Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, Colonel James Robinson, gave an update of current Brigade news at the BFBS Gurkha Studio in Kathmandu on Tuesday 26 April. Col Robinson visited British Gurkhas Pokhara and Dharan and also had the opportunity to meet some Regimental Associaiton members.
Here is a short interview of Col BG updating about the current Brigade news in BFBS Gurkha Radio Nepal.
The annual Army Volleyball Championships were held on Thursday 28 April in Aldershot Garrison Sports Centre. All Brigade of Gurkha units performed extremely well with an all four semi-finalist teams coming from Gurkha units.
Gurkha Wing Mandalay were beaten by 2 RGR in the semi-final and 1 RGR beat 10 QOGLR in the other.
The great professional rivalry between the two Gurkha Infantry Battalions set the scene for a great final. A closely fought match between 1 RGR and 2 RGR was won by 1 RGR, making them the Army Volleyball Champions for the fifth consecutive year. 1 RGR Volleyball team captain, CSgt Prawin Malla, said that he was “delighted to win the title for the fifth consecutive year.” He added that the team had made a great effort to win the championship and they had been practising hard regularly to remain the undefeated champions.
Congratulations to all the Gurkha units’ volleyball teams for doing so well. But to 1 RGR in particular, syabash (congratulations). A fifth consecutive win is a brilliant achievement.
Past editions of Kukri magazines (2008 – 2012) are on clearance sale for just £10.00 each excluding postal charges.
Please e-mail: GurkhasBde-XO@mod.uk to secure the limited editions now.
2 RGR who are currently in Kabul, Afghanistan marked ANZAC Day together with Australian and Turkish Soldiers. The soldiers stood side-by-side on the Parade on 25 April to commemorate ANZAC Day.
The Gurkhas, from Second Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles are working alongside Australian troops from 8th/9th Royal Australian Regiment to provide security for NATO advisors at the Afghan National Army’s Officer Academy, on the outskirts of Kabul. Turkish soldiers, based nearby, are part of NATO’s train, advise, assist mission focused in Kabul.
Resolute Support, NATO’s current mission in Afghanistan, sees troops from 40 nations working together to provide enduring support to the Afghan government. The Afghan Officer’s Academy is modelled on Sandhurst and has had a strong presence of UK advisors from its beginning.
The commemorations began with a dawn service, reinforcing the strong bond of friendship formed between the Gurkha and ANZAC troops during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. The shared history has undoubtedly brought the Gurkhas and Australians closer together, as they work together to protect NATO advisors in Kabul.
Maj Hugo Stanford-Tuck, commanding 2 RGR B (Gallipoli) Company, spoke of the importance of the commemorations:
“It is an immense privilege for us to share in ANZAC day with our brothers in arms from Australia, New Zealand and uniquely Turkey. Our Company’s battle honour is Gallipoli. Each year, we take the time to reflect upon our forebears’ tenacity and sacrifices made in pursuit of the mission. As we work together towards finishing the mission in Afghanistan, it gives me a sense of hope to note that though we fought against Turkish soldiers 100 years ago, we now stand together as members of a coalition. Today we honour all who fought and died both at Gallipoli and in Afghanistan, we will remember them.”
On the other side, 1 RGR C Coy who are currently deployed to New Zealand on Ex Pacific Kukri witnessed the ANZAC Day Parade together with the members from New Zealand Armed Forces. C Coy members have been deployed on a six week exercise which will see them, team up with the New Zealand Armed Forces for a big annual joint exercise.
Gurkha Wing Mandalay won the Infantry Battle School Operational Shooting Competition held at J3 Range in SENTA on Saturday, 09 April 2016 for the second year running. The competition was contested amongst the teams from each Divisions within IBS. Each team consisted of 5 firers (an Officer and 4 other ranks). On the day six teams (30 firers) competed on 4 separate matches – Short Range Rural Contact Match, Long Range Rural Contact Match, Advance to Contact and Falling Plates. The prizes awarded were top three individuals, top team and falling plates team winner.
