We will be bringing you regular updates from Gurkha Recruit Intake 22, at Gurkha Company Catterick over the next 9 months.
They arrived at the end of February 2022 and started their 39-week long Infantryman Gurkha training course.
This blog will be written by the trainees and members of staff in Catterick to help you see them progress on the way to becoming trained members of the Brigade of Gurkhas, British Army.
By Trainee Rifleman Bhishma Rai – 1 (Tigris) Platoon
Often regarded as one of the most difficult exercises in the Combat Infantry Course, Ex DEFENCE proved to be a challenging yet memorable experience for me. The exercise was conducted for 5 days in Stanford Training Area, about 200 miles southeast from Catterick. As soon as we reached our platoon’s designated Area of Operations on the first day of the exercise, the platoon was split into sections to dig and prepare 4-man and 2-man trenches, to ensure all-round defence. We had to work around the clock until the trenches were dug and built as part of the operation, all whilst maintaining sentries.
On the second day of the exercise, digging and construction of trenches continued and sections started to push out on standing patrols in rotation. After the trenches were fully constructed, normal routine was commenced. For us T/Rfn who had become used to shell scrapes on exercises, operating inside the trenches was a unique experience. Although the space inside the trenches was limited, we were able to adapt to the conditions.
By the third day of the exercise, we were patrolling in section-level strength around the surrounding area to collect intelligence and look out for the enemy. As part of this serial, the sections conducted standing patrols and clearance patrol in key areas. Based on the information collected from the patrols, our section was tasked to conduct an ambush at dusk on a possible enemy patrol route. The ambush was sprung as planned and our section returned to our main defensive area swiftly.
The next day, our section was tasked to go on a standing patrol, where we collected information about a possible CBRN attack by the enemy. The threat state increased and so we adapted our posture and prepared. At around noon, our defensive area was attacked by an enemy fire team. Our platoon defended the defensive area and then our section launched a flanking attack on an enemy callsign inside the woodblock just to the front of our defensive area. We were able to destroy the enemy fire team using the FIWAF drills we had practised in Ex ATTACK.
A couple of hours later though, a CBRN attack was launched by massed enemy forces. We had to withdraw from our defensive area, in full CBRN kit with our respirators donned, to n Emergency Rendezvous. Our platoon then went through the decontamination lane and relocated to a hasty harbour in a woodblock. Orders were delivered by our Platoon Commander to launch a dawn attack the next morning at the enemy forces who had captured our main defensive area.
The next morning at 0530hrs, a platoon attack was launched onto our previous defensive area. My section was responsible for providing fire support throughout the attack, while the remaining sections launched separate attacks on all of the trenches. We cleared the enemy and regained a foothold by 0630hrs before conducting a final reorganisation on the position.
The exercise in summary was an amalgamation of learning and applying the concepts of defensive operations combined with the revision of the drills from previous exercises in the course.
By Trainee Rifleman Hikmat Gharti Magar – 5 (Helles) Platoon
Recruit Intake 22 deployed on their final confirmatory exercise (Ex SAMJHANA BIRSHANA) at Sennybridge training area, 14 – 18 Nov. The aim of the exercise was to test the fieldcraft skills and drills of the recruits, and to ensure that they were at the standard of the Brigade of Gurkhas and the Infantry Training Centre.
The day before deployment we packed the kit and equipment that was going to be needed for the exercise. To sustain in the adverse weather conditions of Sennybridge, our preparation had to be absolutely flawless. We departed from Helles barracks early in the morning on 14 Nov and it took us around 6 hours to reach Wales. We grabbed our kits and daysacks and patrolled towards our harbour location. Once the harbour was occupied, the Platoon Commander tasked 4 Section to conduct a Recce patrol to gather information about the enemy’s locations and dispositions in preparation for the following morning’s Deliberate Attack.
On day 2, we successfully conducted a Platoon Deliberate Attack. Although it was dark, wet, cold, and windy, our skills and drills were such that these elements couldn’t stop us from completing our mission. On the same evening, 3 Section conducted a recce patrol to gather information about enemy’s activity ahead of a Platoon Ambush.
As per our Platoon Commander’s orders we set an ambush early in the morning. It was a long wait, and again the weather made our mission even tougher. Despite all the hindrances, we were fully determined and motivated to complete our mission. With patience and determination, we successfully executed the ambush and withdrew swiftly to our harbour location, where 2 Section were tasked with recce.
The next day we were to conduct a Fighting In Woods And Forests (FIWAF) mission. The location of the woodblock which we were tasked to clear was quite far from our harbour location. Therefore, we had to wake up very early in the morning and we made our way to the FIWAF location, using our Head Mounted Night Vision System (HMNVS). We successfully cleared all four enemy positions inside the woodblock and headed back to our harbour. As we were advancing to our harbour location we were contacted. Without wasting any time our Platoon Commander delivered his QBOs and we continued clearing enemy positions. We were extracted by Troop Carrying Vehicles to our harbour location and 1 Section deployed again on a standing patrol to collect information on the enemy before what was to prove our final deliberate attack.
The final Platoon Deliberate Attack was very difficult as we had to move in pitch dark whilst maintaining the highest battlefield discipline. The enemy had set up several obstacles and deliberately made it difficult for us to assault them. We sustained some casualties but were able to fight through to complete our mission before evacuating them.
We were very proud and happy to have been able to successfully complete the final confirmatory exercise. This exercise was a vital part of our training but emotional as well. It was the final time as a Platoon, we deployed on exercise together in our recruit training.
By Trainee Rifleman Aarmin Thapa Magar – 6 (Assaye) Platoon
The Drill Competition was a final landmark in our 9 months of training, and the final chance to compete against other Platoons for the title of ‘Champion Platoon’. Our Gurujis spent lots of time preparing us for this event, and we had many inspections and drill practices to ensure we could do them and ourselves proud on the big day. Drill is an important military skill as it demonstrates personal discipline, teamwork, and attention to detail.
The drill competition was split into three phases:
Phase 1 was all about personal turn-out, including the condition of our khukuri. We performed many static drill movements for Phase 2 of the competition, under the command of our Platoon Sergeant, including the drawing and returning of our khukuris and changing arms with our rifles. Lastly, for Phase 3, we did our Marching Arms Drill under command of the Platoon Commander. Here we did left and right turning on the march, eyes right and advancing in review order, as well as presenting arms to the judges.
Overall, the performance of our platoon was satisfying. We did not make any major mistakes which made us happy, although the platoon’s static drill was not up to the standard we wanted. However, we stayed positive for the second phase of the competition and gave everything we had during our time on the parade square. Win or lose, the important part is to never put ourselves in a position where we regret things from the past and we ensured this by giving our best effort throughout. Although our guruji gave extra time and effort to teach us the drills we were unable to give the best result, but we had a good experience and preparation ahead of our Passing Out Parade.
By Trainee Rifleman Gobinda Angbo
This exercise was going to be the most challenging so far. In the build-up to the week, we conducted our Transition to Live Fire Tactical Training (TLFTT) and had an idea of what was coming. Our Platoon Commander Saheb briefed us on the risk and most importantly ordered us to be “switched on” and to display the highest standard of Weapon handling. We were excited as well as cautious to train with live bullets.
