Once again we will be tracking the progress of our Gurkha trainees through their 39-week training with Gurkha Company Catterick, at the Infanfry Training Centre.
With content produced by the HQBG Comms team and direct from the trainees, it will be raw and informative rather than over edited.
We hope you enjoy following their story.
Since our arrival at Catterick, we have been wondering what life in the UK would look like. Exercise PAHILO KADAM was therefore, without a doubt, one of the most awaited events for us. Finally, on the 21st March we left Helles Barracks for the first time to visit Catterick Garrison and Darlington. This visit was our opportunity to see and live the dreams we had had since childhood, and we were very excited to see new places and learn about the way of life in the UK.
As soon as we left camp, the first thing we saw were the road safety signs and our Section Commanders briefly explained to us the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of using public footpaths. It was a new thing for us as we found out that we needed to use the left side where possible to let other pedestrians pass us. We made our first stop at the Garrison Church where we had a quick brief about the church, its importance, and the various religions being practiced in the UK. We then headed towards our second stop, which was a local primary school where we learned about the education system in the UK. We then headed towards the memorial roundabout where we came to know about the Catterick Garrison and its history before heading towards the Tesco supermarket to familiarise ourselves with the use of bank cards before buying some essential items. At the library we were issued a library card and were shown different facilities that UK libraries could provide.
After a quick stop at McDonalds, we headed to the bus stop, where we purchased a return ticket to Darlington and learnt how to find information about routes and timetables. At Darlington we stopped at the train station. The architecture of the station was astonishing and historic. It looked like it was from the movie set of Harry Potter! Our Section Commander quickly showed us how to purchase a train ticket and then we went for lunch at Nando’s. We tried chicken wings and different items which we had never tasted before. One of my numberis quoted that it was spicy and tasty at the same time and then ordered a second portion. With our taste buds and tummies happy we moved towards the bank and sorted out our bank cards.
We roamed through the streets of Darlington and were amazed by its cleanliness, beauty, and historical architecture. We took a group photo of the platoon in front of the statue of Joseph Pease and spoke with some elderly people who kindly took a few photographs gave us compliments. They talked about our shoes being well-polished and thanked us for our service as Gurkhas in the British Army. It was very heart-warming to hear from them. We also wandered inside the town centre shopping centre and bought more essentials before heading back to our rendezvous point and our transport back to camp.
It was an amazing day of cultural orientation and familiarisation with local places for Recruit Intake 23. We were grateful to get this opportunity to explore and looking forward to deploying on the remaining KADAM series.
3 Section, 3 (Tobruk) Platoon
The 39-week long Combat Infantry Course is designed to train Nepalese Recruits into Gurkha soldiers. On the Monday of Week 4, we experienced the Dismounted Close Combat Trainer (DCCT) for the first time when we fired a grouping at 25m from the prone position. The DCCT is a computerised version of a firing range that allows us to hone our skills without the added pressures of the outdoor environment and weather. Before we started with the DCCT we were given a ‘theory of group’ lesson by our Platoon Commander where we learned about the concept of grouping before the DCCT. A grouping is how the rounds from our weapons are grouped on the target
At the beginning of our DCCT lesson, we were briefed about the safety and layout of the areas by our Platoon Sergeant. He also briefed the details of the practice and how we would fire five rounds grouping in unsupported and supported prone positions. He notified us that our weapon handling must be at the highest standard and that we would be tested on our application of the marksmanship principles.
Despite a busy day, I was cheered up slightly knowing that we were about to start our first DCCT shoot. We had to shoot at the top left of a white patch followed by top right, bottom left, bottom right on the command of our gurujis. We were trying to make sure all the rounds hit the target as close as possible to each other.
Unfortunately, most of us couldn’t achieve the pass mark on our first attempt. Our weapon handling drills and skills require more practice, and our instructors could see any mistakes we were making, down to pulling the trigger too quickly or not holding the rifle correctly. We were inexperienced however with the mentorship and guidance from our gurujis we were able to pass on the second attempt. All the platoon staff were quite impressed with our overall performance. After the DCCT, we carried out our Normal Safety Procedures and had a final debrief from our platoon staff.
By Corporal Anuch Gurung, 2 (Kandahar) Platoon, Gurkha Company Catterick
In early March Recruit Intake 2023, took their first steps into the field as trainee soldiers. This was week three of their 39-week Combat Infantry Course (CIC), having arrived in the UK on the 12th of February 2023. The series of three Introductory Exercises in Basic Training are designed to build a solid foundation for Recruits to build upon in future exercises. They cover basic fieldcraft which included to eat, sleep, and maintain personal kit, as well as hygiene in the field. The Training Riflemen (T/Rfn) were taught other basics in personal camouflage and concealment, battlefield discipline, methods of movement and harbour drills.
