Gurkha

Last updated

Nepali national soldiers at Kathmandu, by Gustave Le Bon, 1885. Nepali soldiers Le Bon 1885.jpg
Nepali national soldiers at Kathmandu, by Gustave Le Bon, 1885.
Monument to the Gurkha Soldier in Horse Guards Avenue, outside the Ministry of Defence, City of Westminster, London. Gurkha Soldier Monument, London - April 2008.jpg
Monument to the Gurkha Soldier in Horse Guards Avenue, outside the Ministry of Defence, City of Westminster, London.
A khukuri, the signature weapon of the Gurkhas. Khukri-knife.jpg
A khukuri, the signature weapon of the Gurkhas.
Supreme commander (Kaji) Kalu Pande of Gorkhali forces; one of the most highly decorated Gorkhali commanders. Kalu Pande.jpg
Supreme commander (Kaji) Kalu Pande of Gorkhali forces; one of the most highly decorated Gorkhali commanders.

The Gurkhas or Gorkhas ( /ˈɡɜːrkə, ˈɡʊər-/ ) with endonym Gorkhali (Nepali : गोरखाली) are soldiers native to the Indian subcontinent of Nepalese nationality and ethnic Nepalis of Indian nationality recruited for the British Army, Nepalese Army, Indian Army, Gurkha Contingent Singapore, Gurkha Reserve Unit Brunei, UN peacekeeping force and war zones around the world. Historically, the terms "Gurkha" and "Gorkhali" were synonymous with "Nepali", [1] which originates from the hill principality Gorkha Kingdom, from which the Kingdom of Nepal expanded under Prithivi Narayan Shah. [2] [3] The name may be traced to the medieval Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath [4] who has a historic shrine in Gorkha. [5] The word itself derived from "Go-Raksha" (Nepali : गोरक्षा), "raksha" becoming "rakha" (रखा). "Rakhawala" means "protector" and is derived from "raksha" as well.

Nepali language Lingua franca of Nepal; one of the scheduled languages of India

Nepali, also known as Nepalese, is an Indo-Aryan language of the sub-branch of Eastern Pahari. It is the official language of Nepal and one of the 22 scheduled languages of India. Also known by the endonym Khas kura, the language is also called Gorkhali or Parbatiya in some contexts, It is spoken mainly in Nepal and by about a quarter of the population in Bhutan. In India, Nepali has official status in the state of Sikkim, and significant number of speakers in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Uttarakhand and West Bengal's Darjeeling district. It is also spoken in Burma and by the Nepali diaspora worldwide. Nepali developed in proximity to a number of Indo-Aryan languages, most notably the other Pahari languages and Maithili, and shows Sanskrit influence. However, owing to Nepal's location, it has also been influenced by Tibeto-Burman languages. Nepali is mainly differentiated from Central Pahari, both in grammar and vocabulary, by Tibeto-Burman idioms owing to close contact with this language group.

Indian subcontinent Peninsular region in south-central Asia south of the Himalayas

The Indian subcontinent, is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the land mass that rifted from Gondwana and merged with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago. Geographically, it is the peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east. Politically, the Indian subcontinent includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Nepalis Citizens and people have allegiance to Nepal

Nepalis are citizens of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal under the provisions of Nepali nationality law. The country is home to people of many different national and ethnic origins. As a result, people of Nepal do not equate their nationality with ethnicity, but with citizenship and allegiance. Although citizens make up the majority of Nepali, non-citizen residents, dual citizen and expatriates may also claim a Nepali identity.

Contents

There are Gurkha military units in the Nepalese, British and Indian armies enlisted in Nepal, United Kingdom and India. Although they meet many of the requirements of Article 47 [6] of Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions regarding mercenaries, they are exempt under clauses 47(e) and (f) similarly to the French Foreign Legion. [7]

Nepalese Army land warfare branch of Nepals military

The Nepalese Army, formerly Gorkhali Army and The Royal Nepalese Army is the military land warfare force of Nepal that originated from Gorkha Kingdom. The army was formerly known as "Gorkhali Army" during the unification of Nepal and later as "The Royal Nepalese Army (RNA)" during the monarchy period in Nepal. It was renamed the Nepalese Army on 28 May 2008 after the abolition of the 240-year-old Shah dynasty.

Protocol I

Protocol I is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of international conflicts, where "armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination, alien occupation or racist regimes" are to be considered international conflicts. It reaffirms the international laws of the original Geneva Conventions of 1949, but adds clarifications and new provisions to accommodate developments in modern international warfare that have taken place since the Second World War.

Geneva Conventions Treaties establishing humanitarian laws of war

The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for humanitarian treatment in war. The singular term Geneva Convention usually denotes the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of the Second World War (1939–45), which updated the terms of the two 1929 treaties, and added two new conventions. The Geneva Conventions extensively defined the basic rights of wartime prisoners, established protections for the wounded and sick, and established protections for the civilians in and around a war-zone. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in whole or with reservations, by 196 countries. Moreover, the Geneva Convention also defines the rights and protections afforded to non-combatants, yet, because the Geneva Conventions are about people in war, the articles do not address warfare proper—the use of weapons of war—which is the subject of the Hague Conventions, and the bio-chemical warfare Geneva Protocol.

Gurkhas are closely associated with the khukuri, a forward-curving Nepali knife, and have a reputation for fearless military prowess. Former Indian Army Chief of Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw once stated that: [8] "If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha"

Indian Army Land based branch of the Indian Armed Forces

The Indian Army is the land-based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Army, and it is commanded by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), who is a four-star general. Two officers have been conferred with the rank of field marshal, a five-star rank, which is a ceremonial position of great honour. The Indian Army originated from the armies of the East India Company, which eventually became the British Indian Army, and the armies of the princely states, which finally became the national army after independence. The units and regiments of the Indian Army have diverse histories and have participated in a number of battles and campaigns across the world, earning many battle and theatre honours before and after Independence.

