Translation: “The Role of the Gurkhas in the British Armed Forces”, published in Revue Défense Nationale, Paris, issue number 816, January 2019, pages 29-35.

« When you know you’re with the Gurkhas, there’s no safer place to be ». Prince Harry.

« Better to of the Royal Gurkha Rifles

Ana Pouvreau – Writer and strategic studies. Graduate of the French Institute for Higher Studies in National Defence (IHEDN). Author of several geostrategy books, including one on the Foreign Legion: The French Foreign Legion System [Le Système Légion], Paris, L’Esprit du Livre, 2008.

For more than two hundred years Nepalese fighters, the locally recruited Gurkhas in Nepal, have served in the British army. Throughout the ages, they have distinguished themselves by their bravery to combat units[2].

 The Gurkhas’ contribution to British defence

The valiant hisand civilian personnel working with the Afghan government, as well as for British advisers based at the Afghan National Army Military Training Academy[10] 

The evolution of the conditions of service of Gurkhas

Gurkhas are recruited as Nepali citizens and Conditions of Service Review which in general terms placed the Gurkhas on the same Terms of Service as their fellow British Servicemen.    

Retirement pensions

As with the debate over the pensions of foreign non-legionnaire soldiers who fought in the French armed forces, the issue of Gurkhas pensions was the subject of a heated parliamentary debate. Indeed, until 2007, the amount of pensions Nepalese combatants could claim after serving at least 15 years was much lower than that of British pensioners and most people do not receive pensions[11] 

Conditions of residency in the UK

Every British Commonwealth soldier must serve four years before being granted the right and 23,000 were wounded. Of the country’s 28 million population, 8 million were affected. 

The importance of the Gurkha Welfare Trust[14] 

The Gurkha Welfare Trust (GWT), based in Salisbury, was established in 1969 following a fund-raising appeal launched in 1967 by a group of British officers. This was primarily to serve our national defence”.


Thanks to women (including the SAS or the Royal Marines)[17].



Peter Carroll : Gurkha: The True Story of a Campaign for Justice, Biteback, London, 2012.

Major General JC Lawrence: The Gurkhas: 200 Years Of Service To The Crown, Uniform Press, London, 2015.

Colour-Sergeant Kailash Limbu: Gurkha: Better to Die than Live a Coward: My Life in the Gurkhas, Little, Brown Book Group, London, 2016.

 The Gurkha Brigade Association

The Gurkha Museum:

The Gurkha Welfare Trust :

The Gurkhas, National Army Museum:



[1] The Gurkha Brigade Association. []. “The Gurkhas”, National Army Museum. [].

[2] Hayley DIXON: “Gurkhas to recruit women for first time”, The Telegraph, 15 July 2018. []

[3] This concerns the 2nd, 6th, 7th and 10th Rifle Regiments. The Birgade of Gurkhas is composed of 4 regiments: the Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR); the Queen’s Gurkha Engineer (QGE); the Queen’s Gurkha Signals (QGS) as well as the Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment.

[4]“Singapore Police Force: The Gurkha Contingent”, The Gurkha Welfare Trust. []

[5] Interview with Gavin Edgerley-Harris, Director of the Gurkha Museum, Winchester, 2nd August 2018.

[6] « Recruiting for the Brigade of Gurkhas », Khukuri House. [].

[7] The race requires running 4828 m uphill. It has and.

[8] Recruits must be able to run 800 m in 2 minutes 45 seconds.

[9] Interview with Colonel David Hayes, President of the Gurkha Brigade Association, Winchester, 2nd August 2018.

[10] “Gurkhas on duty in Afghanistan”, The Gurkha Welfare Trust, 12 July 2016. []

[11] « Was Lumley campaign good for Gurkhas?”, BBC Online, 31 July 2011. []

[12] Nick CLEGG: “Insult to-gurkhas-shames-our-rulers-1-2344016].

[13] From 1975 onward, the Gurkhas who served more than 2 years, were entitled to this category.

[14] Interview with Al Howard, Director of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, Winchester, 2nd August 2018.

[15] Gurkha Trailwalker [].


[17] Laurent LAGNEAU : « Le Special Air Service britannique va s’ouvrir aux femmes militaires », Opex 360, 26 October 2018. [

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