On Saturday the 8th of June 2024, the Gurkha Brigade Association held its annual Reunion service at the Royal Memorial Chapel at Sandhurst.

This was followed by lunch in the Old College Dining Room.

GBA Reunion 8 June 24

Read by Colonel David Hayes CBE – Chairman, Gurkha Brigade Association

Almighty God, Father of all, whose ancient people looked to the hills, grant us of the Brigade of Gurkhas, bound together in a bond of friendship, that we may serve our Sovereign with loyalty, integrity and cheerfulness; mindful of our traditions, may we swiftly follow wherever you lead, and so at the last come to our eternal home, for the sake of him who called his disciples his friends, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Read by Lieutenant General Sir David Bill KCB – President, Gurkha Brigade Association

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Here ends the lesson.

GBA Reunion 8 June 24
GBA Reunion 8 June 24


The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Lord Chartres GCVO PC FSA – Hon Chaplain to the Gurkha Brigade Association


Prayers offered by:

  • The Honorary Chaplain
  • Pandit Shivachandra Niraula MBE
  • Lama Kesang Lama


The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Lord Chartres GCVO PC FSA

Let us now seek a blessing upon the members and family of the Brigade of Gurkhas.

Pundit Shivachandra Niraula MBE and
Lama Guru Kesang Ghale now offer words of blessing.


Colonel David Hayes CBE – Chairman, Gurkha Brigade Association

Let us remember before God and commend to his sure keeping those who have lived and died in the service of mankind.

They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor do the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
we will remember them.

All: We will remember them.

The Last Post.
Silence is kept.
The Reveille.
The Piper plays a Lament.
Wreath Laying – GBA and HQBG


Read by Major Mani K Rai MBE, DL – Brigade Secretary HQ Brigade of Gurkhas

When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today.

Pundit Shivachandra Niraula MBE and Lama Guru Kesang Ghale gave words of prayer.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Lord Chartres GCVO PC FSA

Almighty and eternal God from whose love in Christ we cannot be parted, either by death or life; hear our prayers and thanksgivings for all whom we remember this day; fulfill in them the purpose of Thy love; and bring us all, with them, to Thine eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

GBA Reunion 8 June 24
GBA Reunion 8 June 24

Sermon GBA Reunion

The focus of public commemoration this past week has been on the beaches of Normandy. We know how the story ended but at the time, there were many who shared Alanbrooke’s assessment, confided to his diary on June 5. “At the best it will fall so very short of the expectations of the bulk of the people…At the worst it may well be the most ghastly disaster of the whole war.”

We know it was the turning of the tide but at what a cost. I remember on a previous anniversary visiting a field in Ranville, empty at the beginning of June 1944 but full at the end of the month. Walking among the rows of headstones, you can read the ages of those that were killed that month, 18, 19,20. Most of them can never have seen active service before. Then there were 20,000 French civilians who also perished in the summer of 1944 during the battle for Normandy. Freedom bought at such a cost ought never to be taken for granted.

On this day, however, of our Gurkha Brigade Reunion, our thoughts and prayers extend further East. Rome fell two days before D Day 1944 after a gruelling campaign in which Gurkhas distinguished themselves and took heavy casualties. I am grateful as ever to the superb Gurkha Museum for a meticulous briefing on the action of a single company from the 1st Battalion of the 9th Gurkha Rifles who captured Hangman’s Hill a key defensive point less than 300 yards from the German positions in the ancient Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino. With the eventual capture of Monte Cassino and the breaking of the Gustav line the main obstacle between Allied troops and Rome was overcome.
Principally today however we honour the 35,000 officers and soldiers of the Gurkha Rifles led by General Bill Slim who played a vital part in bringing the Second World War to a conclusion.
Slim had himself served with the 6th and 7th Gurkha Rifles and was appointed to command the XIV Army at a point when morale was very low following the fall of Rangoon and retreat to India. The weather was vile, the roads largely non- existent, the terrain inhospitable while it also harboured diseases every bit as lethal as the enemy.

Slim’s own account is contained in his book “Defeat into Victory”. It reads as well as Julius Caesar’s Commentaries but with rather more candour. Slim recalls the “bitterness in the army” and the “feeling of neglect, of being at the bottom of all priority lists”. “So”, he says, “when I took command I sat quietly down to work out this business of morale.” He divided the subject into three aspects – spiritual, intellectual and material. “Spiritual first because only spiritual foundations can stand the real strain.”

Armies can of course like Nazi SS brigades be motivated by belief in a bad cause while intellectual and material considerations are also vital. The ability to supply from the air the troops defending Imphal and Kohima was a crucial contribution to victory, crucial but not sufficient.

Our reading from Paul’s letter to the Christians of Rome contains some profound reflections on the right spirit. The Hebrews believed that the life force of an individual was in the blood. The spirit is different and it is what connects the individual person to God and to other persons. For the spirit to be strong and heathy there must be a down-to-earth reality about ourselves. We are not the centre of the universe. “Every one of us must not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think but to think soberly.”

We can be fiercely competitive but we triumph as a team founded on respect for one another. I remember a highly respected Gurkha saying that the first thing a young officer had to learn was not to shout. It is one of the ways we demonstrate respect.

Slim said that an essential part of developing the right spirit was that everyone should “feel that what he is and what he does matters directly to the attainment of a great and noble object”. As Paul says we all have gifts to share as “members in one body”.

On great commemorative events there is inevitably reference to great ideas like freedom and democracy. Civilisations do not survive very long unless they are able to relate to what Slim describes as “a great and noble object” but the spirit translates the abstractions into “brotherly love” that can be patient in tribulation, not slothful in business and fervent in spirit.

Simply viewing the world through the lens of a cost-benefit analysis creates a dispiriting flatland. Making our decision between good and evil and reaching for what is eternal is a vital part of living and growing in the holy spirit.

After unimaginable suffering and death the battle for Imphal and Kohima was won. The siege of Kohima was especially bloody with hand to hand fighting and the demonstration of an almost unimaginable endurance until the Japanese withdrew at the beginning of June 80 years ago. The battle for Imphal raged for a further three weeks and the Gurkha VC’s were only the most outstanding examples of heroism that opened the road to the re-occupation of Burma.

We all know the poignant words on the stone raised in memory of the dead at Kohima,
“When you go home, Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow We gave our today”
But for whose tomorrow were those lives given? Very soon the chapter of British rule in the Indian sub-continent came to an end. All our pomp is now one with Nineveh and Tyre. Burma, now Myanmar is alas once more a war zone.

Imphal and Kohima and the whole Burma Campaign was the last and perhaps greatest victory of the old pre-partition multi-ethnic, multi- religious Indian army in which the Gurkha Brigade played such a conspicuous part.

As the XIV army pressed on to Rangoon, the newly formed Gurkha parachute battalion succeeded in capturing Elephant Point and neutralising the coastal defences, a crucial step in the eventual defeat of Japan.
What remains when so much else has passed into history is the living tradition of the Gurkha Brigade, a remarkable partnership between soldiers from countries separated by vast distances but united by mutual respect and a spirit forged in some of the bloodiest battles in history.

Civilisations die in the night when no one can be found to give their lives for them. Having fondly and so recently believed that we had been given a holiday from history we have now woken up in very dangerous world in which the tectonic plates of international relations are shifting. More than ever we shall depend on friendship and alliance between freedom loving people.

On this 80th anniversary of the climacteric events of 1944 we give thanks for those who fought and died and we celebrate the enduring the Gurkha spirit.