Sam Manekshaw First Field marshal of the Indian Army

Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw,, widely known as Sam Manekshaw and Sam Bahadur, was the Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, and the first Indian Army officer to be promoted to the rank of field marshal. His military career spanned four decades and five wars, beginning with service in the British Indian Army in World War II.

Background

Prithvi Narayan Shah, First King of Unified Kingdom of Gorkha. Prithvinarayanshah.jpg
Prithvi Narayan Shah, First King of Unified Kingdom of Gorkha.

During the Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16) between the Gorkha Kingdom (present-day Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal) and the East India Company, the Gorkhali soldiers made an impression on the British, who called them Gurkhas. [9]

Anglo-Nepalese War 1814–1816 war between Nepal and the UK

The Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–16), also known as the Gurkha War, was fought between the Kingdom of Gorkha and the East India Company as a result of border disputes and ambitious expansionism of both the belligerent parties. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816, which ceded some Nepalese controlled territory to the British.

Gorkha Kingdom was a kingdom in the confederation of 24 states, known as Chaubisi rajya, located in the Indian subcontinent, present-day western Nepal. The Kingdom of Gorkha extended from the Marshyangdi River in the west to the Trishuli River in the east, which separated it from the kingdoms of Lamjung and Nepal respectively. The Gorkha Kingdom was established by Prince Dravya Shah, second son of King Yasho Brahma Shah of Lamjung Kingdom, on 1559 CE replacing the Khandka chiefs.

British East India Company Army

Gurkha soldiers during the Anglo-Nepalese War, 1815. Eight Gurkha men depicted in a British Indian painting, 1815.jpg
Gurkha soldiers during the Anglo-Nepalese War, 1815.

The Anglo-Nepalese war was fought between the Gurkha Kingdom of Nepal and the British East India Company as a result of border disputes and ambitious expansionism of both the belligerent parties. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816.

Kingdom of Nepal Sovereign monarchy in South Asia, lasting from 1768-2008

The Kingdom of Nepal, also known as the Kingdom of Gorkha or Gorkha Empire or the self designated Asal Hindustan, was a Hindu kingdom on the Indian subcontinent, formed in 1768, by the unification of Nepal. Founded by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, a Gorkhali monarch of Rajput origin from medieval India, it existed for 240 years until the abolition of the Nepalese monarchy in 2008. During this period, Nepal was formally under the rule of the Shah dynasty, which exercised varying degrees of power during the kingdom's existence.

David Ochterlony and British political agent William Fraser were among the first to recognize the potential of Gurkha soldiers in British service. During the war the British were keen to use defectors from the Gurkha army and employ them as irregular forces. His confidence in their loyalty was such that in April 1815 he proposed forming them into a battalion under Lt. Ross called the Nasiri regiment. This regiment, which later became the 1st King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles, saw action at the Malaun fort under the leadership of Lt. Lawtie, who reported to Ochterlony that he "had the greatest reason to be satisfied with their exertions".

William Fraser (British administrator) British merchant and administrator

William Fraser was a British merchant and administrator who was the Acting President of Madras from 14 November 1709 to 11 July 1711.

Irregular military Any non-standard military organization

Irregular military is any non-standard military component that is distinct from a country's national armed forces. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used. An irregular military organization is one which is not part of the regular army organization. Without standard military unit organization, various more general names are often used; such organizations may be called a "troop", "group", "unit", "column", "band", or "force". Irregulars are soldiers or warriors that are members of these organizations, or are members of special military units that employ irregular military tactics. This also applies to irregular troops, irregular infantry and irregular cavalry.

About 5,000 men entered British service in 1815, most of whom were not just Gorkhalis but Kumaonis, Garhwalis and other Himalayan hill men. These groups, eventually lumped together under the term Gurkha, became the backbone of British Indian forces.

As well as Ochterlony’s Gurkha battalions, Fraser and Lt. Frederick Young raised the Sirmoor battalion, later to become the 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles; an additional battalion--the Kumaon--was also raised, eventually becoming the 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles. None of these men fought in the second campaign.

Gurkhas served as troops under contract to the East India Company in the Pindaree War of 1817, in Bharatpur in 1826 and the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars in 1846 and 1848. [10]

During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Gurkhas fought on the British side and became part of the British Indian Army on its formation. The 8th (Sirmoor) Local Battalion made a particularly notable contribution during the conflict, and indeed 25 Indian Order of Merit awards were made to men from that regiment during the Siege of Delhi. [11]

Three days after the mutiny began, the Sirmoor Battalion was ordered to move to Meerut, where the British garrison was barely holding on, and in doing so they had to march up to 48 km a day. [12] Later, during the four-month Siege of Delhi, they defended Hindu Rao's house, losing 327 out of 490 men. During this action they fought side-by-side with the 60th Rifles and a strong bond developed. [13] [14]

Twelve regiments from the Nepalese Army also took part in the relief of Lucknow [15] under the command of Shri Teen (3) Maharaja Jung Bahadur Rana of Nepal and his older brother C-in-C Ranodip Singh Kunwar (Ranaudip Singh Bahadur Rana) (later to succeed Jung Bahadur and become Sri Teen Maharaja Ranodip Singh of Nepal).

