The Gurkha Brigade Association represents all the Regimental Associations of Britain’s Brigade of Gurkhas. Veterans and serving, and all ranks, anyone who has served with the Brigade of Gurkhas is a member. Our role is to foster comradeship and welfare, to preserve the heritage and history of the Brigade of Gurkhas and to sponsor and support Association or Brigade events. We work very closely with Headquarters the Brigade of Gurkhas, the Gurkha Welfare Trust and the Gurkha Museum, for the benefit of our soldiers and ex-servicemen. We provide information on relevant news and events, in UK and abroad, as well as help and advice for those starting a second career outside the Brigade
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.
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.
By Trainee Rifleman Saurabh Babu Rai, 4 Section, 5 Helles Platoon
We soldiers need to be both mentally and physically fit. It’s no secret that life in the British Army is extremely physically challenging and demanding, therefore the Royal Army Physical Training Corps have developed a holistic, science-based physical training programme that helps to keep our body fit, resilient and ready for the challenges that Army life throws at us.
For us physical training is very important because we have only recently joined in the British Army. Our physical ability is increasing day-by-day because of the effective training which is being conducted. Until now, we have been doing different kinds of activities which help us to improve our fitness levels. We are now realising and finding that there is a huge difference between the way you train as civilians and as soldiers. None of us have been injured so far because of the progressive method used in our training.
Our first Physical Development exercise after Selection was the Role Fitness Test (Entry) which involves a 2Km running test, mid-thigh pulls and med ball throw to test whether we would be able to carry out the physical training or not. On that day, we were also introduced the Gym Hall and were so excited to start of our physical development journey. Our first physical training session was ‘Strength and Conditioning Lesson 1’. We were taught how to do proper push-ups and squats. That day, it was hard for us because we had not done any kind of training for a long period of time. We were pushing ourselves to the limit, as we had to complete several stands until the water break. We all were tired, so we took a good rest that night! The second Physical Development training was ‘Strength and Conditioning Lesson 2’, that day we revised lesson 1 and then were taught different kinds of exercises. During Strength and Conditioning Lesson 5, we learnt how to do a proper shoulder press, shoulder tap, bird duck and deadlift, with many more to be learnt as training progresses. We have also attended our first loaded-carriage march; it really was tough but we all thoroughly enjoyed it and are feeling that our physical development is going in the right direction.
We have also come to know that engaging in regular physical activities may produce improvement in individuals’ cognitive performance, and physiological well-being. Physical benefits include, but are not limited to: reduced risk of disease, improvements in physical functionality, fitness, and overall quality of life. “Training not only changes your body, but it also changes your mind, attitude and mood”. Our physical development is improving really well. We all are looking forward to attending more physical development training, which are being scheduled in the CIC 21 training programme.
Recruit Intake 22 officially started their 39 week long journey to become infanteers on the 28th of February 2022. Week three saw them deploy for the first time on Exercise INTRO 1 with training objectives including packing personal and team equipment, occupying a Harbour Area, sleeping, eating and maintaining health and hygiene in the field; battlefield discipline and employing personal camouflage and concealment.
The day before deployment was hectic for the recruits given that they had to learn about occupation of a Harbour, load carriage in the field and the preparation of their dress and equipment. However, they seemed excited about the prospect of leaving camp for the first time since their arrival in Catterick. The Exercise kickstarted with an early start which saw beaming recruits marching towards the Armoury to get their hands on their Individual Weapons. Company Sergeant Major Gurkha Company then delivered a passionate speech to all 218 recruits providing his words of wisdom and advising them as to how they could best learn and build a strong foundation for their future in the British Army.
The exercise started with an insertion march to their Final Rendezvous (FRV) carrying 18kg in their daysack and webbing. Platoon Commanders then took over their respective Platoons for a walk-through, talk-through of how to occupy a Harbour and its importance. Their work routine started with an introduction to Operational Ration Packs (ORP), calorific requirements and how to cook in the field. Half of the Recruits in my platoon wanted more bags as they were not full with an allocated single bag for lunch! They were promised that they would get their Daal Bhat once back in camp! With lunch complete, it was time for them to learn how to construct their basha (shelter). They were shown various methods and were given time to construct their own. The rest of the first day introduced them to ‘why things are seen’, individual movement and how to apply their personal camouflage and concealment.
