Bombahadur Gurung: Only known Manipuri to received Indian distinguished service medal in World War II


By: Laishram Ranbir

BB GurungImphal, Feb 16: Born to Am Bahadur Gurung of Kaziranga Village in Assam around 1920’s, as the eldest of two sibling (one girl), Bombahadur Gurung @ BB Gurung joined the 4th Assam Rifle Battalion in the year 1935 of March 13th.

“For the bravery of fighting against the Japanese troops during the WW2, protecting the clandestine airstrip at LIPEYKHI on Parachute Operations in enemy occupied territory in the KAREN HILLS, the NCO in charge of a party of 14th Assam Rifles Bombahadur Gurung was awarded the Indian Distinguished Service Medal after being review by higher authority from the recommendation for the prestigious Indian Order of Merit.”

Initially from Kalimpong of Darjeeling, BB Gurung father AM Bahadur Gurung was a Zamindhar who settle at Kaziranga, Assam.

Moved from Assam with one of his uncle who was had joined the Assam Rifle battalion, BB Gurung began his schooling in Bengali High School in Imphal, Manipur. After studying till class 3/4, BB Gurung joined the 4th Assam Rifle Battalion in the year 1935.

Though in lowest class in his education, BB Gurung had the knowledge to write and speak Nepali, Bengali, English, Hindi, Assamese, Manipuri and even understand Thangkhul language.

BB Gurung and 4th AR Staff

During the WW2, in his service at 4th Assam Rifle Battalion attached in “V” Force, BB Gurung was posted at various part of the country namely, Tamenglong, Maram, Nungba, Tengnoupal, Ukhrul, Namtiram in Tousem Division of Tamenglong, Kamjhong, Phungyar, Litan, Tamu (Karen Hills) etc. and was even posted at Chindwin River.

In his posting at Ukhrul, BB Gurung met Vungjaneng Tungnung from Churchandpur Toitengphai Village whose mother was from Ukhrul. Later both got married during the WW2 and settle in Manipur at Nepali Bhasti in Chingmeirong for the rest of his life.

During his service in the force at 6th Assam Rifle Battalion in Argatala Headquarter, BB Gurung retired as Subedhar Rank a month before receiving the Subedhar Major (SM) Rank due to his pension time.

After his retirement from the 6th Assam Rifle Battalion, in the year 1969, BB Gurung was called by the then Chief Secretary of Nagaland Ralengnao Khathing @ Bob Khathing to joind the Nagaland Arm Police training centre as Inspector Rank where he served for five around years till 1976.

During his posting in the 14th Assam Rifles Battalion BB Gurung also served fought with Naga hostiles and was even posted at various part of the country like Chizami, Makokchung, Jessami, Karbi Anglong, Melory, etc.

The brave BB Gurung also participated in the 1st Indo-Pak War in Kashmir and even fought at Burma in various battlefields during WW2. At present, BB Gurung is the known Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM) recipient of WW2 from Manipur and also the first Manipuri to make a parachute jump.

“The Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM) was instituted for distinguished services on 25th June of 1907 to be awarded to Indian members of armed forces,m police etc. The decoration was discontinued in the year 1947.”

BB Gurung retired from his service from Nagaland Arm Police in Inspector Rank and return back to Manipur where he pass away at the age of around 63 on November 23, 1977 due to cardiac arrest at his home at Chingmeirong.

BB Gurung had 6 children, 4 sons and 1 daughter namely Prem Gurung, Ranjit Gurung, Kamala Gurung, Henry Gurung, Bharat Gurung and Milan Gurung where Ranjit, Henry and Milan had passed away.

During his service, it cannot be deny his passion for photography as one could find hundreds of photos captured by himself with his own camera which is still available with his elder son now settle at Langol Housing Complex.

Shradha Invite of Highness BudhachandraHis spectacle, war maps, books, pouch and many materials used by himself at his service in the World War and after are still available and kept properly including IDSM and Burma Star medal and his badges of his service.

The most amazing find from his possessed items was an invitation of Shradha of the Late Highness Bodhchandra Singh which was held on Wednesday December 21 of 1955. Mention can be made that BB Gurung was not just an ordinary person, being in the war at his service, he was brave, responsible person with the passion of photography and a true leader in his battalion.

Joined Assam Rifles Battalion in the year 1932 where later promoted to Havaldar Rank during WW2 and retired as Subedhar Rank, this was Bombahadur Gurung the only Manipuri to receive Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IMSD) and his recommendation document for IDSM is available in National Archive London, till today.


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