The annual Trailwalker event took place over the weekend of the 23-24th July 2016. The event sees teams of four from across the British public, as well as from Gurkha and military units, attempt to cover 100km, with various ascents and descents, across the South Downs in less than 30 hours.
The winners were from 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles for the third year in a row! They finished with a breath-taking time of 11 hours and 4 minutes.
This year, a record-breaking 1,800 people took part in what was a fabulous Trailwalker thanks to the atmosphere and the glorious sunshine that beamed down on everyone. The trail began in Petersfield and ended in Brighton. Along the route were various checkpoints where competitors could stock up on food, replenish themselves with water, get medical attention for those dreaded blisters and maybe even get a massage!
A Gurkha Piper played at the start point and Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, Colonel James Robinson gave some words of encouragement prior to the first start time at 0600hrs on Saturday morning. Gurkhas continued to encourage all those taking part along the route and Gurkha chefs provided a traditional Gurkha curry (dal bhat) at the final checkpoint.
Trailwalker was originally a Gurkha training exercise, but it has taken on a much larger profile over the last 30 years since it opened its doors to civilians. Its primary aim is to raise money for Oxfam and The Gurkha Welfare Trust. The event is largely organised by the Queen’s Gurkha Signals and this year over £500,000 was raised in aid of the two charities.
The Brigade would like to thank all those who took part and for those who helped to organise this hugely fun, yet important event. Long may this wonderful tradition continue.
The question on everyone’s mind is: Who can stop 1 RGR next year?
The challenge has been set, now it is up to the other units to plan their strategies….
Photo credit thanks to: The Gurkha Welfare Trust, BFBS and QOGLR. A photo gallery shall be posted in due course.
The leaderboard results were as follows:
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||1||004 1 RGR Team B||17:04||11:04|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||2||005 10 QOGLR||17:14||11:14|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||3||011 11 SR (QGS)||17:49||11:49|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||4||183 Ishwor||20:45||12:45|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||5||270 QOGLR Mix Team||19:15||13:15|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||6||068 BALARAM||19:27||13:27|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||7||184 ITC GURKHA COMPANY CATTERICK||19:50||13:50|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||8||028 246 Wala||20:59||13:59|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||9||324 Team CLM||20:36||14:36|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||10||136 Ealing French Trailer||21:44||14:44|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||10||442 Worthy Down Warriors||21:44||14:44|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||12||025 22 SR support squadron||20:47||14:47|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||13||453 Gurkha Pilgrims||21:53||14:53|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||14||447 (789)||21:55||14:55|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||15||268 QGS 2||21:13||15:13|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||16||230 NATO’s little secret||21:16||15:16|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||17||099 Burgers WITH Cheese||23:28||15:28|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||18||348 THE ARRC WARRIOR||23:30||15:30|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||19||450 (803)||23:33||15:33|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||19||343 Team Winged Lion||21:33||15:33|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||21||014 15 Signal Regiment Team C||23:11||16:11|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||22||316 TCC 95 B||22:25||16:25|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||23||015 17 port and maritime Team 2||23:28||16:28|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||24||452 10 QOGLR C||22:29||16:29|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||25||251 Orang Tua||23:42||16:42|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||26||428 Warminster Gurkhas||00:58||16:58|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||27||441 Wobbly plodders||23:32||17:32|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||28||041 3 RSME REGT||01:36||17:36|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||28||023 22 Sig Regt RHQ||23:36||17:36|
|Finish – Brighton Racecourse||30||008 10th Signal Regiment||01:48||17:48|
Approximately 3,000 serving and retired Gurkhas together with their families and members of the wider public attended the annual Brigade of Gurkhas Bhela which was held on Saturday, 09 July 2016 at Queen’s Avenue in Aldershot.
The Brigade of Gurkhas’ family ethos
This big event saw retired and serving Gurkhas come together and reunite with old friends. Such a variety of Gurkhas from all different Gurkha units, spanning across decades of Brigade history, always makes this event extra special. Smiles broke across the faces of so many, as they recognised a friend or shared a story from their past. It was also the first year that the trainee Gurkhas from Gurkha Company Catterick had attended the Bhela. Smartly dressed and under the ever steady overwatch of their instructors, they enjoyed witnessing the coming together of serving and retired Gurkhas, which no doubt proved educational as they saw first-hand the great sense of community and family spirit that exists within the Brigade of Gurkhas.
The past and present Gurkha units’ flags were held high at the centre of the pitch while various fun fair attractions were set up to entertain the crowd including archery, weapon display stands and many delicious food outlets serving both Nepalese and British cuisine.
