Whilst on his recent visit to Nepal, Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas (Colonel James Robinson) made a visit to Construction Supervision Team for Op MARMAT 4 who are organising the various building works across the area affected by the earthquake in 2015.
Massive earthquakes in April and May 2015 caused terrible destruction in wide areas of central Nepal. Entire villages in isolated rural areas of the Himalayan foothills were flattened.
Thousands were killed and millions of people across Nepal were left homeless, including around 1,200 Gurkha veterans and widows.
Col BG was given a brief about the planning and the work still to be completed and he took the opportunity to not only thank the team but also inform them about current business in the Brigade
This week members of the Nepalese Army visited 11 Regiment EOD at Longmoor training camp as part of a Short Term Training Team Visit by the Nepalese Army to the UK. During the visit they met with Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas (Colonel James Robinson) and members of 11 EOD Regt, who demonstrated various elements of their employment to the Nepalese Army officers and soldiers.
Later in the week the team visited the Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas at Robertson House, Sandhurst, where they were greeted by members of the staff and given a brief on the current structure of the Brigade of Gurkhas within the British Army by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Major Suryakumar.
We look forward to hopefully hosting and working with the Nepalese Army sometime in the future.
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
On Wednesday 29 June golfers from all over the Brigade of Gurkhas gathered to take part in the Brigade Golf Championship held in the UK for only the second time. Teams represented all parts of the Brigade, including representation from British Gurkhas Nepal, the ARRC Support Battalion and Gurkha Company Catterick. In all 13 teams took part with a total of 52 players. The day was organised by SO3 Plans/ QGOO Capt Muktiprasad Gurung RGR with help from HQBG staff.
Teams gathered at Windlesham Golf Course in time for coffee, buns and the obligatory competition briefing. At 1044 hours Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, Col James Robinson, hit the first drive, fortunately a clean shot down the middle of the fairway, followed by a lay-up into the stream in front of the 1st green! The course was in excellent condition, however, the wind and rain ensured that the competitors would be challenged.
At the conclusion of the competition all players enjoyed an excellent dinner in the club house which was followed by prize giving. Colonel BG presented the prizes to the winning teams and individuals.
Teams were scored on full handicap and individuals on ¾ handicap. Congratulations go to 1st Bn RGR for retaining their title, a full list of all prize winners is detailed below. A great deal of thanks must go to Windlesham Golf course for hosting the event in such style.
Nearest to Pin – Col J Robinson, HQBG
– CSgt Bishwahang Rai, 2 RGR
Longest Drive – Sgt Nilkumar Thapa, QGE
– CSgt Naresh Gurung, 1 RGR
Most Pars – Capt Gyanbahadur Dhenga, Gurkha Coy Catterick
Most Birdies – CSgt Bishwahang Rai, 2RGR
Best Dress (Team) – Band of Brigade of Gurkhas
Division A, Winner – SSgt Nilkumar Thapa, QOGLR
Division A, Runner Up – Capt Gyanbahadur Dhenga, Gurkha Coy Catterick
Division B, Winner – Sgt Furtenji Sherpa, QGE
Division B, Runner Up – Capt Muktiprasad Gurung, HQBG
Division C, Winner – Cpl Anil Gurung, 1RGR
Division C, Runner Up – LCpl Jit Thapa, QGE
Individual Champion – CSgt Bishwahang Rai, 2 RGR
Individual Runner Up – Cpl Raju Tamang, 1 RGR
BG Unit Champion – 1 RGR
BG Unit Runners Up – 2 RGR
The Brigade are delighted to be able to congratulate Lieutenant Colonel Garry Blewitt R Welsh on being awarded an OBE and Major Devendra Ale MVO QOGLR, Major Yambahadur Rana MVO RGR, Major Mark Hendry QGE and Major Andrew Todd RGR on being awarded MBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Lieutenant Colonel Garry Blewitt served for over three years as Field Director of the Gurkha Welfare Scheme, overseeing not only the most ambitious programme in the Gurkha Welfare Trust’s fifty year history but also coordinating their immediate response to the tragic earthquakes of 2015. He has now retired from the Army.
Major Devendra Ale, Gurkha Major 10 QOGLR, is a truly inspirational officer within the Brigade who has been instrumental in the development of an innovative community engagement strategy, led on Regimental commitments to mark 200 years of Gurkha Service to the Crown and given a lifetime of service to the Brigade and QOGLR.
Major Yambahadur Rana, an iconic figure in the Brigade, recently retired after a long and distinguished career including his final tour as OC Gurkha Company(Sittang). Throughout his career in the Army he has given up huge amounts of his own time; supporting the Gurkha Museum, raising thousands of pounds for the Gurkha Welfare Trust and acting as an ambassador and mentor for the resident UK Gurkha community. He now works for the GWS in Nepal.
Major Mark Hendry has recently finished his tour as OC 69 Sqn QGE. Last year he deployed with the squadron to the Falkland Islands to conduct infrastructure repairs in poor conditions. On hearing the news of the earthquake in Nepal, the squadron were immediately redeployed to Nepal to support the post earthquake reconstruction. Having sent out reconnaissance patrols, his teams provided emergency support to those most in need before they began the hard work of reconstruction in the most demanding conditions.
