On the 23rd of September 2021, the Brigade of Gurkhas Sounding Retreat and Dinner took place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The invited guests included The Rt Hon Priti Patel (UK Home Secretary), His Excellency Pengiran Dato Seri Pahlawan Norazmi (Brunei High Commissioner to the UK). Military senior guests included the Lieutenant General Wardlaw OBE BEng MInstRE (Colonel Commandant Brigade of Gurkhas) and Brigadier Mark Lancaster of Kimbolton TD VR PC (Deputy Colonel Commandant Brigade of Gurkhas and member of the House of Lords).
This annual event is an opportunity to acknowledge our relationships with Nepal and Brunei and thank all parties that support the sometimes complex issues and policies around employment of Gurkhas in the British Army.
The evening started with a cocktail party on the Old College Square at the Royal Military Academy. This was a time to welcome the guests and for old friendships across the Brigade to be rekindled. Many of the Gurkhas attending will have joined the Brigade together over 20 years ago, then after training assigned to different parts of the Brigade but always come together as one family entity. The British Army Officers, either serving with The Royal Gurkha Rifles, or from across the Corps of the British Army are assigned to Gurkha units, in all cases are extremely proud to have the chance to serve alongside the Gurkhas.
This was followed by the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas and Pipes and Drums from the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment performed a Sounding Treat with military, film and traditional Nepali based music, including a lament from a piper from the Queen’s Own Logistic Regiment. Bagpipers and drummers across the Brigade of Gurkhas take on this musical challenge as a secondary activity to their main employment and are play a key part in the ceremonial side of the Brigade at events around the world with the band and within their own units.
The current Brigade of Gurkhas is integral to the British Army and is a cohesive organisation of around 4000 personnel. Every year around 12,000 young men in Nepal apply to become a Gurkha in the British Army. A comprehensive recruitment and selection process takes place across Nepal. The best from across Nepal are invited to attend central selection at Pokhara, Nepal. From this the top 3% are selected to start training in Catterick, UK of which the pass rate is normally 100%. with the Brigade 100% fully manned, average Gurkha serves 24 years (3x that of his British counterpart) and the Brigade currently 93% deployable a percentage the Brigade of Gurkhas delivers a guaranteed force, bringing operational excellence, adaptability, flexibility.