Are Gurkha Soldiers That Formidable?

Are Gurkha Soldiers That Formidable?

27th Jan 2020

Let's face it, if you know warriors and battles at all, you've heard of the famed courage, bravery and fighting prowess of Gurkhas.  Originating in Nepal they really came to be known once Britain had brought them into their Empire as a mercenary force in the 1800s. Over the next two centuries, they earned the respect and admiration of all that fought alongside them.  So well-liked were their ranks, they were considered to be "elite".

Although the Nepalese hill men were small in stature they possessed qualities that made them ideal for infantry and parachuting.  Most of their reputation is based solidly in history and they are commonly referred to as the 'happy warriors'. They are cheerful in the face of danger, proud and content to be soldiers.  They find humor in the direst of circumstances. Honestly, most of us aren't like that and we admire those traits in others.

What needs to be stated is that the history and the stories associated with them have always been told by others, never the Gurkhas themselves.  That says a lot. Here are what some British Officers who commanded them and scholars have said-

"Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had a country more faithful friends than you."  -Professor Sir Ralph Turner MC, ex-3rd Gurkha Rifles

"If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha."  -Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, Indian Chief of Army Staff

"I have never seen more steadiness or bravery exhibited in my life.  Run they would not and of death, they seemed to have no fear, though their comrades were falling thick around them." -Ensign John Shipp describing the Battle of Makwanpur

"Soldiers of small stature but the indomitable spirit they vied in ardent courage with The Grenadiers of our own nation, and, armed with the short weapons of their mountains, were a terror to the Sikhs throughout this great combat." -General Sir Hugh Gough, dispatch after the Battle of Sobraon

"The Gurkha is a soldier of high battle-skill, a world-famed fighting man and respected in every country where men fought alongside us in the last war." -Lieutenant-General Sir Francis Tuker, 'While Memory Serves'

"The Gurkha keeps faith not only with his fellow men but with great spiritual concepts, and above all, with himself." -John Masters, 'Bugles and a Tiger'

"To serve with a Gurkha soldier under the British Crown was, and is, a rare privilege which nobody who has shared it can ever forget." -Colonel B R Mullalay, 'Bugle and Kukri'

"The Almighty created in the Gurkhas an ideal infantryman, indeed an ideal Rifleman, brave, tough, patient, adaptable, skilled in field-craft, intensely proud of his military record and unswerving loyalty." -Field Marshal Viscount Slim, 'Unofficial History'

"It was easy to command such people.  It was a privilege to be allowed to do so." -Patrick Davis, 'A Child at Arms'

"Hearing a British Gurkha officer discuss his profession was something like hearing a priest discuss his vocation." -Byron Farwell, 'The Gurkhas'

Formidable?  Absolutely. With their famed sidearm, the kukri, they are still known today for these esteemed traits.