On Friday 23 November 2018, I was invited to give a presentation on the history of Britain's Gurkhas at Godolphin School in Salisbury at a dinner to raise funds for a school expedition to Nepal. I was delighted to do this as the expedition's members intend to donate some of the funds they raise to the Gurkha Welfare Trust to help with the charity's work looking after retired Gurkhas in Nepal. During the expedition, which will take place in April 2019, members will visit one of the Trust's homes for retired Gurkhas in Kathmadu.
With Joanna Lumley, Sergeant Dipprasad Pun CGC and the two Queen's Gurkha Orderly Officers at the launch of 'The Gurkhas: 200 Years of Service to the Crown' which was held in the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on 30 April 2015. Joanna Lumley, whose father was a Gurkha Officer, wrote the introduction to the Gurkha book; Sergeant Dipprasad features in the book as he was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross, the UK's second highest award for valour in the face of the enemy, for his actions in Afghanistan on the night of 17 September 2010. A couple of days after the RUSI launch, I was invited to talk about the book on Forces TV. You can see the TV interview at the below link. The Salisbury Journal, Craig's local paper, also covered the launch; the second link takes you to the article:
Decorated for bravery but now tired of violence, Gurkha veteran Harry Parker has settled in Nepal, seeking a quieter life. But a chance encounter with a beautiful academic soon shatters the tranquillity he craves and launches him on a high-stakes adventure to unravel a deadly conspiracy with the City of London at its heart.
'Think dogs of war and Bourne Series.' Michael Jecks, best-selling author and critic
'...a hard-to-put-down adventure that contains just the right mix of mystery, romance and intrigue. Verdict: This absorbing yarn should appeal to all tastes.' Soldier Magazine (the magazine of the British Army), September 2015
'A first-class debut novel...the plot is pacey, imaginative and intricate, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing as to what might happen next.' Goodreads Review
With Sir Tom Phillips, the then Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies (centre), and Rear Admiral John Kingwell, the Deputy Commandant (right), at the launch of 'Getting Strategy Right (Enough)' on 8 September 2017. The picture on the right shows Sir Tom giving his welcome address to Members (as RCDS' students are known) at the start of this year's course. The 11 month course considers the development and implementation of strategy at the grand strategic level. 'Getting Strategy Right (Enough)' has been produced to support the course, although it has much to offer anyone involved in the difficult business of making and implementing strategy, whether in the public or private sectors. You can download a free pdf copy of the book at this link.
On 17th and 21st January, in mid June and on 30th September 2018, the Gurkha book again became Amazon's best selling book on Nepal, earning the 'best seller' accolade!
Although the category shown on the screen-shot to the left says 'history of Nepal', the book was actually number one in the broader 'books on Nepal' category as well! As ALL royalties from the sale of the book go to the Gurkha Welfare Trust (the GWT), which is the Gurkha charity, this was great news!
On Sunday 30 September 2018, my commemorative Gurkha history again reached #1 in Amazon's list of best-selling books on Nepal, earning the coveted '#1 Best Seller' accolade!
It was a great privilege on Wednesday 11 July 2018 to be asked to give an end of term address and to present prizes at Hill House School in Doncaster. I left the school 41 years ago at the age of 13 before going on to secondary school but Hill House has grown over the years and now takes pupils right the way through to age 18 and A Levels.
I had a brilliant day. The school moved from its old site on Rutland Street in the centre of Doncaster 10 years ago and now occupies a fantastic location near Robin Hood Airport. It was a real pleasure to meet the pupils and the staff team, headed up by Headmaster David Holland (pictured left with me and one of the prize winners) and the Chair of Governors Val Cusworth whose husband, Jack, used to teach me maths! I was particularly impressed by the sixth formers leaving the school, many of whom were heading for excellent universities. They struck me as balanced and mature but also great fun!
I can strongly recommend the school to prospective parents living in West Yorkshire.