After the rebellion the 60th Rifles pressed for the Sirmoor Battalion to become a rifle regiment. This honour was granted then next year (1858) when the battalion was renamed the Sirmoor Rifle Regiment and awarded a third colour. [16] In 1863 Queen Victoria presented the regiment with the Queen's Truncheon, as a replacement for the colours that rifle regiments do not usually have. [17]

British Indian Army (c. 1857–1947)

The Nusseree Battalion. later known as the 1st Gurkha Rifles, circa 1857. The Nusseree Battalion.JPG
The Nusseree Battalion. later known as the 1st Gurkha Rifles, circa 1857.
Hindu Rao's house shortly after the siege 1857 hindu raos house2.jpg
Hindu Rao's house shortly after the siege
Gurkha soldiers (1896). The centre figure wears the dark green dress uniform worn by all Gurkhas in British service, with certain regimental distinctions. Gurkhas NavyAndArmyIllustrated1896.jpg
Gurkha soldiers (1896). The centre figure wears the dark green dress uniform worn by all Gurkhas in British service, with certain regimental distinctions.

From the end of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 until the start of World War I, the Gurkha Regiments saw active service in Burma, Afghanistan, the North-East Frontier and the North-West Frontiers of India, Malta (the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78), Cyprus, Malaya, China (the Boxer Rebellion of 1900) and Tibet (Younghusband's Expedition of 1905).

After the Indian mutiny of 1857-58, the British authorities in India feared the inclusion of Hindu castes in the army. They discouraged the Brahminical influence in the military as they considered the Hindu castes more susceptible to Brahminical values. [18] As a result, they discouraged the inclusion of Thakuri and Khas groups in the Gorkha units [18] and refused to recruit tribes other than Gurungs and Magars in the Gorkha units. [19] They also pressurized Prime Minister Bir Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana to include at least of 75% of the forces of Gurungs and Magars. [18]

Between 1901 and 1906, the Gurkha regiments were renumbered from the 1st to the 10th and re-designated as the Gurkha Rifles. In this time the Brigade of Gurkhas, as the regiments came to be collectively known, was expanded to 20 battalions within the ten regiments. [20]

2nd/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, North-West Frontier 1923. 5thRoyalGurkhaRiflesNorth-WestFrontier1923.JPG
2nd/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles, North-West Frontier 1923.

During World War I (1914–1918) more than 200,000 Gurkhas served in the British Army, suffering approximately 20,000 casualties and receiving almost 2,000 gallantry awards. [21] The number of Gurkha battalions was increased to 33, and Gurkha units were placed at the disposal of the British high command by the Gurkha government for service on all fronts. Many Gurkha volunteers served in non-combatant roles, serving in units such as the Army Bearer Corps and the labour battalions.

A large number also served in combat in France, Turkey, Palestine and Mesopotamia. [22] They served on the battlefields of France in the battles of Loos, Givenchy and Neuve Chapelle; in Belgium at the battle of Ypres; in Mesopotamia, Persia, Suez Canal and Palestine against Turkish advance, Gallipoli and Salonika. [23] One detachment served with Lawrence of Arabia, while during the Battle of Loos (June–December 1915) a battalion of the 8th Gurkhas fought to the last man, hurling themselves time after time against the weight of the German defences, and in the words of the Indian Corps commander, Lt. Gen. Sir James Willcocks, "found its Valhalla". [24]

During the ultimately unsuccessful Gallipoli Campaign in 1915, the Gurkhas were among the first to arrive and the last to leave. The 1st/6th Gurkhas, having landed at Cape Helles, led the assault during the first major operation to take out a Turkish high point, and in doing so captured a feature that later became known as "Gurkha Bluff". [25] At Sari Bair they were the only troops in the whole campaign to reach and hold the crest line and look down on the Straits, which was the ultimate objective. [26] The 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Gurkha Rifles (2nd/3rd Gurkha Rifles) was involved in the conquest of Baghdad.

Following the end of the war, the Gurkhas were returned to India, and during the inter-war years were largely kept away from the internal strife and urban conflicts of the sub-continent, instead being employed largely on the frontiers and in the hills where fiercely independent tribesmen were a constant source of troubles. [27]

As such, between the World Wars the Gurkha regiments fought in the Third Afghan War in 1919. The regiments then participated in numerous campaigns on the North-West Frontier, mainly in Waziristan, where they were employed as garrison troops defending the frontier. They kept the peace among the local populace and engaged with the lawless and often openly hostile Pathan tribesmen.[ citation needed ]

During this time the North-West Frontier was the scene of considerable political and civil unrest and troops stationed at Razmak, Bannu and Wanna saw an extensive amount of action. [28]

Gurkhas in action with a six-pounder anti-tank gun in Tunisia, 16 March 1943. Ghurkas in action with a 6-pdr anti-tank gun in Tunisia, 16 March 1943. NA1103.jpg
Gurkhas in action with a six-pounder anti-tank gun in Tunisia, 16 March 1943.

During World War II (1939–1945) there were ten Gurkha regiments, with two battalions each, making a total of 20 pre-war battalions. [29] Following the Dunkirk evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in 1940, the Nepalese government offered to increase recruitment to enlarge the total number of Gurkha battalions in British service to 35. [30] This would eventually rise to 43 battalions.

In order to achieve the increased number of battalions, third and fourth battalions were raised for all ten regiments, with fifth battalions also being raised for 1 GR, 2 GR and 9 GR. [29] This expansion required ten training centers to be established for basic training and regimental records across India. In addition, five training battalions (14 GR, 29 GR, 38 GR, 56 GR and 710 GR) were raised, while other units (25 GR and 26 GR) were raised as garrison battalions for keeping the peace in India and defending rear areas. [31] Large numbers of Gurkha men were also recruited for non-Gurkha units, and other specialized functions such as paratroops, signals, engineers and military police.

