers in their bunkers. It was here that 58 Gorkha Regiment showed their bravery and attacked the enemy post and released the Indian Army soldiers unhurt”.
Bhaskar Gurung recalls his grandfather talk about those army days where during thosetime they did not possessed well equipped weapons as today but the sheer determination, courage, patriotism and the love for their country ultimately made them victories. Bhaskar proudly says his grandfather always felt proud and honoured to have fought for the country as he did when India finally got Independent. He believed that success comes through hard work and sacrifices and there is no short cut for it.
In his short stint of 13 years as an army man he went on to win Burma War Medal, Jammu and Kashmir Medal, Independence Medal (India). Gurung was 31 when he retired from his service in 1953

Married to Bhim Maya Gurung who passed away in 1997, Gurung had left behind three sons Mani Kumar Gurung, Prem Kumar Gurung and Santosh Kumar Gurung and a daughter Sarda Gurung and half dozens of Grandchildren and Great Grand Children.

The State Government of Sikkim honoured this WWII legend in 2011 at Republic Day Award a Gangtok. Singtam Basibiyalo, a monthly literary and cultural meet had also felicitated him last August, 2011. Gurung was the active members of the All India Ex Serviceman Association of Delhi. He donated his land for the construction of Rajya Sainik Aaram Ghar at Singtam that is used by ex serviceman today. He was the land donor and the founder of Singtam Sai Samiti way back in 1970s. He was also closely associated with the construction and development of Government Fruit Preservatory Factory, Singtam. His self-involvement towards the construction of Singtam Nepali Dharamsala in early 2000 is also well-known.

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