1 Aug 21
BILATERAL VACCINE SUPPORT TO NEPAL
From: Lt Gen Sir David Bill (President GBA)
Subject: Bilateral Vaccine Support to Nepal
Date: 30 July 2021 at 12:07:04 BST
Many of your will be aware that I wrote a letter (Hon Sec Comment: Scroll down to the notice dated 16 Jun 21) to the Prime Minister more than 4 weeks ago on 15th June on behalf of the Gurkha Brigade Association asking that Nepal – given the particular UK debt of honour to Nepal and our duty of care to our Gurkha veterans – be given special consideration for the the bilateral supply of Covid vaccine support. You may also know that Lord Mark Lancaster of Kimbolton and our Colonel Commandant, Lt Gen Richard Warlaw, have been helping the Government with expert advice as to how best to address this requirement. We have thus far been waiting patiently for a response to our letter without even an acknowledgement.
You, like us, will no doubt have been surprised if not dumbfounded to see the recent FCDO press release of 28th July stating that bilateral Covid vaccine donations are to be made to Indonesia, Kenya, Jamaica and others but no mention of any vaccine support to Nepal. We have waited in vain for any explanation of the rationale behind what seems to be a clear and callous oversight in denying our friends in Nepal the support that Prime Minister Oli alongside many others requested several weeks ago.
We have loyally waited for the Government to react to the many requests being made to support Nepal. Our patience has run out and it is now time for us to use every lever to apply pressure on this discourteous Government to do the right thing by our friends in Nepal. We have today launched a petition, which having received the minimum required signatures is now being checked by the petitions system before being authorised for release. We shall send you details once available.
But in the meantime may I ask you to pass on this message as widely as you can such that we use every effort to spread the word that Nepal needs vaccines now and that we must put increasing pressure on this Government to act.
Salaams as ever,
Lieutenant General Sir David Bill KCB
President, Gurkha Brigade Association
After note: Gen David has resubmitted his letter ‘The case for bilateral vaccine support to Nepal’ to; the Times; Sunday Times; Telegraph; and Sunday Telegraph for publication hopefully in the near future. Members are encouraged to write to their MP supporting Covid Support to Nepal.
NEPAL COVID SITREP – 28 July 2021
The following HQBG SITREP has been received from the Brigade Secretary:
TV NEWS ITEM – 27 JULY 2021
You may have seen Debi Edward’s (ITV Asia Correspondent) report on the Governments position on Covid Support to Gurkhas in Nepal.
The GWT went to great lengths to provide accurate details about its work in Nepal in the hope that it would influence the reporter’s predetermined negative attitude towards the UK Govt’s lack of provision of Covid vaccine for Gurkha veterans and Nepal. Whilst not attempting to curb members right to voice their opinion, the HQBG Lines to Take (LTT) are as follows:
1. Death Rates: The Covid death rates observed in our Gurkha veteran community are tragic, both in UK and Nepal. The statistics are in part a reflection of the demographic of the group. The death rate amongst Gurkha veterans is no higher than those of the same age brackets.
2. Duty of Care:
- The GWT are providing the best care they can, given the travel restrictions and their duty of care to their staff.
- There were no special arrangements for Covid vaccination for members of the British Army or veterans in UK; all were treated in exactly the same way as the British public i.e. the vaccination programme was based on age and vulnerability, less those small number who were working clinically, in direct support of the NHS, for whom special arrangements were made.
3. Provision of Covid vaccines to Nepal:
- Companies producing Covid vaccines in UK and worldwide are “controlled” by their respective Govts. Only Govts are allowed to authorise the release for sale/donation of Covid vaccines by the manufacturing companies. The rationale behind this is to stop the cost of the vaccines spiralling upwards and to ensure that they are sent to where they are needed most, rather than to those who can afford to pay the asking price.
- The FCDO have stated that the UK Govt allocated £548M towards the provision of Covid vaccines to COVAX. Nepal has received 1.8M vaccines (not all from UK) via COVAX, more are in the pipeline.
- At the recent G7 conference it was agreed that bilateral agreements to supply Covid vaccines were permissible. The practical detail of this policy is being worked through at the highest levels of government. Based on this policy decision, President GBA, in his letter to the PM of 15 June 21 recommended that a “bilateral agreement” be set up between UK and Nepal to supply vaccines. This has also been asked of the government in the House of Lords by Dep Col Comdt BG.
THE NOT FORGOTTEN – CONCERT 21 Aug 21
The Not Forgotten was unable to celebrate their Centenary in 2020 because of the restrictions and wishes to celebrate our Centenary in style by holding a spectacular fundraising event at Danny House, Hurstpierpoint, Sussex during the evening of Saturday 21st August.
Tickets are available through the Eventbrite link on the attached poster. Any veteran purchasing tickets can receive a £5 discount per ticket by using the code VETERAN.
For details please see the attached poster NF Centenary Proms on 21 Aug 21.
CENOTAPH PARADE – 14 NOV 21 – REPLY BY 13 AUG
RBL have once again changed the method of applying for tickets! HQBG no longer has the option of bulk loading attendees for tickets. HQBG will continue to coordinate the names of those who wish to attend this years Cenotaph Parade on 14 November 2021 by sending out a link for individuals to self-register.
Please let me know if you are planning to attend by sending me you full name and e-mail address by 13 Aug 21. You will be sent a link by e-mail to self register.
10 Jul 21
MAJOR GENERAL STRICKLAND APPOINTED TO COMMAND 6(UK)DIVISION
Major General Gez Strickland DSO MBE, late 6GR and now Colonel RGR, has been appointed to command 6(UK)Division in September 2021. The Division prepares and generates the Army’s Information Manoeuvre and Unconventional Warfare forces for both constant competition and warfighting, as well as conducting operations below the threshold of armed conflict in the virtual and physical dimensions. It provides British Army capabilities in intelligence, counter-intelligence, cyber, electronic warfare, information operations and unconventional warfare. It has a structure of four specialist brigades.
The Chairman of the Gurkha Brigade Association has sent him the following message:
‘On behalf of our President Lt Gen Sir David Bill and all our Members of the GBA, please accept our most hearty congratulations on your appointment as GOC 6th (UK) Division in September. Your Regiment, our Brigade of Gurkhas, and all those who have served under your command and enjoyed your good friendship, will be delighted for you, and of course Cathy too who has been by your side all the way through your distinguished career. Salaams, ra jai hos Hazur !’
5 Jul 21
LADY BETTY KADOORIE
Sirmooris will be sad to hear of the death of Lady Betty Kadoorie, wife of Sir Michael Kadoorie, a generous benefactor to the people of Nepal and the Brigade of Gurkhas. Lady Kadoorie strongly supported his efforts and, like him, had visited Nepal on many occasions to help identify opportunities to help those in need. She died on 20th June 2021 in Houston, Texas, while undergoing heart surgery that was not successful. Senior officers of the serving Brigade and the Gurkha Brigade Association have sent letters of condolence.
Lady Kadoorie with her husband, Sir Michael.
24 Jun 21
CANCELLATION OF SRA DELHI DAY 164TH REUNION ON 11 SEPTEMBER 2021
At the 2GR Sirmoor Sathis-UK’s AGM meeting held on 20 Jun 21, the decision was taken to cancel the 164th Delhi Day celebrations, planned for Saturday, 11 September 2021. The next Delhi Day Re-union will be held on 10/17 September 2022 (date tbc).
NEPAL COVID SITREP – 24 June 21
The following HQBG SITREP has been received from the Brigade Secretary:
21 Jun 21
NAMING OF GWR TRAIN AFTER TULBAHADUR PUN VC ON 23 JUNE
Due to Covid those not invited are encouraged not to attend however a live broadcast will appear on the GWR Facebook page which can be found here https://www.facebook.com/gwruk. The broadcast will start at around 1020 with a holding screen until we cut live to Paddington around 1025. A recording of the ceremony will be stored on the facebook page and available to be watched after the event.
EX PIPE MAJOR SGT KRISHNA KUMAR RAI – DO YOU REQUIRE A FORMER RGR PIPE MAJOR TO PLAY AT EVENTS
Ex 2 RGR Pipe Major, Sgt Krishna Kumar Rai is available to provide music at funerals and many others occasions such as Wedding, any reception, dinner or birthday party for members of the GBA. For further details please click on his advertisement.
NEPAL COVID SITREP – 17 June 21
The following HQBG SITREP has been received from the Brigade Secretary:
16 June 2021
PRESIDENT GBA LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER – COVID NEPAL SUPPORT
Please see below Lt Gen Sir David Bill’s letter, as President of the Gurkha Brigade Association, to the Prime Minister. The letter asks the PM to direct that necessary steps are taken to set up a bilateral agreement for the donation of Covid vaccines to Nepal.
