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Royal Gurkha Rifles

The Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) is a rifle regiment of the British Army, forming part of the Brigade of Gurkhas. Unlike other regiments in the British Army, RGR soldiers are recruited from Nepal, which is neither a dependent territory of the United Kingdom nor a member of the Commonwealth. The regiment's motto is Better to die than to be a coward.

The Royal Gurkha Rifles
Royal Gurkha Rifles.JPG
Cap badge of the Royal Gurkha Rifles
Active1 July 1994 – present
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Role1st Battalion: Air Assault Infantry
2nd Battalion: Light infantry
3rd Battalion: Specialist Infantry
SizeThree battalions
Part ofBrigade of Gurkhas
Garrison/HQRHQ: Shorncliffe
1st Battalion — Shorncliffe
2nd Battalion — Seria, Brunei
3rd Battalion — Aldershot (from 2019)
Nickname(s)The Gurkhas
Motto(s)कांथर हुनु भन्दा मर्नु राम्रो
"Kaatar Hunnu Bhanda Marnu Ramro" (Nepali)
"Better to die than to be a coward"
"Biar mati dari jadi pengecut" (Brunei Malay)
MarchQuick: Bravest of the Brave
Double Past: Keel Row
Slow (band): God Bless the Prince of Wales
Slow (pipes and drums): The Garb of Auld Gaul
AnniversariesMeiktila (1 March)
Medicina (16 April)
Regimental Birthday (1 July)
Gallipoli (7 August)
Delhi Day (14 September)
Colonel in ChiefHRH The Prince of Wales
Colonel of
the Regiment
Major General Gerald M Strickland DSO MBE
Tactical Recognition FlashGurkhas TRF.svg
TartanDouglas (pipers trews and plaids)
From 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles


The regiment was formed as the sole Gurkha infantry regiment of the British Army following the consolidation of the four separate Gurkha regiments in 1994:[1]

The amalgamations took place as follows:

  • 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles; formed by the consolidation of the 1st Bn, 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles and 1st Bn, 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles.
  • 2nd Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles; formed by renaming the 1st Bn, 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles.
  • 3rd Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles; formed by renaming the 1st Bn, 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles.

The 3rd Battalion was consolidated with the 2nd Battalion in 1996 as part of run down of British forces in Hong Kong.[2]

The Gurkhas in general and the direct predecessors of the Royal Gurkha Rifles in particular are considered to be among the finest infantrymen in the world, as is evidenced by the high regard they are held in for both their fighting skill, and their smartness of turnout on parade.[3]

In December 1995, Lieutenant-Colonel Bijaykumar Rawat became the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, the first Nepalese to become a battalion commander in the RGR. He oversaw the departure of the battalion from Hong Kong just before that city's transfer to Chinese control, and the battalion's relocation to Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Church Crookham in 1996.[4]

Twice during its most recent Brunei posting the 2nd Battalion was deployed as the Afghanistan Roulement Infantry Battalion, while the 1st Battalion deployed as part of 52 Infantry Brigade in late 2007. During this tour, Cornet Harry Wales (Prince Harry) was attached for a period to the 1st Battalion as a Forward Air Controller.[5]

Under Army 2020, the regiment was intended to provide two light role battalions, rotating between Brunei and the UK, with their higher unit as 11th Infantry Brigade.[6] However, in June 2015, the 2nd Battalion, then based in the UK, was reassigned to form part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, in the air assault infantry role.[7]

In 2018, the UK Government announced that it intended to recruit more than 800 new posts to the Brigade of Gurkhas.[8] Approximately 300 of these are planned for the Royal Gurkha Rifles, which will see the formation of a new battalion planned for the specialist infantry role.[9] On 11 March 2019, the Minister for the Armed Forces confirmed that the 3rd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles would be reestablished, with recruitment starting in 2019.[10]


The first battalion (1 RGR) is based at Shorncliffe, near Folkestone in Kent as part of 16 Air Assault Brigade, and is available for deployment to most areas in Europe and Africa.[11]

The second battalion (2 RGR) is based at the British garrison in Brunei as part of Britain's commitment to maintaining a military presence in Southeast Asia.[12]

The third battalion (3 RGR) will operate as part of the Specialised Infantry Group providing training and mentoring support for indigenous forces in partner nations.[13]

Training companiesEdit

In addition to the operational battalions, three further units are cap badged as Royal Gurkha Rifles:

  • Gurkha Company (Sittang)[14]
  • Gurkha Wing (Mandalay)[15]
  • Gurkha Company (Tavoleto)[16]

These three are formed as operational training units at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the Infantry Battle School and the Land Warfare Centre, to provide opposing forces for realistic battle simulation.

Gurkha clerksEdit

Prior to 2011, administrative support for the entire Brigade of Gurkhas was provided by specially trained personnel called Gurkha clerks, who wore the cap badge of the Royal Gurkha Rifles. In June 2011, the Gurkha clerks were amalgamated into a single company sized unit called the Gurkha Staff and Personnel Support Company (GSPS), which was incorporated as part of the Adjutant General's Corps. As with the other Gurkha support units (Queen's Gurkha Engineers, Queen's Gurkha Signals, Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment), the GSPS received its own cap badge based on the badge of its parent corps.[17]

Notable soldiersEdit

Corporal Dip Prasad Pun of the 1st battalion (1 RGR) was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for an act of bravery during the War in Afghanistan in 2010. He alone defended his outpost against a force of up to 12 Taliban fighters. He fired more than 400 rounds, 17 grenades, and one mine. He resorted to fighting with his machine gun tripod after his ammunition had run out.[18][19]

Battle honoursEdit

The battle honours of the Royal Gurkha Rifles are as follows:[20]



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Serving Brigade of Gurkhas". Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  2. ^ "Regimental History". Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  3. ^ The Gurkhas, Byron Farwell, W.W. Norton, 1984
  4. ^ "New Ideas: Gurkha Signals, Engineers & 'British' Officers". Archived from the original on 26 April 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Prince Harry made honorary Gurkha by fearsome warriors he served with in Afghanistan". Daily Mail. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  6. ^ "Army 2020 Report" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 June 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Gurkhas from 2 Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles based at Sir John Moore Barracks in Folkestone join army's 16 Air Assault Brigade based in Colchester". Kent Online. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Did you transfer out of the Brigade of Gurkhas?". Gurkha Brigade. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  9. ^ Ripley, Tim (18 July 2018). "UK to recruit more Gurkha soldiers". Jane's 360. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  10. ^ "New Gurkha battalion to be established as brigade grows". British Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Gurkhas from 2 Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles based at Sir John Moore Barracks in Folkestone join army's 16 Air Assault Brigade based in Colchester". Kent on line. 5 June 2015. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Royal Gurkha Rifles return home". 17 November 2011. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  13. ^ "New specialist Gurkha battalion established". Ministry of Defence. 14 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  14. ^ "Sittang". Gurkha Brigade Association. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Mandalay". Gurkha Brigade Association. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Gurkha Company (Tavoleto) Warminster Parade". Gurkha Brigade Association. Retrieved 8 January 2019.
  17. ^ "Gurkha Staff and Personnel Support". Brigade of Gurkhas Association. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  18. ^ "The Outstanding Examples Of A Generation - The OP Honours Recipients". London. States News Service. March 25, 2011. Retrieved March 5, 2013. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  19. ^ "The land of the brave". Kathmandu. The Kathmandu Post. April 1, 2011. Retrieved March 5, 2013. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  20. ^ "Battle Honours". Retrieved 26 April 2014.

External linksEdit