The Gurkha mission to help Nepal’s recovery from last year’s devastating earthquakes ended today as the final soldier pulled out from a remote construction site deep in the Himalayan foothills.
About 90 troops including 50 specialists from the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers (QGE) were deployed to Nepal in September as part of Operation MARMAT 4 – meaning ‘rebuild’ in Nepali. The team has built a quake-resistant school and a number of homes for Gurkha veterans in Lamjung district, near the epicentre of the 7.8 magnitude quake in April 2015.
This is the final chapter in the British Army’s efforts to assist the Nepali Government’s disaster response. By working with its partner charity, The Gurkha Welfare Trust (GWT), the UK Brigade of Gurkhas has provided aid to thousands of Nepali citizens over the last 18 months.
To read more please visit the British Army website.
Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas (Colonel James Robinson) popped into the BFBS studio as part of his visit to 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles, the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas and the Brigade Training Team all based at Sir John Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe on 7th December 2016.
While he was there he was interviewed by Mr Lal Shahi at Shorncliffe BFBS station.
Colonel BG disclosed that his intention of visiting 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles was to welcome Op TORAL team and get updates on how the battalion was doing. He also mentioned the Mt Everest expedition that was going to take place in year 2017. Colonel BG and the Battalion COS Major Andy Todd also discussed the need for further fund raising to allow the expedition to take place in May next year.
Colonel BG had also visited the Brigade Band to brief them and to discuss next year’s programme as well as to award Long Service Good Conduct (LSGC) medals to a number of band personnel.
Reviewing the year 2016, Colonel BG spoke about the safe return of 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles Op TORAL team from Afghanistan. He praised the hard work and great effort that 2 RGR put in order to make the Operation a great success in last 8 months.
Colonel BG mentioned about the tragic moments, and dark hours that Nepal faced during the devastating Earthquake incident last year. He highlighted the contribution of the Brigade to Nepal for the reconstruction of Schools, Community centres, and pensioners damaged houses in affiliation with Gurkha Welfare Trust. This was led by The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers for last 18 months (Op MARMAT).
Colonel BG also spoke his heart about the gradual Growth of the Brigade that would now offer Gurkha soldiers better career prospects through more opportunity for 24 years’ service and increased promotions.
His appointment as the Colonel BG has now been extended for two more years and he is very much looking forward to developing his strategies. He also recognised the importance of the wider Gurkha family in Nepal, UK and around the world; the ex-servicemen who help maintain and develop the worldwide reputation of Gurkhas as ambassadors for Nepal.
Finally, he wished the Brigade a Merry Christmas and expressed his gratitude towards all the supporters of the Brigade, especially to the Gurkha families whose love, support and commitment is hugely appreciated by him and allows our soldiers to do so well.
Major Andrew Todd, of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, who helped rescue climbers from Mount Everest following the massive earthquake in Nepal in April 2015 received his MBE from HRH The Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace on Friday 18th November 2016. Major Todd, was deputy leader of the G200 Everest Expedition, the attempt to put the first serving Gurkha on the summit to mark the 200th year of Gurkha service to the Crown, when the quake struck on 25th April 2015 causing an avalanche on the mountain which killed 22 climbers.
Major Todd and his fellow Gurkhas, many of whom had families in devastated regions, stayed to help rescue people from the mountain and help the clean-up operation. He said: “What we did was no different from what any soldier would have done. We stayed because we are British soldiers and that’s what they do. We had a duty to do what we did.”
After two nights and three days, Major Todd was 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.
In the weeks following the earthquake Major Todd, who has served three tours of Afghanistan, co-ordinated the team in providing medical support and emergency relief to the villages along their route as they trekked back to Kathmandu and supported the UK relief effort.
His citation states: “Throughout the immediate aftermath, and the ensuing weeks, he displayed outstanding leadership in adversity.”
Today members of the Brigade and representatives from all the current and past regimental associations plus key members of the Gurkha Welfare Trust and the Gurkha Museum gathered at the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey.
The event is organised by the Royal British Legion Poppy Factory as part of the annual Poppy Appeal commemorations.
This year 380 plots were laid pit in the names of military organisations and associations. Remembrance crosses are planted in these plots – often with hand written messages from family, friends or colleagues.
The Field of Remembrance was started in 1928 by Major Howson MC, the founder of the Royal British Legion Poppy Factory.
Major Howson and a few disabled ex-servicemen from the Poppy Factory grouped together around a battlefield cross and with trays of poppies, invited passers-by to plant a poppy in the vicinity of the cross.
Since then, the Field has evolved to include a wide range of military interests. Ex-Servicemen and Woman, both young and old turn out for the opening ceremony to pay their respects to their colleagues.
On this occasion our current Queen’s Gurkha Orderly Officers (Captain Ganesh Tamang and Captain Lalitbahadur Gurung) and Colonel (Retd) David Hayes were presented to HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH Prince Henry or Wales (Prince Harry). Prince Harry and Captain Lalitbahadur Gurung have trained and served together.
After the service at the Westminster Abbey gardens the Gurkha community moved to the statue of Field Marshal The Viscount Slim on Whitehall and a small number of wreaths were laid as a mark of respect. Our two Queen’s Gurkha Orderly Officers were working hard today and took up position on either side of the statue.
Then the party moved to the Memorial to the Brigade of Gurkhas on Horse Guards Avenue, Whitehall, London. This was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 3 December 1997. This was the first memorial to Gurkha soldiers in the United Kingdom, and was occasioned by transfer of their headquarters and training centre from Hong Kong to London in 1997. The sculptor was Philip Jackson, working from a statue of 1924 by Richard Reginald Goulden in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the plinth was designed by Cecil Denny Highton.