A copy of the letter has been sent to:
FM Chapple (via Chair 2GR) Lord Richards Gen Sir Sam Cowan Gen Sir Peter Wall Lt Gen Sir Philip Trousdell Lt Gen Sir Peter Duffell Lt Gen Sir Nick Pope Lt Gen Peter Pearson CEO GWT - Mr Al Howard Chairman GM Trust - Mr Martin Brooks Director GM - Dr Daren Bowyer Sec of State - Rt Hon Ben Wallace Foreign Sec - Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP CGS - General Sir Mark Carlton-Smith Col Comdt - Lt Gen Richard Wardlaw Deputy Col Comdt - Lord Lancaster
23 JUNE 2021 – NAMING OF GWR TRAIN – ‘TULBAHADUR PUN VC’
GWR have brought the timings forward by 30 minutes to allow the train to stick to its schedule. If anyone wishes to attend they may do so. Social distancing guidelines should be observed. For details please click on the GBA Admin Instruction.
15 June 2021
GURKHA MUSEUM EVENTS IN JUNE/JULY
Please click on the link for full details of the Gurkha Museum Events.
Following the success of Christopher Bullock’s ‘Op Hell Fire’ all Sirmoories will be interested in listening to the following on-line presentations shown below. These talks are FREE but the Museum asks for a donation to be made for the Museum.
- Op Hell Fire – If you you were not able to listen to Christopher Bullock’s fascinating account of Op Hell Fire in Borneo – you can catch up by clicking of the Op Hell Fire link.
- 29 June 2021 – High Risks at Black Four Zero at 7 pm. Listen to Bruce Jackman’s experiences of Jungle Operations in the Borneo ‘Confrontation’. The live link to his talk on 29 Jun 21 at 7 pm is here.
- 13 July 2021 – ‘Who are the Gurkhas’ at 7 pm. Listen to Major General Craig Lawrence CBE speak on 200 years of bravery and loyal service to the British Crown.
PETITION – UK SHOULD SHARE COVID VACCINE WITH NEPAL
Sirmoories are encouraged to sign the petition “Boris Johnson Prime Minister: UK should share Covid vaccine with Nepal”. This petition is supported by the Britain Nepal Society. The goal is to reach a very modest 500 signatures – surely we can do better than that! We need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here: http://chng.it/qhvgXYxWb4
KHABARHUB INTERVIEW WITH BRITISH AMBASSADOR IN NEPAL
Members concerned about the current situation in Nepal will be interested to read the interview given bt the British Ambassador to Nepal to Kharbahub. This article whilst not focusing on the pandemic does addresses some of the concerns and the wider role that UK is playing in Nepal. Please click on the following link to the Khabarhub interview with British Ambassador in Nepal
28 May 2021
UK MEDICAL TEAM HEAD TO NEPAL
Please follow the link to read a brief article and video about the deployment of UK Medical Team to Nepal.
24 May 2021
RGR WATCH PROJECT
Details on how to order the watch can be found on the enclosed document.
The cost of this bespoke watch is £475.00 with a black rubber strap or £600.00 with a gunmetal grey strap. Elliot Brown will donate £45 of each sale to the ‘RGR Regimental Trust’.
If you have any questions concerning the watch, please contact Maj ‘Dingo’ ‘O’Connor, Bn 2IC, 2 RGR. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
GBA/HQBG COVID SITREP as at 21 MAY 21
The following HQBG SITREP has been received from the Brigade Secretary:
The Foreign and Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has announced that a UK Medical and Advisory Team is to be deployed to Nepal next week. No further details in response to Nepal’s requests for support have been announced. FCDO have had talks with Nepali Foreign Minister and Nepali Ambassador in the UK to further identify requirements; multiple avenues continue to be explored to inform and assist with the national decision making process.
Pol: Dep Col Comdt tabled an urgent question in the House of Lords on 19 May.
- Pressure brought by several Lords for a special effort for Nepal, notably from Lord Sheikh and the Earl of Sandwich who both sit on the All Party Parliamentary Group for Nepal.
- Lord Ahmad (Minister for South Asia & Commonwealth) had spoken to the Nepali Foreign Minister on 18 May and was in dialogue with the Nepali Ambassador in the UK.
- UN Resident Coordinator Situation Report No. 36 as at 14 May 21 identifies the Needs, Response and Challenges to Nepal’s situation.
(A 10-minutes video of the debate can be seen at http://www.branngo.org.uk/covid-19-in-nepal/ no login required; scroll to the bottom of the page to see the video – Webmaster).
Change Org petition to FSec launched with lots of high profile signatories: Joanna Lumley, Michael Palin, scientists, academics, Everest climbers, Gurkha veterans, including Capt Rambahadur Limbu VC, two former Col Comdts and other friends of Nepal, join the call for urgent medical aid.– Petition – Send Oxygen to Nepal
- Planning for draw-down of non-essential staff and dependents asap. Core staff will remain in place to continue developmental work.
- Facing increased pressure from the Govt of Nepal and interested parties in the UK to provide greater support.
- FCDO and the MOD in joint discussion on the next steps.
- Lord Ahmad announced in the House of Lords the UK military support team expects to be in Nepal to offer help early next week.
- Col Comdt and HQBG are engaging with senior leaders in Army HQ.
- CGS’ office have engaged with DA Kathmandu.
- Ongoing planning in MOD:
- The worsening COVID situation in Nepal has led to concurrent activity by FCDO and Defence – to generate maximum support.
- The planned MOD/FCDO discussion provides an opportunity to reassess the humanitarian situation and further support options.
- Def Support are on standby to facilitate movements as required.
- Army HQ staff are reviewing options to provide wider support to Nepal in line with the FCDO intent.
- Army has a prioritised list to withdraw all non-essential and at-risk service personnel/dependants to UK. Total c150 pax (including those on leave). HQBG has established a team to provide support on arrival.
23 May 2021
BIRTHDAY GREETINGS TO FIELD MARSHAL SIR JOHN CHAPPLE
The President of the Sirmoor Rifles Association, Brigadier Ian Rigden, has sent the following birthday greetings to Field Marshal Sir John Chapple, former Colonel of the Regiment, on the occasion of his 90th birthday:
20 May 2021
GURKHA MUSEUM LECTURE 8TH JUNE 2021 – ‘OPERATION HELLFIRE’
The Gurkha Museum is doing a zoom presentation by Brigadier Christopher Bullock OBE MC on ‘Operation Hellfire’ during Confrontation on Tuesday 8th June at 1800 hours. It will be followed by a Q&A session hosted by Museum Director Dr Daren Bowyer. The trailer for the talk is up on the museum web site now. Visit the website at https://thegurkhamuseum.co.uk for further details and to register for the event.
18 May 2021
CHAIRMAN’S LETTER BRITAIN NEPAL SOCIETY
– WRITE TO YOUR MP ABOUT THE COVID CRISIS IN NEPAL!
Andy Sparkes, the Chairman of the Britain-Nepal Society, has sent the letter below to BNS members but Sirmooris may also wish to consider acting on its contents. Click here to download the draft letter he refers to that you can personalise and send to your MP. If you don’t know who your MP is or their address, click here where you can look him/her up.
Dear Members and Friends of Nepal,
As you will know, Nepal has been hit grievously by a second wave of COVID-19. It has spread out from Kathmandu- where already all hospital beds are full and oxygen is desperately short, to the villages where there is very little capacity to help victims at all. The country risks being overwhelmed. The Prime Minister, KP Oli, has appealed directly for British help- see this Guardian article: Nepal is being overwhelmed by Covid. We need help | KP Sharma Oli | The Guardian. Nepal’s Ambassador to the UK Lokdarshan Regmi has provided a detailed list of requirements and appealed to the UK for 2 million doses of vaccine.
Already the various other organisations representing friends of Nepal, Nepali expatriates, the British and Nepali Gurkha family are gearing up with petitions and calls for HMG to respond to this need. For our part, Nick Hinton as Chairman or BRANNGO and I have attended several online briefing meetings on the crisis and we have written to the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Nepal, Virendra Sharma MP, who also monitors Uk aid spend in the Parliamentary International Development Committee, to ask him to mobilise Nepal’s friends in Parliament and remind HMG that our relationship with Nepal is special. Many developing countries are suffering with COVID. But only Nepal for 200 years has been supplying, and continues to supply, crack soldiers for our army. When Nepal, is in need, we should come to the rescue.
The text of the letter Nick and I have sent is available through the Hon Secretary. If you would like to make a difference, please write to your own MPs, drawing on this material and the KP Oli letter. Please do not just attach our letter to a one line covering letter to your MP. I know from experience in Whitehall that whilst that is better than nothing, it will not be as effective as a personal letter from you to the MP, with any points you personally wish to make. The MP will then forward the letter to the decision maker, the Rt Hon Dominic Raab the Foreign and Development Secretary, and Mr Raab’s department the FCDO will draft a reply to the MP for signature by Mr Raab or one of his Ministers. A personalised letter will make much more of an impact and is more likely to get a bespoke rather than a standard reply.
In addition, please do add your names to the various petitions now underway.
