On Tuesday 29th March 2017, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Colonel in Chief, Royal Corps of Signals presented the Firmin Sword of Peace to 2 Signal Regiment whilst visiting their home at Imphal Barracks in York.
Also in attendance were Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Master of Signals and Colonel Commandant Brigade of Gurkhas, Lieutenant General N A W Pope CBE, Corps Colonel Royal Signals, Colonel S G Hutchinson MBE ADC, and Colonel Ian Hargreaves who was Commanding Officer of 2 Signal Regiment in 2015.
The Firmin Sword of Peace is awarded each year to the unit of the UK’s Armed Forces judged to have made the most valuable contribution towards establishing good and friendly relations with any community at home or overseas over and above the unit’s normal role and duty.
The citation read that “even at the very height of operational commitments in 2015, and with two-thirds of the Regiment deployed, the Regiment also found themselves undertaking significant and at times strategic humanitarian activity in Sierra Leone, Nepal, the Falkland Islands and in the United Kingdom. On top of that, engaging in various charity activities, the Regiment managed to raise nearly £160,000”.
Corporal Prembahadur Gurung, 246 Gurkha Signal Squadron, received the Firmin Sword of Peace from Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal on behalf of the Regiment. Her Royal Highness was also able to present Signaller Buddha Gurung with the Certificate of Meritorious Service which he was recently awarded by General Officer Commanding Force Troop Command.
On Sunday 26th March 2017, Gurkha Company (Sittang) observed ‘Sittang Day’ – the Company Battle Honour. Members of the Company and their families gathered around Nepal Lines in the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
Major Rambahadur Pun (the previous Officer Commanding) had decided that the Company Battle Honour Day should be marked in an appropriate way and in order to commemorate this historical event, the Company decided to erect a memorial to remember those who fought and sacrificed their lives in the Battle of Sittang (19th to 23rd February 1942). Under the watchful direction of Captain Dilip Gurung, Second in Command, Corporal Shrawan Subba began this project aided by other members of the Company. A month of hard work later, the memorial was ready to be unveiled.
On the day, Lieutenant Colonel T J Cave-Gibbs, Commanding Officer, Sandhurst Support Unit, formally unveiled the memorial in the presence of Company members and their families. This was followed by a short remembrance parade led by Major Chandrabahadur Pun, the new Officer Commanding. On completion, everyone moved to the picnic area behind Nepal Lines and celebrated with a wonderful meal in beautiful sunshine. Later in the evening, all members of the Company and their families gathered at the Woolwich Hall in Sandhurst to view a new Nepalese movie, “Loot 2” to conclude the day.
The existing rates of Gurkha Retirement Pension, Gurkha Service Pension, Gurkha Disability Pension and Gurkha Family Pension have been revised with effect from 1st April 2017. The current rates, which are based on Indian Army pensions, but incorporate a welfare related cash uplift to take account of the benefits in kind provided to Indian Army ex-servicemen, have received a 2017 pension increment of 3.8% to take account of cost of living increases in Nepal. In line with existing policy the increase is based on the Rastra Bank consumer price index for inflation in Nepal. The increase also applies to Dearness Allowance which is used in calculating Indian Army Pay for gratuity purposes.
Please find the link for detail information and full rates of GPS according to different ranks and structure:
On Monday 6th March 28 Squadron RAF visited Headquarters the Brigade of Gurkas at Robertson House at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst to re-establish the close ties that exist between 28 Sqn and the Brigade of Gurkhas.
8 members of the Squadron travelled from their base at RAF Benson to Camberley and were warmly welcomed to the HQ.
Colonel BG delivered a presentation covering the history and current Brigade of Gurkhas before Captain Lalitbahadur Gurung gave a synopsis of his own career from recruit training to officer.
The RAF personnel then paid a visit to the Gurkha Mandir in the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and were welcomed by the Pundit, Shivachandra Niraura from the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment who are based in Aldershot. They then received a short tour of the Academy before returning to HQBG for a curry lunch.
28 Squadron’s Chinook helicopters have a demi-Pegasus painted onto the helicopter’s tail rotor pylon together with the Gurkha Flash of 48 Gurkha Infantry Brigade.
The Kukri Flash commemorates 28 Squadron’s former forty year association with the Gurkhas which ended in 1994.
The Brigade asked the Squadron to wear the Flash to remember its connection with the Gurkhas.
Later in the year HQBG staff will conduct a reciprocal visit to RAF Benson.
Gurkha Wing (Mandalay) celebrated its Battle Honour, Mandalay Day on Monday, 20th March in Infantry Battle School, Brecon. Temple Service was organised in the morning followed by a remembrance parade. All Wing members including Lt Col Rennie MBE Commanding Officer, Infantry Battle School were present in the parade.
Long Service and Good Conduct medal were also awarded at the parade by the Commanding Officer to Sergant Nudan Gurung (2 RGR), Sergeant Deepak Rai (Queen’s Gurkha Engineers), Corporal Tejendra Thapa (1 Mercian Regiment) and Lance Corporal Naresh Rai (2 Royal Gurkha Rifles) for their exemplary conduct and the loyal Service to the Crown throughout their military career.
