It is with a fondness that I remember my encounters with Gurkhas. From the first smiles and handshakes and the impression they were small, to the moment one, about a foot shorter than me, picked me up off the ground and threw me about 4ft. Then politely asked if I was OK.
They had a certain air about them, a loyalty beyond question, bravery beyond compare and a very real charm and likeable character that was hard not to be impressed by.
OK, so I ended up with a broken nose a ripped shirt and almost dead through exhaustion, but that is what happened when you played rugby against army units, yet of all the games I played, the Gurkhas stand out fondest in my memory.
You would not expect that from the Gurkhas, that they played rugby, but then again, there is a lot about these people that you would not expect.
A BRIEF HISTORY.
The Gurkhas have been an essential part of the British army for 200 years. They have fought in almost every conflict since then and have served with a valour that is exemplary by any standard be it from past or present.
The British first met the Gurkhas during the 1814/1816 Anglo Nepalese War.
The clash happened between the Gorkha kingdom in Nepal and the East India Company. The war seemed to be started over border clashes and ambitious expansions by both sides. The conflict concluded the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816.
The British army was suitably impressed with the combat prowess of the Gurkhas. This was due mainly to the keen insights of David Ochterlony and British political agent William Fraser who recognising a valuable asset when they saw one and often used Gurkha defectors in the struggle.
In 1815 the British enlisted 5000 men. These were a mixture of the men of Nepal: Gorkhalis, Kumaonis, Garhwalis and other tribes from the Himalayas. Eventually, the Regiment became known as “The Gurkhas”
“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha.”
Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw.
As has been stated, The Gurkhas are a well-renowned fighting force and are the envy of nations around the world. The Gurkhas serve in 3 armies, the Indian, the Nepalese and of course the British.
These brave men have always served with a distinction that stands out sharply in contrast to any other.
We have a swathe of fine examples we can choose from Dipprasad Pun for example;
At the time he was acting Sergeant and serving in Afghanistan. In an hour-long battle Dipprasad used 400 rounds of ammunition and 17 grenades, he also detonated a mine, eventually, after running out of ammunition a Taliban fighter attempted to climb into his position only to be beaten to death a machine gun tripod. 1 Gurkha V 30 Taliban. For his bravery, he was awarded with a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.
Another amazing soldier, Rifleman Lachhiman Gurung was fighting in Burma in 1945 when his position came under attack from the Japanese. In a trench that contained 3 Gurkhas, they came under attack from 200 Japanese infantry. The Gurkhas held as long as they could, however as his comrades were wounded and unable to return fire, the Japanese closed in for the kill.
They got to within grenade-throwing distance and decided not to get in with the demon that seemed to have claimed the trench as his own. Out came the Grenades. The Japanese were appalled to find that for every grenade they threw one would come back at them! Indeed, Lachhiman was actually picking up every grenade that came in and throwing them back at the Japanese. Killing a number of them.
Eventually, a grenade went in and Lachhiman was too slow to respond. There was a crump and silence. The Japanese ran in to claim their prize.
Except the trench demon was still active.
He had tried to throw back the last grenade but it had exploded. It had blown off the fingers on his right hand, his face, arm and right leg had been burnt and badly wounded. Hell hath no fury greater than a wounded Gurkha as the Japanese found out to their cost. As they got into the trench they were met with a rather angry Gurkha who, using his left hand and wielding a rifle killed a further 20 Japanese soldiers and wounded 11 more. Obviously deciding the trench unconditionally belonged to Lachhiman the Japanese retreated. Lachhiman Gurung was awarded with the Victoria Cross for his bravery.
Lachhiman Gurung, who was only 4ft 11″ tall, died at the age of 93, back in 2010.
We then have the breathtaking courage of Rifleman Ganju Lama. His position came under attack from 3 Japanese tanks.
Despite having a broken wrist and wounds to his right hand and leg Ganju Lama crawled out into no man’s land with an anti-tank rifle. He systematically took on 3 tanks, not only destroying each in turn but also killing the crews when they tried to escape. Again, the Japanese retreated and Ganju Lama received the Victoria Cross.
We also have the remarkable story of retired Gurkha Bishnu Shrestha.
He was on a train in India on a day out when 40 robbers decided to attack the train and rob those on board.
Once a Gurkha, always a Gurkha, Bishnu Shrestha did not allow this, not on his watch. Using the famed Kukri knife he decided to take on robbers.
It has to be said, the robbers were armed with knives, swords and pistols. This did not phase Bishnu, he killed 3 of the robbers and injured 8 more. He not only stopped the robbery but he also saved a woman from being raped.
We could go on and on about the Gurkhas. Unit bravery, individual bravery, selfless acts that border on the acts of religious sacrifice. You could go on and on about these remarkable men for all you are worth.