A small service took place with Last Post performed by a bugler from the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas and a lament performed by a piper for the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
Well done to a number of soldiers from across the Brigade of Gurkhas who all passed the recent All Arms Parachute Course.
Special mention to Corporal Santosh Goley of the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers volunteered to attend All Arms Parachute Course at short notice, in fact only 24 hours notice before course started. He has also won the; “Commando Medal and Achnacarry Dagger Award” during his All Arms Commando Course.
With the approach of; agile, versatile and diligent, their positive attitude and ethos came to a rewarding success after a grueling and arduous P Company course with Parachute Regiment and they have all earned the right to wear the coveted Maroon Beret of the Airbourne units.
They were awarded their berets at a presentation at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick.
Congratulation to all.
In Cornwall HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) is deployed at St Mawgan exercising as a Land Component Command on Exercise TRIDENT JUNCTURE 16. The HQ is the UK’s 3 star multi-national deployable HQ contribution to NATO. The 500 strong HQ has deployed from its home base in Innsworth, Gloucester and is preparing to be the 2017 NATO Response Force. It will be on standby in 2017 when the UK takes the lead in NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Force (VJTF) to be ready to be deployed in days to protect NATO allies from potential threats. Comprising staff from 21 nations it also has a significant Gurkha presence.
The HQ took two weeks to set up and this was established by the ARRC Support Battalion. Currently there are 55 Gurkhas from RGR, QOGLR, QGE and GSPS and this number will rise to 105 over the next year. Additionally HQ ARRC is supported by 22 Signal Regiment with 248 Queen’s Gurkha Signal Squadron providing all the Communication Information Systems for the HQ.
On 24-25 October Colonel BG, Colonel James Robinson, visited Gurkha troops on the exercise. In addition to meeting senior commanders he had the opportunity to see Gurkhas in both the ARRC Support battalion and 248 QGS Squadron in action. He also provided the Gurkhas with a Brigade update and was able to answer questions about the impending growth of the Brigade and enhanced career opportunities it provides.
Troops from the UK and its allies have been testing their ability to deploy a command centre at the sharp end of a major NATO operation.
The results of this conversion board are good news for all in the BG.
Much of the success in increasing the VEng(F) conversion rate is the result of a number of new posts for Gurkha soldiers and particularly the increase in JNCO and SNCO positions.
The Brigade is getting bigger and employment opportunities are growing.
The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers celebrated their 68th Birthday in typical fashion at Invicta Park Barracks, Maidstone on 2nd October 2016.
The event took place at Invicta Park Barracks home of the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers where they are based with 36 Engineer Regiment. 36 Engineer Regiment is a General Support Engineer Regiment, which is part of 3 (UK) Division.
Officers, Soldiers, veterans, families and friends gathered for various events throughout the day including a lunch, cake cutting, speeches, bagpipers and a marching band display by the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas.
Today was the pass out parade for Gurkha Company Recruit Intake 2016 and it was held at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire.
This event marked the end of a 9 month training cycle for 240 young soldiers.
The young Gurkhas will now be assigned to various units within the British Army:
To deliver trained Gurkha soldiers in order to meet the operational requirements of the Brigade of Gurkhas. Gurkha Company currently has 71 permanent staff. It is responsible for delivering the 39 week long combat Infantryman’s Course (Gurkha). All Gurkhas serving in the British Army are trained by the Gurkha Company to become infantrymen first. This provides the Brigade with an agile edge.
The inspecting officer was Lieutenant General J I Bashall CBE, Commander Home Command and Standing Joint Commander (UK). He thanked all the families and friends who made the journey to be at this special occasion; many of whom had travelled long distances to be there.
General Bashall said; “I took the salute at the attestation parade on 2nd January 2016 in Nepal. Now 9 months on, the journey that has taken you from Pokhara as selected Trainee Riflemen to Catterick as Trained Soldiers has been realised. It is a proud moment for you all and something I feel privileged to be a part of. The next phase of your career as a soldier in the British Army is ahead of you and is your chance to put all you have worked for and learnt into reality.
Many of you have already battled through adversity in light of last year’s earthquakes which are still very fresh in everyone’s minds. I know many of you will have been personally affected by this tragedy. Your on going support to your families back home has been unwavering and I know you have participated in events such as the Great North Run to help raise money to rebuild the lives of those communities affected.
Put your heads down and continue to soldier to the best of your ability. Master the basics, bring honour to your family and regiment and never forget where you come from. We, the British Army and the wider British public, owe you and your country a debt of gratitude.
I am honoured to be here today to mark the start of your journey as trained Gurkha soldiers. Well done and many congratulations.”
MCF Troop from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron are constructing Shree Amar Jyoti School in Simi village that was destroyed during the devastating earthquake in Nepal last year.
Simi is located in Dhodeni VDC, Lamjung, east of Besi Sahar, which is approximately 7 hours journey from Pokhara. The construction project includes; one building with three classrooms and second building with two classrooms and a toilet facility.
The advance party consisting of five members led by Capt Krishna arrived in Simi village on 6th September 2016 to set up for main body arrival and ensure the preliminary ground works were completed by the villagers before the arrival of main body.
Due to the extensive monsoon this season and a breakdown of an excavator, they were approximately 10 days behind the schedule. The main body arrived on 16th and 18th September in SIMI and the school construction is well and truly underway.
MCF Troop is working extremely hard in austere location and although considerably behind schedule everyone in the Troop is committed to complete the school and hand it over to the Simi community.