A total of 250,280 [31] Gurkhas served in 40 battalions, plus eight Nepalese Army battalions, parachute, training, garrison and porter units during the war, [32] in almost all theatres. In addition to keeping peace in India, Gurkhas fought in Syria, North Africa, Italy, Greece and against the Japanese in the jungles of Burma, northeast India and also Singapore. [33] They did so with considerable distinction, earning 2,734 bravery awards in the process [31] and suffering around 32,000 casualties in all theatres. [34]

Gurkha military rank system in the British Indian Army

Gurkha ranks in the British Indian Army followed the same pattern as those used throughout the rest of the Indian Army at that time. [35] As in the British Army itself, there were three distinct levels: private soldiers, non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers. Commissioned officers within the Gurkha regiments held a Viceroy's Commission, which was distinct from the King's or Queen's Commission that British officers serving with a Gurkha regiment held. Any Gurkha holding a commission was technically subordinate to any British officer, regardless of rank. [36]

The 2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles marching through Kure soon after their arrival in Japan in May 1946 as part of the Allied forces of occupation 5th Gurkha Rifles, Japan 1946.jpg
The 2/5th Royal Gurkha Rifles marching through Kure soon after their arrival in Japan in May 1946 as part of the Allied forces of occupation

British Indian Army and current Indian Army ranks/current British Army equivalents

Viceroy Commissioned Officers (VCOs) up to 1947 and Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) from 1947: [37]

Warrant officers

Non-commissioned officers

Private soldiers

Notes

  • British Army officers received Queen's or King's Commissions, but Gurkha officers in this system received the Viceroy's Commission. After Indian independence in 1947, Gurkha officers in regiments which became part of the British Army received the King's (later Queen's) Gurkha Commission, and were known as King's/Queen's Gurkha Officers (KGO/QGO). Gurkha officers had no authority to command troops of British regiments. The QGO Commission was abolished in 2007.
  • Jemadars and subedars normally served as platoon commanders and company 2ICs but were junior to all British officers, while the subedar major was the Commanding Officer's advisor on the men and their welfare. For a long time it was impossible for Gurkhas to progress further, except that an honorary lieutenancy or captaincy was (very rarely) bestowed upon a Gurkha on retirement. [36]
  • The equivalent ranks in the post-1947 Indian Army were (and are) known as Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs). They retained the traditional rank titles used in the British Indian Army: Jemadar (later Naib Subedar), Subedar and Subedar Major.
  • While in principle any British subject may apply for a commission without having served in the ranks, Gurkhas cannot. It was customary for a Gurkha soldier to rise through the ranks and prove his ability before his regiment would consider offering him a commission. [36]
  • From the 1920s Gurkhas could also receive King's Indian Commissions, and later full King's or Queen's Commissions, which put them on a par with British officers. This was rare until after the Second World War.
  • Gurkha officers commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Short Service Officers regularly fill appointments up to the rank of major. At least two Gurkhas have been promoted to lieutenant colonel and there is theoretically now no bar to further progression. [36]
  • After 1948, the Brigade of Gurkhas (part of the British Army) was formed and adopted standard British Army rank structure and nomenclature, except for the three Viceroy Commission ranks between Warrant Officer 1 and Second Lieutenant (jemadar, subedar and subedar major) which remained, albeit with different rank titles Lieutenant (Queens Gurkha Officer), Captain (QGO) and Major (QGO). The QGO commission was abolished in 2007; Gurkha soldiers are currently commissioned as Late Entry Officers (as above). [36]

Regiments of the Gurkha Rifles (c. 1815–1947)

Memorial of 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles, Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire Gurkha Memorial, Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire.jpg
Memorial of 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles, Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire
Princess Mary's Own Princess Mary's Own.JPG
Princess Mary's Own

Second World War training battalions

Post-independence (1947–present)

THE GURKHA
SOLDIER
Bravest of the brave,
most generous of the generous,
never had country
more faithful friends
than you.
Professor Sir Ralph Turner MC Gurkha inscription.JPG
THE GURKHA
SOLDIER
Bravest of the brave,
most generous of the generous,
never had country
more faithful friends
than you.
Professor Sir Ralph Turner MC

After Indian independence, and the partition of India, in 1947 and under the Tripartite Agreement, the original ten Gurkha regiments consisting of the 20 pre-war battalions were split between the British Army and the newly independent Indian Army. [31] Six Gurkha regiments (12 battalions) were transferred to the post-independence Indian Army, while four regiments (eight battalions) were transferred to the British Army. [40]

To the disappointment of their British officers, the majority of Gurkhas given a choice between British or Indian Army service opted for the latter. The reason appears to have been the pragmatic one that the Gurkha regiments of the Indian Army would continue to serve in their existing roles in familiar territory and under terms and conditions that were well established. [41] The only substantial change was the substitution of Indian officers for British. By contrast, the four regiments selected for British service faced an uncertain future, initially in Malaya; a region where relatively few Gurkhas had previously served. The four regiments (or eight battalions) in British service have since been reduced to a single (two-battalion) regiment, while the Indian units have been expanded beyond their pre-Independence establishment of 12 battalions. [42]

The principal aim of the Tripartite Agreement was to ensure that Gurkhas serving under the Crown would be paid on the same scale as those serving in the new Indian Army. [43] This was significantly lower than the standard British rates of pay. While the difference is made up through cost of living and location allowances during a Gurkha's actual period of service, the pension payable on his return to Nepal is much lower than would be the case for his British counterparts. [44]

With the abolition of the Nepalese monarchy in 2008, the future recruitment of Gurkhas for British and Indian service was initially put into doubt. A spokesperson for the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which was expected to play a major role in the new secular republic, stated that recruitment as mercenaries was degrading to the Nepalese people and would be banned. [45] However, as of 2018, Gurkha recruitment for foreign service continues.

British Army Gurkhas

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles on patrol in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2010. Gurkhas on Patrol in Helmand MOD 45151723.jpg
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles on patrol in Helmand Province in Afghanistan in 2010.

