The First Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles held their long-awaited Kasam Khane Parade on Friday 19th November. This parade has been delayed for sometime due to COVID-19 restrictions. Kasam Khane is the ceremonial parade during which new Riflemen swear their allegiance to the Regiment. The recruits on parade had already made an oath of loyalty to the Crown on enlistment in Nepal, however Gurkha soldiers have the unique tradition of pledging an additional oath of loyalty to the Regiment on completion of their training and arrival at Battalion. Only then can they proudly claim to be a Rifleman of the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
During the parade the whole group roar out their oaths collectively in front of their friends, families and the Inspecting Officer, who in this case was the Commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, Brigadier Nicholas Cowley OBE. This is followed by perhaps the most poignant moment for each of those new Riflemen. In batches of three they march out in front of the parade to where the Queen’s Truncheon is being held by the Battalion’s Gurkha Major and on command each reaches out with their right hand to touch it, cementing their oath.
The Queen’s Truncheon is a magnificent 6ft-high artefact made of bronze and silver. Many British Army regiments have Regimental colours which are highly revered by the regiment’s soldiers. Once a rallying point for that regiment’s troops on the battlefield, the colours instil a sense of duty and honour to that particular regiment. The Queen’s Truncheon, awarded to the 2nd Gurkha Rifles in 1863, is awarded the status of a Colour for the Royal Gurkha Rifles.
For some, it was a double celebration. The pandemic had delayed their Kasam Khane parade from earlier in the year and so, of the seventy new Riflemen being sworn in, many had already deployed with the battalion to the Balkans on Operations.
Shortly before the Kasam Khane, the battalion held a medal presentation parade during which Brigadier Nicholas Cowley OBE, along with the Colonel of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, Major General Gerald Strickland DSO MBE, presented medals to several of the Riflemen for service in Kosovo.