Biggest Intake Of Gurkhas In Over Three Decades Arrive In The UK

The biggest intake of Gurkha recruits in 33 years has arrived in the UK.

The last-minute increase in numbers meant the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) in Catterick had to free up an extra accommodation block and Gurkha Brigade had to supply an additional 32 staff.

However, Gurkha Company are confident they can cope with the numbers.

Gurkhas arrive at UK airport 120219 CREDIT BFBS
The new Gurkha recruits arrived in the UK after a long journey.

The new recruits had to be spread across six different flights, to get everyone safely across to the UK.

The day of their arrival in the United Kingdom is arguably the most important day of the year for Gurkha Company.

"It's exciting, but daunting as well," says Warrant Officer Class 2 Hemraj Gurung, Gurkha Company instructor, when recalling the day he arrived as a new recruit.

When asked if he is looking forward to starting his Gurkha training in Catterick, Training Rifleman Hitson Magar said he could not be happier:

"I heard the weather is cold but I’m still excited."

Gurkhas sleep on the bus to Catterick 120219 CREDIT BFBS
Exhausted after the long flights, new recruits sleep on the bus to Catterick.

After a couple of flights across the world and a bus trip through the British countryside, the new recruits finally arrived at ITC Catterick.

There was the traditional blessing from the pundit and the Commanding Officer’s welcome to the Brigade.

"We’ve waited two and a half months and finally they’re here," says Captain Milan Rai.

Despite the last-minute increase in numbers, the team in Catterick was thrilled: 

"We are so excited and this is also a test for us, because last year [it was a] smaller [group]."

	Gurkhas receive traditional blessing at Catterick
New recruits meet the Gurkha staff at Catterick.

The decision to increase the numbers came at quite short notice to Gurkha Company.

Originally, they thought they were receiving 320 recruits instead of 400.

To make sure the facilities were adequate for the new intake, the Brigade swiftly scrambled 32 new staff and the ITC made an extra accommodation block available.

"We only had 3 months warning but everyone top to bottom worked to make it happen," explains Captain Milan Rai.

Gurkha sign at Catterick 120219 CREDDIT BFBS
Gurkha sign at Catterick.

The decision allowed more young men to leave Nepal and join the Gurkhas in the UK - a dream for many of them.

"It’s been my dream since I was a child because I was inspired by our forefathers so I wanted to join the Army," says Training Rifleman Ashis Rai.

"It’s difficult because I’ve never been so far from my family, but I have a new family here now."

The new recruits will now have seven weeks in barracks, during which they will learn basic soldiering theory.

Only after the seven weeks have passed will they be allowed back off camp and be able to explore the outside world.