Although the weather wasn’t as pleasant as the sunny day that graced the Bhela in 2015, the rain managed to stay away so everyone could enjoy watching the football being played in the Kathmandu and Nepal Cups.
The day began with the veteran’s football match being played for the Kathmandu Cup. The teams from the Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) and the Queen’s Gurkha Signals (QGS) were able to make their way to the finals by beating teams from the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers (QGE) and Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment (QOGLR) respectively.
The final two teams took to the field accompanied by the Gulmi Naumati Baja group (typical Nepali Cultural performers) and were then wished good luck by Lieutenant General Sir Peter Duffell KCB CBE MC. It was a very competitive game with high levels of skills shown from both teams, but in the end RGR were able to make the most of their chances in front of goal. The President of the Gurkha Brigade Association (GBA), Lieutenant General Sir David Bill KCB, presented the teams with their awards.
Kathmandu Cup Final Score: RGR 3 – 0 QGS.
Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas and Parachute Display Team
There was then an excellent performance from the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas before the Royal Logistics Corps’ Silver Stars Parachute Display Team performed a parachute display onto the football pitch. Despite the very windy conditions, all parachutists successfully ‘hit their target’ and landed on the football pitch with the Nepal flag, Union Jack and Brigade of Gurkhas flag tailing the parachutists for all to see. They then presented Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, Col James Robinson, with the match ball for the Nepal Cup Final.
This year, the Nepal Cup Final was always going to be extra exciting with an underdog team making it all the way to the final. The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers were to face a team from Gurkha Company Catterick (GCC) from the Infantry Training Centre. The GCC team had done extremely well to reach the final considering their team is just made up from their instructors. The QGE undoubtedly dominated the game leading wave after wave of attack against the goals posts of the GCC. However, time and time again, the defence valiantly held out (it was a great example of offensive and defensive operations!!). The GCC goalkeeper, Cpl Niraj Gurung, put up an inspiring performance and prevented the QGE from scoring until the 88th minute, when LCpl Arpan from the QGE headed the ball into the back of the GCC net to secure a 1-0 victory for the QGE. The QGE’s superior skills and persistence paid off and they were crowned the Nepal Cup Champions 2016. The sportsmanship shown after the game was superb, with the QGE acknowledging that the GCC had put up an excellent display of teamwork and determination.
Nepal Cup Final Score: QGE 1 – 0 GCC.
Winners – Queen’s Gurkha Engineers (QGE)
Runners up – Gurkha Company Catterick (GCC)
Best Player – Cpl Niraj Gurung (GCC)
Top Scorer – LCpl Arpan Gurung (QGE)
After a moment of celebration from QGE, the crowd closed in from the peripheries of the football pitch to watch and dance along to Nepalese artists performing a variety of cultural shows. Col BG also took the opportunity to thank all those who came and made the Brigade Bhela successful. He added that the relationship between the serving and retired personnel was as ever, extremely close and he thanked everyone for their attendance.
It was a great day and HQ Brigade of Gurkhas would like to thank all those who came and made the day so memorable. We urge you to come back next year and to those who couldn’t make it, we hope you will visit next year.
Jai Brigade of Gurkhas!
Below are some photo galleries from the day. Try and spot yourself!
Gallery 1 – The Gurkha community, members of the public and the display stands
Gallery 2 – The Kathmandu Cup
Gallery 4 – The Nepal Cup
Gallery 5 – Cultural Shows
Photo Credits to: LCpl Vishal Gurung, LCpl Bibek Limbu and LCpl Subarna Gurung
REGIMENTAL BIRTHDAY MESSAGE
THE ROYAL GURKHA RIFLES
BRIGADIER GM STRICKLAND DSO MBE
1 JULY 2016
On our regimental birthday this year we can allow ourselves to look back with some pride at what we have achieved in the last 22 years. It continues to be an exciting journey, and the Royal Gurkha Rifles does not stand still. The Second Battalion has cemented its place in 16 Air Assault Brigade and proved its worth yet again on operations and in training. The First Battalion has trained in Kenya and represented the Army in the Asia Pacific region with its hallmark professionalism. Together, we have celebrated a magnificent 200 years of service to the crown. People across the Army know that RGR does things well, and as a result, we are a trusted regiment.
We have been able to do all these things because we are a family regiment. We look after each other and our own families. That provides us with tremendous strength in adversity. The bonds of that family will remain with us for life, no matter how long we spend with this regiment. They are very special bonds.
Enjoy the day of celebrations. Look back to what is now 201 years of history of Gurkha service to the crown and take the best from that, but also look forward to the future. We must be a modern and progressive organisation, able to adapt to the changing world.