Four Gurkha regiments were transferred to the British Army on 1 January 1948:

They formed the Brigade of Gurkhas and were initially stationed in Malaya. There were also a number of additional Gurkha regiments including the 69th and 70th Gurkha Field Squadrons, both included in the 36th Engineer Regiment. Since then, British Gurkhas have served in Borneo during the confrontation with Indonesia, in the Falklands War and on various peacekeeping missions in Sierra Leone, East Timor, Bosnia and Kosovo. [46]

Gurkhas in Hong Kong:

As of July 2018, the Brigade of Gurkhas in the British Army has the following units:

The Brigade of Gurkhas also has its own chefs posted among the above-mentioned units. Gurkhas were among the troops who retook the Falklands in 1982 and have served a number of tours of duty in the current War in Afghanistan. [47] [48] [49]

Indian Army Gurkhas

The 1st Battalion of 1 Gurkha Rifles of the Indian Army takes position outside a simulated combat town during a training exercise. Indian Army Gurkha rifles.jpg
The 1st Battalion of 1 Gurkha Rifles of the Indian Army takes position outside a simulated combat town during a training exercise.

Upon independence in 1947, six of the original ten Gurkha regiments remained with the Indian Army. [40] These regiments were:

Additionally, a further regiment, 11 Gorkha Rifles, was raised. In 1949 the spelling was changed from "Gurkha" to the original "Gorkha". [50] All royal titles were dropped when India became a republic in 1950. [50]

Since partition, the Gurkha regiments that were transferred to the Indian Army have established themselves as a permanent and vital part of the newly independent Indian Army. Indeed, while Britain has reduced its Gurkha contingent, India has continued to recruit Gorkhas of Nepal into Gorkha regiments in large numbers, as well as Indian Gorkhas. [42] In 2009 the Indian Army had a Gorkha contingent that numbered around 42,000 men in 46 battalions, spread across seven regiments.

Although their deployment is still governed by the 1947 Tripartite Agreement, in the post-1947 conflicts India has fought in, Gorkhas have served in almost all of them, including the wars with Pakistan in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999 and also against China in 1962. [51] They have also been used in peacekeeping operations around the world. [50] They have also served in Sri Lanka conducting operations against the Tamil Tigers. [52]

Singapore Gurkha Contingent

A trooper of the Gurkha Contingent of the Singapore Police Force gives directions to a member of the public. Gurkha IOC 4.jpg
A trooper of the Gurkha Contingent of the Singapore Police Force gives directions to a member of the public.

The Gurkha Contingent (GC) of the Singapore Police Force was formed on 9 April 1949 from selected ex-British Army Gurkhas. It is an integral part of the police force and was raised to replace a Sikh unit that had existed prior to the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. [53]

The GC is a well trained, dedicated and disciplined body whose principal role is as riot police. In times of crisis it can be deployed as a reaction force. During the turbulent years before and after independence, the GC acquitted itself well on several occasions during outbreaks of civil disorder. The Gurkhas displayed the courage, self-restraint and professionalism for which they are famous and earned the respect of the society at large. [53]

Brunei Gurkha Reserve Unit

The Gurkha Reserve Unit (GRU) is a special guard and elite shock-troop force in the Sultanate of Brunei. The Brunei Reserve Unit employs about 500 Gurkhas. The majority are veterans of the British Army and the Singaporean Police, who have joined the GRU as a second career.

Other

Victoria Cross recipients

There have been 26 Victoria Crosses awarded to members of the Gurkha regiments. [54] The first was awarded in 1858 and the last in 1965. For a detailed list of the recipients and their deeds, see the British Ministry of Defence website. [55] Thirteen of the recipients have been British officers serving with Gurkha regiments, although since 1915 the majority have been received by Gurkhas serving in the ranks as private soldiers or NCOs. [21] In addition, since Indian independence in 1947, Gurkhas serving in the Indian Army have also been awarded three Param Vir Chakras, which are roughly equivalent. [56]

Of note also, there have been two George Cross medals awarded to Gurkha soldiers, for acts of bravery in situations that have not involved combat. [21]

Treatment of Gurkhas in the United Kingdom

Nick Clegg being presented a Gurkha Hat by a Gurkha veteran during his Maidstone visit, to celebrate the success of their joint campaign for the right to live in the UK, 2009 Nick Clegg being presented a Gurkha Hat, by a Gurkha veteran.jpg
Nick Clegg being presented a Gurkha Hat by a Gurkha veteran during his Maidstone visit, to celebrate the success of their joint campaign for the right to live in the UK, 2009

The treatment of Gurkhas and their families was the subject of controversy in the United Kingdom once it became widely known that Gurkhas received smaller pensions than their British counterparts. [57] The nationality status of Gurkhas and their families was also an area of dispute, with claims that some ex-army Nepali families were being denied residency and forced to leave Britain. On 8 March 2007 the British Government announced that all Gurkhas who signed up after 1 July 1997 would receive a pension equivalent to that of their British counterparts. In addition, Gurkhas would, for the first time, be able to transfer to another army unit after five years' service and women would also be allowed to join, although not in first-line units, conforming to the British Army's policy. The act also guaranteed residency rights in the UK for retired Gurkhas and their families.

Despite the changes, many Gurkhas who had not served long enough to entitle them to a pension faced hardship on their return to Nepal, and some critics derided the government's decision to only award the new pension and citizenship entitlement to those joining after 1 July 1997, claiming that this left many ex-Gurkha servicemen still facing a financially uncertain retirement. An advocacy group, Gurkha Justice Campaign, [58] joined the debate in support of the Gurkhas.