The first range day was Individual Close Quarter Battle with Grenades. This was to test our individual basic drills and skills that we have learned throughout the basic and advanced phases of our training. I was eagerly waiting for my turn and when my name was called, I ran quickly towards the ammunition distribution point where I was handed three full magazines and a grenade. I was ordered to ‘fix bayonet’ and then loaded and made ready. My heart was racing as I had a weapon with live rounds and a task to complete. After a few metres of walking, a target popped up and I instantly fired towards the target and took cover before firing again. There were five enemy positions and I managed to hit them all. The last position was destroyed using the grenade and the bayonet. I was so immersed into the scenario that when I finished, I was completely soaked from my waist down. The lane had a stream that I used as a cover to move forward and the gurujis were happy with my performance.
The second day was quite busy for our platoon. Our first range was ‘Fireteam Attack (Day) which included four trainees and a Section Commander Guruji. However, my concerns quickly vanished when I saw the Safety Supervisors right behind us checking our arcs constantly. The range was a success and my confidence started to build up. We went on to the Section Attack Range where the numbers increased from five to ten. The lane contained two enemy positions and my fireteam destroyed one before Delta fireteam assaulted the second. After a successful serial, we headed back for the Fireteam Night attack. By this time, my section was completely knackered and wet. We had a walk-through talk-through and the first team started going through the lane at 1900hrs. We all had our Head-Mounted Night Vision System on and started advancing. We had support from a Flanking Fire Gun when we moved to destroy the enemy position. It was quite an experience which I will remember for rest of my life.
The final day was our platoon attack. 4 (Iraq) Platoon was excited as we were the first ones to go through the lane. The day started with a vehicle move to a barn where we received orders from our Platoon Commander Saheb. A Tactical Advance to Battle insertion followed to the range where we were issued ammunition, and our battle preparation was complete. We advanced along our axis and soon our lead section was contacted. The position was destroyed quickly and was followed by three other enemy positions which were destroyed in quick succession. On the last enemy position, however, we sustained an exercise casualty and evacuated him quickly towards the casualty exchange point. A Hasty re-org was done and that concluded our Platoon attack.
The Second Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles Mortar Platoon were specially brought in by our Officer Commanding Gurkha Company Saheb to enhance our training. We knew we had visitors too during our attack, and they came in afterwards and congratulated us on our impressive performance. To our surprise, the Commander of the American 198th Infantry Training Brigade had been watching and had been impressed by our Platoon’s performance, especially that of Corporal Kiran Rana Guruji and my numberi Trainee Rifleman Puspa Raj Bista. They were awarded with a coin which was the cherry on the cake, and we were all proud and elated for their recognition. The Final Day was spent clearing up and returning to Catterick.
By Trainee Rifleman Ashirbad Budha Magar
Rituals, ethos, traditions, history… everything matters alongside present modernity. With great respect for our identity, kaida and pride we, the Brigade of Gurkhas, always celebrate our festivals. After Dashain, Tihar is the second biggest festival in Nepal. The festival of lights and honour of Hindu Gods is regarded as celebration of victory of good over evil. Relations and peace surrounded by blessings from our sisters’ give us doorsteps to success. Each day of the festival holds a different significance connected by a bond of devotion. We were surprised at the way Gurkha Company celebrate Tihar in the UK.
Tihar started on the 23rd of October followed by Kaag Tihar, Kukur Tihar, Gai Tihar and Laxmi Puja, Guru Tihar, Maha Puja and Bhai Tika. On the 25th of October at Laxmi Puja, all the permanent staff and trainees gathered in the foyer to celebrate. Company Second in Command and Panditji led a Puja and the festival commenced.
Some of the platoon felt lucky to go on the ranges for section defence attack by day and night during the week of Tihar. The eternal blizzards, tracer fire, and sounds on the range simulated fireworks and gave us lifelong memories. We were not able to meet our families back in Nepal and missed them very much, although we were taken good care of by our Saheb and Gurujiharu. As an Intake we sculpted Tihar memories this year and enjoyed it very much.
On Tihar people stay home, party, or spend time with relatives, but everyone celebrates in a different way. However, all our training staff decided to be present at the Gurkha Company celebration. The five day festival of light worshipping Laxmi Goddess, the wife of Lord Vishnu, was a really good memory for us. May the Goddess of Wealth fulfil all your wishes and provide better fortune.
By Trainee Rifleman Kushal Rai
The festival “Dashain” is well-known among all followers of Hinduism, but factors like the place, profession, and the background that we belong to has great impact on how we observe it. This fact holds true in the way Recruit Intake 22 observed Dashain in Gurkha Company Catterick.
As the UK is a secular country and Christianity is prevalent, we were not expecting that Dashain festival would have great significance. Gurkha Company’s organisation of different events throughout Dashain, and our education as to how the Brigade of Gurkhas observe it, provided us with the opportunity to eyewitness how important it is to maintain our kaida and ethos. Giving and receiving tikas and jamaras, worshiping gods and goddesses along with the offering to them has always been a mandatory part of this festival but we also learnt new things. The hard work, dedication, and selfless commitment of our gurujis along with Trainee Rifleman in preparing the “Linge Ping”, allocating different places for different events, and making required things readily available added more flavour to the festival.
The Gurkha Company family grew to hundreds and the energy of every individual was sky high. The tikas of different colour on foreheads and the jamaras on our ears were blessed for a good and healthy life and for good fortunes by the sahebs, gurujis and elders. People from the east to the far west of Nepal were present, provoking the message of unity with Dhaka topis and saris wandering around the premises of Gurkha Company. Every tiny little thing from blank rounds being fired during worship, to replacing animal sacrifices with fruits and vegetables taught us how the Brigade of Gurkhas celebrate this important festival.
Being far away from home and family might leave us lonely during this auspicious moment, but this time our surroundings blessed us with a big family. This year’s Dashain had a lot to offer and we maintained our kaida, keeping the principles of Dashain and Gurkhali kaida intact and in tandem with one another. This is a great deal and the only thing that is different from the Dashain observed before and after joining the military.
By Trainee Rifleman Anurag Thakuri, 1 (Tigris) Platoon, Gurkha Company Catterick
The cross-country running competition for Intake 2022 was held on the back door training area of Catterick Garrison and contributes to the annual Inter-Platoon competition. The route was 10km long and challenging as the terrain was undulating with gravel and dirt tracks. There were several checkpoints along the way where our permanent staff Gurujis were present to ensure the event was run in a smooth and fair manner.
Our Physical Training Instructors (PTI) ran a group warm-up session after which we queued up at the start line. We formed six rows with an even frontage for each platoon so that it would be fair on all. I was at the front of my platoon line, so it gave me an opportunity for a quick start. The race was started by an air horn from Officer Commanding Gurkha Company Catterick, Major M F Barney (The Royal Gurkha Rifles).
Some of my numberis showed real enthusiasm at the beginning and were quite ahead of others but as the distance increased, they grew weary and slowly started to lose their lead and pace. We were all feeling it in our legs, the high hills were really a pain to overcome although seeing everyone giving their best really motivated me to try harder. I worked hard to maintain the pace and was among the top 20 throughout.