With your help we were able in a modest way to help with food aid and equipment for Nepal in its (relatively limited) first wave, through our COVID Relief Appeal which disbursed £30,000. That was a great effort for a Society of our size and we will consider what more we can do. But given the scale of this second wave what we can do financially is just a drop in the ocean. Where we can make most difference is in lobbying HMG. Please lend your voice to the cause.
18 May 2021
BRIGADE OF GURKHAS UPDATE ON RESPONSE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC IN NEPAL
The following update has been received from the Brigade Secretary. It has been approved by DA Kathmandu, Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, President Gurkha Brigade Association and Director Gurkha Welfare Trust.
Update on the COVID-19 situation in Nepal
- Nepal is experiencing a devastating second wave of the Covid 19 pandemic.
- It is having a devastating effect on the Nepali people, including Gurkha veterans, their families and the families of service personnel.
- The Government of Nepal (GoN), Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Nepal, The Regimental Associations Nepal (RAN) and other organisations have made approaches to the UK asking for support for Nepal during this critical period.
The UK response
- The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Organisation (FCDO) is the UK lead department.
- In the MOD, Minister Armed Forces has been briefed based on input from British Gurkhas Nepal (BGN) and Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas (HQBG) in preparation for his discussions with FCDO ministers.
- Deputy Colonel Commandant (Brig Lord Lancaster of Kimbolton) has raised the issue verbally in the House of Lords and with those in Government in a position to inform the decision-making process.
- Colonel Commandant (Lieutenant General Richard Wardlaw OBE) has engaged with key leaders in MOD and Army HQ .
- Chief of the General Staff’s (CGS) outer office has been briefed by staff at HQBG and The Land Operations Centre on possible assistance options.
- The Gurkha Brigade Association (GBA) has counselled British and Gurkha senior veterans on progress and on how to most effectively make their important views known.
10 May 2021
SIRMOORI ELECTED AS COUNCILLOR
Sirmooris will be pleased to hear that Nem Bahadur Thapa (21165765 Rifleman, late 2nd Battalion), was elected Councillor for the Conservative & Unionist Party at CherryWood, Farnborough, in the Rushmoor Local Election on 6th May. He beat the Labour Candidate by 898 votes to 806. Our congratulations to him on this splendid achievement!
8 May 2021
GURKHA MUSEUM ARMCHAIR BATTLEFIELD TOUR – 24TH JUNE
The first of the ‘new style’ Armchair Battlefield Tours is on Thursday 24th June when we will be tramping the ground of the American Revolution/War of Independence with Gordon Corrigan as our tour guide. Bookings are all done through the Gurkha Museum website https://thegurkhamuseum.co.uk/whats-on/?events=lecture .
GBA ANNUAL GOLF DAY – 16 SEPTEMBER 2021
The GBA Annual Golf Competition will take place on Thursday 16th of Sep 21 at the Weybrook Park Golf Club, West course. The course has been fantastic all around year and 2 US Open Golf Champions and 1 winning Rider Cup Captain have played the course. Details to follow in due course.
GWT BREMONT WATCH
The GWT has partnered with the Bremont Watch Company to produce a stunning, limited edition GWT Bremont watch. Fifty of these watches will be produced. Ser No 1 will be donated to the Trust. Each watch costs £3,195.00 incl of VAT with 35% of the VAT exclusive price being donated to the Trust (if sold through GWT channels). 25% will be donated if Bremont sell the watch. The deposit on each watch is £1,000.00.
For further details see https://www.gwt.org.uk/news/gurkha-bremont-special-edition-watch/.
6 May 2021
ROYAL GURKHA RIFLES AT FUNERAL OF HRH PRINCE PHILIP, DUKE OF EDINBURGH
Sirmooris may not have been aware that The Royal Gurkha Rifles was represented at the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh, on the strength of his connection with RGR’s antecedent Regiment the 7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles. The Queen’s Truncheon was on parade. Major James Christy, Officer Commanding B (Sari Bair) Company 1RGR provided this account:
‘Saturday the 17th of April 2021 marks a day of sorrowful significance in The Royal Gurkha Rifles Regimental history. This was the ceremonial Royal funeral of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. A ‘special relationship detachment’ of nine Gurkhas from the 1st Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles paraded with the Queen’s Truncheon alongside those Regiments and Corps to whom His Royal Highness was Colonel in Chief, to assist the nation in paying final respects to His Royal Highness and provide support to our Sovereign. This is the first time the Queen’s Truncheon has been paraded in such pageantry since HM Queen Elizabeth the Second’s coronation in 1953. Not for this reason alone, was the event significant in our Regiment’s history.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was involved in every detail of the funeral arrangements before he passed away. Those units with whom he enjoyed a close relationship through Colonelcy or Patronage were to attend with their colours for the ceremony. 7th Gurkha Rifles was awarded the Royal title of the Duke of Edinburgh in 1959 in recognition of its outstanding operational record in Malaya and two world wars. The Regiment was to be styled “7th Duke of Edinburgh’s Own Gurkha Rifles”. It was for this antecedent connection that Royal Gurkha Rifles representatives attended HRH’s funeral; we were the only Regiment present without a direct connection to HRH.
Upon news of HRH’s passing on 9th April 2021, seven Gurkha soldiers and a Truncheon Jemadar from the 1st Battalion were activated, under the command of Major James Christy, and urgently fitted for number one uniforms in the Battalion tailors, in preparation for deployment to the Operation FORTH BRIDGE Joint Concentration Area at Pirbright Barracks. It was serendipitous that the Queen’s Truncheon was on its way back from Brunei when the dreadful news reached the Regiment. Fitting for the Truncheon’s funerary black drape took place immediately upon its receipt (the material sourced after some struggle late on Sunday from Dunelm in Canterbury and fitted at haste by Cpl Kumar Darji, perhaps his final tailoring for the Regiment prior to retirement).
The four days of drill practice at Pirbright, under the watchful eye of the London District Garrison Sergeant Major and Army Ceremonial School hurtled by in a flash. Royal Gurkha Rifles soldiers, unused to heavy drill, benefited from extra tuition from the Drill Sergeants until they were at a standard worthy of the Household Division. The sense of camaraderie amongst the Army, Navy and Royal Air Force was palpable. The British military pulls together in times of adversity. The unique situation was made more complex by the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The quiet evenings in Pirbright Barracks were punctuated by occasional sing-song from Gurkha soldiers in the block as they whiled away the evenings polishing shoes until they appeared to be made from obsidian, and pressed cloth to a standard that would “send OC Saheb to the medical centre with razor cuts”!
It was during the first dress rehearsal at Windsor Castle on Thursday 15th of April 2021, that the magnitude of the occasion started to sink in. In the Windsor Castle Quadrangle, they would represent their Regiment, mere metres away from the chiefs of the Armed Forces, the Royal Family and HRH’s coffin. The pressure of performing to a high standard was heightened by the knowledge that they would be watched by millions of people live on UK and international television coverage of the event. Thankfully, they passed their inspection by the London District Garrison Sergeant Major with flying colours, and the manoeuvres they would perform in the Quadrangle were etched into their muscle memory.
The morning of Saturday 17th April 2021 saw the Gurkhas awaken as the sun rose over Pirbright barracks. As long lines of soldiers, sailors and airmen & women queued for breakfast, a tense and reflective atmosphere had descended over the camp, as nerves set in across all detachments. When asked how they were feeling, the Gurkhas offered determined smiles and a reassuring “we can do this Saheb”; brave but modest under pressure as always. The logistical effort to move over 700 military personnel to Windsor Castle from Pirbright was conducted by the Royal Logistic Corps without the slightest mistake; military precision at its finest.
Upon arrival at Windsor, the Gurkhas quietly descended the coach steps and made their way under direction of the Parade Marshal to their Assembly Area at the bottom of the Long Walk. As the heat of the day reached its zenith, the Gurkhas, alongside other special relationship units (the Queen’s Royal Hussars, The Grenadier Guards, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal Gurkha Rifles, The Rifles, the Intelligence Corps, and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers; in order of precedence) stood at ease in 3 ranks, awaiting the order to begin their quick march up the Long Walk. The Queen’s Truncheon, highly polished and adorned with a simple black funerary drape below the Crown, glittered resplendently in the sun. Regimental Colours, Guidon and Truncheon also paraded in strict order of precedence according to the Army List, which helped to avoid any Ill-feeling by any Regiment. We were proud however to be the bearers of the oldest regimental colour on parade by some margin. Given that that Queen’s Truncheon originates with the Sirmoor Rifles, the RGR, 7 GR, and 2 GR were represented on parade.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Gurkha. Upon a bellowing right turn and quick march from the Parade Marshal, the special relationship detachments began to wind their way up the Long Walk led by the Band of the Grenadier Guards. Chests puffed out and arms shoulder high as the music stirred the souls of the detachment members. Breath became laboured and sweat began to run as the Long Walk became steeper. For the Gurkhas, Castle Hill was a mere mound compared to the hills of Nepal, and they marched with panache & style up the incline. As they entered King George IV gate, Guardsmen stationed outside snapped smartly into a present-arms to acknowledge the passing of the Colours. Through the archway, they were greeted by the grandeur of the Quadrangle, and a smart right wheel at the King Charles II statue led them into their final positions, ready to begin the ceremony. Television cameras swivelled urgently to capture the best angles of the parade unfolding before them. The Truncheon Jemedar, Captain Bhupendra Gaha, was proud to hear that the Queen’s Truncheon was acknowledged and discussed by the BBC commentator during this moment.
