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/ International News / 2007 / July 2007 / July 16, 2007|
WW II Gurkha hero now wants his Victoria Cross back
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World War II Gurkha hero Tul Bahadur Pun is now trying to get his Victoria Cross back from the British authorities, who took it away from him 30 years ago on the pretext that it required safekeeping.
London, July 16 : World War II Gurkha hero Tul Bahadur Pun is now trying to get his Victoria Cross back from the British authorities, who took it away from him 30 years ago on the pretext that it required "safekeeping."
Eighty-four-year-old Pun, who came to Britain last week from his home in Nepal for medical treatment, recently went to see his medal on display in a case at the Gurkha Museum in Winchester.
Museum chiefs use a picture of Pun on their leaflet - but when asked if he could hold the medal, they refused.
A sad Pun was quoted by The Mirror as saying: "It is mine. I want it back. I must have it back.
Pun, who has heart problems and diabetes, won his Victoria Cross in Burma in 1944 after he charged a Japanese machine gun nest that had wiped out his platoon.
In 1974, the Army sent Pun a letter about the medal - although he does not read - and then an officer visited him in his hut in Nepal.
He said: "The officer said the medal was too valuable to be in my possession and the Army would hold it for safekeeping."
Some time later he received a payment of 40,000 rupees - the equivalent of about 500 pounds today - which he believed was a loan.
A Victoria Cross sold at auction last year for 500,000 pounds.
Pun's lawyer Martin Howe said: "The medal is his - he risked his life for it. He did not understand he would not get it back."
Museum trustee chairman Christopher Bullock said: "The medal was bought from Mr Pun for the market value at the time. It is on display here for the world to see and serves as an inspiration."
His Victoria Cross is held at the museum with another 10 of his medals. Pun is one of only 13 living winners of the medal.
Each medal is made from the bronze of a Crimean War cannon. There is only enough metal left to make around 35 more.