“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gorkha.”
– Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
Integral to the Indian Army, the Gorkhas are probably the most feared and bravest soldiers on the face of the earth.
Here are some of the most interesting facts about the Gorkha Regiment and its valiant soldiers:
1. David Ochterlony, a British General during the time of the Anglo-Nepalese War, was the first to realise the potential of the Gorkhas.
He was so confident of their loyalty that he formed them into a battalion under Lieutenant Ross. The Gorkha Regiment was then known as the Nasiri regiment.
2. The Nasiri regiment were later renamed as the 1st King George’s Own Gurkha Rifles in order to maintain the regiment’s links with King George.
3. Lieutenant Lawtie, under whose leadership the Gorkhas saw action at the Malaun fort, reported that “Octerlony had the greatest reason to be satisfied with their exertions.”
4. The first Battle Honour granted to the Gorkhas was awarded to the 1 Gorkha Rifles due to their conquest of Bharatpur in the Jat war (1826).
5. The 1 Gorkha regiment was involved in Palestine and Mesopotamia as well as The Afghan War (1919).
6. Out of 10 Gorkha regiments, six (1 GR, 3 GR, 4 GR, 5 GR, 8 GR and 9 GR) joined the Indian Army following India’s Independence.
7. A large number of men from the 7 and 10 Gorkha Rifles decided to join the Indian Army instead of the British Army. Due to this, the Indian Army decide on re-raising the 11 Gorkha Rifles.
8. All the honours and traditions of the earlier 11 Gorkha Rifles were dropped following its re-raising by the Indian Army.
9. The third Battalion of the 4 Gorkha Rifles is famous for its actions during the Operation Meghdoot in Siachen.
During their struggle in defending Bilafond La, the 3/4 GR had 13 killed and 23 wounded soldiers.
10. For their efforts in the Siachen region, the 4 Gorkha Rifles was awarded 3 Maha Vir Chakra(MVC), 5 Vir Chakras (Vr C), 2 Sena Medals (SM), 1 Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation card, and 3 Army Commanders Commendation Cards.
11. Among all the Gorkha regiments, the 5 Gorkha rifles (frontier force) have the greatest number (7) of Victoria Crosses awarded to them.
12. Nicknamed as the Shiny Eight, the 8 Gorkha rifles produced one of the two field marshals of Indian Army – Sam Manekshaw.
13. The 8 Gorkha Rifles is one of the most celebrated regiments of the Indian Army, having received numerous citations for their bravery in the Kashmir operations, the Sino-Indian War of 1962 and the Indo-Pak conflicts of 1965 and 1971.
14. ‘Jai Maha Kali, Ayo Gorkhali’ is the war cry of the Gorkha Regiments.
15. The 11 Gorkha Rifles is the youngest of all the Gorkha Regiments.
16. Lieutenant Manoj Kumar Pandey, who was awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his efforts in the 1999 Kargil War, belonged to the 11 Gorkha Rifles.
17. Naik Nar Bahadur Thapa of 5/5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) earned the first Ashok Chakra Class I of independent India.
18. The 4/5 Gorkha Rifles were the first regiment of the Indian Army to be involved in a heliborne attack during the Battle of Sylhet.
19. Major Dhan Singh Thapa, who won the Param Vir Chakra for his heroic actions during the 1962 Sino-Indian conflict, belonged to the 1/8 Gorkha Rifles.
20. Gorkhas have served not only in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Siachen, but also in the UN peacekeeping missions in Lebanon and Sierra Leone.
21. Khukhri, a curved Nepalese knife, is a characteristic of the Gorkhas. All the Gorkha Rifle soldiers carry khukhri as their personal weapon.
22. The badges of all the regiments of the Gorkha Rifles contain a pair of curved khukris in various manners.
23. General Dalbir Singh Suhag, the current Chief of Army Staff was commissioned into the 4th battalion of the 5 Gorkha Rifles.
The Gorkhas are one of the most fearless and worthy warriors across the globe. This is proven by this quote of Lt. Manoj Kumar Pandey:
“If death strikes before I prove my blood, I promise, I will kill death.”