My local Waterstones in Salisbury kindly hosted a local launch of both 'The Legacy' and 'The Gurkhas: 200 Years of Service to the Crown' on 13 June 2015. It was a great opportunity to invite friends and family, as well as the local 'good and the great', to help mark the occasion. The event was covered by the local magazine 'Wiltshire Society'. A few months later, the magazine also wrote a more comprehensive article about me and my books! The following links take you to the articles:
This display of 'The Gurkhas: 200 Years of Service to the Crown' was spotted in Hatchards Bookshop in London's Piccadilly. I hope they sold them all!
In 1989, I led a team of Gurkhas in a televised military skills competition called 'Combat 89'. Presented by Emlyn Hughes and Anneka Rice, eight teams from different infantry regiments (Paras, Guards, Gurkhas, Light Infantry etc) were pitted against each other in a series of really quite challenging military events. The competition was made more interesting because each team comprised only four men: a young officer; a SNCO; a JNCO; and a Rifleman/Private. We got through to the semi-finals but were knocked out, mainly because I made a mistake loading an anti-tank weapon!
The reason I've included this item on the 'news' page is that my wife found a short clip from one of the episodes on YouTube. It doesn't seem that long ago and watching it recently with my kids made me wonder where the intervening 28 years (and my hair!) have gone. You can see the clip - which is only 5 minutes long - on the left. Of note, the three Gurkhas in the film all went on to have successful careers, both in the Army and after their retirement.
It was a real privilege on to be invited to launch the new Gurkha book commemorating the 25 years of The Royal Gurkha Rifles at the Regimental Birthday Celebrations in Sir John Moore Barracks, Shorncliffe on Tuesday 9 July 2019. The Regiment's Colonel-in-Chief, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (pictured left with me), kindly wrote the foreword to the book which runs to 288 pages and contains over 500 images. A pictorial history of the Regiment's first quarter century of life, it provides an insight into what makes the Regiment so special and why it has already established itself as one of the world's foremost fighting forces - click here to see the book on Amazon.
The Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) was formed on 1 July 1994 when the existing Gurkha regiments amalgamated to form a single Gurkha regiment of three battalions. Although the RGR has only existed for 25 years, it carries the traditions and history of its antecedent Gurkha regiments and has already established itself as a formidable fighting force in its own right. With a Foreword by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and more than 500 photographs, the book provides a visual history of this elite unit. It also includes lots of new quotes about Gurkhas which you might find of interest and was an Amazon best-seller in the 'Nepal' category on both the 16 October and 29 December 2019, earning the coveted 'best-seller' accolade!
I was delighted in July 2020 when Soldier Magazine, the official magazine of the British Army, gave 'Reasonable Doubt' a fantastic review, describing it as 'fast paced and action packed' and recommending it as 'a good, easy-to-read book which is well worth getting hold of.' I work extremely hard to make my books accessible, regardless of the complexity of the plot and the characters, so I was particularly pleased with the bit about being 'easy to read'. You can read the complete review on Page 64 of July's Soldier Magazine by clicking the button below:
'As I reflect upon the Regiment's first quarter century, it is sometimes difficult to remember exactly just how much has been achieved. This is why this book is invaluable - carefully researched, and with hundreds of fascinating images, it will perhaps help the reader to understand my deep personal pride in being Colonel-in-Chief.' His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
I was truly humbled this June when the magazine of The Royal British Legion included an article about my career and, specifically, why I wrote the new 'Gurkha' book. The author of the article did a fantastic job of reducing my ramblings in a long interview down to a pithy explanation of why I think it is so important to record the heroic actions of the many people who have made The Royal Gurkha Rifles what it is today, particularly those who have been killed or wounded on the Regiment's numerous overseas operations. You can read the full article by clicking the link below.
On Monday 11 December 2017, the Gurkha Museum in Winchester organised a book signing, enabling people to buy personalised copies of 'The Gurkhas: 200 Years of Service to the Crown' before Christmas. The event was a real success and raised a fair amount of money for both the Museum and the Gurkha Welfare Trust, the Gurkha charity. It was a humbling experience signing books with images of the Gurkhas' 26 Victoria Cross holders watching over me!