The fall of Mandalay on 20th March 1945 was the culmination of an advance of 400 miles against ever increasing opposition which had carried 19 Indian Division from the banks of the Chindwin to the walls of Fort Dufferin. Both 1st and 4th Battalions of the 6th Gurkha Rifles served in 19 Indian Division during this period.
The climax of the battle took place nearly 50 miles north of Mandalay at the little village of Kyaukmyaung where, on the 14th January 1945, 19 Indian Division established a bridgehead on the East bank of the Irrawaddy.
By good fortune the bridgehead was established on the dividing line between two Japanese Divisions which accounted for the 24 hours respite given the very small bridgehead garrison.
On the night of the 15th January, the 1st Battalion in assault craft crossed the 800 yards wide river, and at dawn on the 16th broke out eastwards towards the feature of Minban Taung two and half miles away. This hill with another known as ‘Pear’ dominated the chosen Divisional crossing place, and their early seizure and retention was vital to the Commander’s plan.
The Japanese reaction to the crossing was violent and for five weeks, all the enemy’s resources were flung into the battle to destroy the bridgehead. The Japanese Commander appreciated correctly that failure to do so would cost him Northern Burma. The Japanese deployed ever increasing forces against both Battalions.
The enemy attacks were supported by concentrated and skilfully handled artillery and were pushed home with fanatical courage. Behind the hand to hand fighting however the build-up into the bridgehead continued and on 22nd February 1945 the Division supported by Armour, broke out Southwards along the East bank of the Irrawaddy. Both Battalions played a leading part in the break out and in the subsequent breakthrough in the Japanese rear areas.
On several occasions both Battalions had to break desperate resistance by the enemy troops fighting from hastily prepared positions, but the momentum of the breakthrough was maintained and carried the Division through to the suburbs of Mandalay.
For a week the Japanese defended the town and both Battalions had their first experience of street fighting. The fall of Mandalay Hill, the monastery overlooking the town, sealed the fate of Mandalay and on the 20th March 1945 the historic capital of the old Kingdom of Ava was liberated.
The following casualties were sustained during the course of this battle:
With the fall of Mandalay, 4 Military Cross (MC), 2 Indian Distinguished Service Medal (IDSM) and 15 Military Medal (MM) were awarded.
Jai Gurkha Wing (Mandalay)
Photo credit – Mr Ian Griffiths, Army Photographer
On the evening of 20th March members of the Brigade of Gurkhas were invited to attend an event at the Embassy of Nepal, Kensington Palace Gardens, London. The occasion was to mark the bicentenary celebrations of the bilateral agreement between Nepal and the United Kingdom.
The guest of honour from the United kingdom was HRH Prince Harry. Prince Harry has been a big supporter of the Brigade of Gurkhas since his service in the British Army and the fact he served with Gurkha Officers and Soldiers in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2010.
During Prince Harry’s speech included the following;
I am delighted to join you on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, to bring to a close our year of joint celebrations, marking 200 years of friendship and cooperation between Nepal and the United Kingdom.
The Queen has asked me to pass on her best wishes to you all.
I had the pleasure of visiting Nepal exactly a year ago. I experienced first-hand the true meaning of Nepal’s slogan “I am in Nepal Now”.
During my time in Nepal, I was able to visit some of the communities from which the Gurkhas are drawn; I now better understand what has shaped the character of this extraordinary group of men, borne out of the values which the people of Nepal hold so dear.
Last week, I joined my Father in presenting operational service medals to officers and men from 2nd Battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, some of whom are with us here today. My father spoke of how important his 40 year association to the Gurkhas is to him. Even though my association hasn’t been quite as long, I also draw a great deal of pride and joy from my association with the Gurkhas.
I will close by saying thank you to everyone for joining us today to celebrate our 200 year-long friendship between the United Kingdom and Nepal, and we look forward to our continued close bond of friendship for centuries to come, and now that my tika has finally faded it’s probably about time to go back!
You can read his full speech on this link.
He was invited to light a candle to mark the occasion and then invited inside the Embassy to unveil a painting with the details of the Victoria Cross reciprecants from the Gurkhas on.
He then met various serving, ex-serving and UK based Nepalese people in the Embassy before returning outside to watch a display of traditional Nepalese dancing and the famous Khukuri Dance by members of the Brigade of Gurkhas.
Among those attending from the Brigade were; the Colonel Commandant (Lieutenant General NAW Pope CBE), Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, (Colonel James Robinson) and the Queen’s Gurkha Orderly Officers. There was also representation from across the serving Brigade and veteran community.
Mark Lancaster MP was also a senior guest. He is currently the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence Personnel and Veterans. He commissioned into the Army based in Hong Kong with the Queens Gurkha Engineers. He then went on to read Business Studies at Buckingham University and completed an MBA at Exeter University, before returning to help run the family business, Kimbolton Fireworks.
During this period, Mark Lancaster transferred his commission to the Territorial Army in 1990 and during 28 years military service has commanded a Royal Engineer Bomb Disposal Squadron and deployed on operational service to Kosovo, Bosnia and Afghanistan. Awarded the Territorial Decoration in 2002, Mark received his second long service medal, the VRSM in 2011 and Bar in 2016. He continues to serve as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Engineers and is currently a Member of the Royal College of Defence Studies.