The evening consisted of a central demonstration on the use of pyrotechnics and movement at night. The Recruits were shown effects of smoke grenades, noise simulators, Parachute Illumination, Tripflares, practice grenades and blank rounds. It also incorporated ‘actions on’ lights and movement at night. Finally, it was time for Recruits to head down and experience their first night inside the sleeping bag and basha. In the morning they were introduced to how to maintain their personal hygiene and equipment in the field before being inspected. It was a delight to see Recruits enjoying and engaging with Section Commanders, showcasing their willingness to learn. With all lessons delivered, the Recruits patrolled back to Camp and started the reconstitution phase of the Exercise.
By Corporal Youkesh Gurung, Gurkha Company Catterick
For many, 2021 was yet again incredibly challenging, with plans made, plans changed, and then plans changed again. And here we are at the start of 2022, somewhat in limbo. Despite some issues thanks to the latest Covid variant, the rigorous selection process for the Recruit Intake 2022 (RI22) was successful. This year, Gurkha Company Catterick (GCC) has reaffirmed its commitment to quality infantry training by welcoming 218 Recruits to start their journey of becoming trained Gurkhas in the British Army.
A lot of in-house preparations have been achieved for the new training year and Gurkha Company is delighted to see the bright characters who arrived in the UK on four different flights over the last week of February. On arrival, the trainees were screened and immediately entered a period of ‘controlled monitoring’ until they received negative PCR test results.
All clear, they then begun their 39-week Combat Infantry Course (Gurkha) – or CIC(G). CIC 21, a 26-week course, is the standard Infantry course on which our training is based, and which is augmented by several Gurkha-specific training serials including the Recruit English Package training, Close Quarter Combat and cultural orientation.
The first 2 weeks of their training have been focussed on administration, introducing the Recruits to their new surroundings, informing them about the organisation they are now part of and teaching them the basics of being an Infantryman. All of this, plus an introduction to the Values and Standards as well health and safety, fire safety, can be a lot to take in!
However, for us – the Training Team – the last 2 weeks is a little more than that and we have been shaping the bigger picture. We have had the opportunity to begin developing a trainer-trainee relationship. If we get that right, then we can start understanding their learning and educational needs and thus start developing a personalised learning plan to help motivate them, as well as enabling them to settle into GCC.
As always in GCC we are fortunate to have a diverse team of professional permanent staff who care passionately about the delivery of world class Infantry training and the provision of highly trained Gurkha soldiers to the Brigade of Gurkhas.
By Trainee Rifleman Bishal BC and Trainee Rifleman Nirmal Karki 3 (Tobruk) Platoon
Holi is a traditional Hindu festival celebrates the beginning of spring. It is a celebration of fertility of crops, colour and love as well as the triumph of victory over evil.
Holi is one of the many festivals celebrated by the Brigade of Gurkhas in the UK and all over the world. This year, Recruits at Gurkha Company celebrated with the Permanent Staff, families and numberies at the Gurkha Temple, Helles Barracks.
In Nepal, we used to play Holi with colours, water balloons, rotten eggs, and water guns. Whereas this year we celebrated Holi with a bonfire, smearing each other with paint and throwing coloured powder. Each Platoon was singing Nepali songs and everyone was cheering and dancing.
The Holi celebration gave us a good feeling of internal connection and brotherhood, and helped create a good bond amongst the team. We were excited to celebrate Holi in the temple and take some time off training. We had some good moments with numberies and Gurujis by taking some group pictures which will be a great memory for future.
We enjoyed the Holi celebration and the love it spreads; it made us feel as though we were home. This Gurkha culture and kaida makes us united and defines us all over the world.
Corporal Sangeet Pun 2 (Kandahar) Platoon
Four weeks ago, Britain’s newest Gurkha recruits arrived at Catterick Garrison. Now, they’ve reached week 3 of their Combat Infantry Course (CIC). The first phase of the CIC is Basic Training (BT) which is approximately 12 weeks long. This week the Recruits have been learning foot drill such as marching and saluting.
Intake 22 had 5 days of exposure to foot drill before the Attestation Parade in Pokhara. Early morning reveille and wearing military dress was not a comfortable routine for Recruits in the beginning but despite COVID challenges they were determined and keen to learn. All the Recruits were very enthusiastic to display the best possible drill in front of their families and relatives. Everyone was in the same boat with confusion, pressure and fatigue high as the tempo increased during rehearsals: T/Rfn Prabin Gurung was heard to comment that “Drill is not as easy as it seems!”.