Thursday, April 20, 2006

Send in the Gurkhas

With reference to the snippet that an IKEA store has resorted to hiring four Gurkhas to restore law and order in the car park, a couple of stories spring to mind that underline just how foolish any wouldbe criminal must be if they intend to mess about with the Gurkhas.

The first comes from Robert Graves' memoir Goodbye to all that, a reflection of his service in the Royal Welch Fusiliers during WWI. From memory, he said that one trooper, on being told by a regimental cook that jam was being given out only to those who could prove they had killed a German, had returned promptly the next morning with a sack that contained a German head and helmet. The kick being that the camp was five miles behind the front.

The second comes from John Masters' book Bugles and a Tiger. Masters was an officer in a Gurkha regiment, and tells the story of how, again during WWI

A British battleship, lights out, abristle with fourteen-inch guns, moved slowly up the heavily defended Suez Canal early in 1915. The officer on watch heard a small voice shouting from the land. At length he understood the voice to be saying "Halt! Who-go-dah?"

The officer did not reply. The voice then said "Halt or I fire!" The battleship switched on a searchlight, which illuminated one Gurkha rifleman standing on the bank. His rifle was pointed at the side of the battleship. The battleship stopped; its captain sent an urgent message for help; and the strategic movements of the Royal Navy sttod still while an officer of Gurkhas was found to tell the sentry that the battleship could pass. At last the Gurkha shouted "Pass friend, all's well," and lowered his rifle. The battleship glided on, with a thousand British sailors cheering and laughing.

Gurkhas? Don't mess.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The line between bravery and suicidal stupidity is a very, very fine one indeed, and in this case I reckon that gurkha was way over the line and accelerating fast.

Rule one of battle: if it is armoured and has bigger guns than you do, don't annoy it.

11:10 am  
Blogger Floreat Aula said...

I like the story about the Gurhka who escaped from behind Japanese lines in Burma to safety in India. When being debriefed he was asked how he had managed to findd his way back over 100s of miles of jungle. Easy, he said, I took the map that was in the pocket of my dead (British) officer. This was rather alarming to the Intel guys, who were concerned that confidential information like that may fall into enemy lines, and demanded to see the map. The gurkha handed it over - it was a map of the London Underground

11:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am I correct in thinking that the Gurjha regiment has more VCs than any other?

This has not stopped the MoD paying them much less pension than your average soldier.

3:36 pm  
Blogger David said...

The Gurkhas hold 13 VCs won by Gurkhas and 13 held by British Oficers serving with them.

The regiments that went to India after partition have won 3 of the Indian equivalent the Param Vir Chakras.

As an example of British regiments:

The QO HLDRS hold 25 and when they amalgamated with the Gordons the total held by 1 HLDRS went up to 40.

The Argylls hold 16.

Gurkhas now have the same pay, welfare and resettlement rights as the rest of the british Army with a couple of exceptions - they can have married quarters but I think they have to do around 5 years first. They are not encouraged to settle in the UK although they now have the right as their pensions etc go much further in Nepal and help their families.

4:35 pm  

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