And so, the ceremonial Royal funeral for His Royal Highness began. Hours upon hours of hard work on the drill square had gone into this moment and the Gurkhas delivered as promised. The Gurkhas were fortunate to have been placed right in the centre of the parade (perhaps due to height but who knows?) and all other units took their spacings left and right of them. Not a flicker of idle movement from a Gurkha soldier was seen on television. More impressive considering Captain Bhupendra Gaha had to hold the Queen’s Truncheon at the lower, as the NCOs flanking the Truncheon had to present arms also, for 26 minutes. An impressive display of physical strength and personal discipline.
The orchestral drill movement of “lowering upon your arms”: rifles and swords slowly lowered over the count of 6 seconds, and culminating in the bowing of heads, was an emotive moment. Even more so as “I vow to thee my country”, “Jerusalem” and “Nimrod” were struck up by the massed bands of the Royal Marines, The Foot Guards, and the Royal Air Force. The atmosphere in the Quadrangle was emotionally charged. As the 12 minutes of music eventually drifted away upon the breeze, and present arms was called, the emotional tension amongst all military personnel & spectators rose to a crescendo. First at the sight of HRH’s coffin, being carried to the custom-made Land Rover that would bear HRH to Saint George’s Chapel. But secondly at the sight of HM The Queen in her vehicle joining the back of the procession, holding a courageous air of dignity and grace even in mourning.
The funerary procession began its slow march towards Saint George’s Chapel. As HM The Queen’s vehicle disappeared from view into Engine Court, the parade was ordered to stand at ease, and it was felt that as HRH The Duke of Edinburgh had passed from view, a defining era for Great Britain had passed with him, and the future seemed a little more uncertain that it had before.
The Gurkhas had delivered what they had promised during the parade. A high standard of drill, immaculate turnout and personal discipline throughout. No one could have asked for more from their duty that day. The Gurkhas who stood in the Quadrangle saw their attendance as the greatest honour, that they could pay their last respects to a senior member of royalty, who had never touched their lives directly, but whose presence could be felt in the professional fabric of the Regiment. Selfless service brings honour upon those that give it, and it was a privilege to give honour to HRH as he was laid to rest at Windsor.
God Save The Queen.’
30 April 2021
COVID-19 IN NEPAL
Sirmooris may be interested in the following exchange, and in particular the update on the Covid-19 situation in Nepal.
The Chairman of the Sirmoor Rifles Association, Colonel William Shuttlewood, sent the following message to the Chairman of the Sirmoor Club Nepal, Captain Bharat Singh Chettri, on 29th April:
Here in UK we are being briefed by media on the COVID situation in India and its dreadful consequences for the country’s national health system. We are also being briefed on the consequences of the spread of the virus to neighbouring countries that include Nepal. There is footage of the stresses already in evidence on Nepal’s health system. It is reported that you are going into lockdown from tomorrow.
I just want you to know that you and all Sirmooris in Nepal are very much in our thoughts and our prayers and we hope that you will be able to weather this dreadful storm. I would be very grateful if you convey to the membership of the Sirmoor Club (Nepal) our salaams and our hope that you will come through this crisis to gather once again to remember life in the 2nd Goorkhas.
Do please keep in touch. Salaams.
The Chairman of SCN replied as follows:
Thank you for your email and also for your concern over the health of the Sirmooris in Nepal. I’ve called most of our branch chairmen and relayed your message to them. It seems there aren’t any veterans in the list of infected people. Some cities in the South bordering India are the most affected and the situation there is worsening by the day. Luckily we don’t have our veterans living there. Kathmandu is one of the 14 districts worst affected. People are so scared that over 150,000 left Kathmandu by road in the two days after the Govt announced a week’s lockdown starting from 0600 hrs 29th Apr to midnight on the 5th May. Suddenly they again announced the lockdown would be for 15 days yesterday morning. More would have left Kathmandu if they had said 15 days instead of a week’s lockdown on the 26th.
Kathmandu airport didn’t let 160 Indians arriving from India, mostly from Delhi, board the planes for third countries the other day. They were said to be in possession of fake PCR certificates.
There have been cases of more people being tested positive in Kathmandu lately. The figure is around 4800 daily. Although not as bad as in India hospitals are running out of bed and in a few days if they cannot manage more cylinders they will run out of oxygen also. God only knows what will happen. Death figure is going up daily, it was 35 the other day. 14 died in the last 8 hours – that was yesterday. The carriers are the Nepalese returning from India, mostly in the far western region.
I am not being selfish but our veterans will have no problem unlike the local populace who think they know everything and do not listen to others.
Thank you again, Sir, and I also would like to say that you are all in our thoughts and prayers too. With the training we have got we should definitely be able to come through this crisis.
Salaams, and best wishes.
28 April 2021
SALE OF FIELD MARSHAL BRAMALL PRESENTATION ITEMS
Sirmooris may be interested to know that Field Marshal Bramall’s executors are selling off various items that were presented to him via the auction house Dix Noonan Webb. Please see their catalogue for the Medals and Militaria auction on 19 May 2021 on their website at www.dnw.co.uk.
24 April 2021
REPLY TO CONDOLENCE MESSAGE TO HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES
The following reply has been received from Clarence House to the message of condolence sent to HRH The Prince of Wales, former Colonel-in-Chief of the 2nd Goorkhas, on the death his father, Prince Philip:
12 April 2021
PRESENTATION OF MEDAL TO MAJOR DILBAHADUR GURUNG
As reported in October, Major Dilbahadur Gurung MVO, Ex 2/2 GR, was awarded ‘Prabal Janasewa Shree (Fourth Class) Medal’, the Nepal Civilian Award 2020, by the Government of Nepal for his contribution to Education Development in Nepal. The award ceremony was postponed due to COVID-19 but eventually took place at the Presidential Residence in Maharajgunj, Kathmandu, on 9th April 2021 when the President of Nepal, Rt Hon Bidya Bhandari, presented medals to the recipients.
Major Dilbahadur Gurung MVO, Ex 2/2 GR, receiving the medal from Rt Hon Bidya Bhandari, President of Nepal, on 9th April 2021.
Major Dilbahadur Gurung proudly displaying the Award Certificate
The recipient showing off all his medals!
10 April 2021
CONDOLENCE MESSAGE TO HRH THE PRINCE OF WALES
The following message has been sent to HRH The Prince of Wales, former Colonel-in-Chief of the 2nd Goorkhas, on behalf of all members of the Sirmoor Rifles Association:
22 March 2021
CANCELLATION OF GBA MEMORIAL SERVICE AND LUNCH 5 JUNE 2021
The following message has been received from the Gurkha Brigade Association Secretary:
You will be disappointed to hear that GBA Memorial Service and Luncheon has become another Covid casualty. President GBA has agreed that the GBA Memorial Service and lunch planned for 5 June 21 is to be cancelled.
We investigated the possibility of postponing rather than cancelling the event, but given the current situation and the demographics of those attending, it was decided that in order to be socially responsible we should cancel the event rather than postponing it. We look forward to see you all in 2022.
20 March 2021
5/8GR 80TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION IN POKHARA
The 5th Battalion 8th Gorkha Rifles (Sirmoor Rifles), ex-Servicemen’s Association in Pokhara celebrated their 80th Raising Day on 15 March 2021.
Major Lachhimiparsad Gurung MVO BEM and Captain Ganesh Gurung represented the 2nd KEO Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) on behalf of the Sirmoor Rifles Association and the Sirmoor Club Nepal.
Poster for the event.
Presentation of memento by senior Sirmoori, Havildar Kulbahadur Gurung 5/8 GR, who enlisted into 4/2 GR in 1941, flanked by Subedar Major/Honorary Captain Bhimbahadur Gurung (Chairman) and Subedar Major/Honorary Captain Lalprasad Gurung, the senior Subedar Major.
Another photo of the 2GR and 5/8GR officers and SNCO involved in the presentation.
Recently retired Subedar Major/Honorary Captain Krishna Bahadur Gurung, late 5/8 GR, posted the following photo and badges on his Facebook page, showing the strong connection that still exists between the 2nd Goorkhas and 5/8GR:
(Photo is of Honorary Major Tule Ale IDSM, Gurkha Major 2/2 GR, holding the Nishani Mai during an Attestation Parade in 1968).
Sirmooris may also be interested in the following picture of the PMC of the 5/8GR Officers’ Mess by their replica of the Nishani Mai, taken by Captain Karnabahadur Thapa when he and General Duffell visited 5/8GR in Hyderabad for their 75th Jubilee celebrations in 2017. The painting in the background is of Captain Kharkabahadur Ghale 1/2GR holding the (real!) Nishani Mai.
