15th August 2019

History of the famous Gurkhas: a timeline

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.

To this day, they remain renowned for their loyalty, professionalism and bravery.

Read the history of the famous Gurkhas in our timeline:

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1814 – 1816: Anglo – Nepalese War

1817 – 1818:  Pindari War

1845 — 1846: Anglo-Sikh War

1848 — 1849: Second Anglo-Sikh War

1857 — 1859: Indian Sepoy Rebellion

1878 — 1880: Second Afghan War

1900: Boxer Rebellion

1904: Tibet Expedition

1914 — 1918: World War One

1939 — 1945: World War Two

1947: Indian independence

1948 — 1960: Malayan Emergency

1962 — 1966: Borneo Confrontation

1969: The Gurkha Welfare Trust is founded

1982: The Falklands

2001 — 2014: Afghanistan

2003 — 2011: Iraq

2015: Gurkha 200

Anglo-Nepalese War

1814 — 1816

After a series of hard fought battles, the Treaty of Segauli is made between Nepal and The Honourable East India Company. In 1815 the Gurkhas’ fighting qualities are recognised and they are first enlisted into the armies of the British Crown.

Pindari War

1817 — 1818

Following years of plundering in Gujarat and Mirzapur by the Pindaris, British and Indian Army troops, including Gurkhas, defeat the Pindari Army of 30,000 horsemen.

Anglo-Sikh War

1845 — 1846

In 1845 a Sikh army crosses the Sutlej River in the Punjab – starting a war. Gurkhas fight hard at the battles of Aliwal and Sobroan. The Commander of the Army writes of Gurkha soldiers: “They vied in ardent courage with The Grenadiers and, armed with the short weapon of their mountains, were a terror to the Sikhs”.

Second Anglo-Sikh War

1848 — 1849

A series of increasing Sikh rebellions in the Punjab against British administration lead to war. The turning point is the Battle of Chillianwalla, a savage contest with both sides suffering great numbers of casualties. Final victory goes to the British.

Indian Sepoy Rebellion

1857 — 1859

Gurkhas fight alongside the British during the Indian Mutiny, remaining loyal to the British Indian Army. Gurkhas of The Sirmoor Battalion, later to become part of today’s Brigade of Gurkhas, become official Riflemen and are honoured by Queen Victoria with a unique Truncheon in recognition of their bravery and loyalty at the siege of Delhi.

Second Afghan War

1878 — 1880

Due to concerns over Russian influence in Afghanistan, the British send a force under General Roberts, including five Gurkha regiments, to invade the country. After several major engagements, the Afghans are defeated. When General Roberts is later raised to the peerage, he chooses the image of a Gurkha to be part of his family crest.

Boxer Rebellion


Gurkhas serve bravely as part of an international force sent to quell a rebellion by a secret society of nationalist insurgents in China called “Boxers”, who were fighting against foreign influence.

Tibet Expedition


Colonel Francis Younghusband leads a force of British, Indian and Gurkhas to Gyantse in Tibet to negotiate and arrange reparations for previous incidents. Lt J D Grant of 8th Gurkha Rifles is awarded the Victoria Cross for an assault on the stronghold at Gyantse Jong, where he scaled a cliff under heavy fire to force a breach.

World War One

1914 — 1918

During the First World War over 90,000 Gurkhas directly serve the British Crown, of which over 20,000 are killed, wounded or missing in action. Gurkha regiments earn hundreds of gallantry awards throughout the War.

World War Two

1939 — 1945

During the Second World War over 137,000 Gurkhas directly serve the British Crown from which there are over 23,000 killed, wounded and missing in action. The Gurkhas earn over 2,500 awards for bravery.

Indian independence


Of the ten Gurkha Regiments existing at Indian Independence in 1947, six remain in the Indian Army and four transfer to the British Army. These are the 2nd King Edward VII’s Own Gurkha Rifles (The Sirmoor Rifles) and the 6th, 7th and 10th Gurkha Rifles.

Malayan Emergency

1948 — 1960

The conflict in Malaya is the first in which Gurkhas fight as part of the British Army. They are committed from the outset of the Emergency and are continually on active service throughout the next twelve years, continuing to win awards for bravery in the field of combat.

Borneo Confrontation

1962 — 1966

From their bases in Sarawak, Gurkhas defend the country against Indonesian forces and engage in long range operations under the dense jungle canopy of tropical rainforest. On one such patrol Lance Corporal Rambahadur Limbu was awarded the Victoria Cross for valour.

The Gurkha Welfare Trust is founded


The Gurkha Welfare Trust is founded with the primary aim of relieving poverty and distress amongst ex-Gurkha soldiers and their dependants. Today, it provides a monthly Welfare Pension and extensive medical care for its elderly ex-Gurkha beneficiaries, as well as delivering vital community aid such as water supply systems, schools and medical camps. Read more about the history of The Gurkha Welfare Trust.

The Falklands


The Gurkhas’ fearsome reputation serves them well in the Falklands conflict, leading the Argentines to decide not to face them when challenged in battle. Britain successfully repels the invasion.


2001 — 2014

Gurkhas play a key role in the war from the offset. Their skills in hand to hand combat are put to the test, notably Corporal Dipprasad Pun who is awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for repelling an assault in Helmand Province. Gurkhas’ peace-keeping skills and ability to build relationships with the Afghans prove invaluable. They are also charged with protecting Prince Harry during his service with the Army Air Corps.


2003 — 2011

Gurkhas once again serve in the desert following the Allied invasion of Iraq, providing extensive medical and logistic support to the Allied forces while retracing routes their forebears had followed in the First World War.

Gurkha 200


The Brigade of Gurkhas celebrates its 200th anniversary of loyal and distinguished service to the Crown. Various commemorative events are held, culminating in a spectacular pageant in London, attend by HM The Queen and other royals.

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