I finished in 14th position (of 218 trainees) and 2nd position within my platoon. We waited for everyone to finish the course and started our cooldown session, led by our PTIs. The competition came to an end and the prize giving ceremony was held later in the afternoon. The individual winner was Trainnee Rifleman Bibek Lamichhane from 2 (Kandahar) Platoon, and they were the overall fastest Platoon and the winners of the cross-country competition for Intake 2022.
By Trainee Rifleman Labin Limbu, 6 (Assaye) Platoon – Gurkha Company Catterick
Mid-September Recruit Intake 22 deployed on Exercise PATROLS AND URBAN EXERCISE. We collected all our serialised items including our Head Mounted Night Vision System, Laser Light Module and Common Weapon Sight, and our weapons which included SA80, GPMG and NLAW. Fully kitted up we headed to the exercise area with a strong mentality and desire to learn. At our destination we collected our bergens and applied cam cream to our faces and our instructors gave us the prepare to move signal, as we stepped foot into the field.
After securing our harbour, 3 Section and our Section Commander went on a recce patrol. Since it was our first patrol, our patrolling skills were not quite sharp enough. However, as hours passed, we learned how to patrol with confidence. On the last day, we laid an ambush for the enemy and waited for them to enter our killing area. We successfully ambushed and destroyed all the enemy that came our way.
With our spirits still high, we went on to the urban phase of the exercise, with the intent of learning new skills in this complex environment and to destroy our enemy. Our commanders showed us our sentry posts and we set up a strong all-round defence with 360-degree protection. Our Commanders then fed us with many tactical skills and ideas. We made use of all that knowledge, and we started to attack and hunt down our enemy in this urban setting. After many days of quality practice, we did a platoon attack. 6 (Assaye) Platoon then went on to destroy the enemy. The plan was executed perfectly and smoothly because of our strong communication and trust. The exercise ended, or so I thought, but I was proven wrong because our base was attacked and we had to withdraw to a hasty harbour area.
Recruit intake 22 were deployed to the military training ground near Thetford, Norfolk during October 2022. Exercise DEFENCE would feature a number of serials over 4 days, including CBRN, trenches and attacks on enemy positions.
For the first time Corporals from the other infantry training regiments in Catterick attended the exercise to lead Recruit Intake personnel. This would be a great learning experience for our own Gurkhas but also allowed interaction by the wider Army with the Brigade of Gurkhas.
We visited Recruit intake 22 and staff for a day and managed to capture some great media content about the tasks they were set as they work their way towards the end of their training on the 1st of December, which will complete their soldier training, before they join their units or start their phase 2 trade courses.
Exercise TESRO KADAM (Third Step) was a cultural and educational visit to the beautiful seaside town of Whitby. It was planned by the English Language Wing (ELW), and allowed Recruit Intake 22 to learn about coastal life and explore historical sites, the local market, the beach and to try traditional seafood.
No 1 Half Company’s Trainee Riflemen seemed very excited for their educational tour. As soon as the coach stopped in the car park, we headed straight toward Whitby Abbey on foot down a small road. Our class teachers were already there to help us, and they were keen on explaining and educating us about the history and architectural features of the abbey. We took several photos and enjoyed the beautiful view of the town from the Abbey on top of the hill.
We broke down into our own platoons and sections. We walked down the 199 steps to the coastal town and its market. We walked through the narrow and crowded streets of the beautifully decorated market. The shops were full of ornaments, and expensive gift items. The town had a unique smell of fish and chips, and the scream of seagulls were giving us a taste of horror! We were all free to explore the town. We tried seafood for the first time. My numberi, T/Rfn Pranil, said, “I ordered the salad of shrimps and seaweed. It was good but I think now, it is better to know about the food before ordering!”.
Our time on the beach was quality time. We enjoyed the waves and boating on The Black Pearl. All our numberies looked like pirates, holding plastic swords, guns and skulls in their hands. Boating over the ocean was a thrilling experience for all. As per the plan, we returned to the final meeting point before 1500hrs. We wandered around the graveyard of St Mary’s Church to utilise the remaining time before heading back to camp.
It was an amazing day in the coastal town of Whitby. We were very grateful to get this opportunity and want to thank the English Language Wing and Gurkha Company.
T/Rfn Siwan Chemjong
3 (Tobruk) Platoon
By Trainee Rifleman Milan Somai, 3 (Tobruk) Platoon
When we are selected for the British Army, every one of us just thinks about being a soldier, working hard and serving our best to Brigade of Gurkhas. We don’t have much understanding about the units that are present within the Brigade and can not decide clearly which unit to join. As our training progresses, we get to know a little about the different units and their roles and responsibilities. Our Gurujis sometimes share their interesting moments and experiences which helps us imagine the scenarios and life of different units to some extent, but the grey areas in our mind are still there.
On 25 Jul 22 the Unit Presentations took place. Like everyone else, I was very excited for the Unit presentation. It was a great opportunity to know about the Brigade of Gurkhas and its various units, which would help us to decide which unit we should choose as our first preference. Unit representatives gave us insights about their unit. They told us what their unit’s role was, and what kind of opportunities and skills we could get once we joined. The whole day unit presentation was full of information and sharing of experiences. Overall, it was a very productive and important day for me, and hopefully the same for others, which will help us to decide our future career paths. I found myself with a much clearer and deeper understanding about all Units, which made it easier to choose my preference.
Every unit representative’s brief was so simple and detailed anyone could easily understand. The unit presentation was so informative and full of knowledge, which gave us a clear understanding about the Brigade. We all learned a lot of things we did not know prior to the brief. Not only did the sahebharu and gurujis give us lot of inside information but they also shared their experiences in such a funny way that everyone enjoyed themselves and had a dose of laughter. Gurkha Major QG Signals gave an enjoyable presentation and many of the numberies were saying they want to join the QG signals. The Band also made their presentation wholesome with a performance. The band gurujis turned the presentation into a concert and everyone was jumping and cheering a lot. Our OC Saheb also gave us a huge surprise and rocked on the stage with his drumming skills. Every unit brief was so appealing, and made us motivated to join each unit. The unit presentation made me crystal clear about my choice and I hope all my numberies are on the same page.
At the end of the day, we all are Gurkhas and no matter where we serve, we serve the Brigade of Gurkhas. Our paths will be different but our goal is same! Jai Gurkha Company!
By Trainee Rifleman Bikash Budha Magar
Gurkha Company has been organising various competitions in order to develop a competitive mindset, improve military skills, and embrace team spirit across Recruit 22 One of the competitions is the March and Shoot competition. This competition was designed to replicate an operational situation and assess individual and section ability. The competition tested the endurance, shooting skills and teamwork of the Trainees.
The first phase of the competition was the march. The total distance was about 7 miles with a load of 15kg excluding the weight of the weapon, water and helmet. There were 4 checkpoints and the route was tough with a combination of tarmac and gravel roads. Each section was fully focussed with the sole mentality in winning the competition. After completing the march, each section began the shooting phase. In this phase, the whole section had to sprint 200m and shoot down the falling plates on the firing range as quickly as possible. The time stopped when all the falling plates were down or all the rounds of were used up.
