It was 1816. The Anglo-Nepalese War was over. British forces conquered Nepal, a small kingdom located in the South-Central Asia. However, the British suffered heavy casualties during the invasion. Their enemies: Nepalese warriors called the Gurkhas proved themselves to be extremely fierce, brave and tough soldiers. British officers were impressed, and they decided to offer some Gurkhas to volunteer for the British East India Company.
200 years later, over 3400 Gurkha warriors still serve and fight for the British Army. Their selection is very demanding: usually there are 2800 applicants for 200 places. They have fought in several wars, including both World Wars, the Falkland War, Afghanistan etc. These warriors are known as one of the most skilled fighters in the world. They earned a reputation of being brave, disciplined and loyal soldiers. Gurkhas are also famous for their curved combat knifes, called Kukris. In 2010, one Gurkha serving in Afghanistan used the Kukri knife to cut off a Taliban commander’s head in order to prove his identity, and brought the head back to his base.
There are many stories to prove Gurkha’s effectiveness in combat. In Afghanistan on September 2010 Diprassad Pun, an acting sergeant of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, single-handedly defeated 12 to 30 Talibans who were storming his control post.
Sergeant Pun was standing alone on the rooftop of his post, when he saw attackers with AK-47s and RPGs surrounding his position. He was sure he was about to die, but he decided to take with him as many enemies as possible. It took for him less than half an hour to kill them all. He used 400 rounds of ammo, 17 hand grenades and a Claymore mine. When sergeant Pun ran out ammo, he battered the last Taliban with a tripod of the machine gun. For this ultimate act of bravery, Diprassad Pun was awarded with a Conspicious Gallantry Cross.
Captain Rambahadur Limbu was one of the Gurkhas who fought in the Indonesian Confrontation on Borneo. On 21 November 1965 he and his two comrades faced heavy gunfire while approaching a hill taken by 30 Indonesian soldiers with a machine gun. Limbu’s comrades were shot and became wounded. Limbu immediately rushed forward, and killed the machine-gunner with a grenade. Then he crawled 100 yards back to the Gurkha position to warn them about the enemy. But that was not the end of his fight – he came back twice for his wounded friends, and then for the third time to retrieve their Bren gun, with which he charged the enemy and killed many of them.
Captain Limbu was awarded with the Victoria Cross – the highest British decoration for gallantry and bravery in the face of the enemy.
On 5 March 1945 Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung from 2nd Gurkha Rifles was approaching Japanese positions near Tammadu Burma. Gurung and his unit came under heavy fire from the Japanese, including machine gun, mortars and a sniper. The enemy sniper was inflicting casualties among Gurung’s unit. The Gurkha was unable to shoot him from the lying position, so being under fire, he stood up fully exposed and calmly killed the sniper with his rifle. Then he attacked and cleared four enemy fox holes, one after another, killing his enemies with grenades and his bayonet. All the time he was under fire from the Japanese bunker. Still alone and far ahead from his comrades, Gurkha attacked the bunker too. He was out of his hand grenades, so he threw smoke granades into the bunker slit. Then he killed every enemy inside with his deadly Kukri knife. Finally, Gurung with his three comrades defended the bunker from the Japenese counter-attack.
Rifleman Bhanbhagta Gurung was later awarded with a Victoria Cross by King George VI in Buckingham Palace. His bravery was combined with a complete disregard for his own safety. His courage inspired the rest of the regiment, which gained the battle honour “Tamandu” after the fighting. Years later, Gurung’s three sons served in 2nd Gurkha Rifles as well.
There are many more such stories like these three. The history of these Nepalese warriors contains many extraordinary acts of bravery, loyalty and sacrifice. In the moment of need we should take the example of Gurkha’s commitment.