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 regiment was formed as the sole Gurkha infantry regiment of the British Army following the consolidation of the four separate Gurkha regiments in 1994:
•2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles)
•6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles
•7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles
•10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
In 2018, the UK Government announced that it intended to recruit more than 800 new posts to the Brigade of Gurkhas. 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.
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.
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.
The third battalion (3 RGR) is being raised as of August 2018, and will become the 3rd battalion of the Royal Gurkha Rifles. The battalion will also be the first battalion in the Gurkhas to accept women.
A post on the Gurkha Brigade website in August 2016 noted that the RGR will grow in personnel size in the future.
In addition to the two operation battalions, three further units are cap badged as Royal Gurkha Rifles:
•Gurkha Company (Sittang)
•Gurkha Wing (Mandalay)
•Gurkha Company (Tavoleto)
These two 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.
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.
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.
The battle honours of the Royal Gurkha Rifles are as follows:
•Amboor, Carnatic, Mysore 1792, Assaye 1803, Ava 1852, Burma 1885–87, Bhurtpore, Aliwal, Sobraon, Delhi 1857, Kabul 1879, Afghanistan 1878–80, Kandahar 1880, Tirah, Punjab Frontier, Afghanistan 1919
•First World War:
La Bassée 1914, Festubert 1914–15, Givenchy 1914, Neuve Chapelle, Aubers, Loos, France and Flanders 1914–15, Egypt 1915, Tigris 1916, Kut al Amara 1917, Baghdad, Mesopotamia 1916–18, Persia 1918, Baluchistan 1918, Helles, Krithia, Suvla, Sari Bair, Gallipoli 1915, Suez Canal, Egypt 1915–16, Khan Baghdadi, Mesopotamia 1916–18, Persia 1916–1918, North West Frontier India 1915–17, Egypt 1915, Megiddo, Sharon, Palestine 1918, Shaiba, Kut al Amara 1915–17, Ctesiphon, Defence of Kut al Amara, Baghdad, Sharqat, Mesopotamia 1915–18
•The Second World
War: Tobruk 1942, El Alamein, Akarit, Tunis, Cassino 1, Poggio Del Grillo, Gothic Line, Tavoleto, Coriano, Santacangelo, Monte Chicco, Bologna, Medicina, Italy 1944-45, Jitra, Slim River, Sittang 1942, 1945, Kyaukse 1942, 1945, North Arakan, Imphal, Tuitum, Bishenpur, Tengnoupal, Shwebo, Kyaukmyaung Bridgehead, Mandalay, Myinmu Bridgehead, Fort Dufferin, Meiktila, Irrawaddy, Rangoon Road, Chindits 1943,44 & 45, Tamandu, Maymyo
ROYAL GURKHA RIFLES
(amalgated in 1994)
The 2nd King Edward VII's Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) / The Sirmoor Battalion.
The 6th Queen Elizabeth's Own Gurkha Rifles / The Cuttack Legion.
The 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles / Assam Sebundy Corps.
The 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles / 14th Battalion of Coast Sepoys.