17 March 2021
KUKRI 2020 – CALLING NOTICE
Please note that the closing date for Kukri articles is 23 Apr 2021. For details click on the Kukri 2020 Calling Notice. Key points to note: Articles fonts must be “Calibri” size 10; Photos may be imbedded in the article, BUT must also be sent separately; Photos should be a minimum of 500 kb resolution. Completed articles are to be sent direct to the Brigade Secretary.
FRENCH TRAILER FILM ON THE HIMALAYAS
French Paraglider pilot who flies and walks the length of the Himalayas. Here’s a short Trailer on his film ‘Blutch’ on You Tube but the film can be watched on Amazon Prime. The segment in Nepal is charming and well off the beaten track. Film title
RESTORATION OF MILITARY MEDALS TO PERSONNEL DISCHARGED ON BASIS OF THEIR SEXUALITY
Veterans who were forfeited military medals for reasons related to their sexuality may now apply to the Medal Office for restorative action.
2GR SIRMOOR SATHIS-UK ANNUAL REPORT 2020 AND NEW APPOINTMENT LIST
164th Delhi Day Celebrations will be held on Saturday, 11 September 2021 at 1130hrs as follows:
- Area One. Empire Banqueting Hall in Aldershot, Post Code: GU11 1DJ
- Area Two. Nuneaton, N Warwickshire
- Area 3. York
Details to follow.
COVID INFORMATION SHEET (Devanagri)
This COVID Poster (Devanagri) may be useful to Gurkha families.
12 March 2021
BRIGADE OF GURKHAS UK BHELA 2021 – CANCELLED
After consideration of all factors and discussion with the President and Colonel Commandant Brigade of Gurkhas, the Gurkha Brigade Association has decided to cancel the UK Bhela this year. They have
based this on concern for public health, the demographic of our veteran community and their families, military force health protection and duty of care, the impact of the virus in the area local to Aldershot during the pandemic, and their collective responsibility.
12 March 2021
SIRMOOR CLUB NEPAL – TIGRIS/TAMANDU DAY CEREMONY IN POKHARA 6 MARCH 2021
With COVID-19 restrictions in mind, only a small number of Sirmoor Club Nepal members were able to gather and remember Tigris and Tamandu Day on Saturday 6 March. The ceremony was held in front of the Lal Gate at the Gurkha Memorial Museum in Pokhara. The following ten veterans were present:
- Major Yambahadur Gurung BEM
- Major Chandrabahadur Pun MVO
- Major Lachhimiparsad Gurung MVO BEM
- Major Hitman Gurung
- Captain Ganesh Gurung
- Captain Mekhbahadur Gurung
- Captain Dammarbahadur Gurung
- Captain Dudman Gurung
- Captain Hikmatbahadur Gurung
- Sgt Narbahadur Pun
The Tigris Day History was read by Captain Ganesh Gurung and the Tamandu Day history by Major Chandrabahadur Pun with much pride and josh.
Flowers were laid by Capt Dudman Gurung (Vice-Chairman Pokhara Branch).
Major Yambahadur Gurung also took the opportunity to pass on points from the Trustees Meeting held in the UK on 5th March.
Captain Ganesh Gurung reading the Tigris Day history.
Major Chandrabahadur Pun reading the Tamandu Day History
Major Yambahadur Gurung briefing attendees.
Senior Sirmoor Veterans
22 February 2021
GURKHA MUSEUM EXHIBITION – FIELD MARSHAL SLIM
The Gurkha Museum has set up an online exhibition about Field Marshal Bill Slim at https://thegurkhamuseum.co.uk/uncle-bill/. It is available until 5th March.
26 January 2021
PHOTOS OF CASSINO LINES
Colonel Christopher Lavender and his wife Griselda, who live in Hong Kong, reported that on 23rd January:
“We went on our one of our periodic visits to old hunting grounds in the NT yesterday – including driving through Cassino Lines, passed the Gurkha Cemetery (beautifully maintained by the CWGC) and through Tam Mei. If you enlarge the discreetly-taken photograph of the parade square you will see PLA troops in front of the cinema. Interestingly our car was disinfected by a huge machine (not unlike a snow-making machine) as we entered the camp. There is also a photograph of Battalion HQ with large Chinese slogans. Griselda is being released next week ! We then drove passed Gallipoli to Sha Tau Kok. The old Burma Lines site is unrecognisable – and now a huge housing estate with its own shops, bank branches etc. But good weather here as you can see by the last photograph looking down in Starling Inlet.”
22 December 2020
HONORARY DEGREES: MAJOR AND MRS DAVID THOMAS
Sirmooris will wish to join the President of the Sirmoor Rifles Association in congratulating Major and Mrs David Thomas on the award, to both of them, of Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Education by Coventry University. They were conferred in November in recognition of ‘a lifetime’s work in education which has let to the development of six world-leading schools in London [Thomas’ London Day Schools] and access to education for thousands of young people in Nepal [The Thomas’s Foundation/CAIRN Trust]’.
13 December 2020
ARMCHAIR BATTLEFIELD TOURS 2021
For the last eight years the Sirmoor Armchair Battlefield Tours have concentrated on campaigns and battles in which Gurkhas have fought, initially exclusively those in which 2nd Goorkhas took part. However, we have now completed all that are worth covering, so it is intended to widen the scope of these popular events to cover a range of campaigns and battles of a more general, but nonetheless fascinating, military interest.
Two Armchair Battlefield Tours are planned in 2021:
- Thu 15 Apr 21 – ’The American Revolution/War of Independence’. ‘A revolution? A rebellion? A civil war? A fight for liberty against an oppressive colonial power? Opportunism? A French ploy to obtain control of the West Indies? This talk will strip away the patriotic froth surrounding the events of 1775 – 1783 and examine the facts of the war, the personalities involved and the underlying causes of discontent.’
- Thu 9 Dec 21 – ‘The British Army in the Napoleonic Wars’. ‘The British Army, once described by a (French) critic as being ‘a mob of flogged criminals led by coffee house fops’ in fact developed during the Napoleonic Wars into a finely honed killing machine. It was the only professional, all volunteer army in Europe and this talk describes how it was recruited and trained, where its officers came from and how the purchase system worked’
The talks will be given by Major Gordon Corrigan MBE, who served in the 6th Gurkha Rifles and the Royal Gurkha Rifles. He is an acclaimed military historian who has published a number of books, and presented a number of TV series. He lectures widely, and conducts battlefield tours worldwide.
Details of each event and how to book tickets will be posted later. They will be publicised on the Gurkha Museum website and are therefore likely to attract wider audiences so Sirmooris are advised to move quickly if they wish to secure a ticket.
28 November 2020
OBITUARY: 21149075 SGT SHERJUNG GURUNG EX 1/2 GR
The following obituary message has been received from Captain Bharat Singh Thapa Chhetri, Chairman of the Sirmoor Club Nepal:
In loving memory from the Godavari Alumni Association members
It is with deep regret that I inform you that Sherjung Gurung Dai (21149075 Sgt ex-1/2 GR) passed away in Mediciti Hospital, Lalitpur, on 10th November 2020 after a short illness. He was 79 years old. He lived in Godavari and so was not in regular touch with our veterans community.
Sherjung Dai was my barrack commander when I joined the Battalion in Queen’s Hill Camp (later Burma Lines) in Hong Kong in June 1964. Those of you who knew him or worked with him will remember him as a soft spoken and helpful person who was respected by all.
He left on pension prematurely as a Sergeant from Slim Barracks Singapore in 1970. After retiring from the Army he took up the job of Vice Principal of St Xavier’s School Godavari and continued in that role until 2016. He sadly lost his wife, Henrietta Bhauju, in 1991. He leaves behind a son, a daughter and four grand children.
Captain Karnabahadur Thapa, the Honorary Secretary of SCN and Pokhara Branch Chairman, has added the following information:
The following Gurkha Sirmooris were educated at St Xavier’s School:
Major Lalbahadur Gurung
Major Krishna Gurung BEM (Later transferred to QG Sigs)
Major Sankar Gurung
21160016 WO2 Narbahadur Gurung (Later transferred to QG Sigs)
21160379 WO2 Dilbahadur Ghale
21161546 WO2 Shriprasad Gurung
21161833 WO2 Prasad Thapa
21161231 CSgt Rameshbahadur Thakali
21159731 Sgt Chandrabahadur Pun
21162255 Sgt Yuktabahadur Gurung
21159963 Rfn Ram Gurung (Later transferred to 2/7 GR)
The present Vice Principal of St Xavier’s School is Mr Nanda Kumar Thapa, 1/2 GR bhanja.
14 November 2020
BBC INTERVIEW WITH LIEUTENANT COLONEL JOHN CROSS
Click here to view this 11th November 2020 interview on YouTube.
NEPALI TIMES ARTICLE ABOUT COLONEL JIMMY ROBERTS
An article in the Nepali Times about Colonel Jimmy Roberts is available here.
