Today, the Gurkhas’ proud two-century tradition with the British army is under siege. Some in the communist-led Nepalese government object to the Gurkhas being hired guns for a former colonial power and are proposing to ban the practice, just as the British government makes deep cuts in its defense spending.
Britain’s connection with the Gurkhas dates to 1815 when, having barely defeated them in battle, the British decided that if you can’t beat them, have them join you. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Gurkhas have served under the Union Jack in peacetime and in war.
It would be a damn shame if British stupidity in defense spending lead to the end of this 200 year tradition.
I had the pleasure of training very briefly with a company of Gurkhas in Hawaii. Little tiny men, big L1A1 rifles, and even bigger hearts.
I think I told the story here once about standing guard over their tent encampment one night. It was cold and rainy (well, cold for Hawaii, anyway) and I was pretty miserable at some ungodly hour of the early morning. One Gurkha saw me shivering in the rain and brought over a mess tin of steaming hot chicken curry and rice. Just about the best meal I ever had. He didn’t really speak English, and I sure as heck don’t speak Nepalese, but that shared moment of goodwill and brotherhood between soldiers is a cherished memory.