The Gurkha Pension Scheme (GPS) annual award for 2014 was published on 14 March 2014. The existing rates of Gurkha Retirement Pension, Gurkha Service Pension, Gurkha Disability and Gurkha Family Pension have been revised with effect from 1 April 2014.
Gurkha personnel on the Gurkha Pension Scheme will therefore see the following impacts of the award, where relevant, from 1 April 2014, which include:
– An increase in pensions paid through the Gurkha Pension Scheme of 10.3% with effect from 1 April 2014.
– The new rates of pension will be applied to the Far East and Nepal Administration System for the pensions run for April 2014.
– Pensioners paid in cash at the Pension Paying Offices will have their new rates due available from 1 May 2014.
– Banking pensioners will have their accounts credited by end of April 2014, although this may be later depending on location and the bank used.
– Payments in cash from Area Welfare Centres will be made in May/June 2014 according to the programme published by Headquarters British Gurkhas Nepal.
The increment of 10.3% in Gurkha Pension takes into account the cost of living increases in Nepal based on the Nepal Rastra Bank figure for inflation.
This increase ensures that Gurkha pensions are kept at a fair and appropriate level and demonstrates the UK Government’s continuing commitments to the Gurkha Pension Scheme.
Gallant officer who was four times decorated after fierce battles in the jungles of Burma and Malaysia In a career of vigorous active service that took him across the Far East from the jungles of Burma in the Second World War to the Indonesia confrontation with Malaysia in the mid-1960s, Denis O’Leary was decorated four times — twice with the Military Cross. As a young mortar officer with a regiment of the British Indian Army — the 6th Rajputana Rifles — he won his first MC in 1945 during fierce fighting against the Japanese in the advance to the Irrawaddy as part of the 19th Indian “Black Cat” Division. His second came two decades later, in 1964, when his company of Gurkhas, with whom he was then serving, fought a bitter battle with a group of Indonesians on the small island of Lobe in East Malaysia. He also won a military MBE fighting against lawless gangs of dacoits in the chaotic period in Burma after the end of the war, and was advanced to OBE in 1968 for his command of 1/7th Gurkha Rifles in Hong Kong during a difficult period of Beijing-inspired violence in, and border incursions against, what was then the Crown Colony.
His younger colleagues, who met him as he moved around the Far East, were struck by his remarkable Irish fearlessness and humour. In the autumn of 1944, General Sir William Slim’s Fourteenth Army was closing in on the Irrawaddy river as it advanced across Burma, but the Japanese were fighting as tenaciously as ever. As mortar officer, O’Leary found that getting fire down quickly was crucially dependent on orders from the front. So he accompanied his battalion’s leading platoon in every action from mid-November until 19th Division reached the Irrawaddy opposite the town of Thabeikkyin on January 14, 1945. During fierce fighting on Pear Hill in the bridgehead on the other side of the river in February, he kept his mortars in action for eight consecutive days despite intense counter-bombardment fire. The citation for his first MC concluded “by his courageous example and skill he was responsible for inflicting heavy losses on the enemy”. Peace of a kind followed the Japanese surrender in Rangoon on August 28 that year, but armed Burmese gangs of various political persuasions still roamed the countryside. The 17th Indian Division therefore remained in the country to consolidate law and order as Burma approached independence. In co-operation with the “Patriotic Burmese Forces” it began a drive, in March 1947, to flush out the remaining gangs. O’Leary, by then commanding a rifle company of 3/6th Rajputana Rifles, received reports that two gangs, each up to 200 strong, had joined forces at a village on the eastern bank of the Sittang River. He crossed the Sittang during the night with 50 men after swimming the river helped by two men to collect ferry boats from the far bank. Recognising that he was outnumbered, O’Leary placed cut-off positions on tracks leading from the village and, at dawn, ordered a long burst of fire into an anthill. The dacoits raced out of the village to be cut down by automatic fire. More than 30 were killed, 30 wounded and four taken prisoner for the loss of two and three wounded in O’Leary’s company. After a period in Hong Kong — where he met his future wife, Jan Tedstill, an officer of the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, while visiting a soldier on her ward — O’Leary fought a bitter battle with a group of Indonesians on the small island of Lobe in East Malaysia during Indonesia’s confrontation with the new Federation of Malaysia. On information from a police informer that he had led the enemy to the island O’Leary set off with two platoons — and considerable private misgivings that the whole thing might be trap. His tactics were similar to those he had used against the dacoits in Burma. On this occasion, however, they resulted in what was later described as a “tough, untidy and uncomfortable little battle”. Lobe island was a hideous tangle of mangrove roots and black swamp. The enemy were alerted before the cut-offs got into position and fought with great tenacity. One of his platoon commanders was badly wounded and could not be recovered until O’Leary outflanked the Indonesians’ position with the rest of his group. On getting close, he heard moans of pain and shouted in Bahasa for the enemy to stand up and surrender. This elicited the piteous response, “We can’t, we are all dead.” One unwounded man made a dash for it and was killed. All but one of the remainder were indeed dead.
