Gurkha! Kukris and gallantry: 200 years or service

On Thursday 30th April the Brigade of Gurkhas  – a group of units of the British Army composed of Nepalese soldiers who have been part of the British Army since 1815 – will celebrate 200 years of service to the British crown with a march from Wellington Barracks down the Mall to the Gurkha Statue in Whitehall, where a memorial service will be held. Each of the Gurkha units will march along with the Band, Pipes and Drums, and will be passing down the Mall at 2:30pm, where spectators will be able to show their support.

In 1915 Gurkha battalions served with distinction at Neuve Chapelle, Loos, Givenchy and Ypres on the Western Front, and in other theatres later in the war. On the first day of the Battle of Loos, the 25th September 1915, 26 year old Rifleman Kulbir Thapa became the first Nepalese Gurkha recipient of the Victoria Cross when he rescued at least two wounded British soldiers from No Mans Land under fire, while wounded himself. His name is recorded on the Commonwealth memorial on Constitution Hill, visited on both the Lions Roar walk and  The Last Journey of the Unknown Warrior walk. Kulbir Thapa survived the war and died in 1956. His VC can be seen at the Gurkha Museum in Winchester.

The Gurkhas have carried their curved fighting knife, the kukri, since they became part of the British Army. In October 2013 Lance Corporal Tuljung Gurung of the Royal Gurkha Rifles was awarded the Military Cross for defending his patrol base in Afghanistan from two heavily armed Taleban fighters, using his kukri.

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