11 November 2020
MESSAGE TO ALL SIRMOORIS FROM BRIGADIER IAN RIGDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE SIRMOOR RIFLES ASSOCIATION, ON THE OCCASION OF REMEMBRANCE DAY 2020
Remembering all Gurkha soldiers everywhere, past and present, especially our own 2nd Goorkhas and those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Also Remembering those they left behind, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, wives and children, and for those injured in mind and body in the service of our Nation. Greater love hath no man that he lay down his life for another … they will be forever in our hearts.
6 November 2020
SIRMOOR DICEBOARD COVID-19 FACEMASK
A facemask is available in Sirmoor diceboarding at https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/897167199/red-and-black-dicing-face-mask-covering. As at today’s date (6th November) it looks as if they are running short of this popular item, but hopefully they will restock soon.
5 November 2020
GURKHA MUSEUM FRIENDS E-NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2020
Please click here to download a copy of the Gurkha Museum Friends E-Newsletter for November 2020.
5 November 2020
GURKHA MUSEUM REMEMBRANCE EXHIBITION ONLINE
The Gurkha Museum has set up a very good online exhibition, ‘Unforgotten: A Commemoration of Gurkha Service and Sacrifice’, which can be seen at https://thegurkhamuseum.co.uk/autumn-exhibition/. It runs until 11 November.
Those of you who are not yet Friends of the Gurkha Museum may wish to consider joining and the SRA Committee would strongly encourage you to do so. Details are available on the exhibition webpage.
22 October 2020
NEPAL GOVERNMENT AWARD TO MAJOR DILBAHADUR GURUNG MVO
Major Dilbahadur Gurung, Gurkha Major of 2/2GR from October 1982 to November 1985, has been awarded the ‘Prabal Janasewa Shree (Fourth class) Medal’, Nepal Civilian Award 2020 by the Government of Nepal for his contribution to Education Development there. He was to have received the award from the Rt Hon Bidya Bhandari, President of Nepal, on Nepal New Year’s Day (13th April 2020) but sadly this had to be postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The President and Chairman of the Sirmoor Rifles Association and the Sirmoor Club, the Chairman of the Sirmoor Club Nepal and the Chairman of the Sirmoor Sathies have all sent congratulations to Major Dilbahadur on behalf of SRA members worldwide.
17 October 2020
PRESENTATION OF PENSION SUPPLEMENT TO 2GR SECOND WORLD WAR WIDOWS
Captain Karnabahadur Thapa has kindly forwarded the photographs below of a presentation, on 15th October, of an additional one month’s pension to two 2GR Welfare Pensioner Widows residing in Residential Home in Kaski. The recipients were:
• Mrs Lalmaya Gurung, aged 82, the widow of IA31338 Rfn Krishnabahadur Gurung who served in the Regiment from 1943-1946.
• Mrs Sabitri Shrestha, aged 86, the widow of IA 31449 Rfn Surjabahadur Newar who served in the Regiment from 1943-1945.
16 October 2020
MANDIR IN BURMA LINES HONG KONG
Colonel Christopher Lavender has sent these photographs of the Mandir in what used to be Burma Lines in Hong Kong. The Mandir is a Grade 3 listed building (i.e. protected) but the barracks area is now a housing estate.
16 October 2020
APPOINTMENT OF MAJOR MANIKUMAR RAI AS DEPUTY LORD LIEUTENANT
The following message has been received from the Chairman of the Gurkha Brigade Association, Colonel David Hayes:
“We have received notification today from the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire that Her Majesty The Queen has approved the appointment of Major (Retd) Manikumar Rai MBE as a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire.
I am sure you would wish to join me in congratulating Mani on this fantastic honour and achievement – I believe this is a first for a Gurkha – and in Mani’s case a highly deserved accolade. ”
14 October 2020
ARMCHAIR BATTLEFIELD TOUR OF THE BURMA CAMPAIGN
Sampan Travel were planning a 2020 “Forgotten War Tour” through Burma with Dr Robert Lyman, but it had to be cancelled because of the pandemic. In its place, they are launching a virtual tour this month.
The Burma Campaign: A Virtual Tour with Dr Robert Lyman will take place over 7 days, starting 26th October. Guests will be invited to tune in online at 7pm each evening as Rob Lyman leads them through the Second World War in Burma from the Japanese invasion to the battles of Kohima & Imphal and the exploits of the Chindits. Sampan Travel wish to make the tour as intimate as possible and invite guests to message them in advance if there are specific aspects of the Campaign that they wish Rob to focus on e.g. the war records of an ancestor who fought in Burma. There will also be plenty of time to ask questions directly to Rob during the tour.
The cost of the tour is $99, 10% of which will be donated to charity and 100% of which is redeemable against any future booking you make on a non-virtual tour with Sampan Travel.
Registrants who are unable to join us live will be sent recordings of the previous day’s session each morning.
More info on the tour is here: https://www.sampantravel.com/journeys/the-burma-campaign/
14 September 2020
DELHI DAY GREETINGS
DAILY TELEGRAPH ANNOUNCEMENT
‘In memoriam their name liveth for evermore’
2ND KING EDWARD VII’S OWN GURKHA RIFLES.—(The Sirmoor Rifles). Delhi Day 14th September 2020. On this day, the surviving members of the Regiment remember with pride all those who gave their lives serving in our Regiment from 1815 to 1994. Online ref: 586663
SIRMOOR CLUB (NEPAL)
Dear President, Chairman and Trustee saheb haru and SC UK Members
On the occasion of 163rd Delhi Day I on behalf of all Sirmooris in Nepal, India, Brunei and Hong Kong send you Delhi Day Greetings.
Although due to COVID-19 no other branches will be observing, the Pokhara Branch will hold a brief ceremony to commemorate Delhi Day at the Gurkha Memorial Museum Pokhara in front of the Lal Gate on 14th September 2020. Under the Branch Chairman Captain Karnabahadur Thapa, a small group of about 8 Sirmoori veterans will gather keeping social distance wearing their Anniversary Medal. The Story of the Siege of Delhi by The Sirmoor Battalion in 1857 will be read by the senior Sirmooree present Major Yambahadur Gurung BEM. The Last Post bugle call will be played, wreath will be laid to remember the Delhi veterans and the replica of the Queen’s Truncheon will be given full respect by those present.
Jai Sirmoor !
BIOGRAPHY OF GENERAL RONNIE McALISTER
Rupert Litherland’s biography of General Ronnie McAlister, who served as Major General Brigade of Gurkhas, titled ‘A Modest Major General’ is now available on Amazon or through Waterstones. It follows Rupert’s biography on General ‘Bunny’ Burnett and is his second contribution to Brigade and 10GR history.
The reviews, so far are:
General Sir Garry Johnson, who served in 2/10GR with Ronnie McAlister, writes ‘I thought I knew ‘Ronnie Mac’, as he was known, but Rupert’s research and insights have revealed a great deal I did not know about Major General Ronnie McAlister’s life and achievements: both are of interest.‘
Gordon Corrigan, historian and ex-6GR writes: ‘Of particular value, not just to the Brigade but to military historians generally, is the account of the events on the Hong Kong border in 1967, when McAlister was in command of 1/10GR’. Litherland has gone to great lengths to uncover previously unpublished sources and interview leading participants, and he has produced the most accurate account to date, and which is unlikely to be surpassed’. A Modest Major general is a good read.’
SOLDIER IN THE SAND – LT GEN SIR SIMON MAYALL – TALK AT THE NAM
Members may be interested to see the following presentation ‘Soldier in the Sand’ by Lt Gen Sir Simon Mayall.
AWARD TO MAJ(Retd) SUDAH DEWAN BEM
Congratulations to Maj (Retd) Sudan Dewan BEM, who is working as a Safety & Security Supervisor at DELL HQ Scotland, Glasgow on being awarded a highly commended “Community Core Value Certificate” by the Securitas UK Security Company in recognition of his outstanding achievements and ongoing dedication to the community during the COVID-19 crisis.
Left to Right: Joseph McLoughlin (Regional Security Manager EMEA),
Sudan Dewan, Mark White (Senior Director, DELL Scotland).
14 September 2020
GURKHA BRIGADE ASSOCIATION EVENTS IN NOVEMBER 2020
The Chairman of the GBA has issued the following updates:
GBA Briefing and Dinner: I regret to announce that due to the current Covid-19 restrictions, the President GBA has decided that in the interest of our Members, the Pre-GBA dinner briefing and the GBA dinner is to be cancelled.
Field of Remembrance Service: At present The Royal British Legion intend to continue with the Field of Remembrance Service (FoRS), but at a much reduced level. As yet I have not been informed as to how many GBA Members will be issued with tickets. My intent is to have at least one member form each RA present, to enable us to continue with the Slim and Gurkha statues ceremonies.
AGM: Dependant on the attendance at the FoRS, the Chairman GBA’s intent was to hold the AGM at the Army and Navy Club as originally planned. This, however, has changed with the latest Govt announcement about size of household groups (6) that may meet. The GBA AGM will, therefore, be a virtual meeting via Skype/Zoom – details to follow.