There was lots of excitement the day before of deployment. Section Commanders were guiding the recruits in packing their kit in the platoon lines and the Trainee Riflemen (T/Rfn) seemed thrilled, and a little overwhelmed to see the variety of kit they had to pack. All Platoon Sergeants conducted a final kit check and the Company moved out to their platoon harbour areas on Catterick Training Area.
After harbour occupation, recruits were ready to have their first Multi Climate Ration (MCR). Platoon Sergeants conducted a lesson on food and water, then recruits prepared and enjoyed their lunch. Revived with the best meal of their life, recruits were then taught how to set up a 2-man shelter (basha) by their Section Commanders.
There were two collective demonstrations and lessons on ‘Why things are seen?’ and the use of pyrotechnics (pyro) followed by a lesson on ‘Movement at Night’. Recruits were astounded to witness the effects of parachute illumination, trip flares and mini flares. These pyro natures produce illumination and are used for signalling or observing ground at night. The T/Rfn also saw numerous demonstrations on movement and battlefield discipline during the night. As night approached, the cold weather brought snow and it was time for recruits to get into their sleeping bags. During the night they took turns conducting roving sentry in pairs.
The next day the trainees woke up to find snow all around them. They looked delighted as for most of them it was their first snowfall. The day started with a ‘morning routine’ lesson to maintain personal hygiene, kit and equipment in the field followed by a demonstration of fire and manoeuvre as a look forward to their next exercise. This marked the end of Exercise INTRO 1 and the platoons started patrolling back to camp to begin their post-exercise administration.
The 24hr field exercise has provided recruits with base layer foundation to survive and sustain in the field and the demanding weather gave them an instant opportunity to apply what they had learnt. I believe the basic crafts which they have learned from training team will boost their confidence on upcoming field exercises.
By Trainee Rifleman Mandip Rai – 1 (Tigris) Platoon
The Gurkhas, renowned for their bravery and loyalty, have served in the British Army for over 200 years. For myself, becoming a Gurkha soldier is a dream come true, a chance to serve King Charles III and earn a good living. In the past, I had seen a few videos and pictures on social media about other Recruits being welcomed and beginning their training in the UK and now it was my turn to start my new life and a military career
On the 13th of February 2023, we finally arrived at Manchester airport after a long flight. We were briefed about the process and escorted by the police and Second in Command of Gurkha Company Catterick towards immigration. I felt special and a bit emotional. Once we were through the immigration point and got out of the terminal building, I started to feel the UK’s weather, it was very cold, and I felt like my hands were going to freeze! We got on the coach and were driven to the Infantry Training Centre Catterick, where we were going to spend the next nine months being trained to become soldiers.
We saw views of the UK along the way whilst on the coach. It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting however I enjoyed it. We finally arrived in Catterick Garrison at 1300hrs. We got off the coach thinking that we were going to be thrown into a harsh training environment, but we were wrong. We were led by a piper guruji from Helles parade square to Bhanubhakta Square. The surprising part was that there were Sahebs, Gurujis and Lama Guru lined up to give us a blissful welcome. We were welcomed in a traditional way and were offered khada and blessings. It was more special that I could have imagined and a very emotional moment. Although I miss my family back home, it is nice to know that I now have a new family in Gurkha Company. I could feel the cold wind brushing on my exposed skin and the excitement started to turn into coldness!
After a few briefings we were taken to our rooms. I was so delighted to enter our new home for the next nine months. After that we were taken straight to lunch in the cookhouse, which I found of a very high standard and well set up. The staff were very welcoming and friendly and the food was delicious. Soon after this our training started and there was no time for rest. We learned how to make our beds and lockers in the correct soldierly manner, this was not an easy task for us as the folds must be accurate in length and immaculate when we wake up in the morning. We have been issued many items of clothing which must be ironed every day to make us look smart.
I am already enjoying my short time so far in the British Army and I am so happy that I achieved my goal. I am really looking forward to continuing my training and becoming a trained soldier.
British Army Gurkha Trainees selected only 8 days ago and delivered an excellent Attestation parade in front of dignitaries and family members in Pokhara only yesterday, are on route to the UK to start their 39-week training in Catterick.
They left from Kathmandu and landed in UK ready for their road move to Catterick and to start training to be soldiers in the British Army.
The Rt Hon Dr Andrew Murrison MP (Minister for Defence People, Veterans and Service Families), His Majesty’s Ambassador Nicola Pollitt, Lieutenant General Richard Wardlaw OBE (Colonel Commandant Brigade of Gurkhas), Brigadier Rt Hon the Lord Lancaster TD VR PC (Deputy Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas), Colonel Paul Smith (Commander British Gurkhas Nepal), and Colonel David Robinson (Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas) were all present to take the Attestation of the new recruits.
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