The Embassy of Nepal in London hosted the annual Nepal Army Day event on Monday 27th February 2017.
Invited guests on the occasion included various Defence Attachés, personalities associated with Nepal and members of the Brigade of Gurkhas (BG).
Lieutenant General Nick Pope CBE, Deputy Chief of the General Staff and Colonel Commandant Brigade of Gurkhas, attended the function as the chief guest. He was accompanied by Colonel James Robinson, Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas.
The event commenced with an opening speech by the Nepalese Defence Attaché, Colonel Pradeep Jung KC.
The Colonel Commandant Brigade of Gurkhas delivered a speech with particular emphasis on the enduring relationship that exists between the Nepalese Army (NA) and British Army, and the NA’s enormous contribution to the UN’s peace-keeping missions worldwide.
General Pope said that he had met the Chief of the Army Staff, General Rajendra Chhetri during his recent visit to Nepal and that the Nepalese Army Chief might visit the UK in due course.
The Ambassador of Nepal to the UK, HE Dr Durga Bahadur Subedi also gave a speech thanking all those present on the occasion. He made a special mention of the Nepalese Army’s rich heritage and professionalism as a first rate organisation. Dr Subedi said that the bicentenary of the Gurkha service was a crucial milestone in the bilateral relations of the two countries and that a week long event was being organised in March in the Embassy to mark this special occasion. He invited all to come and take part in the celebration.
Other attendees from the BG included Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas Staff Officers and Gurkha Majors from the British Army Gurkha unit. The function ended with a typical Nepalese cultural dance in which both Colonel Commandant and Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas participated.
On the 23rd February 2017 a 100th Anniversary commemorative paving stone dedication took place at New Milton War Memorial in honour of Major George Campbell Wheeler Victoria Cross (VC) (2/9 Gurkha Rifles).
In August 2013, the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced a campaign to honour Victoria Cross recipients from the First World War. Commemorative paving stones were to be laid in the birth place of VC recipients to; honour their bravery, provide a lasting legacy of local heroes within communities and enable residents to gain a greater understanding of how their area fitted into the First World War story.
The intention was for each stone to be laid on the 100th anniversary of the action for which the VC was awarded. In this way, each event will be specific to the individual being commemorated and the events around the country will be spread across the four year period of the centenary.
The New Milton Council received their paving stone to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross awarded to Major George Campbell Wheeler VC for his leadership and gallantry on 23rd February 1917 at Shumran on the River Tigris, Mesopotamia. His citation reads:
‘George Campbell Wheeler, Major, 2/9th Gurkha Rifles (GR), Indian Army. For most conspicuous bravery and determination. This officer, together with one Gurkha Officer and eight men, crossed a river and immediately rushed the enemy’s trench under heavy bombing, rifle, machine-gun and artillery fire. Having obtained a footing on the river bank, he was almost immediately afterwards counter-attacked by a strong enemy party with bombers. Major Campbell Wheeler at once led a charge with another officer and three men, receiving a severe bayonet wound in the head, but managed, in spite of this, to disperse the enemy. This bold action on his part undoubtedly saved the situation. In spite of his wound, he continued to consolidate his position’.
On the 23rd February 2017, on day battered by storm Doris, a small but moving Dedication Service was held to honour Major George Campbell Wheeler VC 2/9GR.
The Ceremony was to have been opened by the Mayor of New Milton Town Council, Cllr David Hawkins who was unavoidably called away allowing Cllr Geoff Beck, Chairman of the New Forest District Council to welcome the members of the Royal British Legion, general public with a special mention to a strong representation from the Gurkha Brigade Association attending the service.
The Reverend Andrew Bailey led the Dedication Service with Turner’s ‘Tribute to a Gurkha’ and the Gurkha Prayer before Lance Corporal Khushiman Gurung (from the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas) sounded the Brigade Call followed by the Last Post.
During the minutes silence, Colonel Ron Back, Chairman of the New Milton Branch, Royal British Legion recited the ‘Ode the Fallen’ (Laurence Binyon), followed by Councillor Geoff Beck who read the moving Kohema Epitaph. The Brigade Call followed by the Reveille brought the assembled participants back to the present.
