Basnet worked as the prisoner barber, and remembers the Japanese treating the Gurkhas slightly better than the others. They were confident about winning the war and making Nepal a part of Japan.
One day, there was noise and shouting at the camp as word spread of the Japanese surrender. Later, he found out that it was the attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that brought the war to an end. He told us last year: “The atom bombs saved my life.”
Australian troops liberated the camp, and took Basnet and others to Darwin from where they were brought to Bombay. Basnet took a train to Gorakhpur, and then on to his village in Galkot of Baglung.
A bahun Gurkha, Nepali Times
His family had given him up for dead, and it was a joyous reunion. The Gurkhas were given the option of joining either the British or Indian Army, Basnet decided to be near home in India. But he was soon fighting again as the Indian Army waged war with Pakistan over Kashmir.
In 1954, he had enough of fighting other people’s battles, and decided to retire with his pension, and come home to Nepal. He stayed in Galkot, established a school and helped the community with development projects.
A few years ago, he moved to Lokanthali of Bhaktapur to be with his son. Remembering his POW years, Basnet told us: “We suffered such hardship, we thought those who died in the camps were the lucky ones.”
“War is the worst of all things”, Nepali Times