1 Section, 5 (Helles) Platoon were the Section winners, and 4 (Iraq) Platoon were the overall winners based on their average Section time. Although they were the winners, all the sections and platoons gave their absolute best and demonstrated impressive determination throughout. After every section had finished their shooting, a falling plates competition was held for the Gurkha VC Challenge Trophy, which had been presented by Major Rajeshkumar Gurung on leaving Gurkha Company. The Permanent Staff team was made up of one Officer, one SNCO and 2 JNCOs, and the Trainee Riflemen were represented by the four best rifle shots in the intake. It was very fascinating and fun to watch trainees competing against their trainers. Unfortunately, the team of Permanent Staff proved why they are trainers, and the worthy winners of the Gurkha VC Challenge Trophy!
August started with a deployment of No 2 Half Company on Ex ATTACK. As per our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), the day before exercise involved a pre-deployment brief delivered by Platoon Commander Saheb detailing our tasks and the missions of the Exercise. Platoon Sergeant Guruji then briefed us on Service and Support which provided us with enough information on what kit and equipment were required for the beginning of the exercise. Equipment was distributed between sections and packing followed throughout the evening. It was a busy day with lots of information to take in but ready to face the challenge it entailed, 4 (Iraq) Platoon was geared up and ready.
This exercise was our time to showcase the individual drills and skills that we had learnt on Ex INTRO (1, 2 & 3). We made a vehicle move from the Camp to a Drop Off Point where we were issued ammunition. We then completed a 2km Tactical Advance to Battle (TAB) to our harbour location, carrying our heavy bergens on our backs. It reminded a few of us of the Doko Race and made us realise why the test was there in our Central selection. The Tactical Engagement Simulation (TES) system was new to us and was issued just for this exercise. The system is able to detect individual shots, injuries, and movement throughout the attack. The afternoon started with section attack walk-throughs and talk-throughs before a formative section attack under command of our respective Section Commander Gurujis.
The second day began with a section attack early in the morning. This constituted our formative test and we employed the skills and drills that we were taught, and performed a respectable Section Attack with which our Section Commander was pleased. Each member of the Section was aware of their duties and roles which made our attack smooth and effective. Straight after the attack, we were able to see our actions on a projector screen during the After Action Review (AAR). The AAR provided us with lots of information and data which was informative to all of us, and allowed us to what went well and could be improved on. After the completion of the section attack, Fighting In Woods And Forest (FIWAF) quickly became another new learning experience for all. FIWAF was much more difficult than fighting in an open area, however, it was executed in a systematic and thorough process and made me think that the tactics of the British Army are ace.
That evening consisted of a brief on platoon attacks by our commanders. At around 2200hrs we finished making our model and we were then briefed about our attack plan by our Platoon Commander and Section Commanders. We had to execute the mission early in the morning. We deployed as planned and completed our attack before 0800hrs. Everything went well and we were satisfied with our performance. After the deliberate attack we returned to our harbour and practised our attack drills as a platoon. Later that night we made another model for our final attack. We packed and loaded our bergens in the vehicle and headed straight out for a dawn attack full of energy and enthusiasm. We finished our attack in around 3 hours followed by an exhausting casualty extraction before we headed to a bayonet fighting lane.
The lane was designed and prepared by CSM Saheb and his team to simulate a real battlefield. I saw blood and graffiti and dead bodies (dummies!) and was apprehensive as I walked towards the release point. Our Platoon Segreant gave us a scenario; we were a soldier separated from his team and who had to find his way back to them, bayonet fixed, destroying any enemies we encountered. We yelled at the top of our lungs throughout the lane clearing all the obstacles and enemies. We couldn.t remember the exact numbers of enemy but there were lots and we were physically and mentally exhausted. The overall experience was 5 star if I could rate it. On successful completion of the lane, our Ex ATTACK was finished and we patrolled back to camp. It was a long and tiring week, however, it was full of learning and practising to be a skilled and trained soldier. Looking back, and it being over, we all enjoyed it and could talk and write about it.
By 4 (Iraq) Platoon
Festivals and traditions have a special value in the Army, and a lot of significance in our day to day lives. Festivals portray our religion and culture, and remind us of our backgrounds. The Festival of Rakshya Bandhan is the festival of love and Brotherhood. Sisters tie sacred threads to the wrist of their brothers, thereby reminding them of their great responsibility.
Apart from our soldiering, kaida (ethos and traditions) is an important part of the Gurkhas, and we get introduced to and learn about it at Gurkha Company. Celebrating festivals instils kaida in us and we got to celebrate Rakshya Bandhan in 2 different phases. On the first phase, around 30 Trainees and our Permanent Staff headed to Newcastle Hindu Temple where we were warmly welcomed. There were around 150 people including some important personnel. We were really mesmerized with the enthusiasm of the people present there. The festival was an opportunity not only to celebrate but also to familiarize other people with our culture. On that day we enjoyed the event and interacted with the locals. They tied sacred threads on our wrists reminding us as if we were back in our home. It reminded us of our sisters back in Nepal and how we were celebrating it last year. Later we enjoyed a meal and headed back to camp.
On the second phase, Gurkha Company celebrated Rakhsya Bandhan in our own Gurkha temple. It was led by our Punditji and all of the Training Teams were present. All the Trainees listened to Punditji and learnt about the festival’s importance and how that relates to the Army. We celebrated the festival with full joy, sang some bhajans and received a sacred thread tied by Punditji. We enjoyed the prasad, which is always looked forward to by Trainees!
By 4 (Iraq) Platoon
By By Trainee Rifleman Nikil Magar, Recruit Intake 22, 1 (Tigris) Platoon
For Exercise CHAUTHO KADAM, Recruit Intake 2022, visited The Wensleydale Agricultural Show in Leyburn, North Yorkshire. The show gave us an opportunity to experience the rich rural culture of the UK and we learned about handicrafts, livestock, and farming.
We saw and engaged in many activities at the show. I bought a beautiful handmade silver ring for myself at an amazing price. I met my teachers from the English Language Wing (ELW) and spoke to them about the day, as well as our forthcoming Cap Badging Parade. I helped one of my numberis to buy a plant; the shopkeeper lady was very kind. I got to pet some cows, and we had an opportunity to chat with local people who were kind enough to educate us about farm animals in the UK. There was also displays of giant vegetables which were much bigger in size than the normal vegetables we find back in Nepal.
I enjoyed watching the horses and the sheep shows and there were many stalls displaying and selling a range of items including handmade cushions, ornaments, paintings and rugs that were creative and beautiful. I enjoyed listening to very entertaining country music by a local band. There were some vintage cars and bikes which were painted and designed beautifully. The overall experience was very informative, educational, refreshing and memorable. It was a lovely sunny day so my numberis and I enjoyed our ice-cream. The burger we had was also very delicious.
I learned about farming in the UK and various modern technologies used for farming which make it a lot easier compared to farming back in Nepal. We also learnt about the importance of encouraging small sustainable businesses and promoting local products and that we all must appreciate nature and living animals around us to preserve our environment.
On the 31st of August 2022, the 218 trainees of Recruit Intake 22 were presented with their cap badges as they have been assigned to the various cap badge organisations of the Brigade of Gurkhas. All the trainees achieved assignment to one of their top three choices, having been asked a few weeks back which part of the Brigade they would prefer to join. This year 69.72% of the trainees got their first-choice assignment.