On 13 July 2021, Craig was honoured to give a talk for the Gurkha Museum on the Gurkhas' 206 years of service to the British Crown, including their 20 years in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban. The talk, which was the third in the Museum's innovative 'Ghar ma Sunnu' ('Listen at Home') series, was followed by a lively question and answer session facilitated by the Director of the Gurkha Museum. The Q&A explored the future of the Gurkhas, as well as leadership, discipline, female Gurkha recruitment and lots of other interesting subjects.
You can watch the talk by clicking on the 'Who Are The Gurkhas?' image or the clicking the button below the image. The talk lasts for about 50 minutes and includes nearly a hundred fascinating images of Gurkhas from the last two centuries. The talk is available FREE, though there is an opportunity to make a donation to the Gurkha Museum if you wish to.
On Monday 23 July 2018, I took over as the Course Director at the Royal College of Defence Studies in London having been the Assistant Course Director for 2 years. Founded in 1927 by Winston Churchill, the College, which started life as the Imperial Defence College, was set up to promote greater understanding between senior military officers, diplomats, civil servants and officials, something which Churchill felt had been notably lacking during the First World War.
The role of the College has evolved over the years and it is now the UK's leading provider of postgraduate education in the fields of strategy and strategic leadership. Despite the constraints of COVID-19, the next 11 month course, which starts on 7 September 2020, is set to be the best course ever with over 100 students from more than 50 countries.
We decided to hold the London launch of 'The Legacy' at the Army and Navy Club in St James' Square. It was a great opportunity to thank London based friends and family, as well as a useful opportunity to host movers and shakers from the book world. The event was extremely well attended and provided a fitting launch for my fist action adventure thriller. As an aside, one reason I chose the Army and Navy Club for the launch is that it's location, on the corner of St James' Square, is very near to where a particularly gruesome murder takes place in the book!
On Saturday 29 September 2018, I had the privilege of speaking in Oxford at the annual conference of the Families in British India Society (FIBIS). My subject was the 200+ years that Gurkhas have served the British Crown. The conference was extremely well attended and I met some fascinating people who have been researching the India connection in their own family histories.
The talk also gave me the opportunity to raise the profile of the commemorative Gurkha history 'The Gurkhas: 200 Years of Service to the Crown'. Although my publisher was unable to arrange for copies of the book to be available at the conference, members of FIBIS went on-line and bought the book afterwards with the result that on Sunday 30 September 2018, it was again #1 in Amazon's best-selling list of books on Nepal. As ALL royalties from the sale of this book go to the Gurkha Welfare Trust, a charity which looks after retired Gurkhas and their families, this was a great outcome! Interestingly, I also had the opportunity to meet Jan Leeming, the TV presenter, who was there speaking after dinner about her own family's connections to India.
If you want to find out more about the remarkable work of FIBIS, or even join the society which is a registered charity, then have a look at their webpage at the following link:
It was a real privilege on Saturday 15 August 2020 to talk to Lukwesa Burak on BBC News about the role of Gurkhas in the Far East Campaign and, in particular, as part of General Bill Slim's so-called 'Forgotten Army' in Burma. The interview formed part of the BBC's coverage of VJ Day 75, the formal commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the defeat of Japan at the end of the Second World War. Not many people realise the enormous contribution that Gurkhas made in the Far East Campaign, with 35,000 soldiers deploying in 27 infantry battalions, including two parachute battalions. Gurkhas also took part in the two Chindit Operations, the first of which took place in February and March of 1943 with the second taking place from March to July 1944. In the first Chindit Operation, 1,289 of the 3,000 strong force were Gurkhas. During the Burma Campaign, Gurkhas were awarded 9 Victoria Crosses, a quite remarkable achievement. Click on either of the images to the left to watch the interview.
One legacy of the Burma Campaign that endures today is the Gurkhas' professionalism in the jungle. The skills developed during the Burma Campaign proved extremely effective in a number of subsequent conflicts, including:
- The Malayan Emergency (1948 - 1960).
- The Brunei Revolt (1962).
- The Borneo Confrontation (1963 - 1966).
- East Timor (1999).
The Gurkhas continue to place huge importance on being able to live and fight in the jungle better than anybody else. This is important as the Gurkha battalion based in Brunei now provides the British Army's only fully trained and acclimatised jungle unit. You can find out more about Gurkhas in the jungle at this link and more about Gurkhas in the Second World War at this link.