1 RGR families’ community organised an Inter Coy ladies volley ball competition which was held on 8 June 16. There were six team including a team from Garrison who took part in the event. After a short brief by Unit Welfare Officer (CSgt Naresh Gurung) the competition got into full swing. A larger number of families from across the Garrison gathered to cheer for their Coy team.
The players were giving their best with winning mentality, and their team work and skills have been most commendable. It was noticeably competitive game, but not every teams can be a winner, there are always winner and looser in the competition. The HQ Coy has been unbeatable and retained the title in a second year in a row.
It was a greatly successful event and everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Commander and Gurkha Major 1 RGR thanks all the players, organisers and supporters for a superb event.
C Company and some specialist platoons from Support Company, 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles (1 RGR), have just completed their one-month long training exercise in New Zealand.
The exercise, known as Ex PACIFIC KURKI rotates each year between Australia and New Zealand. This year, 1 RGR deployed to New Zealand and worked alongside the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). The training area was located at Tekapo, an area of stunning scenery on New Zealand’s southern island.
The training was undertaken to train and practice a Rifle Company (C Coy) in how to operate up to Company level in unfamiliar terrain whilst working alongside Support Coy assets (Recce, Mortars and Anit-Tank specialists) and with partners from another nation (the NZDF).
There is a great history between The Gurkhas and the New Zealanders. They fought alongside each other in The Gallipoli Campaign in World War I. The Gurkhas saw action alongside the 22nd Battalion during the bloody battle of Monte Cassino, Italy in World War II and they worked side-by-side during the Malayan Emergency and the Borneo Confrontation.
1 RGR Senior Platoon Commander Lieutenant Jamie Dick said training with the New Zealand Army was very rewarding:
“Our tactics and procedures are very similar but we have both been learning from each other a lot. The history between New Zealand forces and the Gurkhas runs all the way back to Gallipoli in 1915 and many times since. Training together is worthwhile and continues to foster an already strong relationship.”
There is always a great exchange of military knowledge and moreover, of cultures.
C Coy 1 RGR are now preparing to return to Brunei from Queenstown where they are conducting some Adventurous Training.
A great article from the NZDF about Ex PACIFIC KURKI 2016, can be found here.
1 RGR deployed to Kenya to conduct Exercise ASKARI STORM. The Battlegroup (BG) consisted of A, B, SP and HQ Companies and a Company from The Royal Welsh who acted as C Coy in the BG. There were also a few attachments from the Brigade such as a Fire Support Team (FST), Royal Military Police (RMP), the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers (QGE) and medics. Soldiers from The Welsh Guards acted as COEFOR (enemy troops) throughout the exercise. The exercise was divided into three phases.
Phase 1 (Warrior) The Coys carried out live firing up to Platoon level and also conducted Key Leadership Engagements and Strike Ops.
Phase 2 (Centurian): This phase was divided into 3 parts and tested 1 RGR Gurkhas at Company level. The duration of each phase was 36 hours.
First was the Enabling Lane. The mission was to deliver humanitarian aid to a village where the local people had suffered badly from following an invasion from the made-up enemy. In order to get aid to the village, the Coys had to lay a bridge at a crossing point and defeat any hasty enemy positions. They then carried out a subsequent Strike Op onto the acting enemy position.
Thirdly was the Field Firing Lane. The mission for this operation was to conduct deliberate attacks against the acting enemy. The enemy were in two main defensive locations surrounded by manmade and natural defensive obstacles such as barbed wire and mine fields.
Phase 3 was The Final Exercise. This was conducted as a full Battlegroup. which included an Advance-to-Contact, Deliberate Attacks, and Defensive Operations. The days were long and challenging and in the heat of Kenya it was really hard work. The soldiers worked extremely hard and the Battlegroup conducted all operations to a very high standard.
On the whole, 1 RGR had a fantastic exercise and thanks all those who came to support and work alongside 1 RGR during this invaluable, tough yet exciting training. The Gurkhas as ever loved being in Kenya and operating in such beautiful scenery with such a wide array of interesting wildlife.
JAI 1 RGR
The annual Army Volleyball Championships were held on Thursday 28 April in Aldershot Garrison Sports Centre. All Brigade of Gurkha units performed extremely well with an all four semi-finalist teams coming from Gurkha units.
Gurkha Wing Mandalay were beaten by 2 RGR in the semi-final and 1 RGR beat 10 QOGLR in the other.
The great professional rivalry between the two Gurkha Infantry Battalions set the scene for a great final. A closely fought match between 1 RGR and 2 RGR was won by 1 RGR, making them the Army Volleyball Champions for the fifth consecutive year. 1 RGR Volleyball team captain, CSgt Prawin Malla, said that he was “delighted to win the title for the fifth consecutive year.” He added that the team had made a great effort to win the championship and they had been practising hard regularly to remain the undefeated champions.