Capt Kiran Pun (1 RGR) led the team to victory with gusto and spectacular performance displaying strength and depth of Gurkhas shooting skills. Cpl Tuljung Gurung MC from 1 RGR won the top individual award. The results of the day were as follows –
Cpl Tuljung Gurung MC (1st of 30 firers)
Rfn Rem Gurung (3rd of 30 firers)
LCpl Kripa Shah (6th of 30 firers)
Cpl Ravin Rai (7th of 30 firers)
Capt Kiran Pun (10th of 30 firers, Winner amongst Officers)
LCpl Anil Chhetri from Support Company, 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, was re-issued with his father’s medals at the Gurkha Museum in Winchester on Saturday 16 April.
The medals of LCpl Anil’s late father had been tragically stolen in Nepal.
LCpl Anil’s father, Bom Bahadur Chhetri (stood on the right in the photo) joined the 4th/9GR in 1984. He served for 17 years rising to the rank of Havildar (Sgt), operating in Jammu-Kashmir at high altitude before he was tragically killed in action in Kashmir in 2002. LCpl Anil stated, “My father was an honest and loyal father who dedicated his life to look after my mother and I.” His father’s wonderful character and service inspired LCpl Anil himself to become a Gurkha and he was enlisted into the British Gurkhas in 2007. LCpl Anil’s mother lives in Nepal.
In 2015, LCpl Anil was talking to his Officer in Command, Major Samuel Meadows, about his father during a morning run, and he mentioned that his father’s medals had been tragically stolen from their home in Nepal. Without telling LCpl Anil, Major Meadows kindly took it upon himself to fight hard to try and get Anil’s father’s medals re-issued from the Indian Army.
Several months later, with ‘mission success’ from Major Meadows, LCpl Anil was invited down to the Gurkha Museum where he attended the 9GR reunion. The medals had been sourced with the help of Capt (Retd) Bruce Roberts 9GR and Maj Gen Anil Bhatt AVSM SM VSM the current Colonel of the Regiment for 9GR in the Indian Army. The medals were presented by Miss Akkriti Bhatt, the daughter of Maj Gen Anil Bhatt AVSM SM VSM who delivered a personal message from the Colonel of the Regiment.
The accompanying letter said:
‘The replica medals of the Late Havildar Bom Bahadur Chhetri (KIA) have been obtained through the good offices of Maj Gen Kishan Singh, AVSM, VSM (Retd), Hav Bom Bahadur’s former Commanding Officer, Colonel Alok Dash (retd) of 4/9th Gorkha Rifles, who remembers Havildar Bom Bahadur Chhettri very well, and Col. N C Khuman, the present Commanding Officer of the 4/9th Gorkha Rifles (Chindits), who sends, with the Medals, his best wishes to LCpl Anil Chhetri for his future career with the Royal Gurkha Rifles.”
Following the presentation, LCpl Anil, his wife and son attended a curry lunch and had the great opportunity to meet the only remaining British officers from 9GR who served in WWII and before partition, namely Capt (Retd) Bruce Roberts and Maj (Retd) Jim Meeke and the QGOOs.
LCpl Anil said, “It was a truly amazing experience and I was honoured to be there. I would like to thank my OC for a life changing experience, his selflessness and persistence has benefited my family for years to come. Without his help, there is no way that I would ever have been able to do this and it will never be forgotten. May my father’s departed soul rest in heaven.”
This week, Gurkha soldiers from Kent raised their Battalion’s flag in Kabul to mark the start of an eight month operational deployment to Afghanistan.
Troops from Second Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, usually based in Folkestone under the command of 16 Air Assault Brigade, took over the role of Kabul Protection Unit on 16 April. Their job will see them providing protection for NATO advisors to the Afghan government. Pipers played under overcast skies as the outgoing unit from The Royal Regiment of Scotland handed over. Lt. Gen. Sandy Storrie, the UK Deputy Commander of the NATO Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, was in attendance to welcome the Gurkhas to the city at a formal ceremony attended by representatives from across the NATO force in Kabul.
