The Gurkhas are dubbed as “the world’s toughest soldier”. Their fighting acumen and strategic location (in Northern India and Nepal) made them a vital instrument for the British Army during much of the 1800s and during both world wars in the 1900s. And they have been called Britain’s “oldest ally” in Asia
History of the Gurkhas
Known has the hill people from Nepal tracing their lineage back to 8th century Hindu warrior, Guru Gorakhnath, a Hindu saint .
First encountered by the British in 1814 - brief war between the British East India company and the Gurkhas called the Anglo-Nepalese War
Impressed British troops so much that they began to recruit Gurkha soldiers into the Royal Army the next year.
The Peace Treaty ending the war allowed the British to actively recruit Nepali Gurkhas in 1816 - 200 years on that relationship has stood the test of time.
Notable quotes and honors
“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha.” - Field Marshal Sam Menekshaw, Former Chief of Staff, Indian Army
Have been awarded 13 Victoria Crosses in their history (the British equivalent to the American Medal of Honor)
The Gurkhas have some of the toughest training in the world - one example is their Doko race, which involves a sprint up a Himalaya Mountain with a 33-pound sack on their back.
One day’s pay every year is donated by present Gurkhas to support the older, retired Gurkhas.
During the world wars, stealthy Gurkhas would sneak up on dugouts to determine whether they were friend or foe by feeling their boot laces (tied differently by allies and Central or Axis powers).