'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
The Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) was formed on 1 July 1994 when the existing Gurkha regiments amalgamated to form a single regiment of three battalions. Although the RGR has only existed for 25 years, it carries the traditions and history of its antecedent regiments and has already established itself as a formidable fighting force in its own right. This book celebrates the new Regiment's first quarter century of life by providing a visual history of its many achievements over the last 25 years. With a Foreword by His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, it includes more than 500 photographs of Gurkhas that have not been published before and it should therefore be of real interest to anyone who wants to know more about this elite fighting force. Half of the author's royalties from the sale of this book go to The Royal Gurkha Rifles Trust, the Regiment's charity, which helps improve conditions for serving and retired members of the Regiment and their families. Released to the Regiment on 9 July 2019 at the celebrations held to mark the 25th Anniversary of the RGR, the book will be available to the public on 1 October 2019. Demand is expected to be high so to ensure you get a copy, you are advised to pre-order on Amazon using the link below or by clicking on the image to the left.
This short and selective history of the Gurkhas is by no means exhaustive but it serves to illustrate the significant contribution that Gurkhas have made in Britain’s military campaigns over the last two hundred years. For more than two centuries, Gurkhas have been at the very heart of the UK’s military endeavours and they remain a much valued and highly effective part of today’s Army. Competition to join Britain’s Gurkhas remains extremely tough. In 2014, for example, there were 7,865 applicants for 230 places, an increase over the previous year. Although primarily employed in formed Gurkha units, officers and soldiers from the Gurkhas also serve in specialist units such as the Special Air Service (SAS).
This section describes the role that Gurkhas played in the two World Wars, including their famous contribution to the Burma Campaign and the Chindit Operations of Brigadier Orde Wingate. It also covers the award of the first Victoria Cross to a Gurkha.
Out on 1 October 2019
A potential Gurkha recruit taking part in the stamina assessment conducted during Central Selection in Pokhara, West Nepal. During the assessment, which is conducted as a race, potential Gurkha recruits have to carry a weight of 25kg in a ‘doko’, the rattan basket that the people of Nepal traditionally use to carry heavy loads along the mountain paths of the Himalayas.
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, who has served alongside Gurkhas on operations, 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. Commenting on their tour in Afghanistan, Prince Charles said that: "I know that your eight-month tour in Kabul was arduous and dangerous but that you performed to the very highest standards of professionalism in true Gurkha spirit.” Before presenting the medals, he went on to observe that: "Your forefathers would be most proud of you here today, continuing to demonstrate the traditions and achievements that together ensure the worldwide reputation of the Gurkhas as the best soldiers.”
Potential Gurkha recruits have to be able to complete at least 12 under-arm heaves/pull ups. This is not at all easy and the majority of young men will have practised this for a number of months prior to attending recruit selection.
A girl drinking from a tap stand in Bharat Pokhari, a village near Pokhara, following a Gurkha Welfare Trust project in 2013.
When they leave Britain’s service, retired Gurkhas and their families are supported in times of need by the Gurkha Welfare Trust. Based in Salisbury, the Trust ensures that those Gurkhas who have given so much during their service are able to live their lives with dignity. It pays welfare pensions, builds schools in remote mountain villages, runs care homes, provides safe drinking water, installs sanitation facilities and provides primary medical care to the most needy.
Members of the Band of The Brigade of Gurkhas in conversation with the Colonel-in-Chief of The Royal Gurkha Rifles, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, during a medal parade for 1RGR in 2011. His Royal Highness is also Patron of the Gurkha Welfare Trust.
THE STORY SO FAR - CLICK ON THE SECTIONS BELOW TO GO BACK TO A PREVIOUS HISTORY PAGE
This section starts with the first meeting between the British East India Company and the Gurkhas of Bhim Sen Thapa, which occurred when the expansionist 'John Company' met the equally expansionist Nepalese in 1814, and goes on to describe the Gurkhas' service up until WW1, including their role in the Indian Mutiny of 1857.
A selection of photographs from an informal parade which took place at Buckingham Palace on 14 March 2017 to celebrate Prince Charles' 40 years as Colonel in Chief of the Gurkha Infantry. Prince Harry assisted his father in awarding operational service medals to soldiers from The Royal Gurkha Rifles who had recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. Prince Charles also unveiled a painting by Yolanda Aucott which was commissioned by the Regiment to celebrate 200 years of Gurkha service to the British Crown. The painting depicts a contingent of Gurkhas from The Royal Gurkha Rifles marching down the Mall to take part in a service at the Gurkha Statue outside the Ministry of Defence. You can see a short film of this Gurkha spectacle at the bottom of the page.
This section describes Gurkha operational deployments from the end of WW2 up until today and includes their campaigns in Malaya, Brunei, Borneo, the Falklands, the Balkans and Afghanistan.
This section gives an overview of the current Brigade of Gurkhas, including recruiting and the role of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales. It concludes with a brief look at the 25th Anniversary Celebrations of The Royal Gurkha Rifles which took place this year (2019).
On 9 July 2019, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales joined members of the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (1RGR) to celebrate the 25th anniversary birthday of this relatively new Gurkha Regiment. A key part of the day was the launch of the new Regiment's commemorative history, which has a foreword written by Prince Charles and which was authored by Craig Lawrence (shown in the picture with His Royal Highness). You can find out more about the book below (or simply click on one of the images to see the new Gurkha book on Amazon).
Recent books about Gurkhas written by Craig Lawrence (both fact and fiction)
Due late 2019
Lucy Masters, a feisty academic, is in Nepal to climb in the Himalayas. An assassin stalks a man whose company has developed a revolutionary new social media application. Harry Parker, a veteran Gurkha officer, is in Kathmandu on leave. One of the City of London's most successful hedge fund managers is about to make his biggest ever fortune. Though they don't know it, the lives of these very different people will come together in a most unexpected way. Add in a beautiful emerging artist, a sociopath ex-special forces 'fixer' and two highly capable Gurkhas and the stage is set for an adventure that will grip you from the first page, whether or not you have an interest in Gurkhas!
'Craig Lawrence, a modern Major General, draws on his army career and bursts onto the literary scene with a novel that begins with skulduggery in the city and ends in the snows of Devon...I really enjoyed it and it's a great choice to hunker down with as the nights draw in. Inspired by Lee Child, Craig turns out a fast-paced adventure (with Gurkha guest appearances) that has appeal for many ages and covers a range of relationships.' Devon Life, December 2015