MOST AMAZING SOLDIERS, ABUSED BY SCUM POLITICIANS.
The Gurkha level of bravery is ignored and treated with contempt by our politicians. The snivelling attitude of those who are meant to want the best for our country is met on equal terms with the cowards and racists in the MOD who are meant to be educated yet display an ignorance of reality shared by Mickey Mouse. There is no doubt that our brave Gurkhas are treated badly by those who are meant to look after them. Much like our Veterans who are tossed aside and left to rot on the streets there is a willful ignorance and a false belief, notably from Edwin Brammell who claimed we were all being sentimental as we really do treat the Gurkhas well.
He will probably claim that Isis beheaded their captives fairly.
ENTER STAGE LEFT, JOANNA LUMLEY.
It has to be said, there is a particular shame attached to a cause when a celebrity has to get involved when the morals are clear.
Our politicians ignore the cries of the Gurkhas about needing to be treated fairly.
They ignored the cries of the British public that the Gurkhas were being treated unfairly. Up steps Joanna Lumley and suddenly politicians are paying attention.
Such oafish infatuation was destined to not end well. “My father was a Gurkha”, yelled Ms Lumley, love-struck politicians looking at her with the look of a dying cow in a rainstorm. There were marches, there were protests, but how did it all pan out?
Chhatra Rai General secretary of the Gurkha Welfare Society says that those Gurkhas that have come to live in the UK are thoroughly unhappy, “We told Joanna Lumley that we are grateful to her for campaigning but entitlement to come to the UK was not the problem. There is also the pension problem. The whole situation is much more complicated than people realise.”
Those Gurkhas who retired before 1997 only get a third of the pension that British Army regulars receive. However what makes things worse is that there are thousands of Gurkhas who did not serve the minimum 15-year term and as such, do not get a pension at all. 70% of Gurkhas who came to live in England are from that section. They now only have the state pension to live on. To compound matters further they speak very little English, many carry old wounds and are abandoned by the government.
Rai explains: “They have no money. They are old and frail and have medical problems. They are separated from their family. Many cannot speak English and find it difficult to mix with the community. They are even intimidated by crossing the road.”
This terrible isolation is made worse as the whole culture and way of life in the UK is very different from what they were led to believe in Nepal. Rai had been told, as had the others their adult children would be allowed to enter the UK to look after them. But relatives are not eligible over the age of 18. One veteran who is crippled has a 25-year-old daughter who has been denied a visa.
Rai believes that it would have been simpler and better for all had the Government just changed the pension rates.
“We told the government that these would be the problems,” Rai says. “If they had died at the age of 93, the pension it would have cost, we estimate, an extra £26m. It was a no-brainer.”
Rai says that It would have been far better if retired Gurkhas had been paid better pensions and encouraged to stay at home in Nepal.
Now we have Gurkhas removed from their native land, separated from family, often alone with medical issues and struggling to live on the meagre state pension.
Chhatra Rai served in the British Army for 20 years before retiring as a Warrant Officer Second Class in 2005. He is awarded a pension of £290 a month, whilst a British soldier equivalent gets around £1,000. They also got lump sums of approximately £22,000 compared to his £3,000. “It doesn’t seem right,” Says Rai.
Remarkable as it seems Ms Lumley went rather quiet on the matter before popping up recently and saying, “We should remember that there would be no Great Britain, no National Health Service and no welfare state were it not for the blood spilt by Gurkhas and others to protect this country in much darker and more dangerous times than those we face now,”
Right on Ms Lumley. Maybe those self-same Gurkhas would have been better served if our Government had actually listened to the soldiers themselves instead of a person striking a romantic figure and although trying her best, created terrible issues.
THE INJUSTICE IS REAL.
There can be little doubt that the handling of our armed forces and our Veterans is appalling and borders on the incompetent. Our own soldiers are cast aside with an air of hostility and immorality. Our brave and courageous Gurkhas are thrown aside into cramped living conditions, get a lower pension, indeed, some don’t even get a pension at all. They are thrown aside and left to rot.
How can this be allowed to happen?
How is it that we can pour more and more refugees, asylum seekers and stateless persons into this country, yet we cannot take care of our Veterans?
How come we can send millions abroad in aid each year, but we cannot stop 128,000 children being homeless at Christmas.
It really is not right to do this. Every ounce of moral fibre you have should be screaming at the injustice our Veterans, our Gurkhas and our children are facing.
The day will come when our Gurkhas will scream, “Jai Mahakali, Ayo Gorkhali!!!!!” *
and storm the houses of traitorous politicians and bring them the justice they deserve.
I want to be there with them.
*”Praise the Goddess of war, here come the Gurkhas!”