Official Association of Britain’s Brigade of Gurkhas

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Farewell to Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas Colonel J G Robinson CBE and Mrs Alison Robinson by Senior Gurkha Officers

The original Gurkha village at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) was built in 1996 by the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers. The site reflects typical buildings of Nepal.

It was last re-furbished in June 2011 and opened by the then Commandant, Major General Patrick Marriott CBE. For many Gurkhas RMAS is their second home, where they organise many communal activities, social gatherings and official events. Therefore, it is imperative to keep, safeguard and maintain such a facility to promote our team bonding and unity, prevent boredom for ‘Muglis’ and most importantly to foster our ‘Kaida’, tradition and identity. Captain Dipakraj Ghale (Second in Command Gurkha Company Sittang) put a significant level of effort into sourcing funds and developing the design for the reconstruction project which took place in 2018/19.

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Lieutenant Colonel R Bredin MBE (Staff Quartermaster at Sandhurst) in supporting the initiative and making himself available for the official inauguration of newly designed Gurkha Village on 11th April 2019.

The journey for 247 Gurkha Signal Squadron began with the Malayan Emergency in October 1951.

Today, the Squadron delivered its first Collective Training overseas communication exercise, Exercise KHANJAR OMAN 19, which took place in Oman.

The exercise was conducted from January to April 2019 with three main objectives; to test the viability of Raz Madrakah training area, enhance defence engagement with the Sultanate of Oman Armed Forces and trial new equipment in austere conditions. The exercise involved the Royal Tank Regiment Battle Group and a Company from the Mercian Battle Group as the exercising troops. 247 Gurkha Signal Squadron were responsible for delivering a robust and resilient Information and Communication Services (ICS) to 22 Field Hospital as part of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), Role Two Field Hospital deployment.

The exercise started with the deployment of a small advance party to take over the JEF Field Hospital role and its associated ICS equipment from 30 Signal Regiment at the end of Exercise SAIF SERIA 3.  On completion of the handover/takeover, the team from 247 Gurkha Signal Squadron then relocated to Joint Support Logistic Base (JLSB), Duqm.  

The Network Engineering Room was re-established and the link was successfully re-engineered back to the UK. With the arrival of the main body in January 2019, the team were complete and eagerly awaiting the staff users. Once the Role 2 Hospital was established within the JLSB, the ICS equipment was laid out as per Information Exchange Request (IER). The ICS services were provided in the form of secure voice and data which enabled staff users to communicate within the training area for daily tasking and provided essential reach back to the UK, which at times proved to be crucial with compassionate cases.  The services were utilised by staff users at full capacity for the benefit of the exercise.  The exercise ended at the end of March and thereafter we started tearing down our detachment.  Although preparing to manifest the ICS equipment was much more laborious than I had thought, we managed to successfully complete the process, manifest the equipment and subsequently recovered back to UK in April.

The exercise proved to be a huge success for the newly formed Squadron, with soldiers of all ranks having gained valuable knowledge and experience.  Additionally, the exemplary service during the exercise was recognised with the deployed Commanding Officer awarding Commander’s Coin to two of our soldiers, Corporal Mohan Gurung and Lance Corporal Sekhar Gurung.

The constant demand for high performance and flexibility is something that the whole of 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles (1 RGR) has become very accustomed to over recent years. This becomes even more important with the move to the Air Manoeuvre Battle Group (AMBG), a job that requires us to be ready for almost any eventuality. The latest requirement of the AMBG was to be Public Order trained up to Company level, so that we are properly prepared in case of a contingency deployment to the Balkans. 

To ensure complete competency, Sergeant Deep Nursing Gurung and his team delivered a four-day training package to bring all novices up to the basic standard required for any future deployment. The first phase of the exercise encompassed lessons on the kit itself, procedure of use and how it could be employed. The complexity continued to build over the duration of the week and culminated in a Battlefield exercise where B and C Companys clashed in a series of intense rioting scenarios. B Company taking the lead initially as troops under training (TUT) whilst C Company player the role of Civilian Population before swapping to play the other. This exercise validated B and C Company for Collective Training (CT) 0-1 and set the conditions for continuation training and subsequent validation from Mission Training and Mobilisation Centre for CT 2.

