I've been researching the stories of soldiers from the Indian Army who were awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second World War. This is for a website which honours the contribution of undivided (pre-partition) India in both world wars.
|Sher Bahadur Thapa, 1/9th Gurkhas, Italy 1944|
I've been working for the CWGC for eight years now. There is always the possibility, I suppose, that I could become inured to the horrors of war, the sacrifice, the selfless courage of so many, writing about it as I do on an almost daily basis.
I haven't. How could I?
Sher Bahadur Thapa died in a hail of bullets when he had carried out his second rescue. He was twenty three years old.
I know who my heroes are. No matter for whom they fought. I'm only writing about thirty or so exceptional human beings. There are countless millions more whose bravery will go unrecorded.
Just so you know, I'm a pacifist. International Peace Day was on Wednesday. To write about Sher Bahadur Thapa isn't to glorify war. Neither is remembering him. It's honouring the sort of personal courage and self-sacrifice that allows others to live.