In 2015, Gurkhas will have served in the British Army for 200 years. We look back at some of their fiercest battles and proudest moments over the past two centuries
1814-1816: Anglo-Nepalese War
In 1815 the Gurkhas are first enlisted into the armies of the British crown.
1845-1846 & 1848-1849: First and Second Anglo-Sikh wars
Gurkhas helped to defeat the Sikhs in battles with heavy casualties on both sides.
1857-1859: Indian Mutiny
Gurkhas fought with the British to defeat the mutiny and the Sirmoor Battalion were awarded the Queen’s Truncheon in recognition of their bravery and loyalty at the Siege of Delhi.
1878-1880: Second Afghan War
Worried by Russian influence in Afghanistan, the British sent a force to invade, including five Gurkha regiments. After several major battles the Afghans were defeated.
1900: Boxer rebellion
Gurkhas fought against Chinese nationalist insurgents.
1914-1918: First World War
More than 90,000 Gurkhas served the British Crown, of whom more than 20,000 were killed, wounded, or missing in action in France, Gallipoli and elsewhere. Gurkha regiments earned hundreds of gallantry awards throughout the War.
Gurkhas capture a German trench during the First World War (The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)
Gurkhas fought on India’s North West Frontier.
1939-1945: Second World War
More than 137,000 Gurkhas served the British Crown, from North Africa to Italy, Burma and beyond. More than 23,000 were killed, wounded or missing in action. They earned over 2,500 awards for bravery.
1947: Indian independence
Of the 10 existing Gurkha regiments, six stayed in the Indian army and four transferred to the British Army. These were 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) and 6th, 7th and 10th Gurkha Rifles.
1948-1960: Malayan Emergency
This was the first conflict in which Gurkhas fought as part of the British Army. They were continually on active service, winning many awards for bravery.
1949-1959: New regiments
Three new regiments were formed, now known as The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, Queen’s Gurkha Signals and The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment.
1962-1966: Borneo Confrontation
From bases in Sarawak, Gurkhas defended the country against Indonesian forces, engaging in long-range operations in dense jungle.
Gurkhas patrol the Limbang River in Borneo in 1965 (Ron Case/Keystone/Getty Images)
1965: Victoria Cross
Latest Victoria Cross is awarded. LCpl Rambahadur Limbu (left) of 10th Gurkha Rifles was awarded the VC for valour in Borneo, after storming an enemy position and rescuing fallen comrades under concentrated fire.
1969: Gurkha Welfare Trust
The Gurkha Welfare Trust is founded with the aim of relieving poverty and distress among ex-Gurkha soldiers and their dependants. Today it also delivers community aid such as water-supply systems, schools and medical camps.
1982: The Falklands
The Gurkhas’ fearsome reputation led to the Argentines deciding not to face the Gurkhas when challenged in battle.
Gurkhas apply camouflage cream before setting out on patrol in the Falklands (PA)
1990s-2000s: From Kosovo to Sierra Leone
Gurkhas served in Kosovo, Bosnia, East Timor and Sierra Leone.
Gurkhas’ skills in hand-to-hand combat, peacekeeping skills and ability to build relationships with the Afghans proved invaluable. Cpl Dipprasad Pun (above) was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for single-handedly repelling a Taliban assault in Helmand Province.
Gurkhas provided extensive medical and logistic support to the Allied forces while retracing their forebears’ routes from the First World War.
2007: Gurkha Pension Rights
All Gurkhas who serve post-1997 are awarded pension rights equal to other British servicemen.
Gurkha veterans call for better pension rights in Parliament Square, London in 2007 (Christopher Pledger)
2009: UK Citizenship Rights
All Gurkhas who served four or more years after 1948 are awarded UK citizenship rights and have the right to settle in the UK, following a high-profile campaign fronted by the actress Joanna Lumley.
Gurkhas sent to Sierra Leone to help contain Ebola.
2015: Nepal earthquake
Now Britain has sent a contingent of these Gurkha soldiers back to Nepal to assist with relief efforts, after the devastating earthquake of April 25, 2015
Information collected & credit to Annabel Venning