After a one-week break, it was time to deploy again to Lydd Training Area for the CT 2 validation exercise. This time 4 Platoon Commander, Lieutenant JJ Hogg ran the exercise which followed a similar format to the previous. First, delivering Company level training before moving into battle exercises whereby Officer Commanding (OC) B and OC C manoeuvred their respective Companys to achieve the required intent.

Come the validations days both Companys were again locked horns and engaged in some extremely intense public order scenarios, be it to CLEAR, HOLD, CONTAIN, WITHDRAW, SEPARATE or to DISPERSE. It was evident that each company took the upmost pleasure in ensuring that the opposing force found it as challenging as possible, be it through some fairly over engineered barricades, heavy resistance to the shields or through a concoction of foot-powder and water in order to obscure the TUTs vision.

As a young platoon commander, I had seen the professionalism, diligence and adaptability of soldiers on Operation TORAL 7, but have yet to have seen much of the Intake 18. Public order training forces even the most junior rifleman to think, understand and act on the threat to their front without any formal direction.

This month, C (Mogaung) Company deployed to Cinque-Port Training Area for Exercise OLIVE GURKHA as part of the preparation for Exercise OLIVE GROVE in Jordan. The exercise consisted of a week of build-up training to shake the dust and readjust from a Force Protection focus back to conventional war fighting during some of the hottest weather in UK records.

The exercise took the us back to basics, beginning with Section Attacks, with a focus on slow time mechanics and developing the complexity and increasing the pace of the serials. In addition, the ground for the exercise was carefully chosen to best replicate the open nature and sporadic distribution of cover that C Company will have to adapt to in Jordan. It provided a great opportunity for Section Commanders to take ownership of their Sections, consolidate their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and with an emphasis on conducting attacks with coherent control measures to ensure safe practice. It also enabled the Junior Leadership Cadre (JLC) to step up and experience the demands of Section Command, providing invaluable experience.  

On the second day of the exercise, we benefited hugely from the emphatic support of the Puma Force based at Royal Air Force Benson, whose pilots had worked closely with Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) Force Protection Coy as part of the Taipan Air Detachment during Operation TORAL 7. The Squadron provided two Pumas to support the exercise, enabling all three Platoons to practice the tactical embarkment and disembarkment from an airframe that mirrored the Blackhawks that the Coy will employ in Jordan. For many it was their first opportunity to experience the gut wrenching manoeuvres that the Puma pilots were so keen to demonstrate, replicating low-level tactical flying. 

Building on the foundations of Section Attacks, the Platoons moved on to Offensive and Enable Actions at Platoon level, beginning with the Advance to Contact and culminating with a Platoon Ambush. The exercise saw 9 Platoon execute a night time Advance to Contact, requiring the application of each Rifleman’s Helmet Mounted Night Vision System and their Laser Light Module (LLM) in order to identify and target enemy positions. It further developed the Platoons understanding of how to employ the Infra-Red (IR) Flood and LLM IR Laser as control measures during night-time operations.

The final day of the exercise saw the Platoons complete a formal Orders process for a Platoon Ambush, with the production of models and delivery of ground briefs; all constructed and delivered by the JLC wallah.

By Lieutenant T Washington-Smith Platoon Commander 9, 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles

After a very successful tour of duty in Kabul as part of the 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) Battle Group stationed in the New Kabul Compound, the Company spent a week in camp ‘normalising’ with routine vaccinations and a ‘Welcome Home’ party. The week was a bitter sweet experience with everyone enjoying an excellent party organised by Captain Im (6 Platoon Commander) and his team, followed the next day with a farewell/ close-down for leave parade in which the command team walked the ranks bidding farewell to many members who now move on to new adventures.