Cenotaph Parade – 8 Nov 20: The Cenotaph Parade is to go ahead, but again at a much reduced level. Each “Association” will only be allowed a maximum of 8 marchers only. Again details to follow.
13 September 2020
DELHI DAY MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT & CHAIRMAN OF THE SIRMOOR RIFLES ASSOCIATION
GAVIN EDGERLEY-HARRIS, DIRECTOR GURKHA MUSEUM – (Gathering material for a farewell presentation)
Gavin Edgerley-Harris will stand down as Director The Gurkha Museum at the end of this month. His successor is Daren Bowyer and a Press Release announcing his appointment was published on the website at the end of July (see below).
A Kudoboard has been established to enable those who know Gavin to place photos, messages etc which will be converged into hard copy as a memento of his time as custodian of the Brigade’s heritage. This is where we can all place messages, photos and other media and this will converted into a permanent and hard copy memento for Gavin at the end of the month. You can post as many times as you want or add to your post. Photos will be particularly welcome.The Kudoboard can be accessed at: https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/XAUguELP
The SRA Chairman has asked for this information to be put on the Noticeboard so that Sirmooreescan record their appreciation of the terrific work he has done on our behalf and wish him well in retirement.
13 September 2020
GENERAL SIR SAM COWAN – ENTERTAINING GURKHA VCs
Sirmooris may be interested in this article by General Sir Sam Cowan describing a visit to his house by 5 Gurkha VC winners in 1995 (click on the link to access it).
15 August 2020
OBITUARY: Indian Army No. 7514 Rfm Chamar Gurung Ex 2/2 GR
The late Rfm Chamar Gurung, 100 years old, at Field Marshal Lord Bramall’s Memorial Service at the Residential Home Kaski on 4th December 2019.
We regret to inform all that Rfm Chamar Gurung ex 2/2 GR, a Resident of Residential Home Kaski (RHK), passed away in Manipal Teaching Hospital, Pokhara, on 20 August 2020 from illnesses unrelated to COVID-19.
Born on 1st January 1921 in Singdi, Pashgaon VDC, Lamjung, Rfm Chamar Gurung joined the British Indian Army on 16 November 1940 and was discharged on 17 June 1946. He was Prisoner of War (PoW) in Singapore from 1942 to1945. He had been suffering from gallbladder cancer for a long time and was admitted to Manipal Teaching Hospital, Pokhara, on 7 Aug.
Coordinated by Lamjung Pokhara Samaj Rfm Chamar’s last rites were performed by his nephew and his daughter and son-in-law, and as per his wish was cremated at Ramghat, Pokhara on the same day, attended by other family relatives living in Pokhara. Sadly his only son, aged 75, who lives in his village in Singdi could not be present because he himself is suffering from spinal injury.
Date for his Arghun to be held in Lamjung is yet to be announced.
The President, Chairman and members of the Sirmoor Rifles Association, Chairmen of the Sirmoor Sathies UK and Sirmoor Club Nepal and all Sirmooris in the UK, Nepal, India, Brunei and Hong Kong offer their condolences to the late Rfm Chamar Gurung’s son and other members in the bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace.
Lt Gen Sir Peter Duffell meeting Rfm Chamar Gurung at the Residential Home in Kaski in 2015
A tribute to Rfm Chamar has also been posted on the GWT website here: https://www.gwt.org.uk/news/In-honour-of-Chamar-bahadur-gurung/
15 August 2020
GURKHA VCs IN BURMA – ARTICLE FROM DAILY TELEGRAPH 15 AUGUST 2020 BY LT GEN SIR PETER DUFFELL
You can download a copy (e.g. for printing) by clicking on the link below the article.
GBA VJ DAY COMMEMORATION IN LONDON 15 AUGUST 2020
Lt Gen Sir Peter Duffell represented the Sirmoor Rifles Association at the GBA VJ Commemoration event in London with representatives of the other Gurkha Regiments plus Gavin Edgerley-Harris (the curator of the Gurkha Museum), Major Mani Rai the Brigade Secretary and Hugo Slim, the grandson of Field Marshal Sir William Slim. The two Queen’s Gurkha Orderly Officers, a bugler and a piper were also present. Wreaths were laid at the Chindit memorial and Field Marshal Slim’s statue followed by a short remembrance ceremony at the Gurkha statue in Whitehall.
Please follow this link to see the images from the VJ Day 75 GBA London events and please click here to see the record, including a video of the event, posted by the Gurkha Brigade Association on their website.
NATIONAL ARMY MUSEUM (NAM) PRESENTATIONS
The NAM gave a very good presentation on ‘The War in the Far East and in Modern Memory’. In the short time available the 4 speakers, historians from the 3 service museums and CWGC gave a well-balanced, holistic view. Replay is available at https://www.crowdcast.io/e/neverforgotten.
11 August 2020
DEHRADUN TO DELHI CHARITY RUN – 8 SEPTEMBER 2020
A (Delhi) Coy 1 RGR is conducting a charity run where a section is collectively running the distance from Dehradun to Delhi, approximately 250km, with 16kg weight in the webbing and daysack on 08 September 2020. The event is led by Cpl Kiransingh Pariyar to mark the 163rd Delhi Day celebration in order to commemorate our forefathers during the siege of Delhi in 1857.
For Further details please click on Dehradun to Delhi Charity Run.
Please support this great initiative from A (Delhi) Coy 1RGR. As of 11 Aug, 51% of their total has been raised so far – lets help them pick up the pace!
8 August 2020
GENERAL COWAN ARTICLES ABOUT NEPAL
General Sir Sam Cowan, former Colonel Commandant of the Brigade of Gurkhas, has published 3 articles about the Ranas which give new insights into the history of Nepal based on his own research:
6 August 2020
VJ 75 – BURMA CAMPAIGN FACT SHEET (Produced by the Gurkha Museum)
Sirmooris will be interested in reading the VJ Day (15 Aug)– Burma Campaign Fact Sheet produced by the Gurkha Museum.
OBITUARY: Capt Guptabahadur Gurung (2nd Bn 1961 – 92)
Capt Guptabahadur Gurung (2nd Bn 1961 – 92) – Obituary
5 August 2020
OBITUARIES: CAPTAIN (QGO) TEJBAHADUR GURUNG MM AND LIEUTENANT (QGO) SOMBAHADUR THAPA MM
Notification has been received from Nepal of the death of two brave and highly-respected Gurkha Officers of the Regiment:
483492 CAPTAIN (QGO) TEJBAHADUR GURUNG MM 1/2 GR
Born: 1932, Kolma, Syangja. Enlisted 9 October 1949. Retired 24 June 1977 after 28 years’ service. Medals: GSM 1923 with Clasp Malaya and Clasp Brunei; Military Medal; GSM 1962 with Clasp Borneo; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
Captain Tejbahadur was awarded the Military Medal when a Corporal Section Commander for his leadership and bravery on 27/28 September 1963 during an operation at Long Jawi in Borneo. An account of the action can be found in the Borneo section of the campaign medals page here.
He sadly suffered a stroke in 2001 since when he became housebound because of paralysis. The paralysis got worse over the years to the extent that in the last 5 years or so he was almost totally incapacitated. He passed away in Fishtail Hospital Pokhara on Tuesday 28 July 2020 at the age of 88. He leaves behind his widow Mrs Krishna Kumari Gurung, 3 sons, 2 daughters, 6 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
The President, Chairman and members of the Sirmoor Rifles Association, the Chairman of the Sirmoor Club Nepal, all members of Central Committee and all Sirmooris in Nepal, India, Brunei and Hong Kong offer their condolences to the late Captain Tejbahadur Saheb’s widow and all members of his bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace.
484179 LIEUTENANT (QGO) SOMBAHADUR THAPA MM 1/2 GR
Born 1931 in Panlase Gaon, Horsangde W/No 3, Parbat. His father was Subedar Dambarbahadur Thapa 9 GR. Enlisted 6 October 1949. Commissioned 25 April 1967. Retired 30 April 1970. Medals: GSM with Clasp Malaya; GSM 1962 with Clasp Borneo & Clasp Brunei; Military Medal; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
Lieutenant Sombahadur won his Military Medal for bravery as the Corporal Company Signaller for Captain F A Lea, Officer Commanding C Company, in the action in Tutong on 8/9 Dec 1962 during the Brunei Rebellion. Captain Lea won the Military Cross in the same operation. See an account of it in the campaign medals page here.
In retirement he was deeply involved in community work in his village and served as Gaon Panchayat Pradhan Pancha from 1987-91 (BS 2044-48).
He died peacefully at his home on 28 July 2019. He is survived by 3 wives (living) and many children and grand children.
The President, Chairman and members of the Sirmoor Rifles Association, the Chairman of the Sirmoor Club Nepal, all members of Central Committee and all Sirmooris in Nepal, India, Brunei and Hong Kong offer their condolences to the late Lieutenant Sombahadur Saheb’s widow and all members in the bereaved family. May his soul rest in peace.