In a landmark ruling on 30 September 2008 the High Court in London decided that the Home Secretary's policy allowing Gurkhas who left the Army before 1997 to apply for settlement in the United Kingdom was irrationally restrictive in its criteria, and overturned it. In line with the ruling of the High Court the Home Office pledged to review all cases affected by this decision. [59]

On 29 April 2009 a motion in the House of Commons by the Liberal Democrats that all Gurkhas be offered equal right of residence was passed by 267 votes to 246. This was the only first-day motion defeat for a government since 1978. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, stated that "this is an immense victory ... for the rights of Gurkhas who have been waiting so long for justice, a victory for Parliament, a victory for decency." He added that it was "the kind of thing people want this country to do". [60]

On 21 May 2009 Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that all Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 with at least four years service would be allowed to settle in the UK. Actress Joanna Lumley, daughter of Gurkha corps Maj. James Lumley who had highlighted the treatment of the Gurkhas and campaigned for their rights, commented, "This is the welcome we have always longed to give". [61]

A charity, The Gurkha Welfare Trust, provides aid to alleviate hardship and distress among Gurkha ex-servicemen. [62]

On 9 June 2015, a celebration called the Gurkha 200, held at The Royal Hospital Chelsea and attended by members of the royal family, commemorated the bicentennial of the Gurkha Welfare Trust by paying tribute to Gurkha culture and military service. [63] [ better source needed ]

Gurkha Square in Fleet, Hampshire, which contains the Fleet war memorial, is named after the Gurkhas. [64]

Settlement rights

A 2008 UK High Court decision on a test case in London, R. (on the application of Limbu) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2008] EWHC 2261 (Admin), acknowledged the "debt of honour" to Gurkhas discharged before 1997. The Home Secretary's policy allowing veterans to apply on a limited set of criteria (such as connection to the United Kingdom) was quashed as being unduly restrictive. The Court found that the Gurkhas had suffered a "historic injustice" and that the policy was irrational in failing to take into account factors such as length of service or particularly meritorious conduct. [65]

See also

Related Research Articles

Brigade of Gurkhas Collective name that refers to all units of the British Army that are composed of Gurkhas.

Brigade of Gurkhas is the collective name which refers to all the units in the British Army that are composed of Nepalese Gurkha soldiers. The brigade, which was 3,430 strong as of 1 April 2019, draws its heritage from Gurkha units that originally served in the British Indian Army prior to Indian independence, and prior to that served for the East India Company. The brigade includes infantry, engineering, signal, logistic and training and support units. They are known for their khukuri, a distinctive heavy knife with a curved blade, and have a reputation for being fierce and brave soldiers.

Gurkhas are soldiers from Nepal.

Bhanbhagta Gurung Recipient of the Victoria Cross

Havildar Bhanbhagta Gurung VC, also known as Bhanbhakta Gurung, was a Nepalese Gurkha recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces, awarded for his actions while serving as a Rifleman with the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles in Burma during the Second World War.

2nd King Edward VIIs Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) former rifle regiment of the British Indian and British Army

The 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles was a rifle regiment of the British Indian Army before being transferred to the British Army on India's independence in 1947. It consisted of Gurkha soldiers from Nepal. The 4th Battalion joined the Indian Army as the 5th Battalion, 8th Gorkha Rifles, where it exists to this day. As part of the British Army, the regiment served in Malaya, Hong Kong and Brunei until 1994 when it was amalgamated with the other three British Army Gurkha regiments to form the Royal Gurkha Rifles. It is the only Gurkha regiment which did not have a khukuri on its cap badge.

10th Princess Marys Own Gurkha Rifles British and British Indian Army unit

The 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles,, was originally a rifle regiment of the British Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin. The regiment was first formed in 1890, taking its lineage from a police unit and over the course of its existence it had a number of changes in designation and composition. It took part in a number of campaigns on the Indian frontiers during the 19th and early 20th centuries, before fighting in the First World War, the Third Anglo-Afghan War and the Second World War. Following India's independence in 1947, the regiment was one of four Gurkha regiments to be transferred to the British Army. In the 1960s it was active in the Malayan Emergency and Indonesian Confrontation. It was amalgamated with the other three British Gurkha regiments to form the Royal Gurkha Rifles in 1994.

1st Gorkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment) Gorkha infantry regiment

1st Gorkha Rifles , often referred to as the 1st Gorkha Rifles, or 1 GR in abbreviation, is the seniormost Gorkha infantry regiment of the Indian Army composed of Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin, especially martial tribes of Magars, Gurungs. And Chhetris It was originally formed as part of the East India Company's Bengal Army in 1815, later adopting the title of the 1st King George V's Own Gurkha Rifles , however, in 1947, following the partition of India, it was transferred to the Indian Army and in 1950 when India became a Republic, it was redesignated as 1st Gorkha Rifles . The regiment has a long history and has participated in many conflicts, including many of the colonial conflicts prior to Indian independence, as well as the First and Second World Wars. Since 1947 the regiment has also participated in a number of campaigns against Pakistan in 1965 and 1971 as well as undertaking peacekeeping duties as part of the United Nations.

3rd Gorkha Rifles Indian Army infantry regiment

The 3rd Gorkha Rifles or Third Gorkha Rifles, abbreviated as 3 GR is an Indian Army infantry regiment comprising Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin. It was originally a Gurkha regiment of the British Indian Army formed in 1815. They were present at a number of actions and wars including the Siege of Delhi in 1857 to the First and Second World Wars. After the Partition of India in 1947 the regiment was one of the six Gorkha regiments transferred to the Indian Army as part of the Tripartite Agreement signed between India, Nepal and Britain at the time of Indian independence. Prior to independence, the regiment was known as the 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles. In 1950 the regiment's title was changed to 3rd Gorkha Rifles. Since 1947 the regiment has participated in a number of conflicts including the 1947 and 1971 wars against Pakistan.