Once fallen out, the men of B Company (Sari Bair) enjoyed a well-earned post operational leave period with many using the opportunity to return to Nepal to see loved ones prior to taking on the new role as part of 16 Brigade’s commitment to the Air Manoeuvre Battle Group (AMBG).

Arrival back to work on 17th June 2019 was met by a rousing and inspiring speech by Commanding Officer Saheb on the new role the Battalion will be taking on and was subsequently followed by two days of conceptual briefings as well as an overnight visit to Brize Norton to gain a better understanding and build relationships with our key interlocutors within the Royal Air Force.

The Company also had the opportunity to send 20 of its newest riflemen to bolster A Company’s exercise contribution as part of Exercise SWIFT RESPONSE; this was of tremendous value for these new soldiers in learning to understand their new role.

When not learning about helicopters and the maximum load capacity of the new A400 airplane, the Company has been put through its paces at Lydd with Public Order training, a skillset that has not been practiced for some time and will be a potential requirement for any future deployment. Although the idea of standing in a line and being pelted by petrol bombs and bricks sounds relatively simple, we are learning that there is somewhat more to it than that.

Currently, B Company now holds readiness for Operation CARIBBEAN, which would see us deploy to the Caribbean if required to support in any disaster relief mission and soon will soon take on readiness for tasks within the Balkans and potentially further afield.

The Company is in good form with a demanding, busy and exciting schedule for the remainder of 2019.           

The final visit of Colonel J G Robinson CBE (Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas (Col BG)) to 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) in Brunei took place from 24th June 2019 until 27th June 2019. Even though it was a short visit, he was able to meet members of the Battalion as well as other attachments (Queen’s Gurkha Engineers (QGE), Gurkha Staff and Personnel Support (GSPS) and Queen’s Gurkha Signals).

On the first morning morning he had a meeting with British Forces Brunei Commander Lieutenant Colonel David Pack to get an update on Brunei Garrison. Lunch was hosted by the Junior Non-Commissioned Officers Mess and in the afternoon he went to visit the company lines. Later that evening the Garrison Officers’ Mess hosted a Regimental Dinner Night.

On 26th June 2019, a golf match took place with Col BG at Jerudong Golf Club. Curry supper was held at 2 RGR Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess followed by a fireside chat. During this time, Col BG awarded Sergeant Bhupendra Gurung (Sniper Platoon) the Fish Monger Coin for his contributions to the Brigade of Gurkhas.

The final day started with a Puja ceremony at the temple and a visit to the war memorial wall. This event was followed by breakfast with the Riflemen. After breakfast, there was a family coffee morning organised at the Chitchat community centre with all BG cap badge families invited. Before lunch, he visited Brunei Signal Troop, GSPS and Boat section (QGE detachment). Col BG J G Robinson was given the final guard of honour commanded by Captain Chatra Lingthep Limbu before his departure.

With seven years as a Col BG and over 36 years with the Gurkhas, it was an honour to bid farewell to Col J G Robinson. We wish him good luck with his new ventures.

By Sergeant Dharamprakash Limbu, 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles

Brigade Bhela 2019

The Brigade of Gurkhas, veterans, families and friends gathered for the annual Brigade Bhela at Queen’s Avenue in Aldershot on 13th July 2019.

Events included:

  • Nepal Cup 3rd place pay off and final
  • Ladies Volleyball competition
  • Unit Tug of War
  • Thelo competition
  • Display of Taekwondo by Recruit Intake 19
  • Music and marching band display by the Band and Pipes of Drums of the Brigade of Gurkhas
  • Cultural dancing and music
  • Local community stalls
  • Gurkha Museum stall
  • Unit stalls
  • Fairground rides
  • Support from BFBS Gurkha

The Nepal Cup was won by the Queen’s Gurkha Signals 1-0 over 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles over a tough game. The entire tournament demonstrated some great football skills and the Brigade were able to stream every match to the internet.

The Ladies Volleyball was won by a team from 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles, who overpowered the other teams on the day. Some excellent individual play and some equally as good teamwork saw this team deliver some impressive wins.

