10 Things You Need To Know About The Gurkhas

Some facts you might not know about the British Army's much-loved Nepalese contingent...


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

  • 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.
  • The name "Gurkha" originates from the Nepalese hill town of Gorkha.
  • Between them, Gurkha regiments have received 26 Victoria Crosses, the highest military decoration awarded for "valour in the face of the enemy".
  • They still carry their traditional 18" 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.
  • At the peak of the Second World War approximately 112,000 Gurkhas were fighting for Britain, that number now stands at 3,000.

More from Forces Network: Are You Smart Enough To Be A Gurkha?

  • 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.  
  • Gurkha soldiers are still recruited exclusively from Nepal, the majority coming from poor hill villages.  
  • The selection process is one of the toughest in the world with approximately 12,000 applicants vying for around 200 places. Tests include the infamous doko race, a three-mile uphill run carrying 35kg (77lb) of sand and rocks in a basket strapped to the back.

More from Forces Network: Gurkha Legend JP Cross - The British Army Officer Who Turned Nepali

  • More than 46,000 Gurkhas have died fighting for the British Crown.  
  • In 2009 all retired Gurkhas won the right to live in the UK.

If you liked this article, click here to have a look at the 10 items you have to see at the Gurkha Museum...