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The Khukri Chronicles

The Khukri Chronicles

A Gorkha battalion celebrates 125 years of valour in war

The Khukri Chronicles Illustration by Sorit

Think of Nepal. Mount Everest and the Gorkha soldier come to mind. The motto of Gorkha soldiers is “Kafir hunu banda marnu jati (Better die than be a coward).” The doughty Gorkhas helped build empires at home and abroad, from Belize and Falklands to Brunei and Hong Kong. In World War II alone, 51 Gorkha battalions fought under the Union Jack, winning 10 Victoria Crosses. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the first to tap their legendary fighting skills; they became, at home, Lahure (recruited in Lahore) Gorkhas, and abroad, Johnny Gorkhas.

Think of Abbottabad, where American SEALS took out Osama bin Laden. Abbottabad was also where the 2nd battalion, 5th Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force), was born in 1886. It forayed into the lawless Pashtoon Northwest, fighting the epic action at Damdil in 1937. On November 10, 125 years later, the battalion celebrated its birthday at Almora in a reunion of hundreds of serving and retired Gorkhas who recounted their laurels in the best traditions of soldiering.

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