Brigade of Gurkhas – an elite component of British army

The Brigade of Gurkhas from the British Army - 200 years service to the crown

Brigade of Gurkhas is an elite unit of the British army. The first association on the word Gurkha are people from Nepal. They take their name from the hill town of Gorkha from which the Nepalese kingdom had expanded and by the medieval Hindu warrior-saint Guru Gorakhnath.

They are known for their extraordinary history of bravery and discipline as soldiers mostly in the British and Indian Army. The Britons recruited Gurkha through history in their colonial army because they were brave, professional and high-disciplined warriors. Today, Gurkhas are the elite soldiers in the British and Indian armies fighting alongside Special Air Service and Special Boat Service operators.

British gurkha regiment posing for picture with khukri knife
British Gurkha soldiers posing with their Kukri knives (Photo: XY)

They are closely associated and recognized with the khukuri knife. A special made forward-curving Nepalese knife used as their combat tool. Gurkhas have a well-known reputation for their fearless military prowess.

The former Indian Army Chief of Staff Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, once stated that “If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.”

Brigade of Gurkhas

The Brigade of Gurkhas is part of the regular British Army. The brigade is 3,640 strong, and the Brigade of Gurkhas is usually used as the collective term for units of the current British Army that are composed of Nepalese soldiers. It draws its heritage from Gurkha units that originally served in the Indian Army. That was prior to Indian independence, and prior to that of the East India Company.

The Brigade of Gurkhas includes infantry, engineer, signal, logistics and training and support units for performing all kinds of objectives. As we mentioned earlier, they are famous for their ever-present kukris knives. Kukris knife is a heavy knife who comes with a curved blade.

The ranks among the Brigade of Gurkhas have been dominated by four ethnic groups: the Gurungs and Magars from western Nepal; and the Rais and Limbus from the east, who live in hill villages of hill farmers.

Selection and training

The selection process is a tough task for every candidate. For 200 places a year, there are typically 25,000 candidates. They are driven through rigorous tests and selection, and only the best candidates are allowed to basic training.

Gurkha soldiers serving in British Army preparing for the drills
To became Gurkha, the candidates need to go through rigorous selection and training. (Photo: XY)


The headquarters is located at Trenchard Lines, Upavon, Wiltshire. The two battalions of the Royal Gurkha Rifles are formed as light role infantry; they are not equipped with either armored or wheeled vehicles. One battalion is based at Shorncliffe Army Camp, near Folkestone in Kent as part of 52 Infantry Brigade, and is available for deployment to most areas in Europe and Africa. The other is based on the British garrison in Brunei as part of Britain’s commitment to maintaining a military presence in Asia.

The Brigade of Gurkhas has a very rich history, and this year they have celebrated 200 years of service in the British Army.


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