11th Gorkha Rifles

11th Gorkha Rifles, abbreviated as "11 GR", is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin that was re-raised after independence. The regiment consists of primarily the Rais, Limbus and Sunuwar of eastern Nepal – mainly from Taplejung, Panchthar, Sankhuwasabha and Dhankuta districts. It also recruits from Indian Gorkhas and Bhutias from Darjeeling district, West Bengal and Sikkim. Though it is considered to be the youngest of the Gorkha regiments its lineage is as long as those of the 7th Gurkha Rifles and 10th Gurkha Rifles.

4th Gorkha Rifles

The 4th Gorkha Rifles or the Fourth Gorkha Rifles, abbreviated as 4 GR, is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Indian and Nepalese nationality, especially Magars and Gurungs hill tribes of Nepal. The Fourth Gorkha Rifles has five infantry battalions. The regiment was raised in 1857 as part of the British Indian Army. In 1947, after India's independence, the Fourth Gurkha Rifles became part of the Indian Army as the Fourth Gorkha Rifles.

5th Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) infantry regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Indian and Nepalese origin

5th Gorkha Rifles, also abbreviated as 5 GR(FF) is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Indian and Nepalese origin. It was formed in 1858 as part of the British Indian Army and served in the First World War and Second World War. The regiment was one of the Gurkha regiments that was transferred to the Indian Army following independence in 1947. The regiment was formerly known as the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles. Since 1947, the regiment has served in a number of conflicts, including the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 and the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. It has also participated in peacekeeping operations in Sri Lanka.

7th Duke of Edinburghs Own Gurkha Rifles

The 7th Gurkha Rifles was a rifle regiment of the British Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin, before being transferred to the British Army, following India's independence in 1947 and after 1959 designated as the 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles

The 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles was a rifle regiment of the British Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin, before being transferred to the British Army following India's independence. Originally raised in 1817 as part of the army of the British East India Company, the regiment has been known by a number of names throughout its history. Initially the unit did not recruit from the Gurkhas, although after being transferred to the British Indian Army following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, it became a purely Gurkha regiment, in due course with its regimental headquarters at Abbottabad in the North West Frontier Province of British India. After 1947 the regiment was one of only four Gurkha regiments to be transferred to the British Army and this continued up until 1994, when it was amalgamated with other Gurkha regiments to form the Royal Gurkha Rifles. Over the course of its 177-year history, the regiment was awarded 25 battle honours, although prior to World War I it had only been awarded one and no battle honours were awarded to it after World War II.

Bakloh Cantonment in Himachal Pradesh, India

Bakloh is a cantonment town. It is a hill station, 4584 feet above sea level, in Chamba district in the state of Himachal Pradesh, India.

Gorkha regiments (India) Regiment for Indian Gorkha and Nepalese Gurkha Soldiers

Since the independence of India in 1947, as per the terms of the Britain–India–Nepal Tripartite Agreement, six Gorkha regiments, formerly part of the British Indian Army, became part of the Indian Army and have served ever since. The troops are mainly from ethnic Nepali Gurkhas of Nepal and ethnic Nepalese origin people known as Indian Gorkha They have a history of courage in battle, evident from the gallantry awards won by Gorkha soldiers and battle honours awarded to Gorkha both before and after joining the Indian Army. A seventh Gorkha Rifles regiment was re-raised in the Indian Army after Independence to accommodate Gorkha soldiers of 7th Gurkha Rifles and the 10th Gurkha Rifles who chose not to transfer to the British Army.

8th Gorkha Rifles

The 8th Gorkha Rifles is a Gorkha regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin. It was raised in 1824 as part of the British East India Company and later transferred to the British Indian Army after the Indian Rebellion of 1857. The regiment served in World War I and World War II, before being one of the six Gurkha regiments transferred to the Indian Army after independence in 1947. Since then it has served in a number of conflicts including the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971. Today the 8th Gorkha Rifles is one of the most celebrated regiments of the Indian Army, having received numerous citations for bravery in the field of battle, and even producing one of the two field marshals, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, of the Indian Army.

9th Gorkha Rifles

The 9th Gorkha Rifles is a Gorkha regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese origin. The regiment was initially formed by the British in 1817, and was one of the Gurkha regiments transferred to the Indian Army after independence as part of the tripartite agreement in 1947. This Gorkha regiment mainly recruits soldiers who come from the Chhetri (Kshatriya) and Thakuri clans of Nepal. Domiciled Indian Gorkhas are also taken, and they form about 20 percent of the regiment's total strength. The 9 Gorkha Rifles is one of the seven Gorkha regiments of the Indian Army. The other regiments are 1 GR, 3 GR, 4 GR, 5 GR (FF), 8 GR and 11 GR.

5th Battalion the 4th Gorkha Rifles, is an infantry battalion of the 4 Gorkha Rifles, a Rifle regiment of the Indian Army. The 5th Battalion the 4th Gorkha Rifles (GR), was raised in January 1963, in the wake of the Chinese Offensive, in Arunachal Pradesh, and Ladakh, India, from bases in Tibet, in 1962.

Major Bahadur Singh Baral was a national poet of Nepal and a military officer in the First Gorkha Rifle of the British Indian Army. He served as a major in the British Indian Army. He is known for his contributions to Nepali literature. He wrote several poems which comprise "Baral ko Asu", a poem book written by him. It consists of poems of religion, patriotism, equality, social reforms, and the bravery of the Gorkhalis.

Man Bahadur Rai AC, MC, IDSM was a highly decorated Indian Army Gorkha officer and a recipient of the Ashoka Chakra, the highest peacetime Indian gallantry decoration. Only the fourth Ashoka Chakra recipient to be decorated while living, he was the third Indian Army serviceman and the first Indian Army officer to have been honoured while alive.