The allocation of how many new Gurkhas will join each unit across the Brigade of Gurkhas is coordinated by the Chief of Staff Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas, collaborating closely with Army Headquarters as the British Army adjusts to cover its tasks and Operations across the UK and around the world. This distribution of new Gurkhas varies each year. The Royal Gurkha Rifles (2x Battalions), the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, the Queen’s Gurkha Signals, the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, The Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas and Gurkha Staff and Personnel Support will all receive an allocation of new Gurkhas to replace those that have retired or transferred to other organisations within the British Army or where units are increasing in size due to operational capability changes requiring an uplift in personnel numbers.
Gurkha Company Catterick then follows a series of criteria to make sure that the right individuals are assigned to the various parts of the Brigade based on the requirements of the Brigade, education tests, military skills, feedback from the instructors and the preference of the individual. Additionally, the aim is to distribute the trainees across the Brigade based on 50/50 East and West Nepal split to help with diversity across the Brigade.
This event is a big moment in the training programme, with senior leaders from across the Brigade and Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas in attendance to congratulate them on reaching this part of the training programme. Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas addressed the trainees and reminded them they are not there yet, with several more months training to come, and each day is a learning day, and that the trainees should continue to concentrate and work hard to complete the training with Gurkha Company Catterick. For the individuals it is one step nearer to their goal of becoming a trained Gurkhas in the Brigade of Gurkhas, British Army.
There are several major exercises and tests for the trainees to complete over the coming months, culminating with the Pass out Parade on the 1st of December which takes place on the parade square in Helles Barracks Catterick. Once this is complete our trainees become fully trained Gurkhas ready to join their units or move on to Phase two trade training with the various Corps.
Photographer: Mr Mick Latter
Trainee Rifleman Sangam Rai – 6 (Assaye) Platoon.
After six months of training, we reached our Mid-Course Leave (MCL). When I first saw the forecast of our training, the 3 key events that stood out to me were Passing off the Square, MCL and the Passing Out Parade. This leave provided great morale for all of us. We started planning a month before, after a brief by our Pl Sgt guruji. We were allowed to travel to Nepal but, as numberies, we decided to explore more of the United Kingdom.
My first trip was to the South-East part of England, Dartford. I, and my numberi, Rupesh, went to visit my relatives. Meeting my relatives here in England, which I had never thought about, and the warm reception I received was like being back home which was emotional in a way. We stayed there for a week. During our stay we visited Hastings, Bluewater shopping centre, and Dartford town. We also visited London as the capital is nearby Dartford. During Ex DOSRO KADAM, we only visited a few places that were directed to us, but this time we visited other places like Tower Bridge, the London Eye, the London Dungeons and the British Museum. We used the train to travel from Dartford to London and then underground tubes in London. We did struggle to start with, but after using it several times we started feeling comfortable and it was a good experience and story to share with the other numberies we crossed paths with during our visit in London. After an interesting week in Dartford and London, it was time for our next adventure, Scotland. On 21 August, we left London for Glasgow on a train. The view of the sea while we were heading to Scotland was amazing.
In Paisley we visited Rupesh’s aunty. She welcomed us in a traditional Nepali way and had momos ready for us which were delicious. It reminded me of Nepal. After the long train journey, we were both tired so we rested that day. With a warm welcome, delicious food and a good night’s sleep we felt much fresher the next morning and we visited Glasgow city. There we went to the museum, parks and a shopping centre. On the way back to Catterick, we stopped at Edinburgh where we stayed at my sister’s house. My sister took us around Edinburgh. We bought her some gifts which was a surprise for her. She got emotional after seeing them. There we had a buffet in a Nepali Buffet Restaurant. Geographically, Scotland was more like Nepal and it was a lot cooler than the south.
Overall, MCL was a much-needed break for all of us and a good opportunity to explore parts of the United Kingdom and its culture after Ex PAHILO KADAM and DOSRO KADAM. It was very nice to meet with our families and getting that homely vibe here was very emotional yet refreshing at the same time. With such a wonderful leave that boosted our morale, now is the time to get our head back into our training and look forward to the remaining 3 months before successfully Passing Out on 01 Dec 22.
By Trainee Rifleman Mukunda – 6 (Assaye) Platoon
I thoroughly enjoyed the Advanced Skill At Arms lessons from the very first day. Firstly, we had lessons on using the General Service Pistol (GSP). The GSP is a robust, modern combat pistol and excellent for close-quarter combat. When a round is fired, the recoil is used to reload the pistol. Unlike a rifle, the GSP doesn’t have an external safety catch, so we must handle it very cautiously. The GSP was very light and handling it was much easier than the rifle. I found the pistol fascinating, and easy to use thanks to our Guruji’s well delivered lessons. Apart from teaching us the functions and safety aspects, Guruji ran some competitions amongst the numberi to see who was quickest at loading, handling, stripping and assembling the pistol blindfolded.
Similarly, our next lesson was highly anticipated by us trainees. We could finally get our hands on the General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). I learnt that the GPMG is a fully automatic machine gun, whose original design originated in one of the most effective weapon systems during WW2. For me, the GPMG was heavy and its working mechanism was more complex than the rifle, although learning how to use the GPMG was not a big deal for us as we were familiar with other weapons and our Guruji’s teachings were very understandable. I cannot wait for my GPMG live firing range as I am eager to try firing it for real.
Finally, we had our Next-Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon lessons. I learnt that it is one of the most destructive infantry weapon systems in the British Army. It is a ‘fire-and-forget’, light-weight shoulder-fired and disposable weapon designed for Infantry use. It is man-portable and has an effective range of 20-800 metres. We were quite surprised and amazed by its targeting system, which is guided by predicted line of sight. Learning to fire it was also fun as the drills were not difficult or complex, but tracking the moving target was quite difficult on the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer.
We have managed to understand the effective use of Platoon weapons on operations in the British Army. I feel very lucky to get my hands on these weapons as our Section Commanders did not get the opportunity to learn on any of them during their recruit training. I really enjoyed the lessons and have managed to pass the Weapon Handling Tests (WHTs) ahead of firing them live and carrying them on exercise.
Trainee Rifleman Sandeep Limbu – 6 (Assaye) Platoon
On the 9th of July, Recruit Intake 22 took part in the 2022 Brigade Bhela at Queen’s Avenue, Aldershot. The Bhela, which was first organized in 2006, has become a major event in the calendar for the entire Brigade and we were delighted to take part in such a festive event. We were excited to represent Gurkha Company since the unit’s involvement started in 2015.
It was 0330hrs when our alarms awakened us from lovely dreams. My eyes were closing as we had gone to bed late due to a night navigation exercise the day before, but we managed to get seated on the coach in time. When we got off the coach at Queen’s Avenue, we felt like we were walking on air. The whole atmosphere was very exciting and there were a number of trade stands, momo stalls and a very popular Nepalese food stall which served various dishes all day. As we moved further into the Bhela, we saw a merry-go-round where many children were enjoying joy rides. We roamed for an hour watching the volleyball games and visiting different food stalls.
Later, we gathered and prepared ourselves for the Khukuri Pattern and Taekwondo display. We painted our faces black and green with camouflage cream and marched towards the parade ground carrying our shiny khukuris, which glinted in the glorious sunlight. We performed the patterns proud and loud so that everyone could hear the voice of the fiercest warriors in the world. The Taekwondo team also delivered a fantastic display of their skills. We then witnessed the final match of the Nepal Cup between The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers (QGE) and Queen’s Gurkha Signals (QG SIGNALS), as well as the amazing performance of the Band of Brigade of Gurkhas (Band BG). We were very proud to present ourselves at such an auspicious event.
