THE FIRST WORLD WAR
At the outbreak of the First World War the whole of the Nepalese Army was placed at the disposal of the British Crown. Over 16,000 Nepalese Troops were subsequently deployed on operations on the North West Frontier and as Garrison Battalions in India to replace troops of the British Indian Army who had gone to fight overseas.
THE SECOND WORLD War
In the Second World War there were no fewer than 40 Gurkha Battalions in British Service, as well as parachute, garrison and training units. In all this total sum 112,000 men. Side by side with British and Commonwealth troops Gurkhas fought in Syria, the Western Desert, Italy and Greece, from North Malaya to Singapore and from the Siamese Border back through Burma to Imphal and then forward to Rangoon.
BORNEO - THE BRUNEI REVOLT AND 'CONFRONTATION' WITH INDONESIA
Gurkha troops (1st Battalion, 2nd KEO Gurkha Rifles) were the first to be used again in an operational role at the outbreak of the Brunei Revolt in December 1962. The battalion was alerted at 11pm on 7th December and the first company was air landed in Brunei, 900 miles away, at 9am the following morning. There followed four years on continuous operations against units of the Indonesian Regular Army in Sabah and Sarawak in which every unit of the Brigade of Gurkhas took part. As they did in the Malayan Emergency, Gurkha units again provided the bulk and the continuity of the British Army's contribution to this campaign. It was in November 1965 that Lance Corporal Rambahadur Limbu of the 2nd Battalion, 10th PMO Gurkha Rifles won the Victoria Cross. When the Borneo campaign ended in 1966 there was a short lull before the Brigade found itself engaged in internal security tasks in Hong Kong during civil disturbances resulting from China's Cultural Revolution.
Between 1967 and 1972, as a result of changing defence commitments and the reorganisation of the Armed Forces, the strength of the Brigade of Gurkhas was reduced from 14,000 to about 8,000. This was achieved by a reduction of the number of Gurkha infantry battalions from eight to five, reductions in the strength of the three corps units ( Engineers, Signals and Transport) and the disbandment of the Gurkha Parachute Company and the Gurkha Military Police. When British Forces withdrew from Singapore in 1971 three battalions of Gurkha infantry and the Gurkha Engineers, Gurkha Signals and Gurkha Transport Regiment were stationed in Hong Kong and the remaining two battalions stationed one in the United Kingdom (at Church Crookham) and the other in Brunei.
In 1974 the battalion based in England (10th PMO Gurkha Rifles) deployed to Cyprus to reinforce the British Sovereign Base Area when Turkey invaded the island. Since 1978 the United Kingdom based Gurkha battalion has taken its turn in helping to garrison Belize and in 1982 the 1st Batalion 7th DEO Gurkha Rifles took part in the Falkland Islands Campaign. In the Gulf War to liberate Kuwait in 1990/1991, the then Gurkha Transport Regiment provided 28(Ambulance) Squadron and the Band of The Brigade of Gurkhas deployed as stretcher bearers.
The Brigade continues to play a full and active part in contemporary British military operations. The 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles were at the forefront of the NATO Peace Support Operations in Kosovo in 1999, whilst in the same year, the 2nd Battalion played a key role in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in East Timor. All units of the Brigade have contributed to United Nations and NATO Peace Support Operations in the Balkans over the last decade. The Royal Gurkha Rifles have also been directly committed to British Operations in Sierra Leone, most notably the 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles and 2 PARA Gurkha Reinforcement Company. The 2nd Battalion deploy to Bosnia for six months in late 2001. During the last Afghanistan campaign the Gurkha casualties were: 15 killed in action (incl 3 British Officers), 54 all ranks wounded in action (some very seriously). Some may believe these are relatively few casualties for myriad number of tours of duty but they do not reflect a lack of action. On the contrary, Gurkhas were in some of the fiercest fighting zones. Awards: In addition to 5 x OBE and 32 x MBE some of which were for bravery, Gurkhas (British and Gurkha Officers and All Ranks) were awarded: 1 CGC (Conspicuous Gallantry Cross - second to VC), 1 dso, 8 x MC, 31 MID, 1 QCB, 12 x QCVS and 48 x CJO (Commander Joint Operations) commendations.
In the two World Wars the Gurkha Brigade suffered 43,000 casualties, and to date it has won 26 Victoria Crosses - 13 by Gurkhas and 13 by British Officers. This short chronicle is of necessity brief and factual. It cannot adequately portray the spirit and the character of the Gurkha soldier, nor can it reflect the 'esprit de corps' and the bond of comradeship and mutual respect which bind together the British and Gurkha Officers and men of the Brigade.