Britain commemorated 200 years of the Brigade of Gurkhas’ outstanding service to the British Crown on 20 October. The event was organised at the invitation of the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.
At Speakers House, James Gray, MP and Chair of the All Party Group for the Armed Forces and the Armed Forces Parliamentary Group, hosted a gathering of senior Gurkha officers and distinguished guests including Lord King Baron of Bridgwater, former Secretary of State for Defence; Dr Roger Hood, Strategic Intelligence Director and Defence Advisor for Hewlett Packard; the Viscount Lord Slim and a number of senior military personnel, including Gen Sir David Bill, Maj Gen Nick Pope and Maj Gen Craig Lawrence.
The British are very sentimental about the Gurkhas for their loyalty, courage and precision. Following James Gray’s speech, Gen Sir Peter Wall in his capacity as Col Comdt of the Brigade of Gurkhas presented him with a ceremonial kukri as a token of the appreciation for the Parliamentary support the Brigade has received in the last 200 years.
British Gurkhas, who number approximately 2,600, are still recruited from Nepal and trace their roots back to the 8th century Hindu warrior, Guru Gorakhnath.
After one of the most rigorous selection processes in the British Army including the Doko race, which involves carrying 25kg uphill under 46 minutes, their 38-week training is completed at Catterick Training Centre in Yorkshire.
The two Gurkha Battalions with support from the Engineers, Signals and Logistics Regiments have played a vital role in conflicts throughout the last 200 years, including both campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Gurkha soldiers are currently deployed across the world in numerous humanitarian and disaster relief operations. On the completion of their service, Gurkha soldiers usually return to Nepal, with some working for the Gurkha Welfare Trust for a few years before settling with their families in Britain, much to the irritation of the Nepal administration, which feels Britain is taking their best men.