IN 1815, the East India Company began recruiting soldiers from the mountain Kingdom of Nepal. These soldiers have continued to serve with loyalty and bravery in every major conflict the British Army has been involved in since. Providing a complete visual history, The Gurkhas – 200 Years of Service to the Crown commemorates their courage and commitment.
Laura Lawrence, wife of the book’s author, Major General Craig Lawrence CBE, Colonel of the Royal Gurkha Rifles, spoke to Army&You about life with the Gurkhas.
“We have had the pleasure of living alongside Gurkha families both in Brunei and the UK,” she said. “They are a very warm and friendly people, family orientated and great fun. When I was pregnant, they were always trying to fatten me up with chicken soup!
“I love being part of their fabulous celebrations with the delicious food, colourful saris and traditional music and dancing. When we were based in Folkestone with 1RGR, I tried to learn Nepali along with some of the other wives; I can only say a few sentences but I understand much more. We also worked hard to raise money to build the Gurkha community centre there.
“Craig volunteered to write the commemorative book for the 200th anniversary and it has been a real labour of love with all royalties going to the Gurkha Welfare Trust.
“The charity offers advice and assistance to ex-Gurkhas who have chosen to resettle in the UK, provides pensions for elderly Gurkha veterans or their widows in Nepal and residential homes for those unable to live independently.
“It also delivers community aid to rural villages, installs clean water systems, runs mobile medical camps and refurbishes schools.
“Craig had an extended operational tour in Afghanistan last year and when he finally made it home after 11 months away, he had to finish the book on top of his normal busy job.
“There may not have been much time for us as a family lately but I know our five children are really proud of him and the best reward would be for the book to sell well and raise vital funds for the Gurkha Welfare Trust.”
Joanna Lumley, actress and Vice Patron of the Gurkha Welfare Trust, said: “Gurkhas have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. They are a remarkable people.
Proud yet humble, brave yet compassionate – my affection and respect for them runs deep. I am proud to introduce this book, which tries to convey a sense of what makes them so special. I think it succeeds.”