Auction: 4014 - Orders, Decorations, Campaign Medals and Militaria
Lot: 115

The Outstanding Victoria Cross Group of Thirteen to Subedar-Major and Honorary Captain Agansing Rai, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, for 'Indomitable Courage' during the Battle of Imphal a)Victoria Cross, reverse of suspension bar engraved '63219 Rfmn. (Actg. Naik) Agansing Rai, 2nd/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles.', reverse of Cross engraved '26th June, 1944.' b) India 1965 (JC-5818 Sub Agan Singh Rai V.C. G.R.) c) Videsh Seva (Foreign Service Medal), with one clasp, Congo (in Hindi) (JC-5818 Sub. A.S. Rai V.C. 5 8 G. Rif.) d) India, Independence 1947 (63219 Nk. Agansing Rai, 2-5 G.R.) e) India Long Service Medal, for 20 years (JC-5818 Sub-Maj. A.S. Rai, 5 G. Rif.) f) India, Long Service Medal, for 9 years (JC-5818 Sub-Maj A. S. Rai 5 G. Rif) g) 1939-45 Star (5432188 Hav. Agansing Rai, 5 R. G. R.) h) Burma Star, similarly named i) War Medal (5432188 Hav. Agansing Rai, 5 R.G.R.) j) India Service Medal 1939-45, similarly named k) Coronation 1953 l) United Nations Medal for Congo 1960-64 m) Jubilee 1977, the group very fine, mounted and worn in this order (13) Estimate £ 110,000-130,000 The Japanese Burma Offensive 1944 At the beginning of March 1944 the Japanese 15th Army under General Mutaguchi crossed the Chindwin River on a broad front. Their ultimate aim was to secure India but first they would have to smash their way through General Slim's 14th Army in Central Burma. The main force of the offensive fell upon the British IV Corps centred on Imphal and Kohima. Although the attack was expected, the speed and ferocity of the Japanese advance, particularly of the 15th Division which unexpectedly approached Imphal over rugged mountains from the east, took the British IV Corps by surprise, and soon both Imphal and Kohima were under siege. The three besieged divisions of IV Corps included the 17th Indian Division, known as the 'Black Cat' Division. The 'Black Cats' had among its ranks the 48th Gurkha Brigade, the 2/5th and 1/7th Gurkhas. The Siege of Imphal The 50,000 men of IV Corps now faced 90,000 troops of the Japanese 15th, 31st and 33rd Divisions. Both armies knew that time was on the side of the British IV Corps. The British and U.S. Air Forces had complete control of the skies and vast quantities of supplies were dropped. The Japanese had no such supply route. At the same time, a relief force, the XXXIII Corps, was fighting its way through. On 20 April Kohima was relieved. The Japanese knew they would have to take Imphal before the relieving forces and the monsoons arrived, if their campaign was not to end in defeat. They renewed their efforts. Major-General Tanaka's orders to the 33rd Division began 'Now is the time to take Imphal. Regard death as something lighter than a feather. It must be expected that the division will be almost annihilated'. The Japanese did not imagine that the 'Black Cats' would resist as long and as heroically as they did. All attempts to crack their stubborn defence failed, and XXXIII Corps finally made the break through to Imphal on 22 June. The last few days of June saw the final desperate attempts by the Japanese to regain the initiative, but the tide was turning. V.C. London Gazette 5.10.1944 No. 63219 Rifleman (acting Naik) Agansing Rai, 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force), Indian Army. Citation states 'In Burma on 24th and 25th June, 1944, after fierce fighting, the enemy, with greatly superior forces, had captured two posts known as "Water Piquet" and "Mortar Bluff". These posts were well sighted and were mutually supporting and their possession by the enemy threatened our communications. On the morning of 26th June, 1944, a company of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) was ordered to recapture these positions. After a preliminary artillery concentration, the company went in to attack but on reaching a false crest about 80 yards from its objective, it was pinned down by heavy and accurate fire from a machine-gun in "Mortar Bluff" and a 37 millimetre gun in the jungle, suffering many casualties. Naik Agansing Rai, appreciating that more delay would inevitably result in heavier casualties, at once led his section under withering fire directly at the machine-gun and, firing as he went, charged the position, himself killing three of the crew of four. Inspired by this cool act of bravery the section surged forward across the bullet swept ground and routed the garrison of "Mortar Bluff". This position was now under intense fire from the 37millimetre gun in the jungle and from "Water Piquet". Naik Agansing Rai at once advanced towards the gun, his section without hesitation following their gallant leader. Intense fire reduced the section to three men before half the distance had been covered but they pressed onto their objective. Arriving at close range, Naik Agansing Rai killed three of the crew and his men killed the other two. The party then returned to "Mortar Bluff" where the rest of their platoon were forming up for the final assault on "Water Piquet". In the subsequent advance heavy machine-gun fire and showers of grenades from an isolated bunker position caused further casualties. Once more, with indomitable courage, Naik Agansing Rai, covered by his Bren gunner, advanced alone with a grenade in one hand and his Thompson Sub-Machine gun in the other. Through devastating fire he reached the enemy position and with his grenade and bursts from his Thompson Sub-Machine gun killed all four occupants of the bunker. The enemy, demoralized by this N.C.O.'s calm display of courage and complete contempt for danger, now fled before the onslaught on "Water Piquet" and this position too was captured. Naik Agansing Rai's magnificent display of initiative, outstanding bravery and gallant leadership, so inspired the rest of the Company that, in spite of heavy casualties, the result of this important action was never in doubt.' Retreat of the Japanese 15th Army The Japanese had not forseen the possibility that the British IV Corps would refuse to retreat from Imphal and abandon their supplies. Their situation was therefore now desperate. With the arrival of the monsoons their only option was a long fighting retreat. They fell back to the Chindwin, pursued all the way, and though their retreat was well ordered, the campaign had been a disaster. Over 65,000 men were lost through combat, starvation or disease. The projected invasion of India was abandoned, and by the end of the year the British forces would be across the Chindwin and advancing to the Irrawaddy. Honorary Captain Agansing Rai V.C. (1921-2000), was born in Asmara village in Okhaldungha district of East Nepal. He enlisted in the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles in April 1941 and was posted to the Second Battalion. He was promoted to Section Commander with the rank of Naik in 1943, and served with 17 Indian Division throughout the Burma Campaign of 1944. Viceroy Field Marshal Lord Wavell presented Agansing Rai with his Victoria Cross in 1945 and in 1946 he was flown to London to take part in the Victory Parade. 2nd/5th Gurkhas formed part of the Army of Occupation of Japan, and Agansing Rai was promoted Company Commander with the rank of Subedar. After Independence in 1947 Agansing Rai remained with the Regiment when it transferred to the Indian Army, and was promoted to Havildar. He served with the Indian contingent of the United Nations peacekeeping force in the Congo 1962-63, and became Subedar-Major before retiring in 1971 with the Honorary Rank of Captain. Retiring to his home village some three days walk from Kathmandu, Agansing Rai settled down to enjoy a modest and well earned retirement, but his reputation as a wise and quiet man only endeared him all the more to his many admirers. He was introduced to the Queen during her visit to Nepal in 1986, and he attended many reunions of holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross in London where he was much admired as a man of stature and presence. After a long battle against cancer Agansing Rai died in Kathmandu in May 2000.

Sold for £115,000

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