Who are they
Gurkhas are elite soldiers from Nepal that serve in the British Army. They have served with distinction and great courage for over 200 years. They are hugely respected warriors and yet humble and hospitable men famous for their slouch hats and curved Kukri knives.
What do they do
Gurkhas are light infantry, charged with taking the fight to the enemy. HRH Prince Harry served with the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles during his tour of Afghanistan in 2007-8, where he memorably commented: “When you know you are with the Gurkhas, I think there’s no safer place to be.”
How are they recruited
Becoming a Gurkha is a matter of great pride.Every year over 10,000 applicants try out for approximately 240 places in the Brigade of Gurkhas. It is one of the toughest selection processes in the world and includes Maths and English exams that many study for a year before attempting. It culminates in the gruelling ‘doko’ race, which involves carrying 25kg of sand while running up a steep 4.2km course on rough tracks. Then follows a 36 week course and often 22 years of service – which gives Gurkhas a depth of experience and ability quite unique.
Acting Sergeant Dipprasad Pun Conspicuous Gallantry Cross 2010
‘Immediately prior to the engagement, Pun, who was with the 1st battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles, was on sentry duty at a checkpoint guarding his unit's compound. Taliban fighters, planting bombs near the compound gate under the cover of darkness, suddenly surrounded and attacked his post with AK-47s and RPGs. Acting Sergeant Pun, alone and believing he was about to die, decided to kill as many of the enemy as possible. During the engagement he reportedly spent all his ammunition (more than 400 rounds), used 17 hand grenades and a Claymore mine before battering the last fighter with the tripod of his machine gun. Two Taliban were still attacking his post when he set off the Claymore mine.
Upon receiving the award, Pun said that he had no choice but to fight; the reason being that the Taliban had surrounded his checkpoint, and that he was alone. During the engagement, Pun saved the lives of three of his comrades and prevented his post from being overrun. His actions are cited as "the bravest seen in his battalion during two hard tours".’
LCpl Tuljung GURUNG Military Cross (MC) 2013
‘Tuljung was on guard in a tower overlooking the entrance to one of the Patrol Bases when the front gate was attacked by insurgents. The attack took place in the form of small arms fire and hand grenades. Tuljung was struck in the helmet by one round which knocked him to the ground. At the same time a grenade was thrown into his sangar. Quickly composing himself, he picked up the grenade and threw it back. The insurgents then scaled his tower and tried to drag him out. He repelled the attack with his kukri and in the struggle he and an insurgent fell out of the tower. It was at this point that the insurgents gave up and fled back into the darkness. Tuljung then returned to his tower and apologised to the guard commander for having left his post.’
Legend of the Kukri
The Kukri is the national knife of Nepal. It is a working tool, in use every day in rural communities, and also used for ceremonial purposes. It is also the personal weapon of a Gurhka and in the past it was said that, once drawn, it had to ‘taste blood’. That is no longer current practice..mostly.