It was particularly fitting for three ‘Gurkha’ wreaths to be laid to honour Major George Campbell Wheeler VC:
Following the final prayer and blessing, the service was concluded by a lament played by Rifleman Padam Rai 2 RGR.
You can find out more about the history of Gurkhas by visiting the Gurkha Museum located in Winchester.
On Saturday March 25th at 7.30 pm The Band of The Brigade of Gurkha’s will be presenting a concert at Harvey Grammar School, Cheriton Road, Folkestone which is only a mile from their base at Shorncliffe Camp.
The Old Harveians Association (Alumni of the Harvey Grammar School) are presenting the concert and The Gurkha Welfare Trust will be the main beneficiary of the profit on the evening.
Tickets £20pp from John Oliver tel: 01303 251403 or email email@example.com
Free car parking – wheelchair-friendly access – drinks available to purchase.
On Thursday 9th February the 2017 Attestation Parade took place at British Gurkhas Pokhara. 270 new recruits where selected through the long and arduous annual Gurkha recruit selection process. (Video made by Forces TV).
All had completed regional selection and then were in the top Order of Merit for the assessments at Central Selection. This year the 270 were selected from an original application of over 8,000 – with an increase from last year’s 240 in order to meet the planned growth of the Brigade of Gurkhas over the next few years.
Colonel Commandant Brigade of Gurkhas, Lieutenant General NAW Pope CBE, was the Inspecting Officer. OC Recruiting, Major James Devall, presented the parade to him and then the new recruits were inspected by General Pope, Colonel James Robinson, Colonel Ian Logan, Warrant Officer Class One Glenn Haughton (the Army Sergeant Major) and, of course, Lieutenant Colonel (Retd) John Cross.
In groups of five the recruits came forward to swear their allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen. Gen Pope then spoke fluently in Gurkhali, congratulating the recruits on their success, reminding them they will become Gurkhas and will have a responsibility to maintain the special name, and for them not to forget where they come from; Nepal, and their traditions and customs.
The parade was then taken over by Captain Ganeshkumar Rai, Commander of the Infantry Training Centre staff who had travelled from the UK to prepare the recruits for the next step of their journey to ITC Catterick, who then marched the parade off.
The music was provided by the Pipes and Drums of the Nepalese Army who concluded the parade with a short musical display. Once the parade was complete everyone gathered around the chautara in the centre of the camp. Recruits were presented with khadas by their families and thoughts turned to flying to UK to start their training and indeed their career in the British Army.
The Brigade of Gurkhas Colonel Commandant, Lieutenant General NAW Pope CBE, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, visited Nepal over the period 6th to 10th February 2017. He was accompanied by his MA, Lieutenant Colonel Nick Thomas, the Army Command Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class 1 Glenn Haughton and Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, Colonel James Robinson.
On arrival, he had lunch at the British Embassy with the UK Ambassador, His Excellency Richard Morris and then was received at British Gurkhas Kathmandu by the Chief of Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Vince Young and new Gurkha Major, Major Hemkumar Tamang. He inspected a Guard of Honour and spoke to the soldiers about the importance of their service in Nepal before signing the Visitors’ Book.
He was then briefed by Commander British Gurkha Nepal (BGN), Colonel Ian Logan, on Nepal issues and, following this, was given a tour of the camp which included a brief on the earthquake response and the British Gurkha Kathmandu (BGK) Operations room set up. This was followed by a curry supper in the Kathmandu Mess.
The next day his team toured a number of earthquake reconstruction sites by helicopter providing him the opportunity to gain a bird’s eye view of the reconstruction work, including that of Op MARMAT, and meet some of the people being supported by the Gurkha Welfare Scheme (GWS). Upon landing in Pokhara he spent time visiting the Kadoorie team to learn more about their contributions before entering the camp at British Gurkhas Pokhara to be briefed on the GWS, recruiting and the Records Office.
On Thursday 9th February 2017 Lieutenant General Pope took the Attestation Parade where 270 new recruits attested to Her Majesty The Queen and joined the British Army. It was a perfect sunny day with a very large crowd of proud families and friends who had mixed emotions – delight and pleasure at seeing their relatives success but sadness at knowing they would shortly leave for the UK.
After lunch General Pope flew to Kathmandu and had an office call with the Chief of the Army Staff, Lieutenant General Rajendra Chettri, at which they discussed issues of mutual benefits to both armies.