On 14 March 2017, a detachment from The Royal Gurkha Rifles took part in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace to celebrate Prince Charles' 40 years as the Colonel-in-Chief of the Gurkha Infantry. Prince Harry joined his father at the celebration, helping to award operational service medals to some 150 members of the Second Battalion of The Royal Gurkha Rifles following their return from a deployment to Afghanistan on Operation Toral. Laura and I attended the event as I had just handed over as The Royal Gurkha Rifles' Regimental Colonel. Prince Charles kindly wrote the foreword to the commemorative Gurkha history which we published in April 2015 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Gurkha service to the British Crown. I took the opportunity when we met in March to ask him whether he would be good enough to do the same for the history of The Royal Gurkha Rifles which is due to be published on 1 July 2019 - fortunately, he agreed!
Author, military historian and speaker/consultant on strategic leadership and strategy-making, Craig's fast-paced adventure thrillers are as authentic as his best-selling military histories. A soldier for 33 years, he has no shortage of experience on which to draw. Craig grew up in the village of Kirk Smeaton, the most southerly village in the county of North Yorkshire. He attended the village primary school before going on to Hill House School in Doncaster. He was lucky enough to go back to Hill House in July 2018 - the first time for 41 years - to give the address at the end of year prize giving. It was a real privilege to do this and to meet so many inspirational students, parents and staff. After Hill House, he went to St Peter's School in York which is not only the oldest school in England but also has the distinction of being the school that Guy Fawkes attended!
Craig was commissioned into the 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) in September 1983. He spent the first three years of his commissioned service at Durham University reading for a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering Science. After graduating, he joined his Battalion in Hong Kong. He then spent the next thirty years either serving with Gurkhas or filling a variety of appointments in various military headquarters, including the Ministry of Defence. Whilst in the Army, he completed tours in the UK (as a Gurkha paratrooper, he spent a fair amount of time in the UK's airborne brigade), Hong Kong, Brunei, Nepal, South Africa, Germany, Belize and Canada. He commanded his Gurkha battalion on operations in the Balkans and the Ivory Coast. After commanding 52 Infantry Brigade in Edinburgh, he spent 11 months in Afghanistan as the Director of ISAF's Election Support Cell where, working with the Afghan authorities and the international community, he led the development and implementation of NATO's strategy to reduce risk to Afghanistan's 2014 Presidential and Provincial Elections.
On promotion to major general, Craig spent 18 months as the Director of Joint Warfare before taking early retirement from the Army and joining the staff at the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS), the UK's leading provider of postgraduate education in the fields of strategy and strategic leadership. Having handed over as the College's Course Director, as well as its Director of Strategy and Strategic Leadership, he left the College in late 2020 to set up his own company, Craig Lawrence Consulting, which helps organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors develop the strategies and senior leadership skills they need to succeed in today's dynamic, uncertain and competitive operating environment. He is an Associate Consultant for Crown Agents (a not-for-profit international development company), a Senior Research Fellow with RAND Europe (a not-for-profit research institute) and is also the senior military education advisor for the Iraq Military Education Development Programme (MEDP), an initiative funded by the UK Government's Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) to improve the training and education of Iraqi army officers.
In addition to his first degree, Craig has an MA in Conflict, Security and Development from King's College London (KCL) and an MSc in the Design of Information Systems from Cranfield University. He became a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2000 and was promoted to Commander of the same order in 2013 (CBE). He was awarded a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS) for his leadership during his Gurkha Battalion's tour in Bosnia and was awarded the Afghan 'Honour and Service' medal by the Afghan Minister of the Interior for his work on Afghanistan's 2014 Presidential and Provincial Elections. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, a member of the Society of Authors and, until recently, was also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Until leaving the Army in 2016, he was proud to be the Colonel of The Royal Gurkha Rifles, an honorary appointment similar to being Clan Chief of the Gurkha Infantry. He is currently the Chairman of the Army Museums Ogilby Trust (AMOT), a charity that provides advice and long term support to Army museums, and a governor of the King's School, Bruton Foundation.