During the event, we saw All Ranks from across the Brigade join together and we had a great opportunity to meet the veteran community, friends, family and relatives. Overall, it was an amazing experience.
Despite the direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the recruitment process for Recruit Intake 22, 218 candidates were successfully selected on 17 Feb 22. Following a reception week in Pokhara, RI 22 participated in the Attestation Parade and departed for the UK, where they began the Combat Infantry Course (Gurkha).
The first half of this course (Basic Training; BT) is a crucial phase since it is during this time that young Nepalese boys are transformed into Gurkha recruits. Although it mirrors the same Basic Training that any soldier completes on joining the British Army, both Recruits and the Training Teams face several challenges during this busy time. Recruits may need emotional and welfare support as they are away from families and into the rigorous CIC.
The BT phase kicked in on 07 Mar. SAA lessons, foot drill, Intro Exercises, Shooting, fitness, Adventurous Training, and the first weeks of the Recruit English Package (REP) are the main components of the 14-week BT stage. As part of their training, recruits also learn about Gurkha kaida and British culture.
The presentation of rifle parts, their features, safety, and weapon handling started the skill at arms lessons. Being quick with a weapon is essential for soldiers, and they receive a lot of training before moving to a live range. Although the Recruits were eager to learn about weapons, it was more difficult than they had anticipated. Using a weapon irresponsibly can be dangerous but they gained knowledge of its use and effect and were able to pass their Weapon Handling Test as a result.
The young Recruits had learnt all the theory behind maps and navigation – being at the right place with the right kit is essential! They received training on actual terrain features so they could use topography and maps practically. Within the platoon, navigation competitions were held to help maintain interest.
Fieldcraft gives us the ability to carry out operations in any situation, environment or terrain. Recruits were deployed to training areas where they received fieldcraft training. There, they learned about camouflage and concealment techniques, harbour occupation and routine, navigation, hand signals, formations, target indication, fire control orders and many other skills. With little food and little sleep, carrying out the mission while on the field is not always simple. Therefore, occasionally recruits have messing in the barracks for to keep up their morale!
On 2 Jun, the Passing Off the Square was conducted to conclude the BT phase. 3 different areas were tested: Close Quarter Combat (CQC) Khukuri Drill, Individual basic Foot Drill and Individual Turn Out (including Bedspace and locker layout). There was also a test of basic Military Knowledge. On successful completion, the Recruits became ‘Trainees’ and have been awarded some extra privileges.
All 218 recruits have now successfully advanced to the Initial Trade Training (ITT) Phase of the CIC. They have shown significant improvement since their arrival and look forward to future challenges.
Corporal Sangeet Pun – 2 (Kandahar) Platoon
By Trainee Rifleman Cherab Sampang Rai, Gurkha Company Catterick
Trainee Rifleman and the Permanent Staff of Number 2 Half Company deployed on Exercise DOSRO KADAM (‘Second Step’). The aim was to introduce the trainees to British culture, practice our language skills, and to understand how the people of Great Britain live their day-to-day lives. This visit included visits to London, York and Newcastle.
On day one we visited some of the most famous places in London including Westminster Abbey, The Houses of Parliament, 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace, and the Nepal Embassy. We had to learn how to use the London Underground service, we thought it would be easy, but it was very hard to begin with. On our way to Westminster Abbey, we had a first glimpse of Big Ben and the London Eye. As we entered the Abbey we noticed statues of different famous people, such as Charles Buller and Lieutenant General Sir Eyre Cote. Many famous people are buried under the floor of the Abbey, including Stephen Hawking and William Foley Norris. We also visited the tomb of the Unknown Warrior.
Next, we went to visit the Houses of Parliament. It was a great honour and opportunity to meet and have a conversation with the 158th Speaker of the House of Commons – Sir Lindsay Hoyle. We then headed to Buckingham Palace via 10 Downing Street where the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lives and works with his family. We also visited the statues of Field Marshal William Slim and the Gurkha Soldier where the famous inscription by Professor Sir Ralph Lilley Turner is written: “Bravest of The Brave, Most Generous of The Generous, Never Had Country More Faithful Friends Than You”. We went to see Buckingham Palace, but unfortunately, we were unable to see the palace from up close due to the dismantling of the stands after the celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee, so we moved on to the Embassy of Nepal which concluded our first day in London.
On day two, we visited the Imperial War Museum where we learned about the history of World War One and World War Two and the equipment used during that period. We also saw the Victoria Cross of Agansing Rai, and four other Gurkha VC winners. We then moved to the British Museum where we learned about the story of human culture from its beginning to the present, as well as about British culture. That evening we went to watch a West End show, “The Lion King” which everybody was eager and excited to see. This was mind-blowing from the beginning and to the end and all of us highly enjoyed the show.
On the third day, while returning to Catterick, we stopped at Winchester for our visit to the Gurkha Museum. On arrival at the museum, we had a brief by Director of the Museum about the history of Gurkhas. The Museum tells the story of the Gurkhas and holds many historical items from our history.
The next day, we went to visit York and on arrival we climbed the city wall, which was used for urban defence of the city. Afterwards, we went to the National Railway Museum where we learned about the story of railway transport in Britain and its impact on society. Then, we visited York Minister and were amazed by the incredible gothic architecture of the hall. Next on the list was Clifford’s Tower, which consists of a sequence of castles, prisons, law courts built of magnesium limestone. Finally, we visited Copper Gate, Tower Garden, and the shopping centre.
On the last day of our we headed to Newcastle. The visit began in Grainger Town before moving to the Quayside, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Laing Art Gallery, Chinatown, Newcastle University, and the St James’ Park Stadium, which is the home of premier league club Newcastle United FC. We were guided by a professional guide throughout the tour. Before we left for Catterick, we stopped at the Hindu Temple Newcastle and received a brief from Acharyaji about the location and its facilities.
We learned about British culture and traditions as well as identifying the differences between the UK’s and Nepal’s culture and tradition.
By Trainee Rifleman Dilshahi Budha Magar – Gurkha Company Catterick
Gurkha Company Catterick Passing of the Square is held at the end of the Basic Training to assess the recruits’ suitability to progress onto the Initial Trade Training (ITT) phase of Combat Infantry Course (Gurkha). Individual and platoon scores from the event contribute to the scoring of competitions and the award of prizes later in the course.
It consists of 3 phases. Individual turnout, which includes bed and locker layout, the second is individual drill and military knowledge, and the last is close-quarter combat (CQC). Many in Gurkha Company call this the moment of truth. Lots of privileges are awarded to those who can meet the standard and so we were all excited.
The whole morning was busy but the most-awaited and challenging moment for us was the drill assessment. We had been developing our drill through 3 months of hard practice and discipline to make sure we were close to perfection on the day. After the military drill tests, we were assessed for our competence in the 36 basic khukuri patterns and although it took only a short time to demonstrate our proficiency and controlled aggression, it was a challenge for everyone to keep in step.