Major Andrew Todd was the deputy leader of the G200 Everest Expedition. In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake he displayed outstanding leadership in adversity, being instrumental in evacuating all 116 climbers and sherpas to the safety of the Base Camp from Camp 1 in a limited 5-hour weather window. He then further co-ordinated the team to provide medical support and initial emergency relief to the villages along their route as they trekked back to Kathmandu and supported the UK relief effort.
We in the Brigade are proud to be able honour and celebrate your remarkable achievements.
14 Squadron, Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) Support Battalion’s Sgt Ganesh Rana Magar (Queen’s Gurkha Engineers) and Cpl Nischal Rai (GSPS), have been awarded a Brigade Commander’s Commendation from the Commander 1st Signal Brigade, Brigadier Sharon Nesmith for their excellent work in Ex ARRCADE FUSION 15.
Both of them deployed during Ex ARRCADE FUSION 15, which led by 3* HQ for more than 3 months in Latvia and Lithuania.
Sp Bn HQ ARRC is made up of 248 people around 200 personnel for the Ex ARRCADE FUSION 15.
On 31 March 2016, the Chief of the General Staff’s Commendation was awarded to Captain Govindabhadur Rana of the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers (QGE) for his contribution to the Gurkhas during the Everest 2015 Expedition and subsequent deployment to Op LAYLAND and Op MARMAT. The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nick Patrick Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen, was there in person to present the award.
Capt Govinda was one of the main climbing members during the GURKHA EVEREST 200 Expedition, and he was responsible for all Real Life Support throughout the whole expedition. At the time of the earthquake, he was in the infamous Khumbu icefall and descending back to base camp. After miraculously surviving at the icefall he was then heavily involved in rescue operations and handling the casualties, assisting the injured climbers and Sherpas, and coordinating rescue operations from Camp 1 where other climbing members were trapped.
On route to Kathmandu, he conducted Engineer Surveys of THAME Village and surroundings and reported back to the HQ British Gurkhas Nepal. He remained in Nepal on Op LAYLAND and Op MARMAT – the Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) Operations being conducted to help rebuild parts of Nepal, until June 2015.
The Gurkha Brigade Association congratulates Capt Govinda on this most deserved award.
Plans are already in place for another Gurkha Everest Expedition. More to follow….
(The G200 Everest Team before The Gorkha Earthquake struck).
Queen’s Gurkha Engineers and The Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas became the runners up at the Army Inter Major and Minor Units’ Championship 2016 which was held in Aldershot Garrison Sports Club on 17 March 2016.
The Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas entered the minor units final beating 4 RMP while 36 Engineer Regiment, Queen’s Gurkha Engineers beat 6 REME to reach the Army Major Units final. Both the BG units performed extremely well to reach the finals. The Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas lost the finals against a strong “Upavon Station” team led by Maj Gen T R Urch CBE, President of the Combined Services Squash Rackets Association. Likewise, 36 Engineer Regt QGE became the Army Major Unit runners up. They lost their final match played against another strong team, 1 RSME.
The President of the Combined Services Squash Rackets Association, Maj Gen Urch CBE gave the final speech at the award ceremony afterwards and thanked everyone for playing a superb series.
Work on the reconstruction of Nepal continues daily with Gurkha Engineers helping in specific villages. The units are now well over half way through the tour, but, as you have seen from the troop updates, there is still much work to be done. In the two areas, PACHOK and JAUNBARI, there is a really tangible effect from the efforts of the Gurkha units so far; schools and community centres completed and standing proudly in the community and some houses that are half way up.
The scale of what has been achieved continues to be a testament to the sheer hard work and skills of our artisan tradesman. The pace and length of working days remain relentless, but the product is there for all to see! Whilst driving hard to finish these houses, the troops are now also focussing on coming home. Plans and dates for leave are being firmed up and many are taking leave in Nepal to catch up with friends and family. Nearly all will have 6 weeks straight leave – they have deserved it!
The second week of January was an extremely busy one for the Troop. Phase 3 started nearly two weeks earlier than planned and we were working on three different task sites concurrently; the school site and two Brigade Pensioners’ houses. The remaining jobs at the school site included snagging (painting and peeling off the huge amount of plastic protecting the wall panels) and landscaping the surrounding grounds. Once this was completed we handed over the buildings to GWS and their Earthquake Response Team.
On the other sites, the pensioners’ houses were progressing well. The site was levelled and dug up for the strip foundation. Once the strip foundation was dug we started constructing the foundation’s stone walls and securing the vertical reinforcement rebar lengths. The concrete pouring of the foundations was extremely labour intensive as we mixed everything by hand. We couldn’t manage to pour concrete in both sites on the same day so we completed them consecutively.
After pouring the foundations, we had three days of Operational Stand Down (OST). The Serely Football club organised a football tournament; we entered two teams both teams went through to the semi-finals – there was a QGE vs QGE semi-final which saw Team A progress through to the finals. We played the final game against a team from Gauda VDC and the final score was 6 – 2 to us!
The past week has seen the MCF construct the walls of the pensioners’ houses. We managed to reach the height of the window sills and have now poured the first ‘sill-band’ to help tie the house together. Next week we will continue with the wall construction and fitting of window frames.