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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 July, 2004, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Gurkha medal in London auction
By Alastair Lawson
BBC News Online South Asia desk

Agansing Rai
Agansing Rai had "complete contempt" for danger
A Victoria Cross, Britain's highest military award for bravery, has been auctioned for 132,250 ($243,711) by the family of a Nepalese Gurkha.

The money, raised in an auction in London, will be given by the family of Honorary Captain Agansing Rai to help underprivileged children in Nepal.

It is believed to be the first Victoria Cross awarded to a Gurkha to be sold.

Mr Rai, who died four years ago, won the medal for his action against the Japanese in 1944.

'Withering fire'

The citation for his award said that the enemy was demoralised by his "calm display of courage an complete contempt for danger."

Born in Okhaldungha in eastern Nepal, Mr Rai was a 24-year-old corporal in the Fifth Gurkha Rifles when he led a charge on Japanese machine gun positions in Imphal, in what is now the eastern Indian state of Manipur.

It's a fantastic citation - Boy's Own stuff - with a tommy gun in one hand and a grenade in the other
Spink Executive Director Paul Barthaud

Armed with a machine gun in one hand and a grenade in the other, the citation said that he led his section under "withering fire" directly at the Japanese positions, killing three out of the crew of four.

"Inspired by his cool act of bravery the section moved forward across the bullet swept ground and routed the enemy garrison," it says.

Mr Rai died four years ago. He was awarded the Victoria Cross by Queen Elizabeth during a state visit to Nepal in 1986.

The medal was sold in London on Thursday by the British auctioneers, Spink.

'Bigger smiles'

"It's a fantastic citation - Boy's Own stuff," Spink Executive Director Paul Barthaud told BBC News Online.

"With a tommy gun in one hand and a grenade in the other - it is the sort of thing normally only seen in Hollywood."

Agansing Rai
Money raised by Mr Rai's bravery will go towards underprivileged children in Nepal

Mr Barthaud said that Mr Rai's family attended the auction, and were at the back of the room during the bidding.

"When the bidding exceeded 100,000 their smiles grew bigger and bigger," he said.

Also for auction were other medals won by Mr Rai including a 20 year long India Service Medal.

After the war, he remained with his regiment and transferred to the Indian army after independence in 1947.

He served with the Indian contingent of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Congo from 1962-3 before retiring in 1971 and returning to his home village.

After a long battle with cancer he died in Kathmandu in May 2000.


SEE ALSO:
Gurkhas solve bus driver crisis
15 Jun 04  |  South West Wales
Gurkha hopefuls undeterred
24 Feb 03  |  South Asia
Who are the Gurkhas?
21 Feb 03  |  UK


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