Brigadier Ian Thomas, Commander of British forces in Afghanistan and himself a former Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, spoke to the incoming soldiers:
“The importance of your job in Kabul cannot be underestimated. NATO advisors from all walks of life rely on your professionalism and judgement on a daily basis. In a melting pot of cultures and nationalities, I am sure the Gurkhas will prove themselves once again as loyal and dedicated comrades.”
The Gurkhas will work side-by-side with American troops from 3-61 Cavalry Regiment, as well as Australian, Danish and Mongolian contingents.
Lt Col Jamie Murray, Commanding Officer 2 RGR, described what the tour will hold:
“Kabul city is a complex and congested environment and one which has changed dramatically since my first tour here in 2003. The wide and varied aspects of our mission this year will test us – but it is a challenge we are well prepared for and looking forward to. We are privileged to be here in command of so many international partners as part of the UK’s enduring contribution to this country. For this Battalion it is our fourth deployment as a unit, with some Gurkha soldiers returning for their fifth or sixth operational tour. We aim to continue the fantastic work of all those who have gone before us. ”
Following on from months of focused pre-deployment training in the UK, the Gurkhas are settling into their new surroundings. Rifleman Prajwal Rai, 24, driving a Foxhound armoured vehicle, described the traffic conditions in Kabul: “Throughout our training we’ve been learning to drive on British roads – here we have to be much more careful as the usual rules go out the window! It’s like driving in Kathmandu”.
The 2015 earthquakes caused untold levels of destruction across those parts of Nepal that many of fellow Servicemen and their families call home. We watched in horror as areas long associated with the Gurkha soldier – Dhading, Lamjung, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok, Ramechhap and Gorkha itself – were shown with entire villages collapsed, homes and community buildings lying in ruins.
The Gurkha Welfare Trust was, from the outset, at the forefront of the aid programme. From its footprint of Area Welfare Centres, its staff delivered emergency shelter, food and medical aid in the first and worst weeks. Temporary shelters funded by its Earthquake Response Fund sprang up throughout the affected areas to provide shelter from the monsoon rains. Over the winter, the first permanent, earthquake resistant homes were built.
The destruction wreaked was at a level not seen in Nepal since 1934. Among our Gurkha veterans and Service widows, 1,200 lost their homes. A further 950 suffered damage to their homes. The Trust has committed itself to rebuilding over 80% of these homes by Christmas 2016 – an average of over 100 new homes per month.
It’s quite an undertaking; not only in building terms but in resourcing it. At an average cost of £4,200 per home, the Trust will require over £4 million to fund its Veterans’ Homes Rebuilding Programme alone. That’s on top of the repairs to the 950 damaged homes and its extensive Schools Rebuilding Programme. In total, it is estimated that over £18 million will be needed.
The Trust’s supporters have responded with great generosity. An appeal from General Sir Peter Wall to the Trust supporters in autumn 2015 raised £720,000, adding to the £2.5 million raised in the initial months. Further support has come from a Radio 4 Appeal fronted by Joanna Lumley in January 2016. Schools and community groups are holding events, small groups of people are trekking, swimming, cycling and kayaking to raise vital funds and Brigade Officers, serving and retired, are clubbing together to fund the homes for their veteran ex-Servicemen.
Much still needs to be done. The Trust’s Earthquake Response Fund remains open gwt.org.uk/Appeal/earthquake. For those interested in supporting a specific project or home, please contact the Trust’s Director of Fundraising and Marketing on 01722 343 112 or email@example.com.
The Brigade of Gurkhas wishes everyone a Happy Nepalese New Year 2073!