References

Notes

  1. "Gurkhas are the people of Pahari clusture hills".
  2. "BBC News - Who are the Gurkhas?". BBC News. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  3. Land of the Gurkhas; or, the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal, p. 44, by W.B. Northy (London, 1937)
  4. asianhistory.about.com Archived 17 October 2011 at the Wayback Machine Who are the Gorkha?
  5. Gorkha District
  6. Kinsey, Christopher. "International Law and the Control of Mercenaries and Private Military Companies". Conflits.revues.org. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  7. Wither, James (January 2005). "Expeditionary Forces for Post Modern Europe: Will European Military Weakness Provide an Opportunity for the New Condottieri?". Conflict Studies Research Centre, website of the MoD . p. 11. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007.
  8. "Who Are Gurkhas?". gwt.org.uk. Gurkha Welfare Trust. Retrieved 23 June 2011.
  9. "Nepal Origins of the Legendary Gurkha - Flags, Maps, Economy, History, Climate, Natural Resources, Current Issues, International Agreements, Population, Social Statistics, Political System". Photius.com. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
  10. "Who are the Gurkhas?". BBC News. 27 July 2010.
  11. Parker 2005, p. 58.
  12. Parker 2005, p. 57.
  13. "History of the Brigade of Gurkhas". website of the Brigade of Gurkhas. Archived from the original on 3 April 2012.
  14. Streets, Heather (2004). Martial races: the military, race and masculinity in British imperial culture, 1857–1914. Manchester University Press. p.  79. ISBN   0-7190-6962-9.
  15. Parker 2005, pp. 62–63.
  16. Chappell 1993, p.  13.
  17. Baker, Margaret (2008). Discovering London Statues and Monuments. Volume 42 of Shire Discovering (5, illustrated ed.). Osprey Publishing. pp.  18. ISBN   0-7478-0495-8.
  18. 1 2 3 Singh 1997, p. 221.
  19. Singh 1997, pp. 220-221.
  20. Parker 2005, p. 79.
  21. 1 2 3 Parker 2005, p. xvii.
  22. Chappell 1993, p. 9.
  23. Parker 2005, p. 99.
  24. Sengupta 2007.
  25. Parker 2005, pp. 117–118.
  26. Parker 2005, p. 121.
  27. Parker 2005, p. 150.
  28. For more detail see Barthorp 2002.[ page needed ]
  29. 1 2 Cross & Gurung 2002, p. 31.
  30. Parker 2005, pp. 157–158.
  31. 1 2 3 4 Cross & Gurung 2002, p. 32.
  32. Osprey Military Elite Series #49 The Gurkhas by Mike Chappell 1993 ISBN   1-85532-357-5
  33. "Participants from the Indian subcontinent in the Second World War" . Retrieved 27 February 2007.
  34. See Parker 2005 , p. xvii. Gurkha casualties for the Second World War can be broken down as 8,985 killed or missing and 23,655 wounded.
  35. Cross & Gurung 2002, p. 33.
  36. 1 2 3 4 5 Cross & Gurung 2002, p. 34.
  37. Source: Cross & Gurung 2002, pp. 33–34
  38. 1 2 3 4 "115 Infantry Brigade Subordanates". Order of Battle. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  39. The inscription on a monument to Gurkha soldiers which was unveiled in 1997 in Whitehall, London (Staff.The Gurkhas — Britain's oldest allies BBC, 4 December 1997).
  40. 1 2 Parker 2005, p. 224.
  41. Parker 2005, p. 226.
  42. 1 2 Parker 2005, p. 229.
  43. Parker 2005, pp. 322–323.
  44. Parker 2005, p. 323.
  45. Parker 2005, p. 344.
  46. Parker 2005, p. 360.
  47. "Bravery medal for Gurkha who fought Taliban". BBC. 1 June 2011.
  48. Kaphle, Anup; Wood, Graeme (10 May 2010). "Back to the Afghan Future: The return of the Gurkhas". The Weekly Standard. 15 (32).
  49. Farmer, Ben (31 October 2012). "British Gurkhas shot dead in Afghanistan attack named". Daily Telegraph. London, UK.
  50. 1 2 3 Chappell 1993, p. 12.
  51. Parker 2005, p. 230.
  52. Parker 2005, p. 203.
  53. 1 2 Parker 2005, p. 390.
  54. Parker 2005, pp. 391–393.
  55. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2009.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  56. "Param Vir Chakra". Pride of India.net. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2009.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  57. Parker 2005, p. 334.
  58. Lumley, Joanna. "Gurkha Justice Campaign". Gurkha Justice Campaign. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  59. "Gurkhas win right to stay in UK". UK News. BBC News. 30 September 2008. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
  60. "Brown defeated over Gurkha rules". UK Politics. BBC News. 29 April 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2011. Gordon Brown's government has suffered a shock defeat in the Commons on its policy of restricting the right of many former Gurkhas to settle in the UK. MPs voted by 267 to 246 for a Lib Dem motion offering all Gurkhas equal right of residence, with the Tories and 27 Labour rebels backing it.
  61. "Gurkhas win right to settle in UK". UK News. BBC News. 21 May 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2011. All Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 with at least four years' service will be allowed to settle in the UK, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said. Ms Smith told MPs she was 'proud to offer this country's welcome to all who have served in the brigade of Gurkhas'. It comes after a high-profile campaign by Joanna Lumley and other supporters of Gurkha rights – and an embarrassing Commons defeat for the government.
  62. Parker 2005, pp. 379–383.
  63. "Gurkha 200". Gurkha 200. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
  64. "fleethants-THE BRIGADE OF GURKHAS". www.fleethants.com. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  65. "Gurkhas win right to stay in UK". BBC News. 30 September 2008.

Bibliography

Further reading