The origins of Gurkha soldiers serving the British Empire date back to 1814 when the British attempted to annex Nepal, and bring the mountainous nation under the Union Jack. British Army officers were impressed with the tenacity of the native warriors and encouraged them to volunteer for the East India Company, which controlled large amounts of land on the Indian subcontinent. The Gurkhas first saw combat under the EIC during the Pindaree war of 1817 where the company further expanded its territory in India.
During the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, a large but unsuccessful rebellion against British rule, the Gurkha regiments remained loyal to the British and helped quash the mutiny. The Gurkhas then became part of the British Indian Army on its formation in 1895.
The Gurkhas fought on with dignity throughout the First World War, fighting on the Western Front and in the Middle East. Out of the 200,000 Gurkhas who fought, 3 received the Victoria Cross, Great Britain’s highest Gallantry medal, with 2000 gallantry decorations awarded to their ranks in total.
During the Second World War there were 10 Gurkha regiments, totalling 20 pre-war battalions. The British evacuation at Dunkirk led to the Nepalese government increasing recruitment to enlarge the total number of Gurkha battalions in British service to 35. This number eventually reached 43 battalions. The 250,280 total Gurkhas fought in almost all theatres: Peacekeeping in India; Syria; North Africa; Italy; Greece and against the Japanese in the jungles of Burma; Northeast India and Singapore. In total they earned 2734 bravery awards and were said to have fought with considerable distinction as soldiers.
After India gained independence from Britain in 1947, the Gurkha regiments were split between the newly independent Indian Army and the British Army. Six regiments were transferred to Indian command while four remained within British ranks.
Problems looked over the Gurkha regiments serving under the British when the monarchy of Nepal was abolished in 2008; the Communist Party of Nepal stated that recruitment of mercenaries was degrading to the Nepalese people and that it would be banned. -Continued below-