Congratulations to all the Gurkha units’ volleyball teams for doing so well. But to 1 RGR in particular, syabash (congratulations). A fifth consecutive win is a brilliant achievement.
2 RGR who are currently in Kabul, Afghanistan marked ANZAC Day together with Australian and Turkish Soldiers. The soldiers stood side-by-side on the Parade on 25 April to commemorate ANZAC Day.
The Gurkhas, from Second Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles are working alongside Australian troops from 8th/9th Royal Australian Regiment to provide security for NATO advisors at the Afghan National Army’s Officer Academy, on the outskirts of Kabul. Turkish soldiers, based nearby, are part of NATO’s train, advise, assist mission focused in Kabul.
Resolute Support, NATO’s current mission in Afghanistan, sees troops from 40 nations working together to provide enduring support to the Afghan government. The Afghan Officer’s Academy is modelled on Sandhurst and has had a strong presence of UK advisors from its beginning.
The commemorations began with a dawn service, reinforcing the strong bond of friendship formed between the Gurkha and ANZAC troops during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915. The shared history has undoubtedly brought the Gurkhas and Australians closer together, as they work together to protect NATO advisors in Kabul.
Maj Hugo Stanford-Tuck, commanding 2 RGR B (Gallipoli) Company, spoke of the importance of the commemorations:
“It is an immense privilege for us to share in ANZAC day with our brothers in arms from Australia, New Zealand and uniquely Turkey. Our Company’s battle honour is Gallipoli. Each year, we take the time to reflect upon our forebears’ tenacity and sacrifices made in pursuit of the mission. As we work together towards finishing the mission in Afghanistan, it gives me a sense of hope to note that though we fought against Turkish soldiers 100 years ago, we now stand together as members of a coalition. Today we honour all who fought and died both at Gallipoli and in Afghanistan, we will remember them.”
On the other side, 1 RGR C Coy who are currently deployed to New Zealand on Ex Pacific Kukri witnessed the ANZAC Day Parade together with the members from New Zealand Armed Forces. C Coy members have been deployed on a six week exercise which will see them, team up with the New Zealand Armed Forces for a big annual joint exercise.
Brigadier Gerald M Strickland, DSO, MBE, assumed the appointment of Colonel, The Royal Gurkha Rifles on 1 February 2016.
The Brigadier, who visited HQ Brigade of Gurkhas on the day he assumed the new post, replaces Major General Lawrence.
Brigadier Strickland learnt his infantry trade in the jungles of Brunei, having commissioned into 6GR (later RGR) in August 1990. Not surprisingly for a Gurkha officer, has a passion for the Himalayas and a deep respect for its people.
He commanded the 1st Battalion of the Gurkhas in a counter-insurgency role in central Helmand, responsible for the south of Nar-e-Seraj District. He was also second in command of the same battalion when it was the regional manoeuvre force for Southern Afghanistan, a role that involved numerous complex multinational air assault operations into Taliban strongholds.
Other operational deployments have included Northern Ireland in the later stages of the troubles, East Timor as part of the initial intervention force in 1999, and Bosnia during the implementation of the Dayton peace accord.
He assumed command of 4th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters North East on 27th April 2015 and has worked in the Army Headquarters twice, as an SO2 in the Operational Commitments Branch, and as an Assistant Director responsible for the organisation of the Army during the transformation to Army 2020.
He has instructed on the Advanced Command and Staff Course at the UK Defence Academy, and has completed the Higher Command and Staff Course. He has also worked within NATO as the Military Assistant to the Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.
After an epic 20 hour journey from Brunei, members of 1 RGR Battalion Headquarters (BHQ) and other personalities from across the Battalion arrived at Normandy Barracks in Germany to start an intensive week of Command and Staff Training (CAST).
Following a mini CAST held in Brunei 3 weeks previously, the training presented BHQ personnel with an opportunity to refine skills and Standard Operating Procedures in preparation for the Battalion deployment to Kenya in February 2016. For the first few days the training focused on the planning cycle process, to ensure the team was in a good enough position to move on to more testing operations, before being tested with the challenge of planning and executing operationsconcurrently.
The CAST was conveniently planned with a weekend in the middle, which meant that all involved could enjoy the Christmas festivities that the German markets have to offer in Paderborn.
On Monday morning, the planning team were back in the Ops room planning rather more testing operations. The training concluded on Wednesday morning and following a very encouraging after action review, the buses were boarded to start the return journey. CAST was a great opportunity to test and confirm 1RGR’s readiness for Kenya, and although it required a huge amount of effort to get there from Brunei, it proved to be a highly valuable exercise.