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 the school 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.
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 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 and, until recently, was also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and member of the Society of Authors. Until leaving the Army, 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 a Trustee 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.
In addition to writing, Craig's interests including skiing, scuba-diving, running, climbing and spending time with his family.
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!
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At Waterstones during the local launch of two of my books in Salisbury
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:
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.
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.
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!
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:
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!
You can use the following links to see quotes about Gurkhas and find out what soldiers from The Royal Gurkha Rifles are currently doing:
On BBC News talking with Lukwesa Burak about the Gurkha contribution in Burma during WW2 (as part of the VJ Day 75 commemorations on 15 August 2020 click image to see interview)
Additional web-pages linked to this website which might be of interest:
And you can find out more about the remarkable work of the Gurkha Welfare Trust at the following link:
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:
In Afghanistan in Summer 2014 during the build up to the 2014 Presidential Elections
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.
If you want to find out more about the history of Britain's Gurkhas, the following link will take you to the Gurkha Museum's web page:
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.