19th January 2021

4 ways Gurkhas are helping the fight against COVID-19

Gurkhas have been by our side for over 200 years.

In fact, they’re always by our side in our time of need.

Since joining the British Army, the brave warriors have served with distinction around the world, earning an incredible 13 Victoria Crosses for acts of extreme valour, along with countless other medals.

More recently, Gurkhas have been helping us fight our invisible enemy: COVID-19.
Here are just four ways the serving Brigade have supported us during these tough times:

1. Gurkhas testing lorry drivers in Kent

The Armed Forces were called in just before Christmas to help administer COVID-19 tests to lorry drivers stuck in Kent, waiting to cross the English Channel to France. Gurkha soldiers from Queen’s Gurkha Engineers and The First Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles played a huge part in assisting the operation.

The Gurkha teams are manning COVID-19 lateral flow testing centres located at numerous motorway service stations across the country. They are there to test drivers heading to mainland Europe. The system is designed to alleviate congestion along the south coast, making life easier for the drivers and the authorities.

To keep their spirits up, the wider Gurkha military community came together to bring a traditional Nepali curry to those providing this vital service in these isolated posts. Photographer Cpl Adam Wakefield/ MoD Crown ©

2. COVID-19 asymptomatic testing sites conducted by Queen’s Gurkha Engineers

At the beginning of 2021, 69 Gurkha Field Squadron were deployed to Kent to conduct asymptomatic lateral flow testing.

The Squadron is working hard to reduce the transmission rate in the county through the use of lateral flow tests and asymptomatic testing. Currently, those living in Kent without COVID symptoms are being tested this way every fortnight.

3. Gurkhas carry out mobile testing across Wales

From July 2020, Queen’s Gurkha Engineers and Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment played a key role in Wales’ mobile testing programme.

The Gurkhas were deployed to Cardiff and Powys last summer. They were responsible for collecting swabs from different locations and took them to testing centres. They also accompanied NHS staff to various locations such as care homes to enable them to run the tests efficiently there.

4. Building the Nightingale Hospitals

Gurkha soldiers played a huge part in building the Nightingale Hospitals, emergency hospitals in London and Birmingham, back in 2020.

The troop was made up of electricians, heating and plumbing engineers, air conditioning and refrigeration fitters, and carpenters.

Sapper Puspa Gurung, Queen’s Gurkha Engineers worked on the project:

“From assembling shelving to drilling every single screw, as a tradesman, I thoroughly enjoyed the Project Nightingale.”

“Everyone’s common goal was to get this job done before the deadline and to save lives.”

“We worked very long working hours and made ourselves very useful throughout the project. Being a public servant, it was a wonderful feeling you get when you get to serve your country, and that kept us going day and night.”

“Lastly, a huge respect to the NHS staff around the UK for what they are doing in order to save lives.”

Photographs courtesy of the MoD and The Gurkha Brigade Association

Who are the Gurkhas?

The Gurkhas are soldiers from Nepal who are recruited into the British Army, and have been for the last 200 years. Gurkhas are known to be as fearless in combat as they are good-natured in daily life.

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