2GR Officers in Dharan

I recently came across the photos at the end of this post showing Dharan camp post-handover and a few of it while still occupied.

The Cantonment was established in 1953 and was where the L of C (Lines of Communication) HQ, Eastern Gurkha Recruiting Depot, Resettlement Training Centre, Welfare Headquarters and British Military Hospital were located.  It was known locally as Ghopa Camp.  The camp was closed in 1989 and handed over to the Nepalese Government in 1991 at which point the hospital was converted into the B.P. Koirala Memorial Institute of Medical Sciences, run with Indian aid, which doubled as a hospital and college. The abandoned and decaying buildings that once were offices, married quarters, messes, canteens still stand as if frozen in time.  Nearby is the still-functioning 18-hole golf course, which is in private hands today.  The camp is guarded by G4S (Global Security Services).

Many of Sirmooris recruited in the east of Nepal served there.  In addition, the following 2GR British Officers are believed to have served there:

  • Colonel H G W Shakespear MC (AA & QMG HQ BGN, Dharan from 12 Dec 66 to 18 Jun 69)
  • Brigadier E D Smith DSO MBE (Commander British Gurkhas Line of Communication, Dharan, Nepal from 26 Sep 71 to 22 Sep 80)
  • Maj(GCO) Narbu Lama MBE (Chief Administrative Officer British Gurkha Depot Dharan from 14 Oct 74 to Feb 80)
  • Brigadier Vernon Beauchamp (Detached to HQ British Gurkhas, Dharan, Nepal, as temporary AA & QMG and Deputy Commander from 28 Jun 79 to 22 Sep 79)
  • Brigadier Mike Smith (Commander and Chief Recruiting Officer of British Gurkhas Nepal with his HQ in Dharan, Nepal from 20 Jun 82 to 6 Jun 85)
  • Brigadier Bruce Jackman OBE MC (SO1 Chief of Staff/Deputy Commander HQ British Gurkhas Nepal from 22 Apr 84 to 30 Aug 85)
  • Major (QM) Les Peacock (QM and MTO HQ British Gurkhas Nepal in Dharan from 4 Dec 86 [assuming the appointment on 15 Dec 86] to 30 Aug 89)
  • Brigadier John Brewer CBE (SO1 Deputy Commander/Commandant Dharan HQ, HQ British Gurkhas Nepal from 16 Oct 88 to 9 Nov 89 where he planned and implemented the closure of Dharan Cantonment).
  • Major Rambahadur Gurung MBE (Posted to BGD Dharan as CAO from 6 Feb 87 to Feb 90 during which time there was a major earthquake in East Nepal and for his efforts during the recovery phase he was appointed MBE).

Additions or amendments to this list, and any reminiscences about the place, are most welcome.  Please just click on ‘Comment’ below and comment away!

Above: South Gate.

Above: Dharan Club

Above: Senior British Ranks Married Quarter

South gate dharan camp Dharan club pics British mqs dharan

10 Comments on 2GR Officers in Dharan

  1. Thank you Sudan. I never served in Dharan (although I visited it once when I was Brigade Major) but I am sure many other 2GR officers have interesting memories of their time there.

  2. Very interesting Sudan. I also never visited Dharan while serving (although Griselda did!) – but I visited often after the handover, both as Comd BGN and subsequently when Director of the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation, as we provided some medical equipment to the B.P. Koirala Memorial Institute of Medical Sciences. The Cemetery was very sadly vandalised while I was Comd BGN, but I believe that there is now security in place and the headstones have been refurbished. The Kadoorie Family funded the Depot High School through an endowment until 1996, when as Comd, and with the agreement of the Kadoorie family, we insisted that the School become self-funding, and we transferred the endowment (about $30K) to the GWT.

  3. thank you Sudan. Very interesting. That’s quite a roll call you have compiled! One day perhaps we could go an visit together? very best wishes

  4. Sir, thank you for this post. Interesting to know that you have been to Dharan. The two other (more poignant) sites of interest that escaped my lenses were: the British Gurkha Cemetery (on the approach road to South Gate) which is very well maintained (by CWGC) and an old large Bar-Peepal tree situated outside of the North Gate that historically served many purposes as a Chautari (a rest stop)for people coming to Ghopa camp for all sorts of reasons, e.g. pension collection, hospital visit, final ‘rally point’ for Galla wallahs and their ‘raw’ recruits prior to entering camp, finding solace and strength for the unsuccessful bharti candidates to return to their villages or come back again next year, pick up and drop of point for the rick shaw wallahs ferrying leave or transit personnel, etc. Hopefully I will be able to capture them next time. I too got enlisted at Dharan Depot in 1975 yet it seems like only yesterday! I am finding out why locals called it the ‘Ghopa’ camp.

  5. I recently came across this page. My grandfather tells me stories of the time when they were involved in the construction of the camp in Dharan. My grandfather, Mr. Chiranjilal Agrawal along with his brother Mr. Madan Lal Agrawal (MC Group of Companies, Nepal) constructed the camp. Wonderful to see some of these old pictures. I will show my grandfather as well. Thank you Sudeep ji for this post.

  6. Remind me of those days in Dharan, British Cantononment Nepal. It was the golden days and British Raj. Miss those days, still I find myself in those places. We have to give thanks to British to establish that facilities. The main important place of civilization in Easter Nepal.

  7. I served in Dharan in 1976 and then visited a few times whilst Paymaster in Pokhara in 1983/4.
    The photos evoked many happy memories.
    Thank you Sudan

  8. I lived in the camp and went to the school here in 1974, I have very fond memories living and going trekking! If I’m not mistaken that is the actual house I lived in! We were the first to occupy it ! My father was on a two year posting as the senior Logistics Officer, Deputy Director of Ordnance Services (DADOS) under the camp commander Brigadier ED ‘Birdie’ Smith. What a place to grow up ! I couldn’t believe it when I came across this post .

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