The Gurkha

» Posted by on Oct 13, 2019 in Fighter | Comments Off on The Gurkha

The Gurkha

The Gurkhas originated in Nepal, sandwiched between India and the Himalayas. Long been feared on the battlefield, the Gurkhas are fearless fighters known for their curved bladed knife, named the Kukri. When India was at war with the East India Company, the British forces soon learned respect for these warriors. The war ended in 1816. When the British learned of their skills, some deflectors from the Nepalese army were recruited as soldiers in the military. With William Fraser’s influence, a battalion under Lt Ross was formed – the Nasiri. As they became part of the British Army, they became known as 1st King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles and having fought under Lt Lawrie; he reported back that he found them to be excellent soldiers. This force of 5000 men from different tribes in Nepal and they soon became loyal British soldiers. Other Gurkha battalions were formed the 2nd King Edward V11’s Own Gurkha Rifles and the 3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles.

Gurkhas became a necessary [part of the British forces and fought in the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and 25 Indian Order of Merit awards were issued to the Gurkhas for bravery during the siege of Dehli. Just after the Indian rebelled, they were told to relieve the British in Meerut and had a forced march to reach Meernt at 48km per day. During the siege, of the 490 active battalions, 327 were lost. In 1863 Queen Victoria recognised the Sirmoor Regiment and presented them with the Queen’s Truncheon.

The Gurkhas then fought again with distinction for the British in WW1 and WW2 when nearly 240 000 Nelapese enlisted. Later in 1947 with the Partition of India, they became part of the British Army. Other conflicts the Gurkhas have been involved in include the Malaya’s Emergency, Hong Kong, the Falklands and Afganistan.

Throughout the history of the Gurkhas, their knife, the Kukri, has been iconic and has intimidated the enemy on all fronts. The blade is of a re-curve design: it curves downwards with the sharp edge on the concave side. The length varies from 400mm to 450mm and is made from high-grade steel, the handle is of horn, hardwood or metal, and the sheath is of wood and leather. Concealed in the sheath are two small knives – one for starting a fire and the other, the sharp one, for general use.

In battles, the Kukri is used by trained warriors to kill – by dismembering the opponent or disembowelling their horses. The Gurkhas excel at stealth and quick, fatal attacks on sentries, etc. In training, recruits use wooden knives to avoid injury to themselves.