Denis Oswald O’Leary had a lifelong affection for India. He had been born in Srinagar, Kashmir, the elder son of Lieutenant-Colonel M. P. O’Leary of the 6th Rajputana Rifles, and returned to India during his school holidays from Cotton College in Staffordshire. In later life he was a great collector of first day covers, regimental invitations and Christmas cards and also kept every letter written to him by his children and those he wrote to his own mother as a boy. After attending the Officers’ Training School at Bangalore, he was commissioned in the 6th Rajputana Rifles in 1943. Following Indian independence he was granted a commission in the Royal Artillery but sought secondment to the 7th Gurkha Rifles who had been selected for conversion to the artillery role. An increased demand for infantry due to the Malayan emergency led to the conversion being cancelled, however, and O’Leary went to Egypt with 26 Field Regiment RA. He felt more at home with Gurkhas than Gunners and was back with 1/7th Gurkhas in Malaya by 1952 and appointed adjutant. He achieved his boyhood ambition to command 1/7th Gurkha Rifles in the Colony in 1966-69.
Family life involved numerous moves around the Far East, as well as rugby and cricket in his spare time. He is survived by his wife and five children: Tim followed him into the 7th Gurkha Rifles and now works for a security company; Jane is married and lives in Ireland; Claire is an art teacher and lives in Yarmouth; Sarah lives in Portsmouth; and Kate is married to a recently retired RAF officer. After retiring from the Army 1979 O’Leary worked as a firing range liaison officer in Norfolk before settling in North Yorkshire and, latterly, Suffolk. Lieutenant-Colonel D. O. O’Leary, OBE, MC and Bar, commanding officer 1/7th Gurkha Rifles, 1966-69, was born on July 24, 1924. He died on March 13, 2014, aged 89.
The Daily Telegraph visited Nepal to see Gurkha recruiting in December 2013 and then went to visit the new recruits starting their initial training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick in early 2014. Their article was published in the Saturday magazine and the Telegraph website on 8 March.
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Every year since 2002, a short but moving Ceremony is held on Commonwealth Day, at the Memorial Gates to honour those Commonwealth Nations and Nepal who volunteered to serve with the Armed Forces. This year the Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, Colonel J G Robinson, accompanied by the Brigade Secretary, Major N D Wylie Carrick and the two Queen’s Gurkha Orderly Officers, Captain Kumar Gurung and Captain Sureshkumar Thapa, attended the Memorial Gates Ceremony on 10 March 2014 to lay a wreath on behalf of all ranks the Brigade of Gurkhas in memory of those who volunteered from Nepal to serve in the Gurkha Brigade.Also present were: ex-Prime Minister Sir John Major, Firled Marshall Sir John Chapell and the Bishop of London.
The Commonwealth Memorial Gates, located at the top of Constitution Hill in Central London, were inaugurated by Her Majesty The Queen on 6 November 2002. The Memorial Gates are dedicated to the people of the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean who served in the Armed Forces during the two World Wars, in London, UK. Significantly, the contribution made by Nepal is also acknowledged. The names of all Commonwealth VCs, including the Gurkha VCs, are also engraved under the roof of the Cupola. The notice on the gates read, “These Gates have been erected as a lasting memorial to honour the five million men and women from the Indian subcontinent, Africa and the Caribbean who volunteered to serve with the Armed Forces during the First and Second World Wars. They also celebrate the contribution that these men and women and their descendants, members of the Commonwealth family, continue to make to the rich diversity of British society”.
Images:courtesy of Defense imagery
His Excellency Dr Suresh Chandra Chalise, the outgoing Nepalese Ambassador to the United Kingdom was dined out at a Brigade of Gurkha’s Curry Lunch held at 101 Logistic Brigade Mess at St Omer Barracks, Aldershot on 21 Feb 14. Dr Chalise was accompanied by the Nepalese Military Attache, Colonel Bishwanath Ghimire and the Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr Tej Bahadur Chhetri. Senior representatives from Gurkha Units, including the Hindu and Buddhist Religious Teachers, were also present.
Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, Colonel James Robinson, highlighted the significance of the historical relationship between Great Britain and Nepal in the context of the Brigade of Gurkhas and acknowledged the important contribution the Nepalese Embassy has made to support the settlement and integration of ex-Gurkha communities in the United Kingdom. Dr Chalise, in return, thanked the Brigade of Gurkhas and highlighted its importance in underpinning the unique relationship, built on trust and friendship, between the two countries.
Dr Chalise has been the Nepalese Ambassador to the Court of St James since January 2010 and is due to depart for Nepal with his family in early March 2014.
PM David Cameron visited 2 RGR during their deployment on Op PITCHPOLE which took place from 16 to 22 February in support of the the civil authorities to relieve those affected by flooding in the Lower Thames area. The Battalion executed the military Bronze HQ command from Chertsey, one of the worst affected places in the UK, under command of 2 (South East) Brigade at Silver HQ based in Guildford. 2 RGR was responsible for 421 personnel drawn from Support Company 2 RGR, R Welsh, 1 Royal Horse Artillery, 19 Regiment Royal Artillery, 2 PARA, 36 Engineer Regiment, 3 Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment (Reserve), 103 Battalion REME (Reserve).
During the deployment, 2 RGR supported 280 vulnerable people through the delivery of sandbags to their homes. It utilised 15,000 sandbags to protect in the region of 500 properties. Concurrently, it filled additional sandbags with 800 tons of sand, supported the Fire Service with boat operations, and the Environment Agency in the UK’s first ever employment of new mobile damming technology from Sweden and Germany. This latter task has received widespread positive national media attention.
2 RGR completed their Op PITCHPOLE task on 17 February, in time for their deployment to Kenya where they will train as a battle group, augmented by a company from 3 Scots.
As part of the military’s support to the flooding, soldiers from 2 RGR have deployed to the Chertsey area to assist the local community deal. 2 RGR Battalion Headquarters are helping command the contribution with troops from a number of units working together on a combined operation in support of the local authorities. Elsewhere soldiers from the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers have been providing assistance in Kent.
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The Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas travelled to Nepal as a part of Op SANGITIK YATRA, MOD(UK) Defence Engagement to train musicians of the Nepal Army Band, Nepal Police Band and Nepal Armed Police Band immediately after their India tour; where they performed and trained 11GR Band and entertained the crowd in British Embassy, New Delhi.
For the first time in the history of Nepal, a Joint Tattoo from all four services was held at the Army Sports Stadium in Lalitpur on 28 December 2013. There were more than 600 personnel participated in the Tattoo. There were also dancers, the pipes and drums, drill display teams and Nepalese actors perform as a grand finale. The Tattoo was attended by many government officials and high ranking officers including Nepalese Chief of the Army Staff, General Gaurav SJB Rana.
A small team from 2 RGR in Shorncliffe visited France to train with 4eme Regiment de Chasseurs. The team was hosted by Colonel Dirou and his Regiment. The 4eme paired with 2 RGR and this was the first opportunity to get together as part of the UK’s Defence Engagement. The 2 RGR team, led by Lt Carl Schroeder, joined in the skiing competition with their French counterparts.
Rfn Suraj Yakha and LCpl Anil Chhetri 2 RGR put in especially good performances in the team slalom competition, finishing 12th & 16th respectively from the 100-odd competitors. Their result was commented on by many of the French Teams who have been skiing for quite a while!
On Monday 27 January, British Forces Brunei were paid a visit by Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin DPKT SMB PJK BSc (Hons) Fellow of ACDSS MA psc, Commander of the RBAF, who is relinquishing his command later this year. The General was accompanied by the British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, His Excellency Mr David Campbell, and the Defence Attaché, Wing Commander Mike Longstaff OBE RAF.
The visiting party were welcomed by CO 1 RGR / Commander BFB, Lt Col Jody Davies MBE, along with the COS, Maj Chris Boryer MBE and Maj Ram Bahadur Pun, Gurkha Major 1 RGR. Comd RBAF then inspected an honour guard commanded by Sgt Rajesh Pun of A Coy, 1 RGR. The visitors were then given a brief of the Garrison’s current and planned training activities. The General then visited members of 1 RGR, including the Mortar Platoon, who demonstrated the weapon drills for the 81mm mortars and the dismounted close combat trainer, supervised by WO2 (QMSI) Varley SASC.
The visit was a reminder of the close ties of partnership and friendship which continue to thrive between the British Garrison and their colleagues of the RBAF. The General expressed his fondness and admiration for the Gurkhas and the high regard placed by the RBAF on their shared training. Before leaving, the General was presented with a Gurkha Hat and a set of RGR cufflinks by CO 1 RGR, a reminder of a long and successful partnership.