After a long busy day, the day concluded with a prize-giving and our platoon managed to secure the first place. The privilege of being issued our Khukuris made it a day to remember. It taught us two major things: to grab every opportunity and that together we can achieve more. We have achieved another milestone on our long journey.
As part of our training, trainees are sent on a week of Adventurous Training (AT). To introduce us to AT and expose us to controlled risk to push us out of our comfort zones and drive performance in a challenging environment.
4, 5 and 6 Platoons No.2 Half Company headed towards Halton Training Camp. The advance party, consisting of Platoon Sergeants and Section Commander who welcomed us on our arrival at the Camp. On arrival we settled into our accommodation and were divided into 21 groups for the AT sessions. The week had four different activities, caving, hill walking, rock climbing and kayaking. I was looking forward to my first ever AT experience in the UK and was eager to see the beautiful landscape of the Lake District.
There were civilian instructors, and it was a much more relaxed environment than within the Barracks. Most of the trainees got a chance to experience a minimum of two activities, but caving and canoeing were not available to the non-swimmers.
We entered a cave which was 100 metres in length and experienced moist paths inside the darkness. It was challenging as well as scary. I was afraid of getting stuck inside the cave, but thankfully I am out and happy now! The second day I was assigned to canoeing which reminded me of canoeing in Fewa Taal, Pokhara. This time it was different though, as we were taught on how to operate the canoes safely in the water. We were in the canal for about four hours with some of our numberis managing to spend more time in the water than the canoe. The last day of our AT was rock climbing. We climbed up a rock of 100ft in height using the techniques we were taught by the instructors which was amazing. The fun part was abseiling which reminded me of the film Spiderman.
Trainee Rifleman Bikram Thapa said, “The week gave me time to bond with numberis from other platoons. The activities were new to me, but I enjoyed all of them, especially Hill walking through the scenic routes of the Lake District.” Trainee Rifleman Tilak Shahi said, “It was a new experience (naulo anubhav) for every one of us and we really gave our best and enjoyed all the activities. I look forward to my next AT in the Field Army.”
We ended our AT experience with a BBQ party followed by an inter-Section talent show. The week boosted our morale and gave us many wonderful memories to cherish, and it also revealed our unknown weaknesses and strengths. We got an opportunity to work with civilian instructors, improve our speaking, listening and develop new skills. Overall, it was an excellent week for all of us.
On Monday 13 June 22, some of our Gurkha Recruit Intake 22, who are part way through their training in Catterick, visited the House of Commons as part of an educational visit.
The trip was to help them learn about how UK Parliament functions.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the 158th Speaker of the UK House of Commons, warmly welcomed them and talked about how British Politics works in the House and for the people.
This is an annual training visit that makes up several cultural and educational trips as part of the Gurkhas training to help them become part of the British Army on completion of their Infantry Soldier and Gurkha training which takes place in Catterick, North Yorkshire at the Infantry Training Centre Catterick.
By the Trainee Riflemen of 1 (Tigris) Platoon
The Recruit English Package (REP) is delivered by the Learning Development Wing in Catterick and lasts for eight weeks. It culminates in the undertaking of nationally accredited examinations and is supplemented by a series of themed cultural orientation exercises that will help Trainees integrate into the Army and wider British society.
The REP supports Gurkha Trainees by helping them to achieve the qualifications required to pursue their chosen career and help them develop skills, knowledge and confidence to operate independently and effectively within UK society. Lev Vygotsky in his Sociocultural Theory of Cognitive Development (1968) quoted, “Language and culture are the frameworks through which humans experience to communicate and understand reality” – the REP is exactly this; it includes becoming familiar with the concept of Britishness and British values, cultural differences and facts about Britain, including geography, history, customs, regional accents (dialect, sociolect, idiolect), etc., underpinned by practising all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening).
The first two weeks of REP for No.1 Half Company started on 2nd May 2022 (Week 9). I remember standing on the Vimy Parade Square attending Captain Rosie Garfield-Barkworth Memsaheb’s welcome address and waiting to meet our tutors. On the very first day of the class, we were excited but at the same time felt a little anxious. The tutors had a well-prepared first lesson and kept their objectives for the first class simple and achievable. This included simple things such as the physical setup of chairs and tables which significantly influence how we learn. This helped to establish a solid foundation for the course. Such good first impressions were vital for establishing a rapport and connecting us with the tutors.
As we progressed through a day or two, we quickly realised that the syllabus followed a clear step by step model incorporating a variety of practical activities and physical movement, along with the creative use of technology in the classroom to support our learning. We were focussed and kept engaged through full weeks by the experienced civilian teachers. Even though we needed to learn grammar and vocabulary, we wanted to speak. The first week commenced with ‘getting-to-know-you’ activities, where we tried and got a basic understanding of some of the more popular and common interests shared by our numberies. The second week of our learning was more to do with free writing, setting up Individual Learning Plans and creating SMART objectives. At school in Nepal, teaching or learning the English language essentially focused on teaching rules, and sentence structure with emphasis on prescriptive grammar and vocabulary. English lessons were extensively taught but not seriously from nursery to Class 10 (GCSE level) as a mandatory subject, resulting in poor results. During these first two weeks, we did not only learn about grammar rules and vocabulary, but also about culture and how it is reflected in literature or writing.
One of the most vital, yet overlooked, elements of our learning process compared to our learning in Nepal is, I believe embedding ‘meaningful reflection’ throughout the REP. I have been making it a priority to embed reflection throughout my REP, from just the verbal questions other numberies and I ask, to the physical displays in our classroom lessons, and the tasks we set.
The training of Recruit Intake 2022 is going very well. Over the last couple of busy weeks, they have completed progressive rifle live fire shoots, been introduced to their first battle PT (BPT) session and attended the Sansari Mai Puja. Recruits completed the required assessments on rifle live firing, as well as their close quarter marksmanship assessment. This is the first part of their Annual Combat Marksmanship Test (ACMT), the remainder of which is scheduled to take place in Week 13. Having practised on the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer (DCCT) and on previous live practices, the trainees were confident in their shooting skills and drills. Very few of them had to reshoot any of the shoots and we are fully confident that they will pass the ACMT on their first attempt; the Permanent Staff are hopeful that quite a lot of them will achieve Marksman as well.
RI22 were introduced to the first Battle PT in Week 9. The main purpose of BPT is to maintain combat fitness and develop physical fitness to meet operational requirements. The BPT started with a fireman’s carry to simulate casualty extraction in the battlefield, and quickly escalated to crawling through a narrow muddy ditch, simulating dragging a casualty up a hill and running around various obstacles including uphill terrain. This PT session really tested mental resilience, but they were all able to keep up with the pace of training until the end. The final part of the training was a 2km best effort which resulted in some impressive times. On completion of the PT, trainees were asked as to the level of difficulty in the session, they all said that it was hard but that they enjoyed it and felt that their fitness level had improved significantly.
The Sansari Mai Puja (Mother Nature Ceremony) was conducted in 2 different locations: firstly, in the Temple and then outside in the vicinity of messing hut. This service is a community celebration usually held during the Nepali month of Baishak, or on the first Saturday in April in the Georgian Calendar. The festival is held to appeal to Mother Nature and the jungle gods to receive blessings. Early on Saturday morning, the Recruits gathered in the temple for an initial brief from the Hindu Religious Teacher (Atmaram Dahal) and also from Captain Vijayprakash Limbu (Company Second in Command). The service ended with everybody receiving tika, blessings, and Prasad from Panditji.