The Tug of War competition was a close call with each team delivering maximum effort during each pull. The crowds gathered in close and the noise of encouragement was deafening. The competition was eventually won by the Queen’s Gurkha Signals.

A Thelo Competition also took place on the man arena, with some really impressive throws of the heavy ball.

The day allowed old friends and colleagues to gather and catch up and feel part of the family of the Brigade of Gurkhas.  With young Gurkha family children present through to senior retired officers and Gurkha soldiers now in retirement the event is a true family event.

 

Rifleman Sujan Limbu, (Mortar Platoon, Support (Medicina) Company, 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles) experience being selected to be part of the Army team for the the Inter-Services Climbing Championships.

His story

The best moment by far for me so far has been being selected to be part of the Army Climbing Team. I was selected for the team this year and was able to represent the Army at the Inter-Services Championships held in Sheffield in July 2019. It gave me immense pride and to represent my unit at such a high level. Competing against climbers from both the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force was a challenge but I was lucky enough to secure second place in the under-25 category, a position that helped secure an overall championship victory for the British Army Climbing Team.

I was assigned as an Adventure Training Instructor (ATI) in Castlemartin where I help train people from across the three Services in AT as well as gaining lots of course qualifications in the process. Being an ATI and completing all these courses has been one of the most amazing experiences of my career so far, a dream come true for a sports fanatic like me. My practice sessions are always geared towards preparing for the next climbing competition and I enjoy every part of the process. Every person I have met in this journey through my sport has been fantastic.

Climbing is a fantastic sport which allows you to travel to many different places, as well as meeting many interesting people; I would encourage anyone interested to give it a try and hope to generate more interest in it now I have returned to 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles!

The first and newly tailored two week-long (22nd July – 2nd August 2019) Foundation Nepali Language and Culture course was held at the Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas, Robertson House, Camberley.  

Ten candidates (Officers/Senior Non-Commissioned Officers/Ministry of Defence civilian staff) from various Brigade of Gurkhas (BG) Units attended the course.  The course began with an opening address by Colonel BG – Colonel James Robinson CBE.

During the course, the candidates had the opportunity to learn the basic understanding of Nepali language and culture, briefs on introduction to Nepal and Gurkhas, Nepali tradition and Culture, BG Recruitment, BG KAIDA, Religion of Nepal, Life in the Gurkhas Unit and lectures by religious educatio (RE) teachers (Pandit-ji/Lama-ji). 

In addition, the students/candidates also visited the Gurkha Museum Winchester where they were briefed on Gurkha history by Mr Doug Henderson (Collections Officer).

Brigade Culture and Language Team extends a huge appreciation to Mr Gavin Edgerly-Harris (The Director of the Gurkha Museum), Major (Maj) Narendra Gurung (Deputy Chief of Staff  Headquarters (HQ) BG), Maj Dammar Shahi (SO2 Pers POL, HQBG), Maj Indra Tamang (Gurkha Major Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment), Major Gajendra Angdembe (Officer Commanding, Gurkha Company Sittang (GCS)), Captain Dipakraj Ghale (Second in Command (GCS)), Captain Mahendra Phagami (GCS) and the RE teachers respectively for providing a significant support on the course. 

A farewell to Colonel J G Robinson CBE by Gurkha Majors, Officer Commanding, Queen’s Gurkha Orderly Officers and Regimental Sergeant Majors from across the Brigade units came together on Saturday 3rd August 2019 in the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment Officers Mess to show their appreciation for  Colonel James Robinson CBE (Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas) commitment, direction, dedication and drive in leading the Brigade of Gurkhas for the past seven years.

At the dinner, the Deputy Chief of Staff Major Narendra K Gurung valiantly attempted to capture the many achievements of a man of true giant stature and the generational relationship he has to the Brigade of Gurkhas, which was followed by a special ‘khada’ ceremony wishing the family best of health and prosperity in their future endeavours.

Brigade of Gurkhas will surely miss his fatherly guidance.

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