Gurkha personnel

14 Things You Need To Know About The Gurkhas

Gurkha personnel

(Picture: British Army).

Selection for the Gurkha intake of 2019 has just been completed in Nepal – and it is bigger than ever, with the largest number of Nepalese recruits joining the British Army since 1985.

Having completed the first gruelling stage of selection in their respective regions back in September, 580 of the initial 10,000 applicants were invited to return to Pokhara for the final assessment.

    The British Army has just agreed to a significant increase in the numbers of recruits to be selected. 

    Instead of the initial 320, already the biggest intake in 33 years, the Gurkha Company can now take over 400.

    Here are 14 things you need know about the Gurkhas

    1) More than 46,000 Gurkhas have died fighting for the British Crown.

    2) Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw is quoted as having once said: "If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or a Gurkha."

    3) The Gurkhas celebrated serving the Crown for 200 years in 2015 and have been an integral part of the British Army since 1947 when they transferred from the Indian Army.

    4) There have been five Royal Navy vessels named HMS Gurkha or Gurkha. Three were sunk as a result of enemy action, while the last retired in 1984.

    5) Potential Gurkha recruits are encouraged to perform in a talent show before discovering whether they have made it into the British Army. Some of the recent hopefuls tried their hand at beatboxing and breakdancing.

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    6) The name "Gurkha" originates from the Nepalese hill town of Gorkha.

    7) Between them, Gurkha regiments have received 26 Victoria Crosses, the highest military decoration awarded for "valour in the face of the enemy".

    8) They still carry their traditional 18-inch kukri knife - a weapon of which it was said if drawn in battle had to "taste blood", either of the enemy or of its owner, before being resheathed.

    9) At the peak of the Second World War approximately 112,000 Gurkhas were fighting for Britain.

    10) Gurkha soldiers are still recruited exclusively from Nepal, the majority coming from hill villages.

    11) The selection process is one of the toughest in the world with 10,000 applicants vying for around 400 places. Tests include the infamous doko race which involves a three-mile uphill run carrying 35kg (77lb) of sand and rocks in a basket strapped to the back. Forces News' very own Hannah King tried the test for herself:

    12) And preparing the doko requires several steps of preparation.

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    13) In 2009 all retired Gurkhas won the right to live in the UK.

    14) Selection for the Gurkha intake is bigger than ever, with the largest number of Nepalese recruits joining the British Army since 1985.