230 new Gurkhas have now joined the ranks of the Brigade of Gurkhas after successfully completing their training at Catterick.
The occasion, made even more special by its advent during the 200 year celebrations of Gurkha service to the Crown, was marked by a parade in front of their friends and families and presided over by Commander Personnel Support Command, Lieutenant General J Bashall CBE, who inspected the ranks.
He spoke to many of the troops individually and was joined on the inspection by Major General Craig Lawrence CBE and Colonel BG, Col James Robinson. After warding prizes to a number of recruits he then gave a speech in which he congratulated all on a marvellous parade and offered five themes. First, have honour and pride in your achievements. Second, never forget the unique BG identity and ethos and its relationship with the UK. Third, because of your excellent reputation there can be no room for complacency. Fourth, maintain a total mastery of the basics skills required for the modern British Infantry, and lastly, put your heads down and soldier to the best of your ability.
The parade was then followed by a lunch gathering in the barrack courtyard where the OC of the Gurkha Company at the Infantry Training Centre, Major Dammarbahadur Shahi presented Major General Lawrence with a cheque for just over £9,000 in his capacity as a representative of the Gurkha Welfare Trust for the Earthquake Response Fund.
The list of Champion Cadets and special award winners from the 2015 Recruit intake are as follows:
1 RGR – T/Rfn Mesh Bahadur Saru Magar
2 RGR – T/Rfn Binod Gurung
QGE – T/Rfn Suman Pachabhaiya
QG Signals – T/Rfn Ganesh Bahadur Chand
QOGLR – T/Rfn Kaman Rai
GSPS – T/Rfn Pravesh Rai
Overall Champion Recruit – T/Rfn Binod Gurung 2 RGR
Fittest Recruit – T/Rfn Binod Gurung 2 RGR (PFA – 7 Mins 39 Secs)
Most Improved English – T/Rfn Deuman Rai
Champion Shot – T/Rfn Bibek Chhetri
Commandant’s Trophy – Cpl Robin Koyee Rai
Role Model Trophy – Sgt Jayandra Garbuja
Champion Sect – 2 Platoon Section led by Cpl Dipesh Rai
Champion Platoon – 2 Platoon commanded by Capt Bhupalsing Rai
Major General Bashall’s speech:
“There come one or two special days that serve as landmarks in our lives and for 226 soldiers on parade today, this is one of those special days. The remainder of us here, whether they be serving officers or soldiers, family and friends, or retired members of the Army, join together to congratulate you on successfully completing 39 weeks of training with the Gurkha Company.
I would like firstly to thank on your behalf your staff who have delivered you to this stage of your training. They have been your new fathers, and they are owed much credit for making you into soldiers.
I would also like to thank the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas for their excellent music, more of which you will hear later.
And most particularly I would like to thank the many family and friends who have made the journey here today to share with you this special occassion. I understand that many have travelled from far to be here.
This year has seen the celebration of Gurkha 200. 200 years of loyal service by the Brigade of Gurkhas to the British Crown. In all its forms from its early days alongside the East India Company, through the Indian Army and then the British Army. I know that some of the trainee riflemen were involved in the Gurkha 200 Pageant at the Royal Hospital and all of you should be proud to say you were part of the Gurkha 200 intake.
For all of those of us in the wider Army who are not directly a part of the Gurkha family, I am confident that I speak on the behalf of everyone to say how proud we are that we continue to have such wonderful loyal and brave soldiers in our ranks. We celebrate with you 200 years of soldiering which along many distinctions has seen Gurkha Soldiers awarded 26 Victoria Crosses.
As well as a year of celebration, 2015 has also seen a year which will be remembered for the terrible earthquake in Nepal, and the consequent human tragedy which resulted.
I was in Brunei on the 25th of Arpril and I saw for myself the considerable pain it caused the soldiers of 1 RGR. My wife and I were both very moved at the grievious impact it caused to the trainee riflemen and I understand 8 of the 226 soldiers on parade today lost their home during the earthquake. It is hard for us living in the UK to fully comprehend the magnitude of the devastation, and to truly empathise with those who have suffered.
For the Gurkha Company here in Catterick it was the greatest challenge of the training year, and I want to acknowledge in public the manner in which all ranks dealt with the crisis. I especially wish to applaud the incredible number of charity events which you have reported and the huge sums of money you have raised to alleviate hardship in Nepal. The plight of your family and friends at home in Nepal is not forgotten.
For those on parade today I would like to offer you five thoughts.
First, have honour and pride in your personal achievements. While this day may feel like the end of a journey, it is in reality the start of a demanding and rewarding career. As you march off the square in a few minutes time you will be trained riflemen and a member of a very special family that will stay with you in some shape or form for the rest of your lives. Your numbari are your new brothers. Be proud. But also be humble and remember the many thousands of your countrymen that didnt make selection to come to the United Kingdom and would love to be where you are standing today.
Secondly never forget the unique Brigade of Gurkhas identity and ethos and relationship with the United Kingdom. 200 years of service and sacrifice. Understand and respect the Brigade of Gurkhas’ reputation for professional excellence, fortitude and unwaivering loyalty, grouped together by a unique kaida and sense of belonging. You now have an opportunity to be a part of its special history.
Third, because of its excellent reputation you are constantly obliged to prove it. There can be no room for complacency. As the enemy we face evolves, so too must our Army and so too must the Gurkha soldier. Together we must overcome the new challenges and the dynamic contemporary operating environment, adapt our skills and be ready to deploy at short notice and be ready anywhere and at any time.
I am very pleased to see that the Second Battalion the Royal Gurkha Rifles have returned to 16 Brigade as an Air Assault taskforce and I also note the wider role some of the battalion now have for quick deplyment to hone our resillience here in the United Kingdom. Many of you, the 2 RGR recruits will deploy to Afghanistan in 2016. The Battalion’s operational record in that theatre is second to none. You will be expected to play your part in full in Khabul next year.
Underpinning both these commitments and your professional excellence is a total mastery of the basic skills required from the modern British infantry. This brilliance in the basics is the foundation upon which you will build the more complex skills and proceedures required from a modern soldier.
Your skill must reach and stay at that level for the rest of your careers, so take with you the lessons from the Gurkha Company. Bring energy to your battalion and never grow tired of learning.
And finally, 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 came 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. Jai Gurkha Company, Jai brigade of Gurkhas.