2072 In Pictures
Here’s a short clip showing some of what the Nepalese Year 2072 entailed for the Brigade of Gurkhas:
Nepali Calender History
Here’s a small history behind the Nepali Calendar (Bikram Samwat) which became the official calendar of Nepal in it’s 1958th year.
Bikram Sambat is the calendar established by Indian emperor Vikramaditya and is recognized as the official calendar of Nepal. In addition to Bikram Samwat, the Gregorian calendar is also widely accepted in the Nepali community. The Nepali Calendar is a solar calendar based on ancient Hindu traditions. The history of Nepali calendar has an intriguing story.
It’s said that this calendar derives its name from king Bikramaditya of Rajasthan,the then an independent country in the Indian sub continent. But after the rise of the Rana oligarchs in Nepal, Bikram Sambat was discontinued for a long time along with the official Shaka Sambat. They discontinued Shaka Sambat in its 1823rd year but later replaced it with Bikram Sambat for functionary use since then; Bikram Sambat came into official use in 1958 as Nepali calendar.
The significance of the Nepali calendar has different aspects the more important one being that the Nepalese people use more than one calendar and celebrate their new year days accordingly. Nepal has a unique lunar calendar by its own name, called Nepal Sambat. Almost all festivals rituals are observed according to this calendar. This calendar originated in Nepal and bears strict resemblance to Nepalese culture and tradition. The different months in the Nepali calendar are named accordingly as beginning with Baisakh and ending with Chait.
There are many events in the Nepali calendar with each month having a special religious ritual assigned to it, the most important being the festival of Mata Tirtha Puja, Buddha Jayanti and Dashain. Thus, the Nepali Calendar presents an accurate measuring of different religious celebrations of the Nepalese. The festivals for Nepali Calendar 2073 are published below:
During HRH Prince Harry’s recent visit to Nepal, he had the fortune to meet one of the most famous officers in the history of the Brigade of Gurkhas, Lt Colonel (Retd) John Cross OBE.
This was not the first time Colonel John has met British Royalty in Nepal.
36 years ago, in 1980, Colonel John was Officer Commanding, British Gurkhas Pokhara when Prince Harry’s father, HRH The Prince of Wales visited.
At the time, Colonel John was accompanied by two Victoria Cross winners, Hon Lt (QGO) Tulbahadur Pun VC 6GR and Havildar Bhanbhagta Gurung VC 2 GR. Colonel John amusingly recalls that whilst HRH The Prince of Wales shook hands with the VC winners and many other Gurkhas, he put his hand out to shake one man’s hand who did not respond.
“What was your Regiment?” The Prince asked, “I was not a soldier,” replied the man, not knowing that an outstretched hand was meant to be shaken. ‘Why have you come here?’ asked The Prince. “Because you’re here. Four days down, one day here and four days back.” (It took four days for the man to walk down from his village in the Himalayas). As it happened, the man wasn’t even a Gurkha, he had come all this way just to satisfy his curiosity and see The Prince!
Colonel John shared this story and others with Prince Harry during last month’s visit and presented Prince Harry with a Daily Telegraph cutting of 12 December 1980 with the photo of Colonel John with HRH The Prince of Wales.
Colonel John is a legend in Gurkha history and almost every retired Gurkha and serving Gurkha will know of him. He still briefs the young recruits selected into the Brigade of Gurkhas to this day, at the age of 91.
Colonel John was born an Englishman in 1925 and is now a Nepali. He served a total of 39 years in the Army and spent 36 of those serving in the Gurkhas.
He served in WW2 in Burma against the Japanese and in one action commanded a battalion of surrendered Japanese troops against the Vietminh. The defeated Vietnamese Commanding Officer personally surrendered his 300-year-old sword to Colonel John.
Colonel John served in Malayan Emergency and the Borneo Confrontation and spent a total of 10 years service deep under the jungle canopy. He was in charge of Gurkha recruitment for many years in Nepal, which is where he now resides and he was granted Nepali citizenship in 2014. He is also the author of many publications on Nepalese and Gurkha history.