It has been a busy period packed with a tight training schedule of many important lessons. The Recruits are now really looking forward to passing the ACMT and pass the Pass of the Square in week thirteen.
Exercise INTRO 3 is the final introductory exercise, and the final field exercise of the Recruits’ Basic Training phase. With formative and summative assessments on the various skills the trainee Gurkhas have learned so far as well as teaching section battle drills, and the various skills required for it using blank ammunition, taking place over three nights and four days. This exercise is crucial for the trainees to move forward into the Initial Trade Training (ITT) phase of Combat Infantry Course (Gurkha) (CIC(G)) training, and to keep developing as Gurkha soldiers.
On D Day 25, we were all focused and full of energy to deploy on the exercise. Early in the morning weapons were issued, and kit was inspected. We patrolled 4 miles onto the Catterick Training Area, with a 20kg bergen load, to occupy our harbour location. After that, the Recruits saw a demonstration of various fieldcraft skills. After a night of routine, the second day saw them conduct formative assessments in order to help them better their skills and to ensure they were at the standard for the summative assessments which would take place the following day. In No.1 Half Company, 3 (Tobruk) Platoon was responsible for conducting assessments for target indication and individual fire and manoeuvre, whilst individual close quarter battle and judging distances were conducted by 2 (Kandahar) Platoon. Stalking and pairs fire and manoeuvre was covered by 1 (Tigris) Platoon. It was a good opportunity for the trainees to remind, revise and practice ahead of their summative assessments.
The third day was the pivotal part of the exercise as the summative assessments are a requirement which Recruits need to pass in order to progress in their training. To challenge the Recruits, No.1 and No.2 Half Company Recruits swapped areas of operations and, in the interest of fairness, were assessed by the permanent staff from the other Half Company’s Permanent Staff. The assessments were challenging and few of the Recruits passed every stand first time. Considered and honest feedback from the permanent staff, which ensured that in time all of the recruits achieved the standard required, confirming their learning and understanding and helping ensure that they met the high standard expected by the Brigade of Gurkhas.
Following the summative assessments, section attack demonstrations were conducted using instructors section commanders from the Company, so that the Recruits could begin to understand the mechanics of the low-level tactics they will be employing in future exercises. The last day of the exercise included captured persons handling and casualty extraction. This was an exhausting period but a proud moment watching the Recruits develop and perform what they have learnt up to this moment. Exercise INTRO 3 was very successful as all the trainees proved their learning, competence and understanding. This will let them proceed forward into the next phase of training as they continue on their worthwhile journey developing towards becoming professional Gurkha soldiers.
The Training Teams have been able to change their approach slightly since arrival in the UK. Opportunities to use blended learning are very helpful and Recruits are able to learn and understand in their own time using DLE videos. This helps make it easier for them when they are ‘on the square’ and helps negate challenges caused by the new learning environment, different culture and unpredictable UK weather!
In addition to drill lessons, recruits have been learning other military skills such as rifle and fieldcraft lessons. They have to prepare their Barracks Dress ahead of each lesson in order to pass the Training Team’s inspection, a key method of instructing the importance of uniformity and maintenance of issued kit, as well as the smart turnout of which the Brigade is rightfully proud. This training will enable Recruits to perform drill to a high standard, work well as a team and to respond efficiently to words of command.
After the completion of their individual foot drill lessons the Recruits will be tested during ‘Pass Off the Square’ by Company Headquarters. Successful Recruits will move into Initial Trade Training (ITT) where the drill focus will be geared more towards Platoon level in readiness for the Drill Competition and Passing Out Parade towards the end of the year.
Exercise INTRO 2 was much more challenging and demanding than Exercise INTRO 1. I really enjoyed this phase as I felt like I was slowly becoming a true soldier step by step. We are incredibly lucky that we are learning from our Platoon Commander Saheb and Section Commander Gurujis. For me, all lessons were conducted in an interesting and enjoyable manner.
We started Exercise INTRO 2 with Day Navigation. We had to navigate, searching for seven checkpoints, with a partner. It was very challenging as it was our first time working against the clock. My determined numberis did extremely well as the top three pairs from No 2 Half Company were all from 6 Platoon.
We then patrolled our way to a platoon harbour using hand signals, which are especially important to communicate without making noise. This time round, the platoon harbour and patrol drills seemed more realistic and smoother than Exercise INTRO 1 as we continued to learn and were very alert.
Not only was the exercise challenging, but the weather was also surprisingly cold. Irregular rain and biting winds were blowing throughout the exercise. All my numberis and I were shivering. I did not expect the weather to behave irregularly but I learnt that we must always expect the unexpected and never make assumptions. Sentry duties were important, and I found it enjoyable communicating through our Personal Role Radio for the first time, passing and receiving information around the harbour to make sure we were secure.
We learnt the importance of Target Indication and Judging Distance. A soldier must be capable of identifying enemy forces and appreciate the distance so he can use his weapon effectively and help others in acquiring the enemy position. Next was the highlight of the exercise, we were taught how to react and fight during a battle situation. It is important to always have one foot on the ground. Moving with our numberis needed clear communication. It was a hard job to do however, practice will make us better. Lastly, Night Navigation was the most challenging activity for me. This is because it was difficult to find our way to a certain point in the dark and we had to rely heavily on our pacing.
There are lots of cultural differences between the UK and Nepal and so to educate us on British culture, traditions, and the way of doing things, we ventured out on Exercise PAHILO KADAM (First Steps) on the 5th of April to explore our local amenities and the nearby town of Darlington.
We were woken up fully refreshed for an exciting day ahead of us. The learning began straight after exiting camp with road safety and using public footpaths. We made a stop at the Garrison Church where we had a quick brief from our Section Commander about religion in the UK. The second stop was a local primary school where we were amazed to find out about free education in the UK. We then walked towards a Tesco supermarket, familiarised ourselves with shopping and the use of bank cards, and bought some useful items.
The next stops included a library, a bank, a police station and a leisure centre. The library issued us with a library card, and we were shown the different facilities they could provide. The morning was well-spent learning and walking around and we were all hungry; it was time for lunch. We opted for a McDonald’s as we all wanted to try it since it is not available in Nepal. The thought of ordering a food was daunting at first, however the order machines were user-friendly and we were able to order our lunch without any fuss. The burgers, wraps and ice creams were delicious. One of our numberis quoted “I’m loving it” whilst devouring his tasty chicken and bacon wrap meal!
With our taste buds happy, we then travelled to Darlington by public bus. We learned to buy tickets as well as find information about the routes and times. Our next visit was Darlington Train Station where we were shown ticket counters/machines and the process by which to buy travel tickets. We were given a short brief on the City’s history. The last and most awaited stop was a Darlington shopping centre. It was clean, bright, and full of people enjoying their day. We also wandered around the centre, bought some essentials and headed back to our rendezvous point for our transport back to camp.
Overall, an amazing day of cultural orientation and familiarisation of local places for Intake 22. We were grateful to get this opportunity to explore and looking forward to our next ‘Kadam’ exercise.