The Commandant, Lieutenant Colonel E D Smith DSO, introducing the then Sergeant Sombahadur Thapa MM to The Right Honourable Denis Healey, Secretary of State for Defence, in Singapore 1965.
31 July 2020
COMMONWEALTH VETERANS VJ DAY FILM TRIBUTE BY GENERAL THE LORD RICHARDS OF HERSTMONCEUX GCB CBE DSO DL
From: Grand President The Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League
Lord Richards invites you to view an 8 minute film tribute to World War II Commonwealth Veterans who fought under command of Admiral Mountbatten (later to be The Earl Mountbatten of Burma), Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia Command. The film has been produced by the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League to commemorate and celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Commonwealth contribution to victory in the Far East in August 1945.
BBC BROADCAST – VJ DAY 75 – SAT 15 AUG 2020
The BBC is broadcasting a 90 minute programme on mark VJ75 on Saturday 15th August on BBC One at 20:00 hrs.
There are interviews filmed with the Chindits and others, as part of the televised celebration of VJ Day 75. One of the veterans of the Burma Campaign being interviewed is Subedar-Major (Honorary Captain) Kulbahadur Gurung MM, 3rd/6th Gurkha Rifles.
RBL VJ DAY 75 – SHARE YOUR STORIES OF VJ DAY
As we mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day on 15th August this year, The Royal British Legion is encouraging members of the public to learn more about the Asia-Pacific conflict. We will be shining a spotlight on the previously untold stories of the British, Allied and Commonwealth forces and civilians who served and sacrificed in the Far East during the Second World War.
The Legion is looking to highlight the significant contribution and diversity of all those who served in the Far East including military personnel and civilians from across Europe, Africa, South and East Asia, North America and Australasia. We would like to hear from veterans, descendants and those impacted by this period of history who are interested in sharing their stories and memories.
Those who would like to find out more, and are happy to be contacted by the Legion’s PR Team, should contact the Legion by emailing PRTeam@britishlegion.org.uk<mailto:PRTeam@britishlegion.org.uk>
Please note the intention is for the stories contributed to be shared in public forums such as media outlets and social media channels, but owing to the number received we are unfortunately unable to guarantee every story can be shared.
The Remembrance Team
199 Borough High Street
London SE1 1AA
VJ DAY 15 AUG 2020 – EVENTS
Plans for VJ Day have yet to be confirmed, however current plans include:
- RBL. The RBL is organising a National Act of Remembrance at 1100hrs on Saturday 15 August and that the focus will be a wreath laying ceremony at the National Arboretum in Staffordshire. Details have been sent to RBL Members.
- Chindit Memorial, Slim Statue and Gurkha Statues in London. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions only “principle officers” (CDS, ACDS and the 3 x service chiefs) will attend the events with no requirement for Gurkha service personnel or veterans to attend. Gurkha presence will be in the form of a Piper/Bugler at these events. Col William Shuttlewood (Chairmen SRA), Brig John Anderson (President 6 GRRA), Col Bob Couldrey (Chairman 7 GRRA) and Col Nigel Rowe (Chairman 10 GRRA) plan to lay wreaths at these locations after the ‘official’ wreaths have been laid. Individuals who wish to pay tribute at any of the memorials may do so, but only after the MoD event has taken place.
- HQBG/GBA. HQBG and GBA have no plans to organise separate VJ 75 services.
- SRA. There are tentative plans to attend a service in either Salisbury or Winchester Cathedral followed by a curry in a local Gurkha Restaurant. Details tbc.
- Local Events. Local VJ Day Celebrations will be coordinated by Local Government authorities, supported by RBL under local arrangements following Governments COVID Guidelines in force at the time.
VJ DAY COMMEMORATION IN SE ASIA
Arrangements made under local arrangements
- SINGAPORE: 12 Aug 20 – Kranji War Memorial and 12 Sep 20 – Singapore-led Commemorations (anniversary of the signing of the surrender in Singapore).
- MALAYASIA: 15 Aug 20: Royal Artillery led Commemoration in Sandakan, Sabah.
- THAILAND: 15 Aug 20: RBL Service of Remembrance, Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
- MYANMAR: 15 Aug 20: RBL Service of Remembrance at Htaukkyan Cemetery, Yangon.
- INDIA: 15 Aug 20: RBL Service of Remembrance at Imphal.
- INDONESIA: 15 Feb 20: Australia led ceremony in Muntok and 11 Nov 20: Australia Ceremony at Ambon CWGC. [/expander_maker]
APPOINTMENTS: GURKHA MUSEUM – Daren Bowyer Appointed as Director of the Gurkha Museum on the Retirement of Gavin Edgerley-Harris
The Gurkha Museum is very pleased to announce the appointment of Daren Bowyer as the new Director of the Gurkha Museum effective from 1 October 2020 in succession to Gavin Edgerley-Harris who is retiring after twentyseven years at the Gurkha Museum, latterly as Director for the last seven years. For further details please read the New Director Press Release
All members will be sad to see Gavin go after so many years, but Martin and his Trustees are confident that he hands over a very “safe pair of hands” in Darren.
APPOINTMENTS: DEPUTY FIELD DIRECTOR GWT(N) – Lt Col(retd) Yam Bahadur Rana (late Queen’s Gurkha Signals
Interviews were successfully held to select a new Deputy Field Director to take over from Maj Hemchandra Rai MBE BEM. Lt Col(retd) Yam Bahadur Rana (late Queen’s Gurkha Signals) was selected and, subject to a medical, will be taking up the role in October 2020.
GURKHA BRIGADE ASSOCIATION ANNUAL GOLF DAY – THU 10 SEP 20
Please the attached instructions for the GBA Golf Competition from Major Dammar Shahi.
The attendance last year was good. You are requested to send your return to Major Dammar Shahi by 6th of Aug 20. Should you have any questions, he can be contacted on 07460 794797.
28 July 2020
REVISED CAMPAIGN MEDALS PAGE
Major John Harrop and Colonel Nick Hinton, with valuable support from Colonel Denis Wood, have compiled and posted a webpage of the 2nd Goorkhas campaign medals. As well as showing the medals themselves it contains short descriptions of the campaigns and some related photos and maps. More material will be added, but if you are looking for an accessible summary of the exciting bits of the Regiment’s history, please check it out.
6 June 2020
CENOTAPH PARADE 2020 – 8 NOVEMBER 2020
You will be aware that the “Calling Notice” for names to be submitted to The Royal British Legion normally comes out in June and we have a short period in which to submit names. So far I have had no indication of when the calling notice will be promulgated, or if indeed the event will take place.
If you are planning to march on 8 November 2020 with the GBA Contingent, it is essential that you submit ALL the details required as per the Cenotaph Return proforma. In summary, the following information is required:
First Name (this must be the name on photo ID)
Date of Birth (please use the format DD/MM/YYYY)
Place of Birth
First line of address
Military number (where applicable)
Criteria (see Category Box below)
Regtl Assn: 2GR SRA
|Category 1||Ex-Service Personnel holding a campaign medal|
|Category 2||Civilians deployed on operations in support of the Military
(Includes; Police, Fire Service, Ambulance Service, Civil Servants)
|Category 3||Ex-Service Personnel with no campaign medal|
|Category 4||Bereaved Spouses (who died on operations)|
|Category 5||Veteran association representatives|
|Category 6||Military Charities and associated Civilian groups|
Applications. Please forward your details to the Hon Sec by Mon 22 Jun 20 in order for the Sirmoor return to be submitted to the Bde Sec by Fri 26 Jun 20.
CANCELLATION OF THE SIRMOOR CLUB ANNUAL REUNION – 5 SEPTEMBER 2020
The Sirmoor Club Reunion was programmed for 5 September 2020 at the Travellers Club. Regrettably due to the Coronavirus Pandemic the Sirmoor Club Committee has with reluctance cancelled the Sirmoor Club Annual Reunion 2020 at the Travellers Club, London.
CANCELLATION OF THE SIRMOOR SATHI ANNUAL DELHI DAY REUNION – 12 SEPTEMBER 2020
Regrettably due to the Coronavirus Pandemic the Sirmoor Sathi Committee has with reluctance cancelled the Sirmoor Sathis Annual ‘Delhi Day’ Reunion programmed for Saturday 12 September at the Empire Hall, Aldershot.
COVID-19 IMPACT ON GURKHA VETERANS
SITREPs on the impact of Covid-19 on our veterans in UK were sent out a few weeks ago. As a result, the Bde Sec has had a few enquiries from individuals asking how they can help.
The Bde Sec will need to discuss this with GWAC (Saisbury and Aldershot) to see if there is a possibility for a “one off” contribution to alleviate the hardship our veterans are going through. His intent is not to absolve RBL, ABF or the Government of their responsibilities but to provide a “sticking plaster” solution until they are able to get the help needed.
If you have anyone who is interested in assisting (financially, provisions or time) please ask them to get in touch with the Bde Sec at:
Major Mani K Rai MBE